Saturday, 30 April 2022

Berton Braley (1882 – 1966) - American poet

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

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

Berton died on 23rd January 1966.

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

The poem on the cover of "Puck" :

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

Friday, 15 April 2022

Robert Jentzsch (1890 – 1918) – German poet and mathmetician - Iron Cross 2nd and 1st Class

With thanks to AC Benus* for finding this poet and his poems for us. Although it has not been possible so far to find any war-related poems by Robert Jentsch it is entirely possible that he wrote some and that they were either not published or lost. 

Robert c. 1910
Robert Georg Adolf Alfred Jentzsch was born on 4th November 1890 in the capital city of Prussia, Königsberg (now Kaliningrad).  Robert was the youngest of four children.  Robert’s father, Alfred Jentzsch , was a professor of geology in Königsberg and later moved to Berlin. Robert’s brother Felix Jentzsch became a physicist.

Educated at the Prinz-Heinrich-Gymnasium in Berlin, Robert went on to study mathematics in Jena. He only stayed one semester in Jena before moving back to Berlin. In 1908 he enrolled at the then Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin as a mathematics student. Between 1911 and 1912 he studied in Munich before returning to Berlin.  He received his doctorate in 1914 from Ferdinand Georg Frobenius on the subject of investigations into the theory of the consequences of analytical functions and received the award "summa cum laude".

Robert joined the expressionist Berlin poets' association Der Neue Club, of which the well-known poet and friend of Robert’s - Georg Heym – was also a member. The tragic accidental death of  his friend Georg Heym while ice skating in January 1912 upset Robert deeply.  

Robert joined the Germany Army early in the First World War.  He served at the front and was discharged. He then signed up again and was in Command of a Battalion of a Communications Company when he was killed on 21st March 1918 during the Battle of Cambrai on the St. Quentin Canal as part of the German spring offensive that was just beginning. He was awarded the Iron Cross 2nd and 1st class.

Robert during WW1

From AC Benus:

I had hoped to find war poems from him, but this morning I'm convinced he wrote none, or that none survive.

Here's a sample of his work from 1911, together with my translation of the poem:

Die Gefangenen

Uns blieb das enge Zimmer nicht erspart;

Drin wir wie Tiere trotten auf und ab.

– Die Zeit fällt langsam in ihr Abgrund-Grab . . .

Der Teppich schweigt und jene Diele knarrt.

Weh! Schon fließt über schrill im Abendrot

Der Horizont! – fern hinterm Fensterglas . . .

Da schäumt noch einmal wütend unser Haß.

Dann wirft er uns zu Schatten, toll und tot.

The Prisoners

We weren't deprived of a single small cell;

Pent in there, we paced like beasts all around.

– Time into its hell-grave gets slowly ground . . .

The rug's silent, and that floorboard creaks well.

Oh! The sunset flows so soon harshly red

On the horizon! – the window's glass plate . . .

Where once more furiously foams our hate.

Then it casts us to shadows, raged and dead.


p. 626 ( Die Aktion)

Here is the German wiki entry on the man:

 And in google translation:

Cover of Robert's poetry
collection "Versensporn"

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

Wednesday, 13 April 2022

Fabian Strachan Woodley, MC (1888 – 1957) - British journalist, WW1 soldier, school teacher and poet

With thanks to AC Benus for finding the poems of Fabian Strachan Woodley for us 

Fabian at school
 Fabian Strachan Woodley was born on 19th July 1888, in Redland, Bristol, UK. His parents were William Augustus Woodley Jnr. (1855-1933), a solicitor and co-proprietor of the “Somerset County Gazette” newspaper, and Ada Constance Woodley, née Strachan (d. 29 December 1920).  Fabian had one younger brother, SeymourAnnerley Strachan Woodley, who was born in 1905 and died in 1986.

 Fabian's paternal grandfather was William Augustus Woodley (1817-1891), owner of the Somerset County Gazette from 1843 and his great-grandfather, the Rev. George Woodley (bap. 1786, d. 1846), was also a poet.

 Educated at Cheltenham College from 1903–1907, where he was in Southwood House and was a member of the Clifton Rugby Club, Fabian went on to study for a BA at University College, Oxford, qualifying in 1911.  At Oxford, Fabian was captain of his college rugby team.

After university, Fabian went to work for the “Bristol Times and Mirror” newspaper, before going to live and work in London.   In September 1914, he was commissioned as a Temporary Lieutenant and joined the 8th Service Battalion of the Royal Munster Fusiliers.  In September 1915, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and served as an Acting Captain on several occasions while in command of Companies.

