Do not think of him as dead

The life and service of Ronald Poulton Palmer received a worthy tribute at St Stephen’s Church in Reading, where he had run a club for boys before the war. he was buried in France, close to where he fell, but this memorial service was well attended locally.


A Service in honour of the life and death of Lieut. Ronald W. Poulton Palmer, 4th Royal Berks Regiment, killed while on duty in France, May 5th 1915, was held in S. Stephen’s Church on Sunday night, May 16th. All the old members of the Albert Road Lads’ Club- which he ran so successfully – except the 21 serving with the Colours, were present, as were his father, brother and sister, and very many friends from the Factory [Huntley & Palmer’s biscuit factory, to which he was one of the heirs] and elsewhere. At the desire of all who knew and loved him, the note of triumph and victory were predominant; and this determined the choice of the hymns, the singing of which was so marked a feature of the service. The address was based on the thought of further service in a greater sphere. Some of us will never forget him, for it was indeed upon the winning background of a true humility and a noble character that his great gifts were set.

The following is a verbatim report of the close of the vicar’s sermon at St Stephen’s, kindly furnished by Mr E. M. Tull:

“When I say we are here to honour his memory, I may leave a wrong impression, and as I close I want to correct it. When we speak of honouring his memory, we do not think of him as if he was now unconscious or as if it was all over with him. What did that bullet do that released him from this life? It threw him further into the arms of God; it meant to him his promotion; it opened up for him a wider field of service. It would be blasphemy to think that God looked after people who came safely through a battle and forgot those who were killed. A bullet has no power to take a man out of communion with God, to rob him of life. In the truest and deepest sense it can only project him nearer God and further into that eternal life which has already begun for those who are in communion with Christ. So do not think of him as dead tonight, but think of him in Paradise. ‘His servants shall serve Him and they shall see His face.’ Someone has said

‘It is not well that men should know too soon
The lovely secrets kept for them that die.’
But this is no secret, for it is revealed to us.

‘His servants shall serve Him and they shall see His face’. The message of Ascensiontide comes home to us with power tonight…. We know that our friend, Ronald Palmer, has received at His hands the crown of life.”

Reading St John and St Stephen parish magazine, June 1915 (D/P172/28A/24)

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