On September 8th. 2009 Jenny Jukes made a pilgrimage to Charles' grave at Carvin, probably the first member of his family to do so. The approach to Carvin was from the south. After passing through the town square, the The Rue De L'egalite is turned into on the left, with the cemetery being on the left hand side, with car parking adjacent.
It was a very hot day, with a virtually cloudless sky, a rarity in such a wet summer. Passing through the set of cemetery gates closest to the town, the main path is followed for about a hundred and fifty metres, until Alle 1a is reached, again on the left. From here the war graves can be seen a few metres away.
Charles' grave is easily found. This part of the cemetery is very well tended, with neat edges to the grass and roses planted around the graves. The gravestone is pure white and was warm to the touch, as if in welcome to a long overdue visitor. Some time was spent just looking and in quiet contemplation.
Somehow the white war gravestones seemed much more poignant memorials than some of the rather extravagant and ostentatious native French tombs surrrounding them. There is a sort of beauty in their simplicity and loneliness which makes them all the more effective in the messages they convey. Some simply said "A soldier of the Great War. Known only to God." We are fortunate that we know where Charles lies.
A heather was planted on Charles' grave. In the absence of any gardening tools, the red soil was scraped aside with a piece of sharp stone found nearby. Water was carried from the tap by the cemetery gate in a borrowed plastic container and the plant well watered in. The liquid soaked reluctantly into the dry ground, like spilled blood.
Hopefully the plant will flourish for a few years or until someone else is able to make a visit. A note was also left explaining why the heather had been planted, and by whom.
Eventually, after about three quarters of an hour our journey was resumed, leaving Charles behind where he has belonged for so many years. There was sadness but also a feeling of completion, a "rounding off" to his story - a sense of gladness that we had managed to visit his last resting place.
"One solace there is for me, sweet but faint,
As it floats on the wind of the years.
A whisper that spring is the last true thing,
And that triumph is born of tears."
G.A. Studdert Kennedy