Author : Andrew Richards
This book describes the wartime experiences of Reverend David Railton, MC, who was a chaplain on the Western Front during WWI. As a chaplain, Railton supported soldiers in their worst moments, he buried the fallen, comforted the wounded, wrote to the families of the missing and killed, and helped the survivors to remember and mark the loss of their comrades so that they were able to move on and do their job. He was present at many battles, and received the Military Cross for rescuing an officer and two men under heavy fire on the Somme.
It was Railton's idea to bring home the body of a fallen comrade, whose identity was unknown, from the battlefields of Belgium and France to be buried in Westminster Abbey. Although suffering from what was obviously Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, after the war he carried out his duties as the vicar of Margate and took on many philanthropic works on behalf of the poor, especially supporting ex-servicemen who came home and had to deal with the aftermath of a terrible war and crippling unemployment. The story of the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior has been told several times, including the part played by the Reverend David Railton, M.C.
However, this book - based on hundreds of Railton's original letters, notes, and writings - is the first book to tell the story of the man himself and his flag, which he used as an altar cloth and shroud throughout the war, was consecrated a year after the burial of the Unknown Warrior, and now hangs in Westminster Abbey.