Monday, 31 October 2016
Saturday, 29 October 2016
In the Afterword is a detailed description of how the Commonwealth War Graves Commission was set up along with the well-tended cemeteries, remembrance gardens and memorials that we now find when visiting the Western Front in Belgium and France. Did you know that my favourite gardener, Gertrude Jekyll was involved in the planning of some of the gardens in cemeteries on the Western Front? (p. 38).
Here is an extract: The Hon. Edward Wyndham Tennant, known as “Bim” (1897 - 1916) – British poet
“On the second day of the Battle of Loos the eighteen year old Edward Wyndham (Bim) Tennant arrived with the 4th Battalion Grenadier Guards behind the front lines at Vermelles. Despite a Brigadeorder that no-one under the age of nineteen should be sent to the trenches, Bim was in and out of the
trenches over the next weeks. After leave in November he rejoined the Battalion in billets in the small town of Laventie, where he continued to return after days spent in trenches between Chapigny and Winchester Road. From the billets, in the early weeks of 1916, he wrote his nostalgic poem
“Home thoughts in Laventie”:
Green gardens in Laventie!
Soldiers only know the street,
Where the mud is churned and splashed about
By battle-wending feet;
And yet beside one stricken house there is a glimpse of grass,
Look for it when you pass.
Beyond the church whose pitted spire
Seems balanced on a strand
Of swaying stone and tottering brick
Two roofless ruins stand,
And here behind the wreckage where the back wall should have been
We found a garden green.
The grass was never trodden on,
The little path of gravel
Was overgrown with celandine,
No other folk did travel
Along its weedy surface, but the nimble-footed mouse
Running from house to house.
So all among the vivid blades
Of soft and tender grass
We lay, nor heard the limber wheels
That pass and ever pass,
In noisy continuity, until their stony rattle
Seems in itself a battle.
At length we rose up from this ease
Of tranquil happy mind,
And searched the garden’s little length
A fresh pleasaunce to find;
And there, some yellow daffodils and jasmine hanging high
Did rest the tired eye.
The fairest and most fragrant
Of the many sweets we found
Was a little bush of Daphne flower,
Upon a grassy mound,
And so thick were the blossoms set, and so divine the scent
That we were well content.
Hungry for Spring I bent my head,
The perfume fanned my face,”
Extract from “Gardens Behind the Lines 1914 – 1918 – Gardens Found and Made on the Western and Eastern Fronts” by Anne Powell, (Cecil Woolf, London 2015) in “The War Poets” Series, Edited by Jean Moorcroft Wilson and published in 2015 by Cecil Woolf, London. ISBN No. 978-1-907286-44-5, price £9.00
Portrait of The Hon. Edward Wyndham Tennant by John Singer Sargent.
Monday, 24 October 2016
After the war, Sack's widow published some of his work under the title "Die Drei Reiter/Gesammelte Werken" in Berlin in 1920.
Gustav Sack is one of the poets featured in the Songs of the Somme Exhibition at The Wilfred Owen Story Museum in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, UK.
mich gestern fortgemacht,
hing in die spöttisch stille Gartennacht
der Mond herab gleich einer leuchtenden Papierlaterne.
Mit einem Sichelschwert, krumm wie die Hülse der Luzerne,
hat ungehört die Nacht
unter dem Rasen einen Schnitt gemacht
und läßt die Erde stürzen in die sammetschwarze Ferne;
dies Rund von wulstigen Schattenwänden,
in dem ich wie von einer tönereichen Schale
an Leonor gedacht,
in dieser braunen spöttisch stillen Gartennacht.
Sack noticed the moon as he left his local one evening - looking like a paper lantern, shaped like a scythe, casting a shadow that looks like a cut in the lawn. It would be interesting to find out where he found an English Garden, though we know from Anne Powell's book "Gardens Behind the Lines, 1914 - 1918 Gardens Found and Made on the Western and Eastern Fronts (Cecil Woolf, London, 2015) that there were many such gardens lovingly created in the desolation of the First World War.
