Wednesday, 31 December 2014

C.S. Lewis (1898 -1963) - Irish

Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast on 29th November 1898.   His father was Albert James Lewis, a solicitor from Wales and his mother was Florence Augusta nee Hamilton whose father was a Church of Ireland priest.

As a child, Lewis gave himself the name of "Jack" by which he was known to family and friends.  Initially educated at home where he developed his love of literature, Lewis was sent to Wynyard School in Watford in England in 1908.  When the school closed down, Lewis went to a school nearer to home - Campbell College, Belfast.  Health problems meant he was sent to Malvern where he went to Cherbourg House school.

In 1916 Lewis gained a scholarship to University College, Oxford. In 1917, he was commissioned into the Somerset Light Infantry and saw action in the trenches on the Somme.  Lewis was wounded in April 1918 and sent back to England to recover.  After that he was assigned to duties in Andover before being demobilised in December 1918 and resuming his studies at Oxford, gaining a first class honours degree.

J.R.R. Tolkien was one of Lewis's friends at Oxford.  In 1956, Lewis married the American writer Joy Davidman.

After a long and illustrious career as a novelist, poet, academic, critic and essayist, Lewis died on 22nd November 1963.  Among his many novels, he is perhaps best remembered for "The Chronicles of Narnia."
It is interesting to note that C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolien and A.A. Milne all wrote stories for children following their wartime service in the Army.

According to Catherine W. Reilly, Clive used the pen-name of Clive Hamilton.  His WW1 collection "Spirits in bondage: a cycle of lyrics" by Clive Hamilton, was published by Heinemann, London in 1919.

 “ Death in Battle”

Open the gates for me,
Open the gates of the peaceful castle, rosy in the West,
In the sweet dim Isle of Apples over the wide sea’s breast,
Open the gates for me!
Sorely pressed have I been
And driven and hurt beyond bearing this summer day,
But the heat and the pain together suddenly fall away,
All’s cool and green.
But a moment agone,
Among men cursing in fight and toiling, blinded I fought,
But the labour passed on a sudden even as a passing thought,
And now—alone!
Ah, to be ever alone,
In flowery valleys among the mountains and silent wastes untrod,
In the dewy upland places, in the garden of God,
This would atone!
I shall not see
The brutal, crowded faces around me, that in their toil have grown
Into the faces of devils—yea, even as my own—
When I find thee,
O Country of Dreams!
Beyond the tide of the ocean, hidden and sunk away,
Out of the sound of battles, near to the end of day,
Full of dim woods and streams. 

"Spirits in Bondage: a cycle of lyrics" is available as a download from Project Gutenberg:

Other Sources:  Wikipedia   Photo:  Google Images,

Catherine Wl. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) p. 200. and

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Forgotten Poets of the First World War

A question which comes up time and again is which poets to include in this commemorative exhibition project?  As far as I am concerned, anyone who wrote poetry during the 1914 - 1919 period is relevant to this project.   However, some people seem to discount anyone who 'did not fight'.  This seems a shame because poetry was written by people who were too old to fight and of course by women (many of whom served in the Armed Forces or as nurses, drivers, etc), school children and conscientious objectors.

Here are just a few of the poets - some of them very famous at the time - who published work during WW1 but who don't seem to receive much coverage these days. Some of those who were too old to serve in the Armed Forces served in other organisations.  See the full list of those I have so far looked at at the top of this weblog under "List of Poets":

The Hon. Herbert Asquith - Royal Field Artlllery - son of Britain's Prime Minister 1908 - 1916
Edmund Charles Blunden, MC - Royal Sussex Regiment
Robert Bridges - Poet Laureate 1913 - 1930
Rupert Brooke - Royal Naval Division
John Buchan - worked for the British War Propaganda Bureau
Gilbert Cannan - pacifist and conscientious objector
Gilbert Keith (G.K.) Chesterton - worked for the British War Propaganda Bureau
Geoffrey Dearmer - Royal Army Service Corps
Walter De La Mare
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - served as a doctor during the Boer War
Hugh Reginald ("Rex") Freston - Royal Berkshire Regiment
John Galsworthy
Ford Madox Ford - Welch Regiment
Gilbert Frankau - 9th East Surrey Regiment then Royal Field Artillery from March 1915
Wilfrid Wilson Gibson - Private on the Western Front
E. Leslie Gunston - ? volunteer with the YMCA
Thomas Hardy
James Joyce
Rudyard Kipling - worked for the British War Propaganda Bureau
C.S. Lewis - 3rd Battalion of the Somerset Light Infantry
John Masefield - served with the Red Cross in France and on a hospital ship 
Alan Alexander (A.A.) Milne - Royal Warwickshire Regiment
Harold Monro - Anti-aircraft Battery Royal Artillery; later War Office
Sir Henry Newbolt - worked for the British War Propaganda Bureau
Alfred Noyes - worked for the Foreign Office
Sir Gilbert Parker - Canadian - worked for the British War Propaganda Bureau
Ezra Pound - American
John Boyston (J.B.) Priestly - served in the Infantry
Cecil Roberts - war correspondent attached in turn to all three services
Charles Elliott Scott-Moncrieff - King's Own Scottish Borderers
J.R.R. Tolkein - 2nd Lieutenant, Lancashire Fusiliers
Geoffrey Winthrop Young - Friends Ambulance Unit
William Butler (W.B.) Yeats

