John Maxwell Edmonds
|John Maxwell Edmonds|
|Died||1958 (aged 82–83)|
- When you go home, tell them of us and say
- For their tomorrow, we gave our today.
He was the author of an item in The Times, 6 February 1918, page 7, headed "Four Epitaphs" composed for graves and memorials to those fallen in battle – each covering different situations of death. The second of these was used as a theme for the 1942 war movie Went the Day Well?:
- Went the day well?
- We died and never knew.
- But, well or ill,
- Freedom, we died for you.
That epitaph was regularly quoted when The Times notified deaths of those who fell during the First World War, and was also regularly used during the Second World War. It appeared on many village and town war memorials.
There has been some confusion between 'Went the day well' and Edmonds’ other famous epitaph published in the same 1919 edition of inscriptions:
- When you go home, tell them of us and say,
- For your tomorrows these gave their today.
This epitaph was inspired by an epigram of the Greek poet Simonides of Ceos to the fallen at the Battle of Thermopylae, and was later used (with a misquote) for the memorial for those who fell at the Battle of Kohima. Some resources incorrectly give Went the day well? as being the translation of the Simonides epigram.
- Twelve War Epitaphs Chelsea 1920
- The Fragments of Attic Comedy After Meineke, Bergk, and Kock Leiden 1957
- Noakes, Vivian (ed.) Voices of Silence: the Alternative Book of First World War Poetry, History Press 2006. ISBN 0750945214