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 Caba├žo 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.