Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Francis Scott Key FitzGerald (1896 - 1940) - American

F. Scott FitzGerald, the American author famous for writing the novel "The Great Gatsby", was also a poet. He served in the American Army during the First World War and was based at Camp Sheridan in Montgomery, Alabama, where he met his future wife. 

Here is one of his poems:
"We leave tonight"
WE leave to-night . . . 
Silent, we filled the still, deserted street,
A column of dim gray,
And ghosts rose startled at the muffled beat
Along the moonless way;
The shadowy shipyards echoed to the feet
That turned from night and day.
And so we linger on the windless decks,
See on the spectre shore
Shades of a thousand days, poor gray-ribbed wrecks . . .
Oh, shall we then deplore
Those futile years!
See how the sea is white!
The clouds have broken and the heavens burn
To hollow highways, paved with gravelled light
The churning of the waves about the stern
Rises to one voluminous nocturne,
. . . We leave to-night.
Francis Scott Fitzgerald

Source:  Mark D. Van Ells on Facebook.  Mark is the author of the book "America and WW1: A Traveler's Guide".

Friday, 13 July 2018

Exhibition of WW1 Royal Flying Corps/Royal Naval Air Service Poets and Writers

Poet writer and journalist IVAN HEALD, MC, who was born in Accrington, Lancashire, is just one of the poets featured in an exhibition of WW1 Royal Flying Corps/Royal Naval Air Service Poets and Writers which is currently on display at Ian Inglis's Military Museum Scotland. 

Ian has sent me a wonderful photograph of part of the display. 

To find out more about the Museum, please see this link and/or visit the Museum's Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Military-Museum-Scotland-SCIO-591…/ 

Photograph of the display provided by Ian Inglis.

Military Museum Scotland, 
Legion Hall, 
Wilkieston, 
Kirknewton, West Lothian 
EH27 8DU

This exhibition came out of a conversation I had earlier this year with Marilyn Summers, who is the Air Show Deputy Director at Royal Air Force Cosford.  Marillyn contacted me via one of my commemorative Facebook pages, asking for some panels to display at the RAF Cosford Air Show on 10th June 2018.

Friday, 15 June 2018

Book Review: “Rendezvous with Death: Artists and Writers in the Thick of it 1914 – 1918” by Tony Geraghty, Pen & Sword, Barnsley, Yorkshire, 2018

“Rendezvous with Death:  Artists and Writers in the Thick of it 1914 – 1918” by Tony Geraghty, Pen & Sword, Barnsley, Yorkshire, 2018

I only wish this amazing book had been available when I first started researching in May 2012 for a series of commemorative exhibitions about the poets of the First World War.   Although most of the poets, writers and musicians featured in the book are well-known, Geraghty has a completely new take on them, as he goes into great detail about the battles in which they were involved, killed or wounded.  Geraghty’s lifetime of experience as a professional soldier and as a war correspondent undoubtedly bring to this book a more sympathetic and enlightened view from the point of view of those who served.

Geraghty goes into considerable detail about the battles/situations in which those included were involved, died or killed: George Butterworth, Wilfred Owen, Alan Seeger, Isaac Rosenberg, Edward Thomas, Ivor Gurney, Rupert Brooke, R.C. Sherriff, Vaughan Williams, Erskine Childers and J.B. Priestley. Also included are some of the men who served with the Red Cross during WW1: Jerome K. Jerome, Ernest Hemingway, W. Somerset Maugham, Robert W. Service and Harold Macmillan, of the Macmillan publishing company, who later became Prime Minister of the UK.

You will also find in the final chapter, the personal story of Geraghty’s relatives who served during the conflict.  There is a detailed bibliography, a copious notes section for each chapter and an index.

I don’t want to give too much away - I found the whole book fascinating but was particularly interested in Chapter Two – ‘Wilfred Owen: Poet, Hero … But ‘Malingerer’?’ - as I went to school just around the corner to where Wilfred was educated in Birkenhead, Wirral.  My school had close connections with the composer Vaughan Williams, so Chapter Nine was also of great interest – ‘Vaughan Williams, Composer: ‘No Longer A Man’ But His Lark Ascends Still’ - a clever reference to one of Vaughan Williams’s most famous works.

