Friday, 27 February 2015


With many thanks to David Walker who has a Facebook page commemorating the South Africans who died in the First World War for bringing Samuel Mqhayi to my attention.

Samuel Edward Krune Mqhayi was born on 1st December 1875 in Gqumashe in Alice, Transkei, Cape Province, South Africa.  His family were Christians.  Samuel, whose mother tongue was Xhosa, trained to become a teacher in Lovedale and worked on the translation of the Bible into Xhosa.  He also worked as a journalist on Xhosa newspapers, as well as publishing novels and poems. Nelson Mandela considered Samuel to be a poet Laureate of the African people and heard him recite his poetry.  Samuel died in 1945.

The Xhosa language is one of the official languages of South Africa and is a tonal language, written with a Latin alphabet. It is a ‘click’ language, the word ‘Xhosa’ starts with a click.
In the western world, the singer Miriam Makeba (Zenzile Miriam Makeba 1932 – 2008) made the Xhosa language famous when she released a recording of the song “Pata Pata” in 1957. “Pata Pata” (meaning ‘touch touch’ in English) was written by Dorothy Masuka.   Miriam’s “Click Song”, the name given to the song Qongqothwane (in English “knock-knock beetle), which is sung at weddings to bring good luck, is another example of a song in Xhosa.  

Here is a link to Samuel's poem about the sinking of the S.S. "Mendi" - a ship carrying members of the South African Labour Corps to the Western Front which sank off the Isle of Wight with great loss of life

The Steam Ship 'Mendi' was on her way to France from South Africa, when she was involved in a collision in thick fog at 5 a.m. on the morning of 21st February 1917 with the Royal Mail Packet Company's cargo ship 'Darro'.  The 'Mendi', which was the smaller of the two ships, rapidly sank with the loss of the lives of 616 South Africans and 30 crew members.

And another of Samuel's poems can be seen here:

Source:  Wikipedia
`Xhosa Poets and Poetry by Jeff Opland, published by David Philip Publishers (Pty.) Ltd., Clarement, South Africa in 1998

And many thanks to the ever-vigilant Michael Shankland who is researching sea poetry of WW1 for spotting the error which has now been corrected.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Poems written while in a PoW Camp by F.W. Harvey DCM

Here is a link to a book available free on the Internet of some of the poems written by F.W. Harvey while he was a Prisoner of War during the First World War

Do check out the Facebook Page for F.W. Harvey DCM as you will find a great deal of interesting information about the poet there.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Clement Bartrim (1897 - 1988) - British

Clement Bartrim was born in Keighley, Yorkshire in 1897.  His parents were Alfred Bartrim, from Bradford, a turner in a Worsted Machine factory and Emma Bartrim (nee Burr), from Burton in Bedfordshire, a dressmaker.  Clement had three sisters, two step-sisters and two brothers.   He was apprenticed to a draper.

During the First World War, Clement was called up in 1916 and sent to join the 3rd Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment. However his health was poor so he was transferred to the 4th Lincoln Labour Company in December 1916 and judging by his poems, saw service on the Western Front.

In 1919 Clement was sent to work in a Reception Camp in Beau-Marais, France where he apparently guarded German Prisoners of War.  He was discharged in November 1919.

Clement married Ruth Barraclough in 1940 and ran W. Brooks, a gentleman's outfitters in Cavendish Street, Keighley.  He was an amateur violinist.

He wrote more than a hundred poems during the First World War but, as poets often do, he threw most of them away in 1929.

Clement Bartrim died in 1988 at the age of 92, by which time  he was living in a nursing home.

Ian Dewhirst edited and published some of Clement's remaining poems under the title "The Awkward Squad and Other Verses" (printed privately in 1976).

With many thanks to Ian Dewhirst, historian and former Keighley Reference Librarian, who met and interviewed Clement Bartrim and then edited and published a collection of some of Clement Bartrim's poems;
to Andy Wade, who researched the poet, David Knights of the Keighley News who wrote the 2015 article about Bartrim;
to Yvon Davis of the Facebook Group Mud, Mining, Medals in Balarat Australia who spotted and sent me the link to the Keighley News article 
and to Len Gooby, John Hancock, Shirley Hall Bird of Stanley Kaye's Facebook Group Remembering the First World War in 2014 One Hundred Years who all helped me find further information about Clement Bartrim -

By a strange coincidence, my Great Uncle Albert Jackson (born in Haworth in 1893), also lived in Keighley. In 1911 the family lived in Arncliffe Road.  I only found out about Albert when I saw the 1901 Census on line and I am still trying to find out about him - Mother never mentioned having an Uncle Albert though she often spoke about her father's sister Annie. 


