Friday, 24 May 2019

Werner Schultze von Langsdorff - Thor Goote - (1899 – 1940) - German; writer, airman and aero engineer

Thor Goote was the Pen-name of Werner Schultze von Langsdorff, who was born on 27th May 1899 in Forbach, Lothringen, which is now a commune in the Department of Moselle in the northeastern area of France.  It is located on the German border near Saarbrücken, Germany

Werner was the son of a nobleman and Army officer from Hesse. During the First World War, he volunteered to serve in the German army and joined an Artillery Regiment. He was wounded, after which he joined the German Air Force with the rank of Lieutenant. Werner was awarded the Iron Cross Ist Class.

In 1919 Werner enrolled on a course to study aeronautical engineering at Darmstadt Technical University, graduating in 1923 as an engineer with a doctorate  - Dr.-Ing.  He then worked as a freelance engineer and test pilot and published numerous books and essays. He also published “The Yearbook of Aviation” and “The Aviation Handbook”. Werner sustained serious injuries in an aircraft crash in 1928 amd had to wait until 1936 before he was allowed to fly again.   He then taught aeronautical engineering and aviation at Karlsruhe Technical University.

During the 1920s Werner joined the Nazi Party and worked as a civil servant in the National Socialist Air Corps.

In 1939, Werner was called up to serve in a fighter squadron, after which he was in the research department of the Technical Office of the Reich Ministry of Aviation. In 1940 he requested a transfer to a combat squadron and joined a reconnaisance unit.  He was killed on 3rd July 1940 when his plane crashed  in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland.


Thursday, 23 May 2019

George Henry Bonner (1895 - 1929) – British poet and journalist

George Henry Bonner was born on 26th May 1895.  His parents were Baptist Church Minister the Reverend Henry Bonner – Minister of Hamstead Road Baptist Church – and his wife Margaret Elizabeth, nee Johnson. George had a younger brother, Augustine Ralph, b. 1896.

The Rev. Bonner died when George was just 4 years old, and he and his brother, Austin, were brought up by their mother.

George was educated at King Edward’s School in Birmingham, where he was a Prefect, edited the School Magazine and a contemporary of J.R.R.Tolkien. He then went up to Magdalen College, Oxford University but, at the outbreak of war, postponed his studies and joined the South Staffordshire Regiment.  He transferred to the Royal Field Artillery in 1915 and was commissioned as a Subaltern.  He was sent back to Britain in November 1916, suffering from Shell Shock and was sent to Craiglockhart Hospital in October 1917, where he became editor of “The Hydra” magazine after the magazine’s previous editors, Wilfred Owen and J.B. Salmond, had left.

George’s brother, Augustine Bonner, joined the Royal Flying Corps and was killed in 1917 over France.

George married Eleanor Ford in 1921 and they had one son, Augustine, known as Austin, born in 1925 and named after George’s brother.  After the war, George became a journalist.

George had a poem published in the Basil Blackwell anthology “Oxford Poetry 1920”, edited by Vera Brittain and others.

Research into the life and work of George Bonner is by writer, editor, researcher John Garth, who met Bonner’s son, Austin shortly before his death.  Austin handed most of his father’s papers over to Magdalen College, where he had also been an undergraduate. John Garth went to look over the Hydra issues with Dr Stuart Lee, director of the First World War Poetry Digital Archive. They provide a fascinating glimpse into a lost world, in which traumatised officers understandably fell back on the comfortable certainties of life as they had known it before the war. The Hydra reads like a school or college magazine, and reports enthusiastically, and often with gentle wit, on the clubs and pastimes fostered by the hospital inmates: debates, literature, poultry-keeping, sports, model boats, photography and gardening.

