Tuesday, 21 June 2022

A wonderful story relating to the poem "Handing Down" by Harold Begbie

I frequently receive messages from people interested in my WW1 research and this one is particularly interesting : Received on 16 June 2022 

“Do you know the story of George Evelyn Harold Turley, a Canadian soldier who read the poem ‘ Handing Down’ by Harold Begbie and amended it so it would be relevant to his infant son. Billy.  He was killed in April 1916 and the amended poem was published in newspapers all over Canada. A journalist sent a copy to Harold who sent a letter in response to the soldier’s widow and family. Regards Dave Barlee”

I began researching WW1 poets for a series of commemorative exhibitions in May 2012.   Ann Swabey very kindly found me a copy of the very first WW1 poem I read - when I was 7 years old.  It was copied by my Aunt into her notebook.  The poem made a deep impression on me and I never forgot it. My Aunt was in the Wrens during the Second World War.  She died in 1948 so the poem is very important to me.  I remembered the first line and Ann found the poem for me - "Handing Down" by Harold Begbie.  However, I did not know the story that Dave told me about the poem.

Dave Barlee kindly sent me the internet links to the Canadian Veterans website, where one can find the reports of the death of George Evelyn Harold Turley (1887 - 1916), who was born in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, UK.  

Canadian Virtual War Memorial George Evelyn Turley In memory of: Sergeant George Evelyn Turley April 28, 1916 Military Service Service Number: 26018 Age: 28 Force: Army Unit: Canadian Infantry (Quebec Regiment) Division: 14th Bn. Additional Information Son of George and Agnes Turley, of Kidderminster, England. Husband of Alice M. Turley, of 9, Gorse Drive, Gorse Hill, Stretford, Manchester, England.   Brother of Ernest George Turley, who died on August 15, 1917 while serving with the Canadian Infantry (Central Ontario Regiment).

Commemorated on Page 175 of the First World War Book of Remembrance. 

According to my research on Find my Past,  Evelyn Harold Turley's parents were George Turley and his wife, Agnes, nee Crane, who were married in March 1882 and lived in Kidderminster in 1891 and Kings Norton in 1901.   Evelyn Harold Turley was born in 1887.  He married Alice Maud Naylor (or Taylor?) in Kings Norton in March 1910.   I have not been able to find out when he added George to his name.

In 1911, some of the members of the Turley family went to Canada. 

Billy was born in 1913. 

"Handing Down"

Soldier what are you writing

By the side of your cooling gun?

Sir, since Im stopped from fightings

A word to my little son.

Tell me the thing you've written

For I love the writer's art:

Sir, that to be a Briton

Is worth a broken heart.

Show me so fine a letter

That you write in the trenches mud:

Sir, you could read it better

Were it not for the stain of blood.

Soldier tell me your story                                           

Your eyes grow bright and wide:

Sir, it's a taste of glory

To think of the young one's pride.

Would I like to be with Tommy, little Tommy-all-my-own,

Would I give a month of Sundays just to see how he has grown?

Yes ! Id like to be a dustman in the poorest London streets

For the chance of meeting Tommy with a gumboil made of sweets.

If you want to be where I am, why, I want to be with you.

But I'm here to show a tyrant that a Briton's word is true

We must stand by little Belgium, we must fight till fighting ends.

We must show the foes of Britain that we don't desert our friends.

Don't you go and think, my Tommy, little Tommy-all-my-own.

That we're squabbling here for nothing, that we're growling for a bone:

We are here for Britain's honour, for our freedom, for our peace.

And we're also here, my Tommy, that these wicked wars may cease.

Don't you say that I am funky, don't you say that I am sick,

Boy, I'm half afraid to tell you, but I love it when it's thick —

When the shells are screaming, bursting, and the whistling bullets wail,

God forgive me, but I love it, and I fight with tooth and nail.

But it's after, looking round us, missing friends and finding dead.

It is then the British soldier gets a fancy in his head.

And he swears by God in heaven that the man who starts a war.