There are of course many more and I hope to bring you information about as many as possible over the coming months.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Poets who were Prisoners of War during WW1

John BALFOUR, a Prisoner of War wrote "Ruhleben Poems" published in "Estonian Review, 1919.

Archibald Allan BOWMAN (a POW in Germany) published "Sonnets from a Prison Camp" in 1919 with the Bodley Head publishing company.

Frederick William HARVEY (DCM, Lieutenant in the Gloucestershire Regiment). Prisoner in Gutersloh and Crefeld.  "Ducks and other verses", published by Sidgwick and Jackson, 1919 and "Farewell", Sigfwick & Jackson, 1921.

R.H. SAUTER, "Songs in Captivity", Heinemann, 1922

Lieutenant John STILL with the East Yorkshire Regiment (POW in Turkey),  "Poems in Captivity", Bodley Head, 1919

Alec WAUGH (brother of Evelyn), Dorset Regiment, taken prisoner in 1918. "Resentment", Grant Richards, 1918.

I am sure there must be others and will do my best to find them.

Friday, 26 December 2014


This project seems to take on a life of its own.  I had not realised that Alec Waugh was a poet. I knew he was a novelist and the brother of Evelyn who was one of my favourite authors during my teenage years (I was once successful during a job interview because I answered the question "What are you reading?" with "Evelyn Waugh's "Brideshead Revisited").

Reading through Catherine W. Reilly's amazing Bibliography of English Poetry of the First World War - if you haven't read this please try to (see the details under "Bibliography" - I was surprised to find she had included Alec Waugh.  I did a little research for the Forgotten Poets section of the exhibition project and found that the Waugh family were related to the Gosse family.   You will find Philip Gosse, grandson of the naturalist Philip Henry Gosse, under my Fascinating Facts of the Great War heading -

Philip was for a time the official 2nd British Army Rat Catcher on the Western Front and his story is, to my mind, definitely "fascinating".

In his memoirs, Philip Gosse mentioned that his Mother had received a letter from their family friend Siegfried Sassoon - who is definitely NOT  "forgotten" !  In the letter. Sassoon described how Robert Graves had recently joined Sassoon's Regiment.  Philip's mother was an artist and writer.  It turns out that Philip's father Edmund William Gosse (1849 - 1928)  was also a poet.  And it is not surprising that Philip Gosse became a doctor  and a naturalist in his spare time, as one of his Grandfathers was a Homeopath and the other was the naturalist Philip Henry Gosse.

Alec Waugh (1898 - 1981) - somewhat overshadowed by his more famous brother, Evelyn

British novelist Alexander Raban "Alec" Waugh was born in London on 8th July 1898.  His parents were Arthur Waugh, a publisher, and his wife Catherine Charlotte nee Raban.

Alec was educated at Sherborne School in Dorset.

During the First World War he was commissioned into the Dorset Regiment in May 1917.   Taken prisoner of war at Arras in March 1918, Lieutenant Waugh spent the remainder of the conflict in prisons in Karlsruhe and Mainz.

Perhaps best remembered for his novel "Island in the Sun" which was published in 1957, Alec Waugh's WW1 poems were published by Grant Richards in 1918 under the title "Resentment Poems".  He died on 3rd September 1981.

Source:  Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography" and Wikipedia;  Photo Google Images

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Leslie George Rub (c. 1893 - 1917) - German-born Australian

I have not been able to find out much about Leslie George Rub, other than that he was apparently born in Germany in around 1893.   His parents were Joseph and Kate Rub and they must have emigrated to Australia for they lived in Drayton, Queensland.  Leslie became a carpenter and he volunteered to join the Australian Army in the First World War.   He embarked for Europe in the HMAT "Wandilla" at Brisbane on 31st January 1916 and joined the 26th Infantry Battalion of the AEF as a Private.  He was soon promoted to the rank of Acting Corporal.   Leslie George Rub was wounded at Ypres in Flanders, Belgium and died of his wounds on 22nd September 1917. He is remembered at The Huts Cemetery Ypres, Belgium and in Australia.