In George Bonner’s editorial in Hydra of January 1918, he wrote: ‘Our late Editor, Mr Owen, has reduced the Antaeus saga to blank verse. This poem we hope to print in our next number.’ The poem does not appear in the newly-found issues, and perhaps was never published in Owen’s lifetime. But Owen did write an article in the January 1918 issue of The Hydra about the Greek myth of Antaeus, saying: ‘Now surely every officer who comes to Craiglockhart recognises that, in a way, he is himself Antaeus who has been taken from his Mother Earth and well-nigh crushed to death by the war giant or military machine . . . Antaeus typifies the occupation cure at Craiglockhart. His story is the justification of our activities.’

Antaeus, in Greek mythology, was a giant from Libya. He was the son of the sea god Poseidon and the Earth goddess Gaea. He compelled all strangers who were passing through the country to wrestle with him.


The photograph of George Henry Bonner was by American photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Victor Rousseau (1865 – 1954) - Belgian sculptor, writer and poet

A chance find on the Facebook Group Cemeteries & Memorials of the Gret War, was a post about the Belgian Gratitude Memorial of The First World War that is situated on the Embankment in London, UK.  The main sculpture was the work of Belgian sculptor Victor Rousseau.

Victor Rousseau was born in Feluy, Hainaut, Belgium on 15th December 1865 in “La Sonnette.”  His parents were Emile Rousseau and Philomène Duquesnes and his family were stone masons.   Victor took refuge in Britain during the First World War, returning to Belgium when the war was over.

Victor died at his home in Vorst (Forest), Brussels, on 17th March 1954. A street in Feluy was named after Victor.

Between 1935 and 1953 Victor wrote his memoirs, “Country pictures from my childhood,” as well as numerous “Notes” and over 300 poems.

I am now trying to find poems written by Victor Rousseau.

Photograph of the Belgian Memorial in London reproduced here by kind permission of photographer Kim Haslam - Photos ©️Kim Haslam 2019…/Anglo-Belgian_Memorial,_London

Private Joseph Roach of the Royal Scotts Regiment.

By kind permission of Historian Geoff Harrison, who has supported my commemorative project since it began, here is a poem written by one of the survivors of the terrible multi-train crash known as the Quintinshill Rail Disaster. The accident happened near Gretna Green in Dumfriesshire, Scotland on 22nd May 1915, when a troop train carrying soldiers of the 1/7th Battalion Royal Scots from Larbert to Liverpool was in collision with a local train. Just minutes later, an express train hit the other two trains. The soldiers of the Royal Scots Regiment were on their way to Liverpool to set sail for Gallipoli. 226 died and 246 were injured. We will remember them...

Geoff says:  "Private Joseph Roach, #1777/41000, 1/7th Royal Scotts. Gretna survivor. Even better for him, he survived the war. He rejoined his comrades, or what was left of them, on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 3rd September 1915. As for his poem, it was used at Recruiting Rallies."

The following verse was written by one of those injured at Gretna, 22nd May 1915:

I will tell you a tale of the Seventh
A Battalion we looked on with pride.
I will tell of the valour of comrades
Who for King and for Country have died.

We had been for some ten months training
And we found it was work and not play;
You may guess that each man was delighted
When we learned we were going away.

We had all said goobye to our loved ones
'Ere we set out for over the main;
And I tell you the boys were quite happy
On the morn we stepped into the train.

Off we sped, never thinking of danger;
Ah! I can see every happy face still -
Now a joke, now a laugh, now “Where are we?”
“Yes – the next box will be Quinton Hill.”

And 'twas just then the terrible smash came;
Heavens! It caught us like rats in a trap,
Just when some of our boys a bit drowsy
Were enjoying a quiet little nap.

I was thrown to the right of the carriage
My head and right arm were held fast.
Horrors! Here were the flames coming near me -
What a death! Was next minute my last?

Yes, I shouted for help – and I listened,
“Oh God!” I heard dying men shout;
And 'midst that came – a second collision -
I can tell you no more – I got out.

Ask me not of the sights I beheld there
As I lay on the ground all alone;
But I'll tell of brave lads who leapt into the flames
And saved lives at the risk of their own!

In History's pages, in letters of gold,
Write their names – it is where they should be
For many a lad on that terrible morn
Showed the valour that wins the V.C

Oh, their deeds will ave live in my memory
Their praises, I'd sing them aloud
But to shoulder with such a battalions
It's of that most of all, I'm proud.

Yea, the scenes of that war-sticken morning
From my vision I can never blot;
But 'twill ever be the boast of my life
That I was once a Seventh Royal Scot'

When the order comes - “Forward! Out bayonets!”
And your nerves need a spark that will thrill
Think, oh think of the Heroes of Gretna
And the comrades whose voices are still.

 Joseph Roach, Private with the Royal Scotts Regiment.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

First World War Turkish poets.

With grateful thanks to Şükrü Karaca, here are the names of some Turkish WW1 poets for me to research.

Yahya Kemal Beyatli born Ahmet Âgâh (December 2, 1884 – November 1, 1958)

Mehmet Akif Ersoy (20 December 1873 – 27 December 1936)

Mehmed Ziya Gökalp (23 March 1876 – 25 October 1924)

Mithat Cemal Kuntay (1885, İstanbul - 30 Mart 1956, İstanbul)

Mehmet Fuat Köprülü (December 5, 1890 – June 28, 1966), also known as Köprülüzade Mehmed Fuad

Abdülhak Hâmid Tarhan (2 January 1852, Bebek
Died: 12 April 1937

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Canon Major Frederick George Scott CMG DSO FRSC (1861 – 1944) - Canadian priest, poet and author

  Poet of the Laurentians*

Frederick George Scott was born on 7th April 1861 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He gained a B.A. from Bishop's College, Lennoxville, Quebec, in 1881, and an M.A. in 1884, before going on to study theology at King's College, London in 1882. In 1884 he became a Deacon. In 1886, he was ordained as an Anglican priest at Coggeshall, Essex. He served first at Drummondville, Quebec, and then in Quebec City, where he became Rector of St. Matthew's Anglican Church.

In April 1887, Frederick married Amy Brooks and the couple has six children who survived.  Their son, F. R. Scott, also became a poet.

In 1914, well over the age of 50, Frederick volunteered to fight when war broke He attained the rank of Major and served as the Senior Chaplain to the 1st Canadian Division on the Western Front. Frederick’s son, Captain Henry Hutton Scott, 87th Battalion (Canadian Grenadier Guards), Canadian Infantry was killed during The Somme Offensive on 21st October 1916, at the age of 24, and is buried in Bapaume Post Military Cemetery.

After the war Frederick became Chaplain of the Army and Navy veterans.

During the Quebec Conference of 1943, Scott was invited by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt to a private meeting where he read some of his poetry.

Frederick George Scott died on 19 January 1944 in Quebec City, leaving a daughter and four sons.

In 1885, Frederick published “Justin and Other Poems” which were later included in “The Soul's Quest and Other Poems” (London 1888).
John Garvin included Frederick's poems in his 1916 anthology “Canadian Poets. Garvin said of Frederick : "Frederick George Scott, 'The Poet of the Laurentians,' has this supreme gift as a writer: the art of expressing noble, beautiful and often profound thoughts, in simple, appropriate words which all who read can understand. His poems uplift the spirit and enrich the heart."  "The Unnamed Lake" has been called his best-known poem.

Frederick had a poem included in  “Songs of the Great Dominion”. He was one of the Canadian ‘Confederation Poets", a group including Charles G.D. Roberts, Bliss Carman, Archibald Lampman and Duncan Campbell Scott.

In all Frederick Scott published 13 books of Christian and patriotic poetry.  Frederick’s WW1 collections were “The Gates of Time, and Other Poems” (London: Samuel Bagster & Sons, 1915) and “In the Battle Silences: Poems Written at the Front.” (Toronto: Musson, 1916)

"To France"

WHAT is the gift we have given thee, Sister?
What is the trust we have laid in thy hand?
Hearts of our bravest, our best, and our dearest,
Blood of our blood we have sown in thy land.

What for all time will the harvest be, Sister?
What will spring up from the seed that is sown?
Freedom and peace and goodwill among Nations,
Love that will bind us with love all our own.

Bright is the path that is opening before us,
Upward and onward it mounts through the night:
Sword shall not sever the bonds that unite us
Leading the world to the fullness of light.

Sorrow hath made thee more beautiful, Sister,
Nobler and purer than ever before;
We who are chastened by sorrow and anguish
Hail thee as sister and queen evermore.

Frederick George Scott

From “A Treasury of War Poetry: British and American Poems of the World War, 1914 – 1917” Edited b Geporge Herbert Clarke (Hodder & Stoughton, London, New York, Toronto, 1917 ) pp 39 - 40

* The Laurentian Mountains are a mountain range in southern Quebec, Canada, north of the St. Lawrence River and Ottawa River.

The photograph is from “The Great War As I Saw It” by Frederick George Scott (F.D. Goodchild, Toronto, 1922), which is available as a down-load

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Will Dyson (1880 – 1938) - Australian artist, writer and poet

Known to friends and family as Bill, William Henry Dyson was born in Alfredton, now in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, on 3rd September 1880. His father was George Dyson, a hawker who became a mining engineer, and his mother was Jane Dyson, née Mayall.  Educated at state schools in Ballarat and South Melbourne, Will became an artist like his brother, Ambrose (1876 – 1913), and went to work for the “Adelaide Critic”.

In 1910, Will married Ruby Lindsay.  Ruby came from a well-known family of artists. The couple went to live in London and Will found work with the “Weekly Despatch”. He also drew some coloured cartoons for "Vanity Fair" magazine, which he signed with the pen-name "Emu". Some time later, he began to contribute to the British newspaper “The Daily Herald” (1912 – 1964). His work soon became popular and in 1914, Will published some of his work in a publication entitled “Cartoons”.   In 1915, he was made an official Australian War Artist on the Western Front.

Will was not concerned with his personal safety and was wounded twice while sketching on the Western Front.  Exhibitions of his work were held in London.  In November 1918, Will published a book of his work entitled “Australia at War”.

Ruby died in March 1919 and Will was overcome with grief. Not long after his wife's death, Will drew a cartoon, entitled "Peace and Future Cannon Fodder", which was remarkable in its uncanny foresight.  Published in “The Daily Herald” on 13th May 1919, the cartoon depicted David Lloyd George, Vittorio Orlando and Georges Clemenceau (the Prime Ministers respectively of Britain, Italy and France), together with Woodrow Wilson, (the President of the United States), emerging after a meeting at Versailles to discuss the Peace Treaty. Clemenceau, who was identified by his nickname "The Tiger", is saying to the others: "Curious! I seem to hear a child weeping!" A child in tears stands behind a pillar and a poster proclaims "1940 Class".

In 1920, Will published some of Ruby’s work – “Drawings of Ruby Lind (London, Cecil Palmer 1920) and he also published a volume of his poems – “Poems in Memory of a Wife”.

Will then took up dry pointing and he quickly mastered the possibilities of that medium. In 1925, he returned to Australia for five years and worked for th “Melbourne Herald” and “Punch”.  After a successful exhibition of his dry point creations in New York, Will held an exhibition in London.  He worked again for "The Daily Herald" while there.  Will died on 21st January 1938.  He and his wife are buried together in Section D10 of Hendon Cemetery in London NW7.

“Surrender” a poem by Will Dyson

Now wrap you in such armour as you may,
And make your tardy peace with suffering,
Since grief must be your housemate to the end ...
Nor is it meet that in these bloody years
Such traffic you should make of common wounds.
What is your grief above our mortal lot
That in a world where all must carry scars,
You clamour to the skies as though were fall’n
A prodigy to earth in this your woe.
Now make your peace, and go as you have gone:
The world was so before this grief befell,
But you, the broken, have in breaking learned
A wisdom that you lacked when you were whole.
... in your veins no flavoured stuff doth flow
That fate should beat upon your head in vain.
... Now bend thee to the yoke,
And teach thy heart no longer to rebel.