Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Patrick Houston Shaw-Stewart (1888 - 1917) - British

With many thanks to Phil Davies for bringing Shaw-Stewart to my attention.

Patrick Shaw-Stewart was born on 17th August 1888 in Wales.  His parents were Major-General John Heron Maxwell-Shaw of the Royal Engineers and his wife Mary Katherine Bedingfield.

He was educated at Eton and Oxford where he was an outstanding classics scholar, winning many prizes and where he was a contemporary of Julian Grenfell. After university, Shaw-Stewart went to work at Barings Bank, where he was promoted to the post of Managing Director in 1913.  He was a member of the social group called the "Coterie" that centred around Lady Diana Manners, a socialite of the era.

When was was declared Shaw-Stewart was travelling on bank business in America but returned to Britain where he joined the Royal Navy.  He was commissioned into the Hood Battalion, 2nd Brigade of the Royal Naval Division, where he served with Rupert Brooke.  He attended Rupert Brooke's funeral in Greece on 23rd April 1915, in charge of the ceremonial firing party. While waiting to be posted to Gallipoli, Shaw-Stewart wrote his most famous poem - "Achilles in the Trench".

He worked as a liaison officer with French forces in Salonika in 1916, for which he received the Croix de Guerre.

Shaw-Stewart was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander of the Royal Naval Division and rejoined the Hood Division on the Western Front in May 1917.  He  was killed at on 30th December 1917. He is buried in the British extension to the Communal Cemetery at Metz-en-Couture in the Nord Pas de Calais area of France.

Shaw-Stewart's poem, very famous at the time of the First World War, was published in the following WW1 Anthologies:

"Vain Glory:  A Miscellany of the Great War 1914 - 1918 written by those who fought in it on each side and on all fronts", edited by Guy Chapman, published by Cassell in 1937 and

"Up the Line to Death:  The War Poets, 1914 - 1918 An Anthology, edited by Brian Gardiner, published by Methuen, 1964.


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

Friday, 23 January 2015

Alfred Victor Ratcliffe (1887 - 1916) - British Solder Poet of WW1

Born in Gravesend in 1887, Alfred Victor was the third son of Frederick Edwin Ratcliffe and Florence Anne Ratfcliffe, nee Brotherton.  The Ratcliffes had three sons - Alfred Victor (1887 - 1916), Charles Frederick Brotherton (1882 – 1949) and Edward Brotherton (1885 – 1938).  Alfred’s mother was sister to Lord Brotherton, a chemical millionaire from Manchester, who lived in a house called “Roundhay” in Leeds.

Alfred attended Dulwich College before going on to Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, where he studied law. In 1914, Alfred was a teacher at Framlingham College in Suffolk but left there and joined the Army when war broke out, putting his law studies on hold. He was commissioned into the West Yorkshire Regiment. 

At that time Alfred Victor was engaged to be married to Miss Pauline Benson Clough, daughter of Mr. George Benson Clough a barrister of Oxshott, Surrey. Pauline was a younger sister of Female Poet of the First World War Dorothy Una Ratcliffe, who  married Alfred Victor’s brother Charles in 1909. 

At Cambridge University, Alfred was a friend of the soldier poet Rupert Brooke, and many of his poems had been published and were very well received. 

Second-Lieutenant Alfred Victor Ratcliffe was killed in action on The Somme on 1st July 1916, near the third line of the German trenches, near Fricourt, while gallantly leading his company. He was twenty-nine years old.  A fellow officer wrote to his mother after his death: “Your son’s work was very highly thought of by his company officer, who also lost his life in the fight, and ‘Ratters’, as we called him, was very popular with everyone. His senior officer having been killed earlier on, your son was commanding the company at the time of his death. From where we found his body he must have led it pluckily and well. It may be some consolation to know that the regiment fought magnificently and that your son helped largely towards this distinction."  He is buried in Fricourt Cemetery near Albert in France and is also remembered on Harrogate Cenotaph and on the Harrogate St Roberts RC Church War Memoria in Yorkshire, UK.