"Telegraph and Argus" article March 15th, 1990
"Keighley News" article December 27th 1976 - kindly provided by Mr Ian Dewhirst

Friday, 20 February 2015

Event celebrating the work of Isaac Rosenberg, 26th April 2015

With thanks to Michael Shankland

'Iron Honey God'

"The story of Isaac Rosenberg, the East End Jewish boy who became a great poet and painter and died in the trenches of the Great War,
Told through words and music

Sunday 26 April 2015 7:00pm - 9:00pm The Liberal Jewish Synagogue,
28 St. John's Wood Road,
London, NW8 7HA (Nearest Tube: St Johns Wood)

Tickets - £20 (Concessions £18) https://eventbrite.c...nt/15598689099/

Presentations of Rosenberg's poems and letters, read by Michael Rosen, Elaine Feinstein and Lee Montague

Music by John Ireland, George Butterworth, Ivor Gurney Performed by Phillip Bell (tenor), accompanied by Simon Haynes (piano) Yiddish songs - Vivi Lachs Premiere of song settings of Rosenberg's poems by Simon Biazeck

Biographical presentation - Jean Moorcroft Wilson

Joint event between the Jewish East End Celebration Society and the Liberal Jewish Synagogue

For more information see or telephone 020 7286 5181

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Poets on the Western Front

The inside front cover of the February 2015 issue of the Journal of the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship Journal _ "Siegfried's Journal" (Volume 27) has a very interesting advertisement under the heading

Under the auspices of the Western Front Association, Battle Honours Ltd,  organise specialised lecture tours about some of the poets who fought in the First World War on the Western Front.

The tour to be held from 9th - 12th July 2015 "Poets at Loos and Cambrai" will take you north of the town of Lens to the site of the Battle of Loos in which Robert Graves fought and Charles Sorley was killed.  Other poets who were in that area during WW1 include Siegfried Sassoon, Edmund Blunden, Ivor Gurney, Alan Mackintosh and Patrick Shaw-Stewart - both killed in action.

Other tours planned are:

7th - 10th July 2016 - Poets on the Somme
6th - 9th July 2017 Siegfried Sassoon:  1915 - 1918
2nd - 5th November 2018 - Wilfred Owen: from the Somme to Ors

To find out more about the tours organised by Battle Honours Ltd. please see their website and/or send them an e-mail to

Battle Honours Limited
Battle Honours Ltd
Suite L
Astonbury Farm Business Park
01438 880725

I do hope they will also organise similar tours for some of the women poets who were on the Western Front during the First World War.

Picture:  Battle Honours Ltd. logo

Monday, 16 February 2015

Lt. John Still

Many, thanks to Mara McDuff who must have looked at this previous post
because she very kindly contacted me via the Facebook Page for Forgotten Poets of the First World War to send me this link to Lt. John Still's work :

Lt. Still was in the East Yorkshire Regiment and I am now doing my very best to find out more about him for an exhibition panel, etc. 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Emile Cammaerts (1878 - 1953) - Belgian

Belgian poet, writer and playwright. Emile Cammaerts was born in Brussels on 16th March 1878.  

In 1908 he settled in England.

During the First World War, Cammaerts wrote the poems that gained him the greatest audience "Belgian Poems" Published in 1915, 'New Belgian Poems', published in 1917 and 'Messines and other Poems", published in 1918.

Cammaerts also wrote "Through the Iron Bars," which was published in 1917 and was an account of the sufferings of Belgium during the World War.  He wrote the preface to the poetry anthology edited by R.M. Ingersley (Russell Markand) under the title "The Glory of Belgium: A Tribute and a Chronicle", published in 1915 by Erskine Macdonald and sold in aid of the Belgian Repatriation Fund.

Emile Cammaerts married Tita Brand, a daughter of the opera singer Madame Marie Brema. Tita Brand-Cammaerts became well known during the World War for reciting her husband's patriotic poems. Cammaerts' poem "Apr├Ęs Anvers" ("After Antwerp"), which was first published in "The Observer" and written in French, was translated into English by his wife.  With music composed by Sir Edward Elgar, re-titled "Carillon" and first performed in public on 7th December 1914 at a concert by the London Symphony Orchestra , the work was one of the greatest successes of the First World War. Cammaerts is one of British author Michael Morpurgo's Grandfathers.

Cammaert's WW1 poems, written in French and translated by his wife, Tita Branc-Cammaerts, "Belgian Poems", were published in London by John Lane, The Bodley Head in 1915 and can be read free on-line via Archive here

Portrait of Emile Cammaerts from the front of "Belgian Poems" drawn by British artist and sculptor Vernon Hill.