Should go swimming into judgment down an avalanche of gore.

That's what makes us such great fighters, and I'd have you be the same,

Love your country like a good un, hold your head up, play the game,

Be a straight and pleasant neighbour, be a cool, un-ruffled man.

But when bullies want a thrashing, why, you thrash them all you can.

While you say your prayers, my Tommy, little Tommy-all-my-own,

Asking God to save your Daddy, I send this one to His throne:

Save my little lad from slaughter, guard his heart and mind from wrong,

Keep him sweet and kind and gentle, yes, but make him awful strong.

Good-night, my little Tommy, here's your Daddy's good-bye kiss.

Don't forget what I have told you, and remember also this —

If I don't come back to see you, I shall die without a groan,

For it's great to fall for Freedom, little Tommy-all- my-own.

I sent Dave's message to Roger Quinn, who is Harold Begbie's Grandson, with whom I have been in contact for several years.  Roger replied: "Thank you so much for sharing this with me, I knew nothing about it and there's nothing in my collection of HB's papers which touches on it. It is a very touching story and I'm so glad that my grandfather replied to Fred Field and asked him to offer his condolences to George Turley's widow. I wonder if Billy Turley came to treasure the amended poem and whether he played any part in the next war, he would only be 22 when it started. If you are in touch with Dave Barlee please thank him from me for sending the newspaper article and say that I was very moved by it."

Sources:  Find my Past, Free BMD and






Monday, 20 June 2022

Rev. James S. Morris (1872-1931) - poet and Wesleyan Methodist Minister

With thanks to The Reverend Stephen Copson,  Hon Secretary of the Baptist Historical Society for  his help in trying to discover further information about the Rev. J.S. Morris and to Andrew Mackay who sent me this poem written by The Rev. J.S. Morris in 1921 at the opening of the Garden of Remembrance in Todmorden, Yorkshire, UK.  

I have been trying to find further information about the Rev. James S. Morris, Pastor at Lydgate Baptist Church, Todmorden (1907).  It seems that in March 1904, he married Ellen Bailey (1886-19??) at Halifax Parish Church.  If anyone can help please get in touch

The First World War Garden of Remembrance in Todmorden, Yorkshire, UK was dedicated on 23rd January 1921. The Rev. J.S. Morris, Pastor at Lydgate Baptish Church, Todmorden, wrote a poem of remembrance.

Andrew also sent me photos of the Garden: 

as it was in 1921 

and the photograph he took during a recent visit. 




The Reverend Canon Frederick George Scott, C.M.G., D.S.O. (1861 – 1944) – Canadian WW1 Army Chaplain and poet

 With thanks to Daryl G Hudson, Admin on the World War One Facebook Group who gave me permission to share his post about Canadian poet The Reverend Frederick George Scott (1861 – 1944) who I wrote about in an earlier post. 


At the time of writing that post I was unaware of Scott's search for his missing son. Daryl Hudson says:

The Reverend Frederick George Scott (1861 – 1944) was serving as a Chaplain with the First Canadian Division in France when he learned of the death of his twenty-four-year-old son Henry, killed in October 1916 while leading an attack on enemy lines near Albert. After the chaos of battle, Henry’s body had been hastily buried between the lines, but could not be recovered. 

Scott was able to return to the area near Regina Trench over a month later in mid-November, and with a runner, he found a cross marking his son’s grave. They began to dig until they exposed a hand wearing Henry’s signet ring. Removing the ring, the chaplain read the burial service, then “made a small mound where the body lay, and then by quick dashes from shell hole to shell hole we got back at last to the communication trench…. It was a strange scene of desolation, for the November rains had made the battle fields a dreary, sodden waste.”° A working party brought Henry Hutton Scott’s remains back behind the lines on Nov. 24. His father was there as they

"laid my dear boy to rest in the little cemetery on Tara Hill …. I was thankful to have been able to have him buried in a place which is known and can be visited .… In June of the following year, when the Germans had retired after our victory at Vimy Ridge, I paid one more visit to Regina Trench. The early summer had clothed the waste land in fresh and living green. Larks were singing gaily in the sunny sky. No sound of shell or gun disturbed the whisper of the breeze as it passed over the sweet-smelling fields. Even the trenches were filling up and Mother Nature was trying to hide the cruel wounds which the war had made upon her loving breast. One could hardly recall the visions of gloom and darkness which had once shrouded that scene of battle. In the healing process of time all mortal agonies, thank God, will finally be obliterated." 

