Friday, 23 September 2016

Claude Quayle Lewis Penrose, MC and Bar (1894 - 1918) – British poet and artist

Claude Penrose was mentioned in Dispatches twice

Claude was born in Florida in America on 10th August 1893.  His parents were Henry Hugh “Harry” Penrose, a civil engineer and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, nee Lewis, who came from Kinsale in Ireland. Mary was a successful novelist who wrote under the name of Mrs. H.H. Penrose.  

The family went to live in England in 1897.   Claude was educated at the United Services College, a private school for the sons of military officers which was in Westward Ho! In Devon, before going on to the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich.

In 1911, the family lived at ‘Deepcut Bungalow’, Frimley Green, Surrey.  Claude was commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery as a 2nd Lieutenant on 13th July 1913.

Posted to the Western Front and slightly wounded during the first days of The Somme Offensive in July 1916, Claude wrote a poem about his impressions of the first day of the first Battle of the Somme.  In September 1916, he was awarded the Military Cross for actions during an attack on the village of Combles on 15th September 1916.

In October 1917, Claude was promoted to the rank of Major and given command of the 245th Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery.  During the Battle of Arras in March 1918, Claude won a Bar to his Military Cross.  He was mortally wounded on 31st July 1918 while rescuing his wounded Subaltern.   He died at the 2nd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station at 5.30 p.m. on 1st August 1918 and was buried in Esquelbecq Military Cemetery, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France.  He is commemorated on the War Memorial – Heroes’ Column – at St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork, Ireland.

After his death, Claude’s mother had his poems and some of his art work published under the title “Poems; with a biographical preface” by Harrison in 1919 (274 pages). 

Sources:  Information kindly supplied by Claude’s relative and

Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 251.

“On The Somme” by Claude Quayle Lewis Penrose, MC and Bar

Who heard the thunder of the great guns firing?

Who watched the line where the great shells roared?

Who drove the foemen back, and followed his retiring

When we threw him out of Pommiers, to the glory of the Lord?

Englishmen and Scotsmen, in the grey fog of morning

Watched the dim, black clouds that reeked, and strove to break the gloom;

And Irishmen that stood with them, impatient for the warning,

When the thundering around them would cease and give them room

Room to move forward as the grey mist lifted,

Quietly and swiftly – the white steel bare;

Happy, swift and quiet, as the fog still drifted,

They moved along the tortured slope and met the foemen there.

Stalwart men and wonderful, brave beyond believing –

Little time to mourn for friends that dropped without a word!

(Wait until the work is done, and then give way to grieving) –

So they hummed the latest rag-time to the glory of the Lord.

All across the No Man’s Land, and through the ruined wiring,

Each officer that led them, with a walking-cane for sword,

Cared not a button though the foeman went on firing

While they dribbled over footballs to the glory of the Lord.

And when the brought their captives back, hungry and downhearted,

They called him “Fritz” and slapped their backs, and, all with one accord

They shared with them what food they’d left from when the long day started

And gave them smokes and bully to the glory of the Lord.

NOTE: Pommiers is a town near Montaubon in the Somme, Picardie, France.

Bully Beef was a type of ‘corned beef’ introduced by the British Army during the Boer War. It was given in tins as rations to soldiers and could be made into a hot meal or eaten straight from the tin.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Edward Wyndham Tennant - 'Bim' - (1897 - 1916) - British - killed in action on 22nd September 1916

The Hon. Edward Wyndham Tennant (known to his family as 'Bim') was born on 1st July 1897 in Stockton House, near Warminster, Wiltshire, UK.  His father was Edward Priaux Tennant, Liberal Member of Parliament for Salisbury from 1906 (created Lord Glenconner in 1911) and his mother was Pamela Tennant, daughter of the Hon Percy Scawen Wyndham. His aunt, his father’s sister, was Margot Asquith, second wife of the Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, father of Raymond Asquith.  Edward's younger brothers were Stephen Tennant, and David Tennant, the founder of the Gargoyle Club.  

Educated initially at West Downs School in Winchester, Edward began writing poetry at an early age.  He went on to study at Winchester College school and had planned a career in the British Diplomatic Service but instead joined the Grenadier Guards when WW1 broke out.

Edward was killed a week after his friend Raymond Asquith by a German sniper on 22nd September 1916.  He was buried in Guillemont Road Communal Cemetery near Raymond Asquith.

Edward's WW1 poems were published under the title "Worple Flit and other poems" in 1916.

After her son's death, Pamela Adelaide Genevieve Tennant, nee Wyndham, who was also a writer, published "Edward Tennant: a memoir" which is available to read free of charge on

“A Bas La Gloire!” October 1915 by Edward Tennant

The powers that be in solemn conclave sate
And dealt out honour from a large tureen,
And those unhonour’d said ’twas rather flat,
Not half so sparkling as it should have been.
Those honour’d silently pass’d round the hat,
Then let themselves be freely heard and seen.

And all this time there were a lot of men
Who were in France and couldn’t get away
To be awarded honours. Now and then
They died, so others came and had to stay
Till they died too, and every field and fen
Was heavy with the dead from day to day.

But there were other men who didn’t die
Although they were in France – these sat in cars,
And whizzed about with red-band caps, awry,
Exuding brandy and the best cigars.
With bands and tabs of red, they could defy
The many missiles of explosive Mars.

But one there was who used to serve in bars
And for his pretty wit much fame had god:
Though really not so fit to serve in wars,
They made him a staff-colonel on the spot,
And threw a knighthood in as well, because
He really had done such an awful lot.

Up fluttered eyebrows (incomes fluttered down)
His erstwhile yeomanry stood all aghast,
This Juggernaut, devourer of renown,
Was he their fellow-mug in days long past?
In France he went by train from town to town,
Men thought his zenith had been reached at last.

To this the Powers That Be replied, “Oh no!”
And they discovered (else my mem’ry fails)
That he had gone by train some months ago
From Paris with dispatches to Marseilles!
“See here,” they cried, “a well-earned D.S.O.
Because you did not drop them ‘neath the rails.”

So now from spur to plume he is a star,
Of all an Englishman should strive to be,
His one-time patrons hail him from afar
As “Peerless warrior,” “battle-scarred K.G.”
And murmur as he passes in his car,
“For this and thy mercies, glory be!”

But all this time the war goes on the same,
And good men go, we lose our friends and kith,
The men who sing knee-deep in boosted fame
Prove that “rewarded courage” is a myth:
I could sum up by mentioning a name:
A pseudonym will do, we’ll call him Smith.

American artist John Singer Sargent’s portrait of British WW1 soldier poet Edward Wyndham Tennant

Photographs of the grave of Leonard Comer Wall (1897 - 1917), Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium

"We win or die who wear the rose
Of Lancaster."*

I am very grateful indeed to Willy de Brouwer (photo left) and to Daphne Vangelheluwe (photo below) for making a special journey to the  Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium where Leonard Comer Wall is buried to take these photographs.

I am still trying to find a photograph of Leonard and also if he has any living relatives.

Leonard was born in West Kirby, Wirral, UK and attended Clifton Academy school in Bristol. 

In WW1 he joined the First West Lancashire Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery and was commissioned as an officer.  Deployed to the Western Front in September 1915, Leonard was killed at Ypres on 9th June 1917.

* Leonard's poem was first published in the Magazine of the 55th West Lancashire Division of the British Army in June 1918.

When Princes fought for England's crown
The house that won the most renown
And struck the sullen Yorkist down,
Was Lancaster.

And blood red emblem stricken sore,
Yet steeped her pallid foe in fore,
Still stands for England evermore,
And Lancaster.

Now England's blood like water flows
Full many a lusty German knows,
We win or die who wear the rose
Of Lancaster.

Leonard Comer Wall.

Sources:  and

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Raymond Asquith (1878 – 1916) – British lawyer and poet

Raymond was born on 6th November 1878, the eldest son and heir of Herbert H. Asquith, First Earl of Oxford and Asquith, and his first wife Helen Kelsall Asquith, nee Medland, who died in 1891. 

Raymond’s father was Liberal Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 until 1916.   Raymond’s younger brother, Herbert (1881 – 1947) was also a poet and he also served in the Army during WW1 with The Royal Artillery in France.

Educated at Winchester School and Balliol College, Oxford, Raymond was a member of ‘The Coterie’ group of Edwardian socialites, writers and poets.  He was also a member of the “Horrace Club” founded by his close friend John Buchan in 1898. Other members included H.T. Baker, A.C. Medd, Hilaire Belloc, Lucian Oldershaw and John Phillimore.
Called to the Bar in 1904, Raymond married Katharine Frances Horner on 25th July 1907.  She was the daughter of Sir John Fortescue Horner of Mells, Somerset, said to have descended from Thomas Horner, ‘Little Jack Horner’ of British nursery rhyme fame.  Katharine’s mother, Lady Horner was a patron of the arts – in particular the Pre-Raphaelites and John Singer Sargent.  Raymond and Katharine had three children.

In December 1914, Raymond was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant into the 16th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment.  Transferred to the 3rd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards on 14th August 1915, he was offered a Staff Officer post but requested a return to active duty.   Posted to the Western Front, Raymond was killed leading his men in an attack during the advance on “Les Boeufs” on 15th September 1916, near Guinchy on the Western Front in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.   Hit in the chest, Raymond is reported to have lit a cigarette to hide the fact that he had been seriously wounded from his men.  He died on the way to a Casualty Clearing Station and is buried in Guillemont Road Cemetery in France.
Raymond’s brother-in-law Edward Horner (1888 – 1916) was also killed during the battle and is buried in the same Cemetery as Raymond.   Katharine Asquith inherited the manor house at Mells, Somerset on the death of her brother Edward.
I have been searching for poems by Raymond and an article sent to me by Historian Debbie Cameron provides with a valuable clue - apparently Raymond did not publish his poems.   
From "The Westminster Gazette" 3rd November 1916

However, Raymond's Stepmother, Margot Asquit, included two of his poems in her Autobiography. Margot wrote. “It is a commonplace to say after a man is dead that he could have done anything he liked in life:  it is nearly always exaggerated; but of Raymond Asquith the phrase would have been true.
His death was the first great sorrow in my stepchildren’s lives and an anguish to his father and me.  The news of it came as a terrible shock to every one.  My husband’s natural pride and interest in him had always been intense and we were never tired of discussing him when we were alone:  his personal charm and wit, his little faults and above all the success which so certainly awaited him.  Henry’s grief darkened the waters in Downing Street at a time when, had they been clear, certain events could never have taken place."
Two of Raymond’s poems: 

 In praise of young girls

    Attend, my Muse, and, if you can, approve
    While I proclaim the “speeding up” of Love;
    For Love and Commerce hold a common creed —­
    The scale of business varies with the speed;
    For Queen of Beauty or for Sausage King
    The Customer is always on the wing —­
    Then praise the nymph who regularly earns
    Small profits (if you please) but quick returns. 
    Our modish Venus is a bustling minx,
    But who can spare the time to woo a Sphinx? 
    When Mona Lisa posed with rustic guile
    The stale enigma of her simple smile,
    Her leisure lovers raised a pious cheer
    While the slow mischief crept from ear to ear. 
    Poor listless Lombard, you would ne’er engage
    The brisker beaux of our mercurial age
    Whose lively mettle can as easy brook
    An epic poem as a lingering look —­
    Our modern maiden smears the twig with lime
    For twice as many hearts in half the time. 
    Long ere the circle of that staid grimace
    Has wheeled your weary dimples into place,
    Our little Chloe (mark the nimble fiend!)
    Has raised a laugh against her bosom friend,
    Melted a marquis, mollified a Jew,
    Kissed every member of the Eton crew,
    Ogled a Bishop, quizzed an aged peer,
    Has danced a Tango and has dropped a tear. 
    Fresh from the schoolroom, pink and plump and pert,
    Bedizened, bouncing, artful and alert,
    No victim she of vapours and of moods
    Though the sky falls she’s “ready with the goods”—­
    Will suit each client, tickle every taste
    Polite or gothic, libertine or chaste,
    Supply a waspish tongue, a waspish waist,
    Astarte’s breast or Atalanta’s leg,
    Love ready-made or glamour off the peg —­
    Do you prefer “a thing of dew and air”? 
    Or is your type Poppaea or Polaire? 
    The crystal casket of a maiden’s dreams,
    Or the last fancy in cosmetic creams? 
    The dark and tender or the fierce and bright,
    Youth’s rosy blush or Passion’s pearly bite? 
    You hardly know perhaps; but Chloe knows,
    And pours you out the necessary dose,
    Meticulously measuring to scale,
    The cup of Circe or the Holy Grail —­
    An actress she at home in every role,
    Can flout or flatter, bully or cajole,
    And on occasion by a stretch of art
    Can even speak the language of the heart,
    Can lisp and sigh and make confused replies,
    With baby lips and complicated eyes,
    Indifferently apt to weep or wink,
    Primly pursue, provocatively shrink,
    Brazen or bashful, as the case require,
    Coax the faint baron, curb the bold esquire,
    Deride restraint, but deprecate desire,
    Unbridled yet unloving, loose but limp,
    Voluptuary, virgin, prude and pimp.

Lines to A young viscount, who died at Oxford, on the morrow of A Bump supper (by the President of his College)

    Dear Viscount, in whose ancient blood
      The blueness of the bird of March,
      The vermeil of the tufted larch,
    Are fused in one magenta flood.

    Dear Viscount—­ah! to me how dear,
      Who even in thy frolic mood
      Discerned (or sometimes thought I could)
    The pure proud purpose of a peer!

    So on the last sad night of all
      Erect among the reeling rout
      You beat your tangled music out
    Lofty, aloof, viscontial.

    You struck a bootbath with a can,
      And with the can you struck the bath,
      There on the yellow gravel path,
    As gentleman to gentleman.

    We met, we stood, we faced, we talked
      While those of baser birth withdrew;
      I told you of an Earl I knew;
    You said you thought the wine was corked;

    And so we parted—­on my lips
      A light farewell, but in my soul
      The image of a perfect whole,
    A Viscount to the finger tips—­

    An image—­Yes; but thou art gone;
      For nature red in tooth and claw
      Subsumes under an equal law
    Viscount and Iguanodon.

    Yet we who know the Larger Love,
      Which separates the sheep and goats
      And segregates Scolecobrots, [1]
    Believing where we cannot prove,

    Deem that in His mysterious Day
      God puts the Peers upon His right,
      And hides the poor in endless night,
    For thou, my Lord, art more than they.

[Footnote 1:  A word from the Greek Testament meaning people who are eaten by worms.]

From Margot Asquith “Margot Asquith, an Autobiography”
Available to read on Project Gutenberg:

With grateful thanks to Debbie Cameron for her help.  Debbie's Facebook - Page Remembering British Women WW1 - The Home Front and Overseas - can be found by following this link: