Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Jocelyn Alexander (1852 - 1918) – British poet

Robert Jocelyn Alexander was born on 11th June 1852 in Termonamongan County Tyrone, Ireland.  His father was the Right Reverend William Alexander, Bishop of Armagh, who later became the Most Reverend Sir William Alexander, Protestant Primate of All Ireland. Jocelyn’s mother was Cecil Frances Alexander (nee Humphreys) who wrote two of my favourite hymns – “All Things Bright and Beautiful” and “Once in Royal David’s City”. Jocelyn was their eldest son.  His siblings were Eleanor Jane, who also became a poet, b. 1857, Cecil John Francis, born in 1859, and Dorothea Agnes, born in 1861.  Their mother died in 1895.

Educated at Winchester College, Jocelyn went on to study at Brasenose College, Oxford where he won the Newdigate Prize in 1874.  Jocelyn became a school inspector.  In 1876, he married Alice Rachel Humphreys.

Jocelyn, who was 66 when he was killed while travelling to Britain from Ireland on the RMS “Leinster” on 10th October 1918, was buried in Plot A of the Derry City Cemetery.

The Newdigate Prize - a poetry prize founded in 1805 by Sir Roger Newdigate and awarded at the University of Oxford. The award is given annually for the best student poem of up to 300 lines on a given subject.

Monday, 24 September 2018

Everard Lindsay Brine (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.

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:…/ 

Photograph of the display provided by Ian Inglis.

Military Museum Scotland, 
Legion Hall, 
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

Lucy London, May 2018

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.

 On speeding wing we climb
 Like an unfettered Thing,

 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: - 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:

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.


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:  and on Facebook:

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:



Saturday, 7 April 2018

R.B. Marriott-Watson (1896 - 1918) - British

I have said several times that my  project seems to have developed a life of its own and I am sure I am 'receiving help' from 'unseen sources' - other than those on social media. I have recently started researching poets of 1918 for another exhibition later this year and I was drawing up the list when, for some reason, I stopped and began to research Richard.  My research for these commemorative exhibitions can take months and, in the case of the exhibition of Poetry written by Schoolchildren during WW1, years to complete.  I found an e-mail contact and sent an e-mail to a relative of Richard’s – a journalist called Reg Watson, who lives in Tasmania.  Reg very kindly sent me a photograph of Richard.

Richard Brereton Marriott Watson was born in Chiswick, UK in 1896.  His father was the charismatic writer Henry Brereton Marriott Watson and his mother was the poet Rosamond Marriott Watson, nee Ball, who wrote using the pen-name Graham R. Tomson.  Rosamond’s father was poet Benjamin Williams Ball and her brother was the artist Wilfrid Williams Ball.  By 1911, Richard’s family were living at 'Vachery', Hook Lane, Shere, Surrey, UK.

A Lieutenant in the 2nd Royal Irish Rifles at the time of his death, Richard was commissioned in December 1914 into the 2/Lt 8th Battalion of the East Lancashire Regiment and was later attached to 10th Battalion. Transferred to 13th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles in September 1915, Richard was posted to France in October 1915. From May 1916, he was attached to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles. Richard was awarded the Military Cross in 1916 and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in November 1917.

Richard was killed in action on the Western Front in France on 24th March 1918 at Cugny, during the retreat from St. Quentin.  He is commemorated on the Pozières Memorial, Somme, France, Panel 74 to 76, and also on the village war memorial plaque in St James' Church, Shere, Surrey.

 One of his poems was published in the “Observer” newspaper in 1918:


Opal fires in the Western sky
(For that which is written must ever be),
And a bullet comes droning, whining by,
To the heart of a sentry close to me,

For some go early, and some go late
(A dying scream on the evening air)
And who is there that believes in Fate
As a soul goes out in the sunset flare?

Richard had a poem or poems included in 4 WW1 anthologies.  CR. P. 218

His CWGC entry:

With thanks to Michael Shankland and to The Great War Forum for some of this information.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Arthur Graeme West (1891 – 1917) – British

Arthur was born in Norwich, Norfolk, UK on 23rd September 1891.  His parents were Arhur Birt West, a Mechanical Engineer and his wife, Mary Wingate West, nee McLaren. Arthur had three younger siblings - two brothers and a sister.  The family lived in Highate.  Arthur was educated Highgate School, Blundells School in Devonshire and Balliiol College, Oxford, where he joined the Officers’ Training Corps.

Arthur joined the Public Schools Regiment of the Middlesex Regiment as a Private, having been initially turned down when he applied for a commission due to poor eyesight. He served on the Western Front and was commissioned into the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry in August 1916. After training Arthur returned to the Western Front and was killed on 3rd April 1917 near Bapaume.  He was buried in the H.A.C. Cemetery, Ecoust-St. Mein, France.  At the time of his death he was an Acting Captain.

Arthur Graeme West’s WW1 Collection: “The Diary of a Dead Officer:  Posthumous Papers” was published by George Allen & Unwin, London in 1918 and his poems were included in four WW1 anthologies.  The collection is available as a free download on Archive:

“Seeing her off”

A whistle ‘mid the distant hills
Shattered the silence grey,
She turned on me her great sad eyes,
Then lightly skimmed away.

I followed slow her flying feet
In idlest heaviness,
But, oh! My heart it laughed to see
Roar through the proud express.

In the after silence and the gloom
I found her there again,
And won three minutes more delight
Before the second pain.


Monday, 26 March 2018

Exhibition of Poetry Written by Schoolchildren in WW1

The latest in a series of commemorative exhibitions about the poetry of The First World War to go on display at The Wilfred Owen Story in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, features poetry written by schoolchildren during the conflict.  The exhibition was opened on Saturday, 17th March 2018.  At the same time, a bust of Wilfred Owen sculpted by Anthony Padgett was unveiled.  Poets featured include the girl who went on to use the pen-name Temple Lane, the boy who went on to use the pen-name George Orwell, the girl whose husband founded the publishing company Faber & Faber, Alec Waugh, brother of Evelyn, J.R. Ackerley and a boy who went on to become Aide-de-Camp to Queen Elizabeth.

The Wilfred Owen Story was devised and opened in 2010 by Merseyside singer-songwriter Dean Johnson, a former pupil of the Birkenhead Institute where Wilfred Owen was educated. 

Entry to The Wilfred Owen Story is free and you will find the WOS at 34 Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41 6AE.  The WOS is open Tuesdays to Fridays from 12 noon until 2 pm but it is advisable to telephone first - 07903 337995 as the WOS is run entirely by volunteers

Panels from previous WW1 poetry exhibitions held at the WOS, including that featuring some of the poets involved in the Battles of Messines (Mesen), Passchendaele and after in 1917, Poets of the Battle of Arras in 1917, Poets of the Somme 1916, Female Poets of the First World War, Inspirational Women of World War One and Fascinating Facts of the Great War, are available to view on file at The Wilfred Owen Story.  Other exhibitions are planned.

Photo taken by Janet Holmes of the WOS and The Rathbone Studio.

Friday, 23 March 2018

T.P. Cameron Wilson (1888 - 1918) - British

Theodore Percival Cameron Wilson was born in Paignton, Devon on 25th April 1888. 

His parents were Theodore Cameron Wilson, Vicar of Christ Church in Paignton, and his wife Annie Fredeline Wilson, nee Smith.  T.P.’s siblings were Christopher, b. 1883, Mary, b. 1885, Alice, b. 1889, John, b. 1890 and Charles, b. 1899.   The family moved to Little Eaton in Derbyshire, where T.P.’s father became rector of Little Eaton Parish Church St. Paul’s.  Charles and Mary also became writers – Mary wrote under the name of Marjorie Wilson.

After studying at Oxford, T.P. left without a degree in 1907 and became a primary school teacher at Mount Arlington preparatory boarding school in Hindhead, Surrey.  One of his pupils was the son of poet Harold Monro who founded the Poetry Bookshop in London and encouraged aspiring poets.  T.P. and Harold became friends. T.P.’s novel “The Friendly Enemy” was published in 1913.

In August 1914, T.P. enlisted as a Second Lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards. Transferred to the Sherwood Foresters, T.P. was a Captain at the time of his death on the Western Front during the German Spring Offensive on 23rd March 1918 at Hermies, France.  He has no known graves and is commemorated on the Arras Memorial and on the lynch gate at St. Paul’s Church, Little Eaton, Derbyshire.

“Magpies in Picardy” was published by the Poetry Bookshop, London, with an introduction by Harold Monro, in 1919.

The full text of those poems, some of which, including T.P.’s most famous poem, “Magpies in Picardy”, were published in “The Westminster Gazette” “The English Review” and “Poetry and Drama”.  His poems were included in 12 WW1 poetry anthologies.

Colin Mitchell (1890 - 1918) - British

COLIN MITCHELL was killed on 21st March 1918.

Colin featured in the Somme Poets exhibition held at The Wilfred Owen Story in 2016 but we could not find a photograph of him.  Now we have – with many thanks to Catherine Avak.  There is a book of the Somme exhibition for those unable to visit the exhibition.  Details are on

Born in Mere in Wiltshire in September 1890, Colin was the youngest of eight children – six boys and two girls. Colin’s father, John Thomas Mitchell was a farmer, and his mother was Emma Jane Mitchell, nee Parsons.