The following poem "Christmas Day on the Somme" was written by George Leslie Rub.

’Twas Christmas Day on the Somme
The men stood on parade,
The snow laid six feet on the ground
Twas twenty in the shade.

Up spoke the Captain ‘gallant man’,
"Just hear what I’ve to say,
You may not have remembered that
Today is Christmas Day."

"The General has expressed a wish
This day may be observed,
Today you will only work eight hours,
A rest that’s well deserved.

I hope you’ll keep yourselves quite clean
And smart and spruce and nice,
The stream is frozen hard
But a pick will break the ice."

"All men will get two biscuits each,
I’m sure you’re tired of bread,
I’m sorry there’s no turkey
but there’s Bully Beef instead.

The puddings plum have not arrived
But they are on their way,
I’ll guarantee they’ll be in time
To eat next Christmas Day."

"You’re parcels would have been in time
But I regret to say
The vessel which conveyed them was
Torpedoed on the way.

The Quartermaster’s got your rum
But you may get some yet,
Each man will be presented with
A Woodbine Cigarette."

"The Huns have caught us in the rear
And painted France all red,
Pray do not let that trouble you,
Tomorrow you’ll be dead.

Now ere you go I wish you all
This season of good cheer,
A very happy Christmas and
A prosperous New Year."

With many thanks to Paulo Cabaço who first posted this poem in Remembering the First World War in 2014 One Hundred Years Facebook Group which is run by Stanley Kaye.


Photo:  Google Images

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Leslie Gunston (1895 - 1988) - somewhat overshadowed by his more famous cousin, Wilfred Owen

Edward Leslie Gunston was born on 22nd April 1895 in Camberwell, London, UK.  He was  the son of Wilfred's aunt - his Mother Susan's sister, Emma E., nee Shaw, from Oswestry, Shropshire - and her husband John Gunston, a pork butcher from Holborn, London.

Educated at Kings College, Wimbledon and Kendrick School, Reading, Leslie, like his now very famous cousin, also wrote poetry. The cousins found they had a lot in common as they were growing up and sharing holidays.  They also apparently had poetry writing competitions between themselves, challenging each other to write poems on a certain subject.  According to Dominic Hibberd, a poem by Leslie entitled "The End" was published in the YMCA magazine "YMCA Weekly" on 22nd December 1916 ("The Red Triangle" Number 102 Volume 2 p 1229).

Leslie trained as an architect and was also an extremely talented artist.  His work was regularly displayed at art exhibitions. The example of his work shown here is entitled "Venice".  Leslie married Norah Whitwell in 1925.

Leslie died in Hitchin, Hertfordshire on 24th March 1988, at the age of 92.   His WW1 poetry collection collection "The Nymph, and Other poems" was published by Stockwell in 1917.

Postcard to Leslie from Wilfred of Hut 6a, Artists' Rifles at Hare Hall Camp, Gidea Park. 

Sources:  Internet Search and Catherine Reilly's "English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978)
Find my Past
“Wilfred Owen: A New Biography” by Dominic Hibberd (Ivan R. Dee, 2002)

Friday, 19 December 2014

Paul V. Delahunty (1888 -

According to Catherine W. Reilly in "English Poetry of the First World War An Anthology", Paul Vincent Delahunty, who was born in Manchester in 1888, wrote some poetry specially to be read out at a dinner party on 9th March 1920.  This was held at the Reform Club in Manchester and was hosted by Mr Sam Meadowcroft in grateful thanks for being rescued from the White Star Liner S. S. "Arabic" when she was torpedoed on 19th August 1915 on her way to New York.   The sinking took place off Kinsale on the southern coast of Ireland.  The incident caused quite a stir in diplomatic circles.

A limited edition of only sixteen copies of the poetry was printed by Riccardi P. and published by the Medici Society.   There is apparently a copy at Manchester Public Library.

Page 108, "English Poetry of the First World War An Anthology" compiled by Catherine W. Reilly and published by St. Martin's Press, New York in 1978.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Can anyone help find 'A.O' ?

Richard Webster asks if anyone has any information concerning a First World War soldier poet who published his work using the pen name A.O?  His surname was Osborne and he was possibly a Major with the 4th Irish Dragoon Guards, who formed part of the British Expeditionary Force. He may have served throughout the war and survived it.

Richard surmises from his poems that he might have been public/grammar school educated, possibly classics?

