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Lost Friends
Bill Cheall was a member of the Green Howards Regiment and part of General Montgomery’s 8th Army advancing into Tunisia in 1943. Jumping off early in an attack on a ...

Lost Friends

Bill Cheall was a member of the Green Howards Regiment and part of General Montgomery’s 8th Army advancing into Tunisia in 1943. Jumping off early in an attack on a place called Wadi Akarit, Cheall’s company covered about four miles under bright moonlight before coming under heavy artillery, mortar, and machine-gun fire. Under the eerie illumination of flares the Green Howards struggled up the hill toward their objective in intense close-range fighting. By 8:00 a.m. the hill was taken with heavy casualties on each side.

Shortly after, Cheall and another soldier were detailed to bury a member of their unit who was killed nearby. He was appalled at having to gather horribly disfigured body parts, likely caused by an exploding artillery shell. As he went about his gruesome job, he found the dead man’s identity tags. He learned that he was about to bury one of his closest friends in the company. There was nothing to do but carry on with the task at hand. He later said, “I don’t know how I contained my emotions at that moment.” The next day he learned that another close friend in another unit died in the same attack. He lamented:

I was now devastated once again. That was two grand lads only nineteen years of age—dead—and when I had last seen them only a matter of days ago they were laughing and cracking jokes. What a tragedy war is. No, I will never forget the 6th of April 1943, but life had to go on.

In wartime soldiers often have little time to mourn lost comrades. This is a big part of the psychological stress that they have to endure during and after combat. Thankfully, the grieving process can be more deliberate for most of us. We can find comfort for ourselves and confidence in the fate of our lost loved ones through our faith and in the promises of God revealed in his Word:

Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

—Revelation 7:16–17


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