Alfred Victor Ratcliffe’s poems were published in several WW1 poetry anthologies, among them “A Treasury of War Poetry: British and American Poems of the World War 1914 – 1917” published by Houghton Mifflin in 1917 and edited by George Herbert Clarke, “Soldier Poets: Songs of the Fighting Men” edited by Galloway Kyle, published in 1916 by Erskine Macdonald, “The Muse in Arms:   A Collection of War Poems for the most part written in the field of action by seamen, soldiers, and flying men who are serving, or who have served, in the Great War” edited by Edward Bolland Osborn and published by Murray in 1917 and “The Valiant Muse: An Anthology of poems by poets killed in the World War” edited by Frederic W. Ziv and published in New York by Putnam in 1936.

With thanks to members of the Old Framlinghamian Society for sending me the following poems by Alfred:

While in the trenches, Alfred wrote the poem "Optimism" – 

At last there'll dawn the last of the long year,
Of the long year that seemed to dream no end,
Whose every dawn but turned the world more drear,
And slew some hope, or led away some friend.
Or be you dark, or buffeting, or blind,
We care not, day, but leave not death behind.
The hours that feed on war go heavy-hearted,
Death is no fare wherewith to make hearts fain.
Oh, we are sick to find that they who started
With glamour in their eyes came not again.
O day, be long and heavy if you will,
But on our hopes set not a bitter heel.
For tiny hopes like tiny flowers of Spring
Will come, though death and ruin hold the land,

Though storms may roar they may not break the wing
Of the earthed lark whose song is ever bland.
Fell year unpitiful, slow days of scorn,
Your kind shall die, and sweeter days be born.

He also put together other poetry in "A Broken Friendship and Other Verses", prior to 1913
and this was republished in 2013. The following poem by him was read out at the Remembrance Service in the College Chapel at Framlingham College on 9 November 2014. It is believed he wrote this about 2 weeks before he died:


It’s sweet to love, ah, very sweet
But then, God knows,
The thorn climbs swift to tear the hand
That loves the rose
But if the heart’s dear blood shall touch
The gathering flower,
It will but make a redder rose
A rosier hour.


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

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Commemorative Fund Raising event in London for Isaac Rosenberg Statue Appeal

With thanks to Michael Shankland for highlighting this event. Although Isaac Rosenberg is not forgotten, his work does tend to get overlooked which is a shame.  He was not only a poet but also a very talented artist. There is an appeal to raise funds for a statue to his memory and the following fund-raising event has been planned.
 A date for your diary:  Isaac Rosenberg Statue Appeal fund raiser 26th April 2015
Sunday 26 April at St John's Wood Liberal Synagogue. 7.00pm. An evening of music and poetry with Michael Rosen, Lee Montague, Elaine Feinstein and Dr Jean Moorcroft Wilson.
Tickets:  £25 (Students and JEECS members £15). Includes light refreshments
A fund-raising event for the planned statue to the great war poet and artist Isaac Rosenberg. Tickets on sale shortly."
To find out more please see the Jewish East End Celebration Society website

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

F.W. Harvey

With many thanks to Grant Repshire, for the following comment about F.W.Harvey :

"For F.W. Harvey it is also worth noting his poetry collections "A Gloucestershire Lad at Home and Abroad" (1916), which was mostly written in the Trenches, and "Gloucestershire Friends - Poems from a German Prison Camp" (1917), which was written while he was a POW and mailed home to be published.  Both were published by Sidgwick & Jackson, who also published Harvey's memoirs of his time as a POW entitled "Comrades in Captivity - A Record of Life in Seven German Prison Camps" (1920), which also included poems interspersed among the chapters.

Photo:  F.W. Harvey from Google Images

Monday, 12 January 2015

Wilfred Rowland Childe (1890 - 1952) - British

Wilfred Rowland Childe was a British poet, writer and critic. He was born in Wakefield in 1890. His parents were Henry Slade Childe, a mining engineer from Bradford, and his wife Kate, nee France.  Wilfred was the eldest of four sons, his siblings were Henry, Derrick, Godfrey.   Wilfred and Derrick attended Harrow School, Henry went to Charterhouse and Godfrey to Repton. Wilfred went on to Magdalene College, Oxford where he became friends with J.R.R. Tolkein and was later godfather to Tolkein's son, Christopher.