This is one of A.O's poems posted by Richard on the War Poets Association Facebook Page:


Hark ! The still night
rebellious voices wakes
In midnight
chorus from the groaning hills,
And all the
vales of Aisne and Vendresse
Echo reverberant
to the fiery hate.
Rises the loud
refrain, crescendent roar,
Percussion, re-percussion,
ceaseless strife.
onward comes the march of death
thunder of the loud barrage.

I have looked in my copy of Catherine W. Reilly's "Bibliography of English Poetry of the First World War" and can't find anything there for Richard.  All help greatly appreciated.  Many thanks.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Another forgotten poet...

I was searching the Internet to see if I could find a WW1 poet called St. John Hamund and instead found John William Streets and this amazing website which carries his story: and for further information see   
I'm in the process of drawing up a list of those forgotten poets and hope to post it shortly.  In the meantime, if anyone has any favourites who they feel have been left out, please get in touch and we will do our best to put that right.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Robert Bridges (1844 - 1930) - British

Bridges was the British Poet Laureate during the First World War, having been appointed in 1913, and was the father of one of the Female Poets of the First World War – Elizabeth Daryush.

Robert Seymour Bridges was born Walmer, Kent, UK on 23rd October 1844.

Educated at Eton College and Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he became friends with the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, Robert went on to study medicine at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London. His plan was to work as a doctor until he was forty and then retire to write poetry.  Robert worked at Bart’s Hospital before going on to work at the Great Northern Hospital.  He was also a doctor at the Hospital for Sick Children. Robert published his first collection of poetry in 1873.

Forced to retire in 1882 due to ill health, Robert was then able to fulfill his dream of becoming a full-time writer. In 1884 he married Monica Waterhouse, who was the daughter of the architect Alfred Waterhouse R.A.  The couple had two children – Elizabeth, who became a poet and wrote under her married name of Daryush, and Edward, who became a Cabinet Minister in the British Government.

Robert was elected to the Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1900. He was appointed Poet Laureate in 1913 – so far, the only medical graduate to have held the office.

During the First World War, Robert was one of the writers and poets invited to join the group of  poets and writers assembled by Charles Masterman as part of Britain's War Propaganda Bureau.

Robert died at his home in Boars Hill, Berkshire, UK on 21st April 1930.

Among those who set some of Robert’s poems to music were Hubert Parry, Gustav Holst and later Gerald Finzi.

Robert’s WW1 poetry collections were:  “Britannica victrix” (Oxford University Press, 1918) and “The Tapestry: Poems” (Privately printed in 1925). His poems were included in nineteen WW1 poetry anthologies

Photograph of Robert Bridges photographer unknown.

“Lord Kitchener” by Robert Bridges

Unflinching hero, watchful to foresee
And face thy country's peril wheresoe'er,
Directing war and peace with equal care,
Till by long toil ennobled thou wert he
Whom England call'd and bade "Set my arm free
To obey my will and save my honour fair," --
What day the foe presumed on her despair
And she herself had trust in none but thee:

Among Herculean deeds the miracle
That mass'd the labour of ten years in one
Shall be thy monument. Thy work was done
Ere we could thank thee; and the high sea swell
Surgeth unheeding where thy proud ship fell
By the lone Orkneys, at the set of sun.


Saturday, 29 November 2014

John Masefield (1878 - 1967) - British

I have known and loved Masefield’s poem “Sea Fever” for many years yet it never occurred to me that he might have been involved in the First World War.

John Masefield was born on 1st June 1878 in Ledbury, Herefordshire, UK.   His parents were Caroline and George Masefield.   John’s mother died in 1885 and his father in 1891 and the Masefield children were brought up by their elderly aunt.

John was educated at King’s School Warwick (now called Warwick School) and, at his aunt’s insistence, he was sent to HMS Conway. The "Conway" was a nautical school for the training of Merchant Naval officers which was founded in 1859. The beautiful, wooden sailing ship was anchored at Rock Ferry on the River Mersey near Liverpool, until it was moved to the Menai Straights during The Second World  War, due to the bombing suffered by Liverpool in the Blitz.  In later years, John Masefield was asked to write a song for The "Conway", which he did but they did not like it and never used it, preferring instead a song written for them by WW1 poet and war correspondent Cecil Roberts some years later.

During his first sea trip, John became ill and had to return home.  His next journey was to New York, where he gave up and tried his hand at a variety of jobs, writing in his spare time.  His first collection of poems - “Salt-Water Ballads”, which includes Sea Fever - was published in 1902.

In 1914, John was considered too old to enlist in the armed forces, so he volunteered to join the staff of a hospital for French wounded soldiers in Arc-en-Bois, Marne, France.  