Fabian was awarded three Divisional Parchment Certificates for gallantry in action and was awarded the Military Cross (MC) in October 1916: ‘For conspicuous gallantry during operations. By his skill and determination he beat off three counter-attacks of the enemy, who were endeavouring to reach his trench. Four days later he led his men in two attacks with great pluck’. When recommending him for a permanent commission in August, 1918, his Commanding Officer wrote: "This officer has served continuously in France for a period of two years and 8 months, and has commanded a Company both in and out of the line, for 2½ years”. The “Gloucestershire Echo” of Wednesday, 22 May 1918 reported that Fabian Strachan Woodley had been wounded.

After the war, Fabian studied for a Diploma in Journalism before working with his father on the staff of the “Somerset County Gazette”.   He went on to teach English at several schools, including Wrekin and served with the Officers Training Corps (OTC).  He taught for many years at the Peter Symonds School in Winchester.  

On the 1939 Census, Fabian was living in Winchester and described himself as a Secondary School Teacher.   He died on 8th August 1957. 

Fabian’s WW1 poetry collection was entitled “A Crown of Friendship, and other poems” and was published by Woodley, Williams & Dunsford, Taunton, in 1921.  

Catherine W. Reilly -  “English Poetry of the First World War:  A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978),  p. 342 

"Aftermath" by Fabian Strachan Woodley

God! this is Death in Life – to wake at morn 

Heart-sick with memories; till the sun set 

To watch the long day wane, with soul forlorn 

For ever striving to forget – forget! 

Gone is the old content; from field and flower 

The glory fled; Pleasure turned Bitterness; 

Desire grown dim ere ever the longed-for hour 

Might in oblivion steep the heart’s distress. 

Could I but hear once more the bugle sound, 

Into belovèd eyes look once again, 

Clasp the strong hands of fighting men – my men, 

In one united comradeship firm bound – 

From the dead ashes of My Self would soar 

A Phoenix-soul in love with Life once more!  

You can read more of Fabian’s poems on AC Benus’s fantastic website

Sources:  Catherine Reilly, Find my Past, Free BMD and Wikipedia

Monday, 28 March 2022

Cecil Edward Chesterton (1879 - 1918) – British poet, writer and journalist

Younger brother of the poet and writer G.K. Chesterton

Cecil Edward Chesterton was born on 12th November 1879 in Kensington, London, UK. His parents were Edward Chesterton, a surveyor and auctioneer, and his wife Marie Louise Chesterton, nee Grosjean, whose family were of Swiss origin.   Cecil had a brother, Gilbert Keith Chesterton, born in 1875, and a sister, Beatrice Elizabeth, who was born in 1871 and died in 1878.

Educated at St. Paul’s School in London, Cecil went on to train as a surveyor and estate agent.  He wrote for “The New Age” magazine and later worked for a publishing company.

In 1912 Cecil purchased Hilaire Beloc’s magazine “The Eye-Witness” and re-named it “The New Witness”, editing the magazine for four years.   In 1916, he married writer and journalist Ada Elizabeth Jones.

During the First World War, Cecil joined The Highland Light Infantry as a Private and served on the Western Front.  Wounded three times he returned to the trenches and was taken ill but refused to leave his post before the Armistice was signed.  Cecil was taken into hospital where he died on 6th December 1918 with his wife at his side.   Ada was also able to attend her husband’s funeral.  Cecil was buried in Terlincthun British Cemetery, Wimille, Pas de Calais, France.

Cecil  had poems published in twelve WW1 poetry anthologies.


BECAUSE for once the sword broke in her hand,

The words she spoke seemed perished for a space;

All wrong was brazen, and in every land

The tyrants walked abroad with naked face.

The waters turned to blood, as rose the Star

Of evil Fate denying all release.

The rulers smote, the feeble crying "War!"

The usurers robbed, the naked crying "Peace!"

And her own feet were caught in nets of gold,

And her own soul profaned by sects that squirm,

And little men climbed her high seats and sold

Her honour to the vulture and the worm.

And she seemed broken and they thought her dead,

The Overmen, so brave against the weak.

Has your last word of sophistry been said,

O cult of slaves? Then it is hers to speak.

Clear the slow mists from her half-darkened eyes,

As slow mists parted over Valmy fell,

As once again her hands in high surprise

Take hold upon the battlements of Hell.

From “A Treasury of war poetry:  British and American poems of the World War, 1914 – 1917” (Houghton & Miflin, Boston, Mass., USA, 1917)

Sources: Wikipedia, Find my Past and

Catherine W. Reilly.- “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 83.