Colin was educated at Shaftesbury Grammar School as a boarder. While there, he won a prize fo...r English Literature. He was interested in amateur dramatics and music and on leaving school became a bank clerk.

Colin joined the 8th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade during the First World War and was killed in action on 22nd March 1918. The 8th Battalion of the Rifle Brigade (together with the 7th and 9th battalions) was part of the 41st Brigade of the 14th (Light) Division of XV Corps which saw action at Ypres and on The Somme. At the time of his death, Colin was a Sergeant. Colin is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial in Ovillers-la-Boiselle, France and in Mere Cemetery in Wiltshire.

Colin’s poetry collection was entitled ‘Trampled Clay’ and was published in 1917 by Erskine Macdonald, London.

He also had a poem included in ‘The Malory Verse Book’ edited by Editha Jenkinson and published by Erskine Macdonald in 1919.

Source: Catherine W. Reilly, ‘English Poetry of the First World RememberiWar: A Bibliography’ (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978.

Additional Information kindly supplied by Mere Museum and Historical Society.

 HOOGE: (JULY 31st 1915)

Hooge! More damned than Sodom and more bloody,

‘Twas there we faced the flames of liquid fire.

Hooge! That shambles where the flames swept ruddy:

A spume of heat and hate and omens dire;

A vision of a concrete hell from whence

Emerged satanic forms, or so it seemed

To us who, helpless, saw them hasten hence.

Scarce understood we if we waked or dreamed.


“Stand To! Stand To! The Wurtembergers come!”

Shouting vile English oaths with gutter zest.

And boastful threats to kill they voice, while some,

In uniforms of grey and scarlet dressed,

Wear flame-projectors strapped upon their backs.

How face a wall of flame? Impossible!


“Back, boys! Give way a little; take the tracks

That lead to yonder wood, and there we’ll fill

Such trenches as are dug, and face the foe,

And no Hell-fire shall move us once we’re there.

We’re out to win or die, boys; if we go

Back and yet back, leaving good strongholds bare,

We’ll save our lives, perhaps, but not our name.

There’s no one in this well-trained company

Who’d save his skin and perjure his good fame.”


We hold the wood, but, oh, how can it be?

The shells are raining down amidst the trees,

Snapping the full-girthed trunks that downward crash

In dire proximity to us. The breeze

Bespeaks hot human blood. The scarlet splash

Shows everywhere, and everywhere the maimed

Are crawling, white-lipped, to a dug-out where

The doctor in a drip of sweat seems framed,

So hard he works to hide the horrid stare

Of wounds adrip; while many pass away,

And need no lint to bind their frailty,

For God has ta'en them; 'tis their triumph day,

And all their sins shall expiated be.


Thus are we thrown in Life's great melting-pot,

Humanity much matrixed; but the ore,

Looms purer when the crucible is hot:

'Tis on this truth that we should set our store

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Alfred ('Cot') Cotterill Kermode (1897 - 1973) - British

Alfred Cotterill Kermode, known as 'Cot' to friends and family, was born in 1897 on The Isle of Man, where his father, The Reverend Sidney Alfred Pizey Kermode, was an Anglican Church Minister.  Alfred’s mother was Lucy Emma Kermode, nee Lynam, and he had the following siblings:  Lucy C. b. 1890, Mary C. b. 1900 and Margaret Agnes, b. 1902.  In 1901, the family lived in Onchan, I.o.M. and in 1911 they lived in Melbourn, Cambridgeshire.

Alfred was a pupil at Oundle School when war broke out in 1914. 
Alfred is just one of the poets featured in the exhibition of Poetry Written by Schoolchildren in the UK during the First World War that is on display at The Wilfred Owen Story in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, UK.  The exhibition was opened on Saturday, 17th March 2018 (the day before Wilfred Owen's birthday) and Tim Kermode and his wife Annabel travelled up to attend a rather special event.  A bust of Wilfred Owen sculpted by Anthony Padgett was unveiled on the same day by local MP Frank Field and we presented Tim with a copy of the exhibition panel about his father Alfred. Here is a link to a BBC North West Tonight news report of the event:
The WOS is open from Tuesdays to Fridays from 12 noon until 2 pm (winter opening times) but it is advisable to phone first as the museum is manned by volunteers - 07903 337995.  Entry to the WOS is free.
The Wilfred Owen Story,
34 Argyle Street,
Birkenhead, Wirral, UK,
CH41 6AE
Panels from previous exhibitions held at the WOS, including that featuring some of the poets involved in the Battles of Messines (Mesen), Passchendaele and after in 1917, Poets of the Battle of Arras in 1917, Poets of the Somme 1916, Female Poets of the First World War, Inspirational Women of World War One and Fascinating Facts of the Great War, are available to view on file at The Wilfred Owen Story.  Other exhibitions are planned.
Photo:  Lucy presenting Tim Kermode with a copy of the exhibition panel about Oundle School that features his father, Alfred 'Cot' Kermode with the Wilfred Owen bust in the background - photo taken by Paul Breeze of