In 1915, John went to the United States of America on a lecture tour and on his return to Britain he worked on propaganda books about the war for the British Military Intelligence.  Once America entered the War, John worked at the Ministry of Information organising entertainment for American soldiers billeted in Britain.

1918 saw John in America again, touring and lecturing to those about to go to fight in France.

John Masefield's cousin, Charles John Beech Masefield, MC, a Captain in the 5th North Staffordshire Regiment, was wounded in action on 1st July 1917 and died in a prisoner of war camp the following day.  His poetry collections were 'Dislikes: some modern satires', Fifield, 1914 and  'Poems', Blackwell, Oxford, 1919 and his poems were included in three WW1 Anthologies.

After the death of WW1 Poet Laureate Robert Bridges in 1930, John Masefield was appointed Poet Laureate by King George V, a post that he held until his death in 1967.  The only other British Poet Laureate to hold the post for as long was Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

John Masefield's WW1 poetry collections were: 

'Sonnets and poems', Chosley, Berks, 1916
'Lollington Downs and other poems', Heinemann, 1917
'Philip the King and other poems', Heinemann, 1914
'Poems', Macmillan, New York, 1935
'Collected poems', Heinemann, 1932.

His poems were included in six WW1 Anthologies.

Photo of HMS "Conway" at anchor in the River Mersey near Rock Ferry.

 "Sea Fever":

I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking.

I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied; 
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Bernard Adams - John Bernard Pye Adams (1890 - 1916) - British

John Bernard Pye Adams was born in Beckenham in Kent, England on 15th November 1890. His parents were Harold and Georgina Adams.

Educated initially at Clare House School in Beckenham, Bernard went on to Malvern College before going up to St. John’s College, Cambridge to study Classics.  He was awarded a prize for one of his odes written in Latin and gained a First Class Honours Degree.

Described by a former teacher as a “quiet and reserved” man who preferred “writing to speech”, Bernard was appointed Warden and Assistant Educational Adviser at a hostel for Indian students in Cromwell Road, South Kensington, London.

In 1914, he volunteered for service in the Army and was commissioned into the 1st Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers with the rank of Lieutenant – before Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves joined the same Regiment.

Bernard was one of the first among the writers who enlisted to publish his memoirs of service. This was written while he was convalescing after he was wounded in the arm on the Western Front in June 1916.

“Nothing of Importance – a Record of 18 Months at the Front with a Welsh Battalion, October 1915 – June 1916” was published in New York by Robert M. McBride & Co. in 1918 - the only such memoir to be published during the First World War.

While convalescing at his parents’ home in Kent, Bernard wrote about “that distant growl, that insistent mutter” of the guns in Picardy which could be clearly heard on the south coast of England.

Bernard returned to active service on the Western Front on 31st January 1917.  He was gravely wounded on 26th February 1917 while leading his men in an attack near Serre Somme.  Bernard died of his wounds the following day in a Field Hospital in France.

“Nothing of Importance” is available to read here

Do have a look – it is a fascinating read.

Charles Hamilton Sorley (1895 - 1915)

According to John Masefield, Poet Laureate from 1930 until 1967, the death of Charles Hamilton Sorley was "the greatest loss of all the poets killed in that war".

Charles was born on 19th May 1895 in Aberdeen in Scotland.  He had a twin brother    Their father was William Ritchie Sorley, Regius Professor of Moral Philosophy at Aberdeen University, and his mother was Janetta Colquhoun Smith.

In 1900, the family moved to Cambridge where William took up the post of Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge University's King’s College.

Educated at Marlborough College, where he was a good all-round pupil, Charles discovered a liking for cross-country running in the rain. After Marlborough, Charles was due to go up to University College, Oxford in the autumn of 1914.  However, prior to that, his father wanted him to perfect his knowledge of the German language and sent him to stay with family friends in Schwerin in Germany.  Charles then enrolled at Jena University and was there when war broke out in 1914.   He was initially detained in Trier for half a day but was released and told to leave the country.

Charles volunteered to join the British Army and was commissioned into the Suffolk Regiment with the rank of Lieutenant.  He was sent to France in May 1915 and soon promoted to the rank of Captain.  He was killed by sniper fire on 13th October 1915 and has no known grave but is commemorated on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial at Loos.

Similarly to Wilfred Owen, Charles sent his poems to his mother with his letters to her.  A collection of his poems was published posthumously in January 1916 by Cambridge University Press under the title “Marlborough and Other Poems and his letters were published in 1919.

The Irish composer and teacher Charles Wood set part of Charles’s poem “Expectans expectavi” to music in 1919.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Joyce Kilmer (1886 - 1918) - American Poet, Writer, Journalist, Critic, Lecturer and Editor

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.