NOTE:  "Oppy Wood, 1917, Evening" by John Nash (Art. IWM ART 2243)

Oppy Wood is in Arras, France. After the fall of Vimy Ridge, the Germans withdrew to the high ground of Oppy Wood, North East of Arras, The Capture of Oppy Wood was an engagement between May and June 1917.

John Northcote Nash CBE, RA (11 April 1893 – 23 September 1977) was a British artist. He was the younger brother of the artist Paul Nash.  John's health initially prevented him enlisting at the outbreak of the First World War but his health improved and from November 1916 to January 1918 he served in the Artists Rifles, the unit that his brother had joined in 1914 before taking a commission in the Hampshire Regiment. John served as a sergeant at the Battle of Passchendaele and at the battle of Cambrai. On the recommendation of his brother, from 1918 John worked as an official war artist from 1918.

Donald Alxander Mackenzie MA MC (1889 - 1971) – British school teacher

With thanks to Sue Robinson of the Group Wenches in Trenches for sending this poem

Donald Alexander Mackenzie was born in Wigan, Lancashire, UK on 1st June 1889. His parents were Duncan Mackenzie, a commercial traveller, and his wife, Jessie, who were both from Scotland.  Donald had the following siblings: Finlay Mackenzie, b. 1874, Annie Mackenzie, b. 1876, Maggie Mackenzie, b. 1878 and William Mackenzie, b. 1880.

Educated at Standishgate Weslyan School and Wigan Grammar School, he went on to study at Victoria University, Manchester. 

Donald became a teacher and taught at Carre’s Grammar School, Sleaford, 1910-1913, Central Secondary School, Sheffield, 1913-1920. 

Volunteering for service during the First World War, Donald served initially as a Lieutenant in C Battery, 317th (Northumberland) Brigade, Royal Field Artillery TF for four years. 

He wrote a poem about Wigan, originally entitled “Home Thoughts from France” while on the Somme in May 1918.

After the war Donald became Secretary for Higher Education, Sheffield, Assistant Editor of “Teachers’ World” until 1944, Principal of Gaumont British Education Division, 1944-1949.  In 1951 he was working as a freelance journalist, living at ‘The Grove’, Greville Park Avenue, Ashstead, Surrey.

Donald died in Worthing, Sussex in 1971.

Sources:  Find my Past, Free BMD and

Saturday, 26 March 2022

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874 - 1936) – British writer, playwright, art critic, poet and artist

Gilbert Keith Chesterton was born in Campden Hill in Kensington, London, UK on 29th May 1874. His parents were Edward Chesterton, an auctioneer and surveyor, and his wife, Marie Louise, née Grosjean.  Gilbert had two siblings - a brother, Cecil, b. 1879, and a sister, Beatrice Elizabeth, who was born in 1871 and died in 1878.

Educated at St Paul's School, Gilbert went on to study at the Slade School of Art, planning to become an illustrator. As an adult, Gilbert was a large man, 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) tall and about 20 stone 6 pounds (130 kg; 286 lb) in weight. His rotund girth gave rise to an anecdote during the First World War, when a lady in London asked why he was not "out at the Front"; he replied, "If you go round to the side, you will see that I am." 

On 28th June 1901, Gilbert married Frances Blogg in St Mary Abbots, Kensington.  Frances was also a poet, (see  She was passionate about her husband’s writing, encouraged him and acted as his personal assistant. In 1909 the couple moved to Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, where they lived until their deaths. 

Gilbert served as a member of the British Propaganda Bureau during WW1.

As well as being a poet, writer and journalist, Gilbert was also a talented artist. He illustrated several books. 

Cecil, who also became a poet, joined the Highland Light Infantry as a Private and served on the Western Front.  Wounded three times, Cecil died on 6th December 1918.

Gilbert died on 14th June 1936, and his wife, Frances, died on 12th December 1938.

Gilbert’s WW1 poetry collections were:

“Poems” (Burns & Oats, 1915)

“The Ballad of St. Barbara and other verses” (Cecil Palmer, 1922)

"Collected poems" (Burns, Oates & Washbourne, 1927) 

“Collected poems” (Methuen, 1933)

and he had poems published in 25 WW1 anthologies. 

Captain Charles Fryatt


TRAMPLED yet red is the last of the embers,

Red the last cloud of a sun that has set;

What of your sleeping though Flanders remembers,

What of your waking, if England forget?

Why should you share in the hearts that we harden,

In the shame of our nature, who see it and live?

How more than the godly the greedy can pardon,

How well and how quickly the hungry forgive.