The Chapter about Erskine Childers – Chapter Ten – was also of particular interest as I am just putting the finishing touches to an exhibition commemorating poets and writers of WW1 who were in the Royal Flying Corps or the Royal Naval Air Service, which amalgamated to become The Royal Air Force on 1st April 1918.  And Chapter Eleven – ‘The Red Cross Men – Age Did Not Weary Them’ - I also found most enlightening.

Further details from https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/

Lucy London, May 2018
www.fascinatingfactsofww1.blogspot.co.uk
www.inspirationalwomenofww1.blogspot.co.uk
www.femalewarpoets.blogspot.co.uk
www.forgottenpoetsofww1.blogspot.co.uk

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Francis St. Vincent Morris (1896 - 1917) – British

Remembering Francis St. Vincent Morris who died on 29th April 1917

Francis, known to his family as ‘Vin’, was born on 21st February 1896 in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, UK.  His parents were Ernest Edwin Morris, an Anglican Church Minister who was Vicar of St. Oswald’s Parish Church, Ashbourne, and his wife, Josephine Anna Morris, nee Bolton.  Francis had the following siblings:  Mary E. b. 1888, Ruth L. b. 1892 and Ernest B., b. 1894.  The family lived in The Vicarage in Ashbourne.

Educated at home by a governess, then at Brighton College and Wadham College, Oxford, Francis was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire) Regiment on 7th August 1915. 

Francis applied to join the Royal Flying Corps and, after completing a training course in Oxford, transferred to the 3rd Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps in early 1917.  He was posted to France, where he had two flying accidents due to the very bad weather.  Then his plane crashed near Vimy Ridge during a snow storm.  Francis was badly wounded and had to have a leg amputated.  He was transferred to the Base Hospital in Rouen in preparation for a further operation but died on 29th April 1917.  Francis was buried in St. Sever Communal Cemetery in Rouen.

Francis’s WW1 poetry collection “Poems” was published by Blackwell, Oxford in 1917 and his poems were included in the following WW1 anthologies:  “Oxford Poetry, 1917” Edited by W.R. Childe, T.W. Earp and Dorothy L. Sayers, Blackwell, Oxford, 1917 and “The Valiant Muse: an Anthology of Poems by Poets killed in the War”, 1936, Edited by Frederic W. Ziv.

“Last Poem”

 Through vast
 Realms of air we passed
 On wings all-whitely fair.

 Sublime
 On speeding wing we climb
 Like an unfettered Thing,

 Away
 Height upon height; and play
 In God's great Lawns of Light.

 And He
 Guides us safe home to see
 The Fields He bade us roam.

(Published in “Oxford Poetry, 1917” – see below).

Sources:

http://hekint.org/2017/11/13/francis-st-vincent-morris-pilot-poet/ - contains references to letters and unpublished poems by Morris;
Find my Past and Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War:  A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) pp.22, 33 and 230.
“Oxford Poetry, 1917” is available as a free download on Archive:
https://ia800108.us.archive.org/1/items/oxfordpoetry50815gut/50815-0.txt

A poem dedicated to a dead female WW1 Worker by Arundel James Kennedy Esdaile

I would love to know whose grave inspired Arundel and where it was - in Belgium or France maybe?

“On a War-Worker, 1916” by Arundel James Kennedy Esdaile (1880 – 1956)


Far from their homes they lie, the men who fell
Fighting, in Flanders clay or Tigris sand:
She who lies here died for the cause as well,
Whom neither bayonet killed nor bursting shell
But her own heart that loves its native land.

From ““Cambridge Poets of the Great War: An Anthology” Michael Copp (Associated University Presses, London, 2001) 

Arundel James Kennedy Esdaile was born in London on 25th April 1880.  His parents were James Kennedy Esdaile and Florence Esdaile.  His siblings were Emmeline, b. 1878, Everard, b. 1883, Millicent, b. 1884 and Percival, b. 1889.  The family lived in Sussex.