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Guido Gozzano (1883 - 1916) - Italian writer and poet

I am indebted to Mario Malacrida from Italy for bringing the Italian poet Guido Gozzano to my attention.   Although Gozzano did not take part in the First World War due to ill health, I have included him in my commemorative  exhibition project in order to illustrate the global nature of the conflict.  Many people in the UK seem to have forgotten the fierce fighting that took place in Italy during the First World War and yet many British men and women served and died during that Campaign and lie in Italian cemeteries.  Female First World War poet Vera Brittain’s brother, Edward Brittain MC, is among those who were killed during the Italian Campaign;  Edward is buried in Italy on the Asiago Plateau.   After her death, at her wish, Vera's ashes were scattered upon her brother’s grave. 
In 1915, Italy joined the conflict on the side of the Allies, which is the name by which the three Entente Powers (Britain, France and Russia) became known as other countries joined them during the First World War.
Guido Gozzano was born in Turin on 19th December 1883, the son of Fausto Gozzano, who was an engineer, and his wife Diodata Mautino, who was the daughter of an Italian Senator. Though his health was never good, Gozzano was a keen sportsman, enjoying ice-skating, cycling and swimming.  He studied law at the University of Turin, however, he preferred attending courses on literature given by the poet Arturo Graf to the lectures on law.  Graf was an Italian poet of German origin and he greatly influenced Gozzano, encouraging him to write.
In 1907 Gozzano’s health deteriorated and he went to live on the Italian Riviera.  The same year, he began a love affair with the poet Amalia Guglielminetti.  Their love letters (1907 – 1909) were published in 1951. Gozzano’s first collection of poems “La via del rifugio” was published by the Turin publishing company Streglio.
In 1909, Gozzano gave up the study of law to dedicate himself to writing.  From February 1912 until May 1913 he travelled by boat on a cruise to India and Ceylon in an attempt to improve his health.   Gozzano composed several poems about the First World War which were, however, not a success with those who knew and loved his romantic poems.
Gozzano also wrote short stories and worked on adapting some of those for use in theatrical and film productions.
Gozzano was working on a film script about St. Francis of Assisi when he died on 9th August 1916 .
Observations on the poem “Signorina Felicita” by Mario Malacrida:
Gozzano describes a portrait of a woman in the following way:
Intorno a quella che rideva illusa
nel ricco peplo, e che morí di fame,
v’era una stirpe logoro e confusa:
topaie, materasst, vasellame,
lucerne, ceste, mobili: ciarpame 
reietto, cosí caro alia mia Musa!
About her, smiling in her Grecian dress
and Grecian dream, who came to die of hunger,
there lay a tattered and promiscuous race:
some furniture, some oil lamps, the odd hamper,
mattresses, rats’ nests, crockery: the lumber
that since it is rejected charms my Muse!
The poem from which this stanza is taken, “Signorina Felicita,” is one of the best known in the Italian language, and it shows Gozzano at his most accomplished.
The English poem that comes closest to this poem’s artistry is probably George Meredith’s “Modern Love” (1853), which describes in novelistic detail a troubled love affair. Gozzano’s poem tells the story of the poet’s love for a woman of the working class. It contains passages of condensed and elliptical dialogue and lively novelistic descriptions like the one just quoted. But what Italians like best about this long poem is its mood of refined sentimentality, its bittersweet recognition of the impossibility of recapturing a vanished past. This mood is asserted from the very opening lines of “Signorina Felicita,” which Italians can recall almost as readily as they can “nel mezzo del cammin’ di nostra vita,” the words that begin The Divine Comedy:
Signorina Felicita, a quest’ ora
scende la sera nel giardino antico
della tua casa. Nel mio cuore amico
scende il ricordo. E ti rivedo ancora,
e Ivrea rivedo e la cerulea Dora
e quel dolce paese che non dico.
Signorina Felicita, this hour
finds evening falling on your ancient home
and ancient garden. And the memories come
upon me thick and fast. I see once more
you and Ivrea and the skyblue Dora,
all that dear region which I do not name.
Sources:  Wikipedia and Mario Malacrida

Sunday, 16 November 2014

J. Milton Hayes (1884 - 1940) - British poet author and entertainer

James Milton Hayes was born in Chorlton, Manchester in 1884 and was baptized at St. Silus Church Ardwick. His father was James William Hayes, a gas fitter.  

In the 1901 Census, James Milton gave his profession as ‘Insurance clerk’.  By 1911, the family was living in Hyde Grove and James Milton was an ‘entertainer author’ writing and performed monologues which were extremely popular in those pre-television and computer days when the music hall was king.

James was commissioned into the Manchester Regiment on 31st December 1915.  In November 1917, he was awarded the Military Cross.  In 1918 he was taken prisoner and held at Mainz Citadel in Germany.  The writer Alec Waugh, brother of Evelyn Waugh, was a prisoner at Mainz Citadel at the same time as James and later wrote about their meeting.    

James, whose professional name was J. Milton Hayes, wrote the now forgotten monologue that was very famous in his day “The Green Eye of the Little Yellow God.”  He apparently originally wrote this for the actor Bransby Williams (1870 - 1961) to perform.  The monologue was widely performed and later parodied by Stanley Holloway and The Goon Show.

James died in Nice in France in 1940.

Source: Wikipedia.  

Additional information kindly supplied by Andrew Simpson – see Andrew’s weblog about Chorlton, where you will also find the words of that famous monologue:

In “My Brother Evelyn and Other Profiles” by Alec Waugh (Cassell, London, 1967), Waugh describes James as “A North Country man’ he was nearly forty; he was brisk, assured, purposeful, with his eye on the main chance. He was the first person I heard analyse success”.

I am still researching James for an exhibition panel.  I am convinced that the photograph from Google Images is of an RAF uniform in the Second World War.  If anyone has any information please get in touch.  

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Hans Leip (1893 - 1963) - German Poet and School Teacher

The WW2 song "Lilly Marlene" was played this morning during the march past at the Cenotaph in London. Did you know that the song was in fact originally written during the First World War as a poem?  It was written by a young German school teacher.   His name was Hans LEIP and he was born in  Hamburg in 1893 the son of a former sailor.  Educated in Hamburg, Leip became a school teacher but his dream was to become an artist.

In 1915, Leip was conscripted into the Imperial German Army and served on the Eastern Front and in the Carpathians.  He was wounded in 1917 and invalided out of the army.  After the war, Leip travelled to Paris, London, New York and Algiers. He wrote novels, plays, short stories and, of course, poetry.  Leip was also a talented artist and sculptor.

The poem was called "Das Lied eines jungen Soldaten auf der Wacht" - 'The Song of a Young Soldier of the Watch' and Leip wrote it combining the names of his girl friend and a nurse who looked after him.  Leip's poem was set to music in 1938 by Norbert Schultze and recorded in 1939 by a young German singer called Lale Andersen with the title "Das Mädchen under der Lanterne" - 'The Girl under the Lamps'.   The song was played on a German radio station and the song became a hit.  It appealed to all soldiers world wide during the Second World War and was sung in many languages.

Hans Leip died in 1963.

Photo:  Google Images - Hans Leip before his departure to the Front in 1915

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Lieutenant Colonel Stanley Casson (1889 - 1944) - a Soldier in Two World Wars


Stanley Casson was born in 1889 and educated at Merchant Taylors School in London.   He went up to Oxford in 1909 and in 1913 was elected to a Studentship at the British School of Archaeology in Athens.  He joined the Army in 1914 and served with the East Lancashire Regiment in France.  He was wounded in the leg in 1915, Mentioned in Dispatches and awarded the Greek Order of the Saviour.  

Stanley worked in Greece after the war and was instrumental in ensuring Rupert Brooke, who was Britain's best known soldier poet during the First World War, had a fitting memorial on the Island of Skyros.

"Ploughboy Soldiers" by Stanley Casson

These men were young and all they owned was youth;
They knew the rising and the set of day;
They knew the colds and fields;  their store of Truth
Was blended with the cornfields and the clay.

This was their landed property, for they were born
From rich inheritance of years untold;
They gave it all to make new fields of corn
To grow new valleys rich with August gold.

By kind permission of Stanley's daughter Lady Jennifer MacLellan who edited her Father's poems from his notebooks: "Poems from the Great War" by Lieutenant Colonel Stanley Casson A Soldier in two World Wars, published and printed by Napier University, Edinburgh, 2001.

Geoffrey Wall (1897 - 1917) - British born Australian "Rupert Brooke"

Arthur Geoffrey Nelson Wall was born in Liscard on the Wirral Peninsula, UK on 3rd March 1897.   His parents were Arthur E. Wall and his wife Mary Jane W. (nee Nelson), who were married in Birkenhead in September 1895.  They moved to the Wirral from Bromley in Kent because Arthur was a Manager with the London and Lancashire Fire Insurance Company which had offices in Liverpool.   They lived in Denton Drive in New Brighton and Geoffrey was educated at Seabank Road High School.

The family emigrated to Australia when Geoffrey was ten years old and he attended Wesley College Preparatory School in Melbourne.