Thursday, 1 March 2018

"Old Loot" - WW1 poet - does anyone know the identity of this poet?

I received an interesting query recently from one of my contacts:
"... many years ago I bought a lovely copy of “Barbed Wire”, an admittedly dull First World War 56pp booklet of prose and verse (published in 1918 by Beaumont) and bound in vellum on handmade paper, which is remarkable for at least one thing - the cover has a Paul Nash woodblock design.

It is exasperating that although one surmises the author was an officer and a banker so far his identity is a mystery to me because he only used the pen name “Old Loot”. There is no clue within the text and nothing I’ve come across on-line enlightens me either so if you happen to know I’d be grateful to find out. "
I posted the query on the Facebook Page of the War Poets Association and Catherine Avak very kindly found me a picture of the cover and some of the 8 poems featured in the end of  the book, which is available as a download from The Hathi Trust.
This poem (see right) was dedicated to Cyril Arnell Newman who enlisted with the Queen's Westminster Rifles in 1914.  He was posted to the Western Front in February 1915, wounded and sent home.   He was then commissioned into the North Staffordshire Regiment and returned to the Western Front in time to take part in the Somme Offensive of July 1916.  Lieutenant Newman was killed on 28th April 1917 at the age of 24 during the Battle of Arras.  He was buried in Aubigny Communal Cemetery, France.

Has anyone any idea of the identity of the poet who used the pen-name 'Old Loot'? 


A Poem written by F.D.B. in Valetta, Malta on 10th May 1917

In Katrina Kirkwood's lovely book about her Grandmother who was a doctor during the First World War (see photo), I found a poem entitled “A Hospital Concert, May the 8th 1917, dedicated to a voice” (pp. 306 - 307).

The voice mentioned in the dedication was that of Salvatore Salvati, the Italian Tenor, who organised concerts for the wounded sent to hospitals in Malta during WW1.

The poem was written by 'F.D.B.' - does anyone have any idea of the identity of the poet who was obviously present during the concert?

She will wish her pure strings to be mute –

Heal us, alone, by thy voice!

We are weak – with an arm, or a foot,

“Tented”, or bound, to no choice;

Ours are the bandaged eyes,

A-search for the Singer’s face –

Denial, through darkness arise,

Pierce it with sound, for a space:

O Singer of Life – so, of pain!

Sing “Vita” - - Thy “Vita” – again and again.


Ah! those were old words that we’ve read –

“Oh Sempre Amore” – that stirred;

And Love’s for us lads, sick in bed,

And Love is the wounded’s last word;

And a warmth drew in from the street,

And we slipped to an English June,

And England and Italy meet,

And touch the same chord of Love’s tunes;

O Singer of Love – lift from pain!

Sing Thy “Sempre Amore” – again and again!


Then he sank to an under key –

“Oh Pena”! – Oh Pain! Is it not?

And we fell to a blind reverie –

For we’ve had our pain, God wot!

We were back in the fever and ache,

Or peered in a pal’s dead face,

Or were feeling the lift and the shake,

And the moan in us down to the Base;

                O Singer – though sweetest - of pain!

                Sing “Pena! – thy “Pena” – again and again.


Then he wrought us – passionate – loud –

“Guerra, ah Guerra”!  - Is it War?

For our slack frame stiffened them proud,

And the men, we were once, we saw –

Over and on to a Leader’s sign,

Tightening their teeth on wild breath,

Spilling their blood like the reddest wine,

While they staked for winning or death! –

                Oh Singer of madness and pain!

                Sing “Guerra” – “Thy Guerra” – again and again.


The ward empties to shuffle and drill –

All but two bed-ridden rows;

But he’s made eyes, - the dryest – to fill,

He’s breathed all our souls to new glows;

And a pale face, still in a trance –

Is away to the glory of things;

And the crutches tap, tap to a prance;

While a voice to the hollowness clings –

                O Vita Dolce, si sovente amara!

                O Sempre Amore – Penna e Guerra ! –


Valetta, May 10th 1917 by F.D.B.