The family lived at Potterton Hall, Barwick-in-Leeds and also spent time in Harrogate.  Wilfred edited poems at Oxford from 1916 - 1917 and went on to lecture at Leeds University where Tolkein also taught.   Derrick joined the York and Lancaster Regiment and was killed on 19th December 1915.  He was buried in Band Cottage Cemetery, Flanders.  Henry joined the Yorkshire Dragoons and was later seconded to the Labour Corps.

Wilfred died on Remembrance Sunday in 1952.

Williams's poetry collection "The Golden Thurible: Poems" was published by Cecil Palmer in 1931. His poems were also printed in "A Northern Venture" and "Leeds University Verse 1914 - 24". 

Sources: and

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

Portrait of Wilfred Rowland Childe painted by Ukrainian born Leeds artist Jacob Kramer, around 1932. The Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery, University of Leeds, UK.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

The War Poets Association have just announced this event in London SW12 on 11th February 2015 :

'The Chaplain as War Poet? Studdert Kennedy and the First World War.' Panel discussion on poetry of Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy ('Woodbine Willie').

With Andrew Studdert Kennedy (Rural Dean of Marlborough and the poet’s grandson)

Paul O’Prey (Vice-Chancellor, University of Roehampton and author of 'Poems from the Front')

Peter Howson (a former army chaplain and author of 'Muddling Through: The Organisation of British Army Chaplaincy in World War One')

Chaired by John Hall (Dean of Westminster)

Date:  Wednesday 11th February, 2015, 6:00pm, 

Venue:  The Chapel at Southlands College, University of Roehampton, Roehampton Lane, London, SW15 5SL. Tea & Coffee from 5.30pm. All welcome.

Those planning to attend are strongly encouraged to read the selection of poems which will be available at

Directions can be found at
Southlands Chapel is number 5 on the campus map.

Three more Forgotten Poets of the First World War - Canadian

With many thanks to members of the Remembrance Group for Canadian servicemen.  I have now found three Canadian poets and will add them to the list -
R.M. Eassie (1875 - 1940) born in Hendon, England;
William Maunsel Scanlan (1886 - 1917) born in Port Elgin, Ontario and
Frederick Bertram Bagshaw (1875 - 1966) born in Southport, England.

Scanlan was killed at Vimy Ridge on 9th April 1917 - the same day my Great Uncle was killed at Arras.  The British poets Edward Thomas and R.E. Vernède were also killed on Easter Monday, 9th April 1917.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

E.W. Hornung (1866 - 1921) - writer and poet

Best known for the Raffles stories, Ernest William Hornung was born on 7th June 1866 in Middlesborough. Hornung was the third son and the youngest of the eight children of John Peter Hornung and his wife Harriet nee Armstrong.   His father, who changed his Christian names from Johanes Petrus to John Peter, was originally from Hungary and moved to England as a coal and iron merchant.

Hornung was educated at St. St. Ninian's School in Dumfriesshire before going on to Uppingham School, where he developed his love of cricket.  Hornung's health was never very robust so he was sent to Australia, where he worked as a tutor and on sheep farms.  He returned to England in 1886 and, as his father was having business problems, found work as a journalist and also wrote about his experiences in Australia.

Hornung's love of cricket took him to two cricket clubs where he met fellow writers Arthur Conan Doyle and Jerome K. Jerome.  By December 1892 Hornung and Conan Doyle's sister, Constance Aimée Monica Doyle were engaged to be married.  The pair married in September 1893 and had one son - Arthur Oscar - whose Godfather was his uncle Arthur Conan Doyle.  He was also a keen member of J.M. Barrie's recreational cricket team.

Hornung's most famous creation - Raffles - was apparently inspired by Conan Doyle's Holmes and Watson and based on Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas.  The collection of short stories about the adventures of the 'gentleman thief' Raffles and his friend and partner-in-crime Bunny Manders was first published together under the title "The Amateur Cracksman" in 1899.

When WW1  broke out in 1914, young Arthur Oscar Hornung was at Cambridge.  He volunteered for war service and obtained a commission in the Essex Regiment.  He was killed at the age of 20 during the Second Battle of Ypres on 6th July 1915.  Hornung had his son's letters to his parents from the Western Front published in 1916, under the title "Trusty and Well Beloved" by Oscar Arthur Hornung.  

During the First World War, Hornung joined the YMCA and did voluntary work with the organisation in England.  In 1917, following a visit to France, he volunteered to run a YMCA Hut and library at Arras near the front line.  Hornung's collection of WW1 poems "Ballad of Ensign Joy " was published later that year.

In June 1917, Hornung's poem "Wooden Crosses" was published in "The Times" newspaper, followed soon afterwards by the poem "Bond and Free".   While in France, he borrowed a car and visited his son's grave in February 1918.  After the German Spring Offensive of 1918, Hornung's hut was forced to retreat - first to Amiens and then back to England.   After the Armistice in November 1918, he went to run a YMCA hut in Cologne in Germany.

In 1919,  Hornung returned to England.  He and his wife went to the south of France in February 1921 for health reasons.  While there Hornung was taken ill and died on 22nd March 1921.  He was 54. 

Hornung is buried in Saint-Jean-de-Luz in the south of France. Conan Doyle, who was on his way back to England after a spiritualist lecture tour in Australia, heard the news while he was in Paris and was able to attend Hornung's funeral.

Hornung's WW1 poetry collections are as follows:  "The Ballad of Ensign Joy" published by Dutton in New York in 1917;  "Wooden Crosses", published by Nisbet in 1918 and "The Young Guard", published by Constable in 1919.  Due to his love of cricket, it seems appropriate to include this poem by Hornung:

“Lord’s Leave” (1915) from "The Young Guard" For those of you who are not cricket fans, Lord's cricket ground in London, UK - known as the Home of Cricket - is owned by Marylebone Cricket Club. 

NO Lord's this year: no silken lawn on which
A dignified and dainty throng meanders.
The Schools take guard upon a fierier pitch
Somewhere in Flanders.

Bigger the cricket here; yet some who tried
In vain to earn a Colour while at Eton
Have found a place upon an England side
That can't be beaten!

A demon bowler's bowling with his head—
His heart's as black as skins in Carolina!
Either he breaks, or shoots almost as dead
As Anne Regina;

While the deep-field-gun, trained upon your stumps,
From concrete grand-stand far beyond the bound'ry,
Lifts up his ugly mouth and fairly pumps
Shells from Krupp's foundry.

But like the time the game is out of joint—
No screen, and too much mud for cricket lover;
Both legs go slip, and there's sufficient point
In extra cover!

Cricket? 'Tis Sanscrit to the super-Hun -
Cheap cross between Caligula and Cassius,
To whom speech, prayer, and warfare are all one -
Equally gaseous!

Playing a game's beyond him and his hordes;
Theirs but to play the snake or wolf or vulture:
Better one sporting lesson learnt at Lord's
Than all their Kultur....

Sinks a torpedoed Phoebus from our sight;
Over the field of play see darkness stealing;
Only in this one game, against the light
There's no appealing.

Now for their flares... and now at last the stars ...
Only the stars now, in their heavenly million,
Glisten and blink for pity on our scars
From the Pavilion.

Hornung's memoirs of his time with the YMCA were published under the title "Notes of a Camp-follower on the Western Front" by Constable and Co. Ltd., London in 1919.

Photo: A portrait of E.W. Horning from Google Images.
Lord's Logo
“Notes of a Camp-Follower on the Western Front”

“The Ballad of Ensign Joy” published by Dutton in New York in 1917;

"Wooden Crosses", published by Nisbet in 1918 and 

"The Young Guard", published by Constable in 1919.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Francis Joseph M. Patmore (1883 - 1932) - British

Francis Joseph M. Patmore was born in Hastings in 1883.  He was the son of the poet Coventry Patmore and his third wife Harriet, nee Robinson.  Coventry Patmore (1823 - 1896) was the author of the famous poem "The Angel in the House" which was a recipe for a happy and harmonious marriage, published in 1854 and inspired by his first wife Emily who died in 1862.

Francis was educated at Beaumont College, a Jesuit boarding school in Berkshire in the south of England that closed in 1967.  In 1902 he was Captain of the school.

When war broke out in 1914, Francis volunteered, was commissioned into the Hampshire Regiment and sent to Mesopotamia.   Captain Patmore was was taken prisoner at the fall of Kut-el-Amara.   

Due to the extremely harsh conditions experienced by WW1 Prisoners of War in Turkish prisons, his health suffered and Francis became a semi-invalid.  He wrote poems while in prison. An example of his work was published in the following anthology:

"Valour and Vision:  Poems of the War, 1914 - 1918", published by Longmans, Green in 1920, which can be found on Archive here

After his recovery, when he lived in Lymington, Hampshire, Francis moved to Kenya where he became a coffee planter and died at the age of 49 on 18th April 1932.

Details about Captain Francis Patmore's capture are here:

I have not been able to find a photograph of Francis Patmore.  If anyone has one, please get in touch.  Many thanks.

Friday, 2 January 2015

More Poets who were Prisoners of War

The Hon. Robert PALMER who was a grandson of Lord Salisbury.  Palmer was a Captain in the 6th Battalion of the Royal Hampshire Regiment.  He was wounded at Umm-El Hamal, Mesopotamia on 21st January 1916 and died in a Turkish prison camp.

Lt. F. J. PATMORE of Lymington, Hampshire.  Patmore was a Captain in the Hampshire Regiment. He was taken prisoner after the fall of Kut.   One of his poems can be found in the WW1 Anthology edited by Jacqueline Theodora Trotter "Valour and Vision"  Poems of the War 1914 - 1918", published by Longmans, Green in 1920 and now available on Archive :

details about Lt. Patmore's capture can be found here:

Was he I wonder the son of Coventry Patmore and his third wife Harriet?  Please get in touch if you know.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Sir Edmund Gosse (1849 - 1928) - British

Edmund William Gosse was born in Hackney in London on 21st September 1849.  His parents were Philip Henry Gosse, the famous naturalist and Emily Gosse nee Bowes a poet and artist.

Edmund’s parents were members of the Plymouth Bretheren, a Protestant sect.   After the death of Emily Gosse in February 1857, Edmund and his father went to live in Devon.  Edmund was sent to boarding school where he became interested in literature. 

In 1860 Edmund’s father re-married. His wife was Eliza Brightwen who was also very religious.   Eliza’s brother George was married to Eliza Elder Brightwen a naturalist and writer. 

Edmund’s first employment was as an assistant librarian at the British Museum. Charles Kingsley, the writer (“The Water Babies”) from Devon, helped to get the position for Edmund.

In 1873, Edmund published his first collection of poems “On Viol and Flute”.  One of his childhood friends was Robert Louis Stevenson and he was also friends with Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Robert Browning, Charles Swinburne, Thomas Hardy and Henry James.

In 1875, Edmund took up a post as translator at the Board of Trade in London, which gave him time to write and a salary.  The same year, Edmund married Ellen Epps an artist in the Pre-Rephaelite Group whose father was George Napoleon Epps, a Homeopath.   They had three children – Emily Teresa, Philip Henry George and Laura Sylvia.   Laura became a painter and Philip Gosse became a doctor. 

From 1884 to 1890 Edmund lectured about English Literature at Trinity College, Cambridge, who bestowed an honorary MA on him in 1886.    In 1884 Edmund toured America lecturing.  During the 1880s he was one of the most prominent critics on the subject of sculpture and was a regular contributor to “The Saturday Review”. 

From 1904 until his retirement in 1913, Edmund was the librarian at the House of Lords Library.  Edmund’s most famous book is “Father and Son” which deals with his relationship with his father.

Edmund Gosse, who was knighted in 1925, died on 16th May 1928.

You will find Edmund Gosse’s First World War poems in the following anthologies “For Consolation”, edited by William Chomel Tuting and published by Home Words in 1915, “The Great War in Verse and Prose”, edited by James Elgin Wetherell and published by Legislative Assembly of Ontario, 1919 and “Later English Poems, 1901 – 1922”, edited by James Elgin Wetherell and published by McClelland & Stewart in 1922.

Find out more about Edmund’s son Philip Gosse here

Sources:  Wikipedia and Catherine W. Reilly’s “English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography”, published by St. Martin’s Press, Inc, New York, 1978.  Photo - Google Images Edmund Gosse with his aunt and family.