Saturday, 22 October 2016
"As part of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's 'Living Memory' Project, I took a party of students to a local cemetery. The students found the eight soldiers who died at home of their wounds from the Somme Offensive, 'lit' a candle for them, and they all selected a poem to read from your Forgotten Poets website so that more soldiers were remembered by them. I took some photographs - see left."
That is really wonderful - thank you all so much.
I do hope other groups will copy and that young people all over the UK will remember the fallen of the First World War in their local cemeteries.
Tuesday, 18 October 2016
Thursday, 13 October 2016
Charles joined the Army - The Buffs Regiment - in 1900 (3rd Battalion) and served during the Boer War. In 1904, he war promoted to the rank of Captain.
In 1910, Charles married Alice Evelyn Feutrell Briscoe in Chelsea, London. They lived in Bouverie Road, Folkestone, Kent and at Coolamber Manor, Co. Longford, Ireland and had two children.
Charles and his wife were actors. They travelled to New York in September 1912, to perform 'The Whip' in the Manhattan Opera House.
Promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel in December 1915, Charles was sent to command the South Staffordshire Regiment on the Western Front. Mentioned twice in Despatched, he was killed leading his men on 25th March 1918. He is commemorated on the Arras Memorial in France, Bay 2.
“The Song of the Trench” December, 1914
This is the song of the blooming trench:
It's sung by us and it's sung by the French ;
It's probably sung by the German Huns ;
But it isn't all beer, and skittles, and buns.
It's a song of water, and mud and slime,
And keeping your eyes skinned all the time.
Though the putrid "bully" may kick up a stench,
Remember, you've got to stick to your trench —
Yes, stick like glue to your trench.
You dig while it's dark, and you work while it's light,
And then there's the "listening post" at night.
Though you're soaked to the skin and chilled to the bone;
Though your hands are like ice, and your feet like stone;
Though your watch is long, and your rest is brief.
And you pray like hell for the next relief;
Though the wind may howl, and the rain may drench,
Remember, you've got to stick to your trench-
Yes, stick like mud to your trench.
Perhaps a bullet may find its mark.
And then there's a funeral after dark;
And you say, as you lay him beneath the sod,
A sportsman's soul has gone to his God.
Behind the trench, in the open ground.
There's a little cross and a little mound;
And if at your heart-strings you feel a wrench,
Remember, he died for his blooming trench —
Yes, he died like a man for his trench.
There's a rush and a dash, and they're at your wire.
And you open the hell of a rapid fire;
The Maxims rattle, the rifles flash,
And the bombs explode with a sickening crash.
You give them lead, and you give them steel.
Till at last they waver, and turn, and reel.
You've done your job — there was never a blench
You've given them hell, and you've saved your trench ;
By God, you've stuck to your trench !
The daylight breaks on the rain-soaked plain
(For some it will never break again),
And you thank your God, as you're "standing to,"
You'd your bayonet clean, and your bolt worked true.
For your comrade's rifle had jammed and stuck.
And he's lying there, with his brains in the muck.
So love your gun — as you haven't a wench —
And she'll save your life in the blooming trench —
Yes, save your life in the trench.
Capt. C. W. Blackall
Find my Past; Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) and
Saturday, 8 October 2016
Maurice Bertrand was born in Paris on 30th August 1881. He began his literary career at the age of twenty at the “Revue mondaine”. After military service, he married and went to live in penury in Brazil. His wife left him and one of his daughters died at the age of seven. Maurice wrote poetry which was published in “Dlrilège des Poètes du Verbe”. When he returned to France, he sent his work to the monthly publication “L’Audace Littéraire” which later became “Comme il vous plaira”. Maurice also used the pen-name Yves-le-Hâleur.
Wednesday, 5 October 2016
Bulgaria joined the First World War on 14th October 1915, aligning with the Central Powers of Germany, Austria-Hungary and the Ottoman Empire, declaring war on Serbia.
Behind me, the years run away from me one by one
The sun burns the dismal desert my life has become
While I pursue the spectre of love
My eyes mist over as with a fog of pain
While my soul seeks a happier terrain.
But my fingers have lost their strength and grip
And with a scream I am thrown back into the shadow-filled night.
Sources: Wikipedia. The statue of a grieving mother on Dimcho's grave is by the sculptor Ivan Lazarov (1890 - 1952).