Saturday, 16 April 2016

Bernard Pitt (1881 - 1916) - British poet and schoolteacher

Bernard was born on 19th June 1881 in Chiswick, Middlesex, UK.  His parents were Abraham Robert Pitt and his wife Ann, nee Thompson.   Bernard had a brother Wilfred A. Pitt, who was born in 1895, and a sister, Bertha H. Pitt, who was born in 1886.

Bernard studied at King’s School, Kew and at the University of London, where he graduated with an MA in English Literature in 1911.    He taught at Borough Road College, then Sir J. Williamson’s Mathematical School in Rochester, and then Coopers Company’s School in Bow and, at the time of his enlistment, also taught English Literature at an evening class at the Working Men’s College in London.  

Bernard married Florence Mary Miller in June 1906 and the couple had four daughters.

When war broke out in 1914, Bernard joined a volunteer corps and was then commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant into the 10th Battalion of the Border Regiment in April 1915 and attached to 47 Trench Mortar Battery.   He was sent to the Western Front where he was put in command of a Mortar Battery in February 1916.

After he joined the Army, Bernard was greatly missed by those he taught and a pupil at his evening class described him as “a devoted teacher”.

Bernard was posted missing, presumed killed at Arras on 30th April 1916 and is remembered on the Arras Memorial in France.

Bernard’s WW1 poetry collection ‘Essays, poems, letters’ was published in 1917 by Francis Edwards, Marylebone, London – with an Introduction by Alfred J. Wyatt who took over Bernard’s English Literature class at the Working Men’s College in London.

Some of Bernard’s poems were also published in “The Westminster Gazette” and in the Cooper Company’s School Magazine.  

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

The full text of ‘Essays, poems, letters’ is available to read free on Archive: