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The funerals of Stephen Cummins and Miles Amos | by Robert Cutts
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The funerals of Stephen Cummins and Miles Amos

The cutting is from the Daily Telegraph of 17 March, 1989.

 

I knew Miles Amos in the early 1980s, when he was in the Westbury Park, Bristol, scouts and I was helping with the running of the troop. He was a cheerful, outgoing and generous lad and a good friend of my son, Ian Cutts. Sometime in 1988 he joined the artillery and was soon serving in Northern Ireland. On Wednesday, 8 March 1989, he and his fellow artilleryman, Stephen Cummins, were killed when a their vehicle struck a mine near Londonderry.

 

Shortly before his death, Stephen had posted an envelope to his parents, Sheila and Geoff. On it was an instruction not to open it unless something happened to him. When they heard the news they opened the envelope and found this poem:

 

Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not there, I do not sleep,

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the diamond glints on snow,

I am the sunlight on ripened grain.

I am the gentle autumn rain,

When you awaken in the morning's hush,

I am the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight,

I am the soft stars that shine at night,

Do not stand at my grave and cry,

I am not there. I did not die.

 

The poem was headed "To all my loved ones" and was signed "Anonymous". After that were written the words "Thank you, forever, always and a day. Stephen Jeffrey Cummins."

 

His father said that Stephen had never done anything like that before – he assumed he copied the poem from somewhere. But Debbie Turley who was engaged to Stephen, said he was always writing poems.

 

There are conflicting claims over the source of the poem – most attribute it to Mary E Fry. But its authorship matters little. What is much more important its poignancy and relevance. I didn't know Stephen but I'm sure he wouldn't have minded my saying that I can never read it without remembering Miles.

 

Ian attended his friend's funeral.

 

There are some intriguing allegations about the late Martin McGuiness around and included amongst them is a disturbing reference to the killing of Stephen and Amos.

 

Robert Cutts

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Taken on March 16, 1989