Ah, well if the soil of the stranger had wrapped you,

While the lords that you served and the friends that you knew

Hawk in the marts of the tyrants that trapped you,

Tout in the shops of the butchers that slew.

Why should you wake for a realm that is rotten,

Stuffed with their bribes and as dead to their debts?

Sleep and forget us, as we have forgotten;

For Flanders remembers and England forgets.

From “The Ballad of St. Barbara and other verses” by G.K. Chesterton (Cecil Palmer, London, 1922) (St. Barbara is the patron saint of artillery and of those in danger of sudden death.)


Captain Charles Algernon Fryatt (2 December 1872 – 27 July 1916) was a British mariner who was executed by the Germans for attempting to ram a U-boat in 1915. When his ship, the SS Brussels, was captured off the Netherlands in 1916, he was court-martialled and sentenced to death because he had attacked the submarine as a civilian non-combatant. International outrage followed his execution near Bruges, Belgium. In 1919, his body was reburied with full honours in the United Kingdom.

Captain Fryatt's ship - The S.S. Brussels

Sources:  Find my Past, Free BMD

Catherine W. Reilly.- “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 84. and

Monday, 21 March 2022

Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875 –1956) - British novelist; inventor of the Clerihew humorous verse form

I have included Edmund here because he was made a Chevalier of the Order of the Crown - a Belgian award - for 'valuable services in the Allied cause' during WW1 and, while he may not have written any verse during the conflict, he was an important British poet

Edmund was born in London on 10th July 1875. His parents were John Edmund Bentley, a civil servant, and his wife, Margaret Richardson Bentley, nee Clerihew. His father, John Edmund Bentley, was a civil servant and a former Rugby Union international, having played for England in the first ever international match against Scotland in 1871. 

Educated at St Paul's School, London, before going on to Merton College, Oxford University, Edmund became a journalist and worked for several newspapers, including “The Daily Telegraph”.  He also worked for the weekly magazine “The Outlook” during the editorship of James Louis Garvin. 

When he was sixteen and a pupil at St Paul's School, the lines of his first Clerihew - about Humphry Davy - dropped into Edmund's head during a science class. Together with his schoolfriends, one of whom was G.K. Chesterton, Edmund filled a notebook with examples.

In June 1902, Edmund married Violet Alice Mary Boileau in Brentford, Middlesex.  Violet's father was Neil C. Boileau, a senior officer in the British Army  By 1911, Edmund and Violet were living in Hampstead and had the following children - Neil Edmund Boileau Bentley, b. 1903, Violet Bentley b. 1904 and Nicholas Clerihew Bentley b. 1908.

According to a notice in The  London Gazette of 16th May 1919, Edmund received an award – Chevalier of the Order of the Crown - conferred by  His Majesty the King of the Belgians  in recognition of valuable services in the Allied cause  

Edmund died in 1956 in London. His son Nicholas Bentley, who preferred to spell his first name Nicolas, became an artist.

Cover of the first book
of Clerihews

Edmund's first Clerihew:

Sir Humphry Davy

Abominated gravy.

He lived in the odium

Of having discovered sodium.[


“Biography for Beginners” Edited by E. CLERIHEW, B.A. With 40 Diagrams by G. K. CHESTERTON (T. Werner Laurie, London, 1905) is available to view as a free down-load from the Gutenberg Project:


The Order of the Crown

The Order of the Crown is the second highest Belgian Order of Knighthood, junior only to the Order of Leopold. H.M. King Leopold II established the Order in 1897. Receiving a Knighthood in the Order of the Crown is considered a gift of very high value in international diplomacy. This award can be compared to the modern 'Order of the Merit'...

It was awarded for important contributions to the First World War effort by way of artistic, written or scientific contributions, or important contributions to industry and trade.


A Clerihew has the following properties:

It is biographical and usually whimsical, showing the subject from an unusual point of view; it mostly pokes fun at famous people

It has four lines of irregular length and metre for comic effect

The rhyme structure is AABB; the subject matter and wording are often humorously contrived in order to achieve a rhyme, including the use of phrases in Latin, French and other languages.

The first line contains, and may consist solely of, the subject's name. According to a letter in The Spectator in the 1960s, Bentley said that a true clerihew has to have the name "at the end of the first line", as the whole point was the skill in rhyming awkward names.

Clerihews are not satirical or abusive, but they target famous individuals and reposition them in an absurd, anachronistic or commonplace setting, often giving them an over-simplified and slightly garbled description.

G.K. Chesterton wrote a poem to Violet Boileau: