Monday, 24 September 2018

Everard Lindsay Bring (1890 - 1918) - British WW1 soldier poet

British WW1 poet Everard Lindsay Brine, born in London, UK on 1st December 1890, died on 24th September 1918 of an illness contracted while serving as a Lieutenant with the 4th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment in Persia (now called Iran).  He had previously served in Mesopotamia.

Everard’s poetry collection, entitled “Poems”, was published in 1920 by Blackwell, Oxford.

Here is an extract of one of those poems:

“New College Gardens : Spring,”

Over me the sky washed blue with April,
Brown trees green and silver in the spring light;
Under me the grass white-flecked and odorous,
All about me glimpses of blue hyacinths.

Sources:  Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978), p. 67 and

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Dugald Sutherland MacColl (1859-1948), - Scottish poet artist and art critic

Dugald Sutherland MacColl was born in Glasgow on 10th March 1859.  His father was the Reverend Dugald MacColl.

Educated at the University of London before going up to the University of Oxford, Dugald went on to study at the Westminster School of Art and the Slade School under Alphonse Legros.  He became Keeper of the Wallace Collection and of the Tate Gallery. He was an artist, art critic, poet and founder of the National Art Collections Fund. Dugald was friendly with many of the literary figures of the day - W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Lady Gregory, Max Beerbohm, H.G. Wells, Charles Ricketts, Augustus John, Auguste Rodin, Roger Fry and Walter Crane.  He was the art critic for "The Spectator" and "The Saturday Review" between 1896 and 1906.

Dugald died on 21st December 1948.

“The Miners’ Response” by D.S. MacColl

We do; the present desperate stage
Of fighting brings us luck
And in the higher war we wage
(For higher wage) We struck.

D.S.MacColl’s First World War poetry collections were:
“Another neutral” (Maclehose, Glasgow, 1915
“Bull, and other war verses” (Constable, 1919)
“A German peace, flyting to Herr Houston Stewart Chamberlain” (Maclehose, Glasgow,1916)
“A Merry New Ballad of Dr. Woodrow Wilson, President of the United States in America” (Maclehose, Glasgow, 1915)
He also had a poem published in the WW1 poetry Anthology “Up the Line to Death: The War Poets 1914 – 1918” Edited by Brian Gardner, with a Foreword by Edmund Blunden  (Methuen, London 1964)

The portrait of Dugald MacColl was painted by his nephew the artist Donald Graeme MacLaren in 1906.  Donald joined the Army in WW1 and was killed in Belgium in 1917 – see


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

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

"The Rose of No Man's Land" - a song with lyrics by Jack Caddigan and music by James Alexander Brennan)

This was a song written by Jack Caddigan and James Brennan and first published in French in 1918

It was written as a tribute to the Red Cross nurses of the First World War.

Music publisher Leo Feist published a version in 1918 as "La rose sous les boulets", with French lyrics by Louis Delamarre. A version with English lyrics by Jack Caddigan and James Alexander Brennan was published by Jack Mendelsohn Music in 1945. Herman Darewski and others also published versions in 1918 and in 1945.

Jack Caddigan (1879 – 1952) – was a lyricist of Irish origin, born in Canada but brought up in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

James Alexander Brennan, also known as Jas. H. Brennan, (1885 – 1956) was an American composer from Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

French version:

"La Rose des Boulets"

J'ai vu bien des fleurs s'empourprer,
Au jardin de la vie.
Et souvent j'aime à m'enivrer
De leur senteur bénie.
J'en sais une au pur éclat,
Sans rival ici-bas.

La rose fleurit sous les Boulets,
En avant du front elle est
De pleurs arrosée
Pour bien des années.
Dans nos coeurs elle restera,
La rose rouge amour du soldat.
Dans cette enceinte où rien ne bouge,
L'ombre qui parait,
Portant la Croix Rouge,
C'est la Rose des Boulets.

The English version was apparently sung by:William Thomas - 1916, Henry Burr - 1918,Charles Hart - 1919 and Hugh Donovan (a.k.a. Charles Harrison) - 1919


I've seen some beautiful flowers
Grow in life's garden fair
I've spent some wonderful hours
Lost in their fragrance rare
But I have found another
Wondrous beyond compare....

There's a rose that grows in no-man's land
And it's wonderful to see
Though its sprayed with tears, it will live for years
In my garden of memory

It's the one red rose the soldier knows
It's the work of the Master's hand
'Neath the War's great curse stands a Red Cross nurse
She's the rose of no-man's land

Out in the heavenly splendour
Down to the trail of woe
God in his mercy has sent her
Fearing the World below
We call her Rose of Heaven
We've longed to love her so....

There's a rose that grows in no-man's land
And it's wonderful to see
Though its sprayed with tears, it will live for years
In my garden of memory

It's the one red rose the soldier knows
It's the work of the Master's hand
'Neath the War's great curse stands a Red Cross nurse
She's the rose of no-man's land

(Transcribed by Mel Priddle - June 2004)

Other lyrics written by Caddigan:

I Can't Stop Doing It Now (1912) with James Alexander Brennan (sheet music)
Poor Little Rich Girl (1914) with James Alexander Brennan, published by O.E. Story (sheet music)
The Dream I Had Last Night (1915) with James Alexander Brennan and O.E. Story (sheet music)
In The Golden Summertime (1915) with James Alexander Brennan (sheet music)
The Rose of No Man's Land (La rose sous les boulets) (1918) with James Alexander Brennan, (French lyric by Louis Delamarre), published by Leo Feist (sheet music)
The Rose Of The Mountain Trail with James Alexander Brennan
In The Old Sweet Way (1919) with "Chick" O.E. Story, published by Leo Feist
Sweetheart Waltz (1920) with "Chick" Story, published by Fred Fisher (sheet music)
When The Money Moon Is Shining with "Chick" O.E. Story
Egyptian Moonlight (1919) with A. Fred Phillips, published by Ted Garton Music.

Other songs by Brennan:

The Dream I Had Last Night (1915) with Jack Caddigan and O.E. Story
In The Golden Summertime (1915) with Jack Caddigan (sheet music)
The Rose of No Man's Land; La rose sous les boulets (1918) with Jack Caddigan, (French lyric by Louis Delamarre) (sheet music)
Dreaming Sweet Dreams of Mother
If The Can Canny Cannibals Captured New York Town (1916) with Moore and O.E. Story
When It's Cotton Pickin' Time In Tennessee (1918) with Jack Caddigan
The Trail That Leads To You with Jack Caddigan
When The Steamboats On The Swanee Whistle Rag-time (1918) with Jack Caddigan

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron who has the Facebook Page Remembering Women on the Home Front WW1 for posting the link to the song this morning (7th August 2018) and to Sue Robinson of the Group Wenches in Trenches The Roses of No Man's Land for her post about the song in November 2016 (see Inspirational Women of WW1 weblog).

Monday, 30 July 2018

Remembering Joyce Kilmer, the American poet on the centenary anniversary of his death in WW1

Alfred Joyce Kilmer was born on 6th December 1886 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  His parents were Annie Ellen Kilmer, née Kilburn, who was a writer/composer, and Dr. Frederick Barnett Kilmer, a physician/chemist who worked for Johnson and Johnson Company and invented the famous baby powder.

Joyce Kilmer attended Rutgers College Grammar School, where he edited the school newspaper.  In 1904 he went on to Rutgers College, before transferring to Columbia University.

As soon as he had qualified, Kilmer married Aline Murray, a poet, who he met when they were both at Rutgers College Grammar School.   He taught Latin as well as writing poetry and working as a journalist, critic and lecturer.  Kilmer’s first collection of poetry, “The Summer of Love” was published in 1911.

When Joyce and Aline’s daughter Rose contracted Polio, they converted to the Roman Catholic faith.

By the time Kilmer enlisted in the New York National Guard in May 1917, in response to America joining the conflict, he was the foremost Catholic poet, writer and lecturer in America. 

Kilmer’s Regiment was posted to the Western Front in France, where he was assigned as a statistician to the 69th U.S. Infantry Regiment. He was soon promoted to the rank of Sergeant, refusing the chance to become an Officer.   After involvement in several battles, Kilmer joined the military intelligence section of his Regiment.   On 30th July 1918, Kilmer volunteered to join Major William (Wild Bill) Donovan in an attack.  Donovan went on to found the Office of Strategic Services during the Second World War.  This is known today as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

Kilmer was killed by a sniper during the Second Battle of the Marne on 30th July 1918.  He was awarded the French Croix de Guerre posthumously.   He is buried in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial in Picardy, France, Grave Reference: Plot B, Row 9, Grave 15.

Kilmer’s most famous poem “Trees” was published in his collection “Trees and Other Poems” in 1914.

Sunday, 29 July 2018

ALBERT-PAUL GRANIER (1888 - 1917) – French poet and aviator

Albert-Paul Granier was born at Le Croisic in the Loire-Atlantique region of France, on 3rd September 1888.

Called up for military service on 3rd August 1914, Albert-Paul saw action with the French Artillery from the start, mostly in the Verdun area.

In 1917, Albert-Paul became an air observation officer, radioing to the gunners on the ground where to direct their fire.  His plane was shot down in flames at Bois Bourrus, near Verdun on 17th August 1917.  His body was never found.

Albert-Paul’s WW1 collection, "Les Coqs et les Vautours", was published shortly before his death and has now been translated into English. “Cockerels and Vultures” – translated by Ian Higgins - published by Saxon Books.


With grateful thanks to Régine Verguier for sending me this link to an excellent aritcle about WW1 poets, writers and artists:

Friday, 27 July 2018

Walter E. Spradbery, DCM (1889 – 1969) British Artist and poet; served in RAMC during WW1

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for telling me about Walter and thanks to Walter’s cousin, Philip Spradbery, who has a lifelong passion for painting, who kindly supplied additional information.

Walter Ermest Spradbery was born on 29th March 1889 in East Dulwich, London, UK. His parents were Joseph Spradbery and his wife Emily Spradbery, nee Feltham.  Walter had a brother, Charles V., b. 1879.

Walter studied at Walthamstow Art School, then worked as an art teacher. He regularly exhibited his work at the Royal Academy. His main artistic media were water colour, linocuts and poster design. Walter designed posters for London transport companies and for British Rail.

During the First World War, Walter, who was a pacifist, joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and served as a medical orderly and stretcher-bearer on the Western Front. He served with 36 Field Ambulance during the Somme Offensive in 1916 and was mentioned several times for bravery rescuing wounded men under fire.   He was awarded a Distinguished Conduct Medal.

On 11th November 1918, Walter wrote to his Mother:

"Hostilities ceased on all fronts at 11 o’clock today. Oh happy mothers, happy sweethearts, happy wives, whose loved ones will come safely back... and those lone souls who have lost their very own; today is too unkind to them - how can they face our joy? 'Peace on Earth, Goodwill towards men' - an unseen choir sings it in our breasts - prompting men to evolve a better world more worthy of our ideals and aspirations. Let us begin."

On 21st August 1929, Walter married opera singer Dorothy D’Orsay (maiden name Horsey) and the couple lived in Epping Forest.   They had two children.

Walter died in Epping, Essex in 1969. An exhibition of the work of WW1 artist Walter Spradbery is on display at The Epping Forest District Museum until 22nd December 2018. 
Epping Forest District Museum
39 – 41 Sun Street, Waltham Abbey, EN9 1EL \ 01992 716882 \

A biography of Walter Spradbery’s life and times, "My Dear Jim", has been compiled and published by his son, John Spradbery (Mail order from Elizabeth Spradbery:


A poem by Walter Spradbery written in 1915 kindly supplied by his cousin, Philip Spradbery.


“Eyes Have They, But See Not”

The flowers that grow on Barnham’s plain
Are beautiful to see;
The bugloss and the speedwell’s blue
Fair as a summer’s sea,
Blue as a summer’s sky are they
As a child’s eyes may be:

And the tender little pansy’s
Uplifted cherub face,
With golden eye, and purple wings
And unpretentious grace,
Peeps shyly from amid the grass
In every shady place.

But wearily we drag our feet
Over the jeweled sods,
And discipline, it weighs us down
With the curse of an iron rod;
And ‘iron rods’ we carry
To kill the sons of God.

The cranebill’s starry floweret
Is scattered o’er the plain;
Its pale magenta blossoms
We trample in our pain,
And dully long for peace, and love
And our dear homes again.

With iron heels we tread them down,
We tread them in the sand;
We crush their beauty ’neath our feet
Too tired to understand
The ugly ruthless thing we do.
Now war is on the land.

The golden gorse, across the heath
Is a mass of yellow flame;
Its unconsuming fires praise
The Sun God’s glorious name.
But war it burns things black and dead,
And fills men’s hearts with shame.

And scarlet is the pimpernel
And bright the poppy’s red
But brighter still is the blood we’ll spill
Ere we ourselves are dead:
No flower so rich, in the deep dug ditch,
As the blood our guns may shed.

The grass is worn with the ceaseless tread
Of our marching to and fro,
And where we drill on the mossy hill
Great bare patches show;
For ’neath the heel of the War God’s foot
No fair thing may grow. 

But time revenges the patient weak
Whom the Ruthless crush and kill,
And delicate things that droop and die,
Like the flowers on the grassy hill,
Will bloom again on another plain
Fairer and sweeter still.

The barren stretch of Flander’s plains
Is desolate and bare,
And the shriek of shell, and stench and smell
Float on the morning air
And splintered stumps are all that speak
Of what once blossomed there.

Yet the flowers our feet have trodden down
Will be born again,
And rich and fine, on Flander’s fields,
Will dance in the gentle rain
Will dance on the dead that feed their roots
The countless, ghastly slain.

The little flowers we’ve trodden down
Will scent each ugly grave,
Will hide the ghastly torn limbs
O the coward and the brave
And gaily smile at the morning sun,
O’er the foolish and the knave.

Oh, the river runs o’er Barnham’s plains
This where our horses drink –
And a thousand fair and charming things
Blossom on its brink.
But we have trod them in the mud
Nor paused to praise or think.

The pinkish purple loose-strife
Bows on the river’s edge,
Forget-me-not and orchids,
The flowering rush and sedge
While briar rose and bryony
Entangle in the hedge.

And crowsfoot gleams on the river,
Like snowflakes in the sun
And sways in the moving waters
That over the pebbles run.
But we cannot pause for such a thing,
Who’re crossing the stream with a gun.

But the rivers which flow in Flanders
Are rivers of blood methinks
And will, one day, colour the roses
Whose roots from that soil drink,
And a thousand flowers will blossom
Where a corpse now rots and stinks.

And we who train at Thetford
Parade on Barnham Hill
And prod coarse sack with bayonets
To gain the skill to kill
To disembowel and mutilate
Men who are brothers still.

While all around is beauty
And overhead the sky,
Where fleecy clouds in freedom float
Over the men that die;
And nature laughs at our folly
As we pass her treasures by.

With a garland of peaceful beauty
She tempts us to lay down our arms;
With a myriad of fearless blossoms
She mocks at our childish alarms,
With a tangle of wonderful flowerets
She seeks to ensnare us with charms.

Oh, he who sees God in a daisy,
Can see more clearly in man,
The light of the Glorious Eternal
That through all Living Things ran,
When the wheels of time first started,
And the Song of Life began.

Walter E. Spradbery (1915)

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Thomas Napoleon Smith - pen-name Tonosa - WW1 Poet

While I was researching a WW1 poet yesterday, I came across a reference to some poems about a young girl from Burnley, Lancashire. Her name was Jennie Jackson and she was known as "Young Kitchener" for the work she did during the First World War, collecting money to fund parcels for the fighting men.

The poems were written by Thomas Napoleon Smith, pen-name Tonosa. Their titles were "Burnley's war flame (Jennie JACKSON), alias Y.K." and "Burnley's winning Jennie (Jennie Jackson)".

Thomas Napoleon Smith remains a mystery for I can find nothing out about him, other than the titles of some of his poems, which are listed on pages 297 and 298 of Catherine W. Reilly's wonderful work "English Poetry of the First World War:  A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978).  He also had a poem published in Charles Frederick Forshaw's WW1 Anthology "Poems in memory of the late Field-Marshall Lord Kitchener, KG" (Institute of British Poetry, Bradford, 1916).

According to Catherine Reilly, Thomas's son, Corporal Ewart G. Smith of the 2nd Infantry Brigade, Canadian Expeditionary Force, was killed in a trench on 27th September 1916.   The poems seem to have been published as postcards or broadsides.  One - "Their eyes off me: or, those khaki chaps from 'crss the sea: verses by Tonoso - was first published in "The Weekly Scotsman".

If anyone knows more about Tonosa - Thomas Napoleon Smith - please get in touch.