Frederick George Scott, known as the poet of the Laurentians, was an Anglican priest before the war. He volunteered as an Army Chaplain in August 1914 and recalled his thoughts when he stood in the pulpit that same Sunday: “When I was preaching at the service and looked down at the congregation, I had a queer feeling that some mysterious power was dragging me into a whirlpool, and the ordinary life around me and the things that were so dear to me had already begun to fade away.”

In Scott’s memoir, “The Great War as I Saw It” (1922), he recalls his time in Flanders: 

The wood [Ploegsteert] in those days was a very pleasant place to wander through. Anything that reminded us of the free life of nature acted as a tonic to the nerves, and the little paths among the trees which whispered overhead in the summer breezes made one imagine that one was wandering through the forests in Canada. In the wood were several cemeteries kept by different units, very neatly laid out and carefully fenced in. I met an officer one day who told me he was going up to the trenches one evening past a cemetery in the wood, when he heard the sound of someone sobbing. He looked into the place and there saw a young boy lying beside a newly made grave. He went in and spoke to him and the boy seemed confused that he had been discovered in his sorrow. “It’s the grave of my brother, Sir,” he said, “He was buried here this afternoon and now I have got to go back to the line without him.” The lad dried his eyes, shouldered his rifle and went through the woodland path up to the trenches. No one would know again the inner sorrow that had darkened his life.

My source:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/787823817901556/posts/5954372394579980/?comment_id=5954474914569728&notif_id=1655733194862859&notif_t=group_comment_mention    20.6.2022 

“The Great War as I Saw It” by The Reverend Canon Frederick George Scott, C.M.G., D.S.O. (F. D. Goodchild Co, Toronto, Canada, 1922)

is available to read as a free download on Project Gutenberg:


Monday, 13 June 2022

Johann Wilhelm Kinau - pen name Gorch Fock (1880 – 1916) - German poet and author - other pen names Jakob Holst and Giorgio Focco

Found for us by Timo Gälzer: 

„what the sea swallowed,

time devoured the pain

the sea remains forever.“

„The best books are not the ones that fill us up, but the ones that make us hungry, hungry for life.“

„Ships only strand on rocks that God created.“

„The dead are not dead, they go with us, they are only invisible, their steps are inaudible.“

I shared the information about this hitherto unknown German WW1 poet with AC Benus* and he has very kindly translated some of Gorch’s poems for us.  I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have.  Thank you so much Timo and AC.

Johan was born on 22nd August 1880. His parents were Heinrich Wilhelm Kinaur, a fisherman, and his wife, Metta Holst.  They lived on the Elbe Island of Finkenwerder, which is now part of Hamburg, in Germany.  Johan became apprenticed to his uncle who was a merchant, then worked as an accountant in Meiningen.  In 1904, he began publishing the poetry and stories he wrote in his native Low German dialect. 

From 1907, Johan worked for the shipping line Hamburg-America in Hamburg.   In 1908, Johan married Rosa Elisabeth Reich and the couple had three children.  

During the First World War, Johan was drafted into the German Infantry in 1915. He fought in Serbia and Russia and was later at Verdun.   In 1916, he requested a transfer to the German Navy and served as a Lookout on the light cruiser WMS Wiesbaden.  Johan died when the ship was sunk during the Battle of Jutland on 31st May 1916.  His body was washed up on the Swedish  Island of Väderöbod and he was buried on the Island of Stensholmen with 2  British and 13 German sailors who died during the Battle.  Johan’s body was recognised because he was carrying a poem entitled "Letzter Wunsch", which predicted his death.  It was contained in a hermetically sealed box in his pocket.