Geoffrey began writing poetry at Wesley College and his work was published in the school magazine. He enrolled in Queen's College at Melbourne University to study The Arts in September 1915.   At the end of his first year at university, Geoffrey returned to Britain and joined the Royal Flying Corps.

After training in Oxford and Denham, Geoffrey was sent to Netheravon Aerodrome in Wiltshire.   He was killed in a flying accident in England on 6th August 1917 and is commemorated in the Rake Lane Cemetery, Wallasey, Wirral. A short obituary in a local paper mentioned that Geoffrey was the nephew of Councillor C. Hewetson Nelson.

Geoffrey's poems with the title "Songs of an Airman" and a Preface written by L.A. Adamson, Geoffrey's former headmaster, were published after his death.  Adamson hailed Geoffrey as "Australia's Rupert Brooke".

“New Year’s Eve, 1915” from “Songs of an Airman” (Australasian Authors’ Agency, Melbourne, 1917)  p.34

“And the moon was full”  Tennyson

And so the year is dying in the night,
Another moment with its hopes and fears,
Another instant with its smiles and tears
Is passing to its fellows as I write.
Perchance amidst the musical moonlight,
Across the valley of forgotten years,
Another stood;  and watched the rolling spheres
That cleft the purple heavens in their flight;
And pondered on the meaning of it all:
But here the moonlit hours flow softly on
Unheeding that o’er half the world a pall
Of unthought sorrow lies;  and peace is gone
From many homes;  and many men must fall
Before the dawning new year dies anon.

December 31st 1914 11.45 p.m.

Source:  Catherine W. Reilly's "English Poetry of the First World War An Anthology" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) and

With grateful thanks to Yvon Davies of Australia - Mud, Mining, Medals Facebook Group for her continuing help with this commemorative exhibition project.

And thanks to the Friends of Rake Lane Cemetery, Wallasey, Wirral, UK for the press cutting and photograph of Geoffrey's memorial.
And thanks to Paul for finding the link to Geoffrey's book of poems on Archive :

Update: November 2021 Additional photographs kindly supplied by Sarah Dornal, a relative of Geoffrey Wall

Geoffrey Wall in
his WW1 Greatcoat

Geoffrey Wall in a motor car
he made

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Forgotten Poets of the First World War

I began this commemorative exhibition project in May 2012 when, at the request of Dean Johnson of The Wilfred Owen Story in Birkenhead, Wirral, UK, I looked for women who wrote poetry during WW1 for an exhibition at the WOS in November of that year.   I decided that I did not want to include the well-known poets because they get a great deal of coverage, instead I looked for those who were lesser known, such as Rosaleen Graves, sister of Robert.  Rosaleen was a nurse in London and France during WW1.

I also decided that, as this was the first truly world war and affected every country in the world, I wanted to include poets from as many countries as possible.  I am still adding to the list and still searching for women poets from other countries.  You can find out my progress so far by clicking on "List..." at the top of each weblog page.

Those who follow my other weblogs will know that when I found out about Mary Riter Hamilton, the Canadian artist who was commissioned by the Canadian War Amputees Association to go and paint the aftermath on the Western Front in France in 1919, I could not leave her out and so added "Inspirational Women of World War One".

As I continued searching, I came upon a gentleman called Philip Gosse.  Gosse was a doctor with a practice in the New Forest and he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps at the outbreak of WW1.   Gosse became the official Rat Catcher Officer of the 2nd British Army on the Western Front and his story was so fascinating that I couldn't leave it out - cue another heading "Fascinating Facts of the Great War".

Just recently, some relatively unknown male poets have been brought to my attention so I have decided to create a further section in order to include them all - Forgotten Poets of the First World War.   As with the other sections, I should like to include poets from as many countries of the world as possible to reflect the global impact of the conflict.  In order to do that, some of the poetry included may not be about war.

Please let me know if you have any names to add to any of the lists.

If you have not been able to visit an exhibition, there are companion books available which give you a rough idea of the project - see  for details.  Exhibition panels are printed in black on white card and are A3 size with brief biographical details, a photograph where possible and one or two poems, etc.  I do not comment on the poems but let the poets speak for themselves.  If you would like to organise an exhibition do please get in touch.

The project is in loving memory of my Maternal Grandfather Lewis Jackson who was an Old Contemptible with the Royal Field Artillery.  Grandfather survived the war but my Great-Uncle James Yule was killed at Arras on Easter Monday, 9th April 1917 - the same day as the poets R.E.Vernède and Edward Thomas were killed.   James has no known grave but is commemorated on the Arras Memorial in France.

Photos: Commemorative James Yule, Arras Memorial and panels at the exhibition at the Marine Hall, Fleetwood, August 2014