Arundel was educated at Lancing School, Sussex and Magdalene College Cambridge.  He worked at the British Museum Library.  In 1907, Arundel married Katherine Ada McDowell, whose father was Secretary of the Girl’s Public Day School Trust.  Arundel died on 22nd June 1956.

Friday, 27 April 2018

John Ebenezer Stewart, MC (1889 - 1918) - WW1 Soldier Poet

Remembering John Ebenezer Stewart  who was killed on 26th April  1918. 
 
During the First World War, John initially joined the Highland Light Infantry as a Private Soldier.  After training, he was commissioned and attached to a Border Regiment.  He was promoted to the rank of Captain and became the Regiment's Adjutant. Promoted to the rank of Major, he was transferred to the South Lancashire Regiment. He served on the Western Front and was awarded the Military Cross.
John was with the South Staffordshire Regiment when he was killed in action on 26th April 1918.  He is commemorated TYNE COT Memorial, France. 
John Ebenezer Stewart's WW1 collection,  “Grapes of Thorns (poems)” was published by Erskine Macdonald, London in 1917.  His poems were included in five WW1 Anthologies.
Find out more on:
Source:  Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War:  A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978), pages 304 - 305.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Louis B. Solomon (1896 - 1918) – British

Louis Bernard Solomon was born on 12th February 1896 in Oakland, California, USA.  His parents were Philip Leopold Soloman, b. 1871 in London, and Fanny Jane Soloman, nee Davis, b. 1858 in Weymouth, UK.   Louis had a sister, Helena Matilda, who was born in 1895 in Alameda, California.  In 1901 the family lived in Hove and in 1911 they lived in Croydon.

Educated at Dulwich College, Louis left school when he was 15 and worked as a mechanic.  He joined the Royal Fusiliers as a Private in 1915 and was posted to France on 14th November 1915.  Commissioned in August 1916, Louis transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and served on the Western Front. At the time of his death in action on 12th April 1918, was a Lieutenant and the Royal Flying Corps had amalgamated with the Royal Naval Air Service to become the Royal Air Force..  By then, the Solomon family were living in Leicester.  Louis was buried in Outtersteene Communal Cemetery Extension, Bailleul, France.

His WW1 collection “Wooden Crosses, and other verses” was published by Fountain Publishing Company, Roehampton in 1918.

“Ypres” by Louis B. Solomon

Thou, Ypres, that once wert queen of Flanders plains,
What art thou now?—a tumbled heap of dust,
With scarce a wall that stands, nor iron where rust
Has not for many a moon more heavy lain.

The Cloth Hall and Cathedral, once thy pride,
That showed a ceiling lined by master hand,
Or raised a tower that lauded all the land,
Now lie a mass of ruins side by side.

And little mounds of earth, which at their head
Bear little wooden crosses, tell the tale
Of those who fought for thee and passed the veil,
Of many a myriad of heroic dead.

Those tree stumps shattered out afar,
Shell-torn on shell-torn ground, once formed a glade
Where feathered songsters their sweet music made,
Nor dreamt would war their fervent beauty mar.

And overhead, where those same birds of song
Made fleeting melody with every breath,
Now soar aloft machines that token death,
The while they guide the speeding shell along.

And where he once a lofty solace raised,
Or to some humble cottage gave birth,
Now, like a skulking rodent ‘neath the earth,
Man builds himself a tunnelled burrow mazed.

Sources:

Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War:  A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978);

An article by Harold Pollins in “The Siegfried Sassoon Journal Newsletter” 2013 – with grateful thank to Deb Fisher and Meg Crane of the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship: http://www.sassoonfellowship.org/  and on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/275088519186250/

And Louis B. Solomon’s Obituary in “The Jewish Chronicle” 3rd May 1918 – with grateful thanks to Stanley Kaye, who had the idea of urging everyone to plant poppies in remembrance: https://www.facebook.com/groups/rememberingworldwarone/