The German Navy named two training ships in his honour, the Gorch Fock of the Kriegsmarine and the Gorch Fock of the Deutsche Marine. Gorch-Fock-Wall on the Hamburg Wallring is also named after him.

Works by Gorch Fock:

1910 Schullengrieper und Tungenkrieper

1911 Hein Godenwind

1913 Hamborger Janmaten

1913 Seefahrt ist Not! (ISBN 3-499-14148-5)

1914 Fahrensleute

1914 Cilli Cohrs (a play)

1914 Doggerbank (a play)

1914–15 War poems in Plattdüütsch

1918 Sterne überm Meer (Diary notes and poems, published posthumously)

1918 Sterne überm Meer (Diary notes and poems, published posthumously)

Here are some of Gorch's poems from "Sterne überm Meer" - translated by AC Benus:

p. 104

Segle, Herz, mit allen Winden, 

wirft nicht deinen Hafen finden. 

Hafen? Was soll dir der Hafen? 

Legtest dich nur hin zum Schlafen! 

Segle, Herz, mit allen Winden! 

Sail, heart, with every wind you find,

Heave not for the port you left behind.

Harbour? What harbour's meant for you?

Just lay you down to sleep, dear crew.

Sail, heart, with every wind you find!

p. 174


Das erste Kriegergrab am Wegesrand, 

wir stehen mit den Müßen in der Hand.

Ob Freund, ob Feind der Tote, der da liegt,

ein Blumenstrauß doch auf den Hügel fliegt.

Im Westen glimmt ein tiefes Abendrot;

wir grüßen ernst und feierlich den Tod!

Dann heult der Zug und es geht rußlandwärts . . .

Bleibst wie du warst, bleibst tapfer, du mein Herz!


At the first warrior-grave by the wayside,

We stand with our kit and guts in our hands.

Whether for friend or foe who lies there dead,

a run of flowers flies up the hillsides. 

The deep of evening smolders in the west;

we salute death gravely and solemnly. 

Then the train wails, we're off towards Russia . . . 

Stay as you were, my heart, be strong!

Mein junger Leutnant

Meinen jungen Leutnant sah ich lachen

mit den Augen eines Liliencron;

eine Zigarette schief im Munde,

war ihm jeder Landsturmmann ein Sohn.

Meinen jungen Leutnant sah ich gehen

in den Schüßengräben hin und her.

Kugelhagel. Gab er auf das Lachen?

Strich er seine Flagge? Nimmermehr!

Meinen jungen Leutnant sah ich stürmen,

in der Faust den weißen, blanken Stahl;

zwar die Zigarette flog zu Boden,

doch er lachte trotzig siebenmal.

Meinen jungen Leutnant sah ich fallen,

eine Russenkugel traf fein Herz.

„Weiter!" -- hörte ich ihn lachend rufen,

eisern zwang er nieder seinen Schmerz.

Meinen jungen Leutnant seh’ ich liegen

unter Birken fern im Polenland.

Blumen lachen leuchtend auf dem Hügel;

ladend grüß' ich meinen Leutenant. 

Oder soll ich um den Leutnant weinen?

Nein, mein Herz! Er hatte unsern Sinn --

denn wir lachen auch in allen Stürmen,

geben auch das Leben lachend hin!

Vor Brest-Litowsk (16. 8. 1915)

My Young Lieutenant

I have seen my young lieutenant laughing

with the bright eyes of a lyric poet;

a cigarette lightly crooked in his mouth,

with every foot-soldier seeming his son.

I have seen my young lieutenant pacing

back and forth within the dug-out trenches.

Hail of bullets. Did he cease his laughter?

Did he hoist surrender? No, not ever!

I have seen my young lieutenant storming

with white steel gripped in his white-knuckled fist,

and though the cigarette flew in the dirt,

He chuckled defiantly seven times. 

I have seen my young lieutenant falling,

a Russian bullet ripped through his chest.

"Forward!" -- I heard him shout beneath laughter,

forced down by pain, though his heart were iron. 

I still see my young lieutenant lying 

in far-off Poland, beneath the birch trees.

Now laugh flowers brightly upon his hill;

I hail my lieutenant with a salute.

Or, is it for him I should be crying?

No, heart of mine, for he took our measure --

so that we may chuckle through every storm,

and give up our lives laughingly, like him. 


Near Brest-Litovsk (16. 8. 1915)

From "Sterne überm Meer" (Diary notes and poems) 

The Battle of Jutland Battle, or the Battle of the Skagerrak, as it was known to the Germans, was the largest naval battle of the First World War.  It was fought from 31st May to 1st June 1916 between British and German battleships in the North Sea.

German sail training ship Gorch Fock

*AC Benus is the author of a book about German WW1 poet Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele : “The Thousandth Regiment: A Translation of and Commentary on Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele’s War Poems” by AC Benus (AC Benus, San Francisco, 2020). Along with Hans's story, the book includes original poems as well as translations.    ISBN: 978-1657220584







Friday, 3 June 2022

Daniel Sargent (1890 – 1987) - American poet, author and lecturer at Harvard University

With thanks to Dr Connie Ruzich for finding this poet and posting one of his poems

on her website Behind their LInes*

Daniel Sargent was born in Wareham, Massachusets, USA of a Uniterian family in 1890. He studied at Harvard University from 1908 to 1913 and became a tutor at Harvard University from 1914 to 1934.

In 1916, after travelling in Europe, Daniel volunteered to serve with the American Ambulance Service in France, later becoming a Lieutenant in the Fifth Field Artillery, American Expeditionary Force (A.E.F)   

In 1919 Daniel was received into the Catholic Church - his "first conscious inclination to the Faith" came while reading Dante at University.

Here is one of Daniel's poems:

“VERDUN “ by Daniel Sargent

Men that march up to Verdun! 

How the tread that flowed like a rhythm is drowned by a sea 

That storms at a fortress of Europe loved by the sun. 

And the sun fares low to the cheek and it tenderly 

Touches with courage the white dust guarding them on. 

On moves their cloud in its dream, and the sun with its gold 

Sinks blind in the darkness of hills. A chill ! They have turned 

To the ancient mercy of sky; in the calm of its fold 

A wing of bright silver flashed. — To the sun it still burned. 

Men that are birds! It is gone! And the dusk of  the way 

Melts under a gate to a gloom, where the glint of  the eye 

Turns black at the ruins which lower, and tongue-less that pray. 

And the Meuse steals under their path like a vein  of the sky. 

O the black steep cliff of the Meuse with the sky at its brow! 

They mount from the foothills that shake, to the ridges, grow dim 

In the smoke that shakes on the forehead of thunder,  Now! 

And a lightning shows what is dark in the tillage grim ! 

Men that march up to Verdun! 


Men that march down from Verdun! 

Look ! a sign like a lamp at a tomb has glared in the East! 

First pale as a mist in a brook, then lifted and clear, 

And the wall of the sky turns glass, and a star-light has ceased ; 

So down through the stealth of ravines they trickle and veer. 

How still is the Meuse! A bridge; dark, loud to the tread! 

Then a city of tombs, and at last the long highway has stilled 

The roar that disputed the world. And the silence is spread 

Like a tribute fair to the dawn. And the silence is filled 

By the mornfng song of a bird. But they march as yet owned 

By the chaos once that was all, still rumbling behind. 

The dust, it is sweet with the dew. The calm day is throned 

On the fair blue might of the hills. They are plodding still blind. 

Till at last as by doom of a full-chorded rush of the leaves 

Of long-guarding poplars up leaps the sun to partake 

Of the bright fair order of France, its fields, and its eaves, 

And proves them of France once again by their shadows which wake. 

Men that march down from Verdun ! 

From the poetry collection “The Door: And Other Poems” by Daniel Sargent (Richard G. Badger, The Gorham Press, Boston, 1921) - 54 pages  -  “Verdun” – pp.41 – 43.  This is available as a free downloan on Archive:  https://archive.org/details/doorotherpoems00sarg/page/40/mode/2up


Trucks of Verdun by Georges Scott (1873 – 1943) 




For another poem by Daniel Sargent please see Dr Connie Ruzich's website:


Thursday, 2 June 2022

Maxwell Bodenheim (1892 – 1954) – American poet and writer

With thanks to Dr Connie Ruzich* for finding this poet. He is

also mentioned in Catherine W. Reilly's "English Poetry of the First World War"

Born in Hermanville, Mississippi, USA in 1892, Max’s parents were Solomon Bodenheimer from Germany, born July 1858, and his wife, Carrie from Alsace-Lorraine, born April 1860.   Carrie emigrated to the United States in 1881 and Solomon in 1888. In 1900, the family moved from Mississippi to Chicago. 

After becoming a well known literary personality in Chicago, Max went to live in New York where he became known as the King of Greenwich Village Bohemians. His writing brought him international notoriety during the Jazz Age of the 1920s.  He apparently became a beggar on the streets of Greenwich Village.

Max was married three times. His first wife was Minna Schein – they were married in 1918. The couple had one child – a son – Solbert - who was born in 1920. The couple divorced in 1938.  

Max’s second wife was Grace Finan - they were married in 1939. Grace died in 1950. 

After becoming a widower, Max married Ruth Fagin in 1952.  Max and Ruth were murdered in New York in 1954. 

"Soldiers"  by: Maxwell Bodenheim 

Illustration by French artist
Gaston Bonfils (1855 - 1946)

The smile of one face is like a fierce mermaid

Floating dead in a little pale-brown pond.

The lips of one are twisted

To a hieroglyphic of silence.

The face of another is like a shining frog.

Another face is met by a question

That digs into it like sudden claws.

Beside it is a face like a mirror

In which a stiffened child dangles. . .


Dead soldiers, in a sprawling crescent,

Whose faces form a gravely mocking sentence.

From Max Bodenheim’s first published collection of poetry (and play, The Master-Poisoner - with Ben Hecht ) which was entitled, “Minna and Myself” (Pagan Publishing Company, New York City, 1918).


Sources: Wikipedia and Project Gutenberg


Catherine W. Reilly.- "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) p. 394.

*For another WW1 poem by Max Bodenheim, please see Dr Connie Ruzish's website Behind their Lines 


Saturday, 30 April 2022

Berton Braley (1882 – 1966) - American poet

 With thanks to Chris Dubbs for finding the “Puck” magazine of August 1917 cover with artwork by American artist and sculptor Louis Meyer (1869 – 1969) and poem “Patria’s Progress No. 3” by American poet Berton Braley (1882 – 1966)

Berton was born in Madison, Wisconsin, USA on 29th January 1882.
His WW1 poetry collections were: "A Banjo at Armageddon" (1917). New York: George H. Doran Company and
"In Camp and Trench: Songs of the Fighting Forces" (1918). New York: George H. Doran Company

Berton died on 23rd January 1966.

“Puck” was the first successful humour magazine published in the United States of America containing colourful cartoons, caricatures and political satire of the issues of the day. It was founded in 1871 as a German-language publication by Joseph Keppler, an Austrian-born cartoonist. The first English language edition of “Puck” was published in 1877, covering issues like New York City's Tammany Hall, presidential politics, and social issues of the late 19th century to the early 20th century. The magazine ceased publication in 1918.
"Puckish" means "childishly mischievous". This led Shakespeare's Puck (from his play “A Midsummer Night's Dream”) to be recast as a charming boy and used as the title of the magazine. “Puck” was the first magazine to carry illustrated advertising and the first to successfully adopt full-color lithography printing for a weekly publication.

The poem on the cover of "Puck" :

Berton Braley features in Catherine W. Reilly's book "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) p. 394.