Monday, 21 November 2016

Sydney Hale (1891 – 1915) - British

I am very grateful indeed to all the wonderful people who help me with my commemorative exhibition project about the First World War.  The following comes from Maria and is about her Great Uncle, Sydney.  Maria does not as yet have a photograph of Sydney but has a photo of one of his brothers - Harold - which is reproduced here by kind permission of Maria.  
The following information about Sydney Hale has been
researched by Maria Coates who is Sydney Hale's Great Niece and  co- written by Maria Coates and Carol Switzer of the Facebook Group

Sydney Hale was born on 12th January 1891 in Stockbridge, Hampshire England. He was the fourth born son of Stafford Henry Hale, a plumber and his wife Elizabeth Hale, nee Baverstock, who lived at Prospect Place.   Sydney had the following siblings:  Frederick, Alick, Elsie, Ethel, Percy, Harold and Annie Ada.  He attended St Peter’s Church, High Street, Stockbridge, where both his Parents and Grandparents were married.  In 1911 the Census states that he was employed as a Footman living in Chelsea London.   Sydney wrote a poem for his sister Annie in her autograph album:

 A Diplomatic Dialogue

 What are you looking for, my pretty maid?
I’m seeking the suffrage, sir, she said.

What is your following, my pretty maid?
Something like yours, kind sir, she said.

Are you a Radical, my pretty maid?
Not by a long shot, sir, she said.

Then I cannot help you, my pretty maid.
Wait till I axes you, sir, she said.

A clever parody on an English folk song.  Parodies were a popular form of verse in the early 1900s when most people wrote poetry and/or recited it at family gatherings, etc.  There was no radio or television back then and ordinary folk made their own entertainment.

Right:  Annie Ada Hale, one of Sydney's sisters, for whom he wrote the verse.   Annie Ada was Maria's Grandmother.

When war broke out, Sydney, aged 23 years, enlisted in the Army at Southwark, Surrey, England. Rifleman Sydney Hale 7297 joined the 8th Battalion Rifle Brigade (C Company), which became part of the 41st Brigade 14th Light Division. The Battalion formed at Winchester in September 1914 and trained at both Aldershot and Grayshot in Hampshire.

From the 29th June 1915 the Battalion were in the front line trenches in the Hooge area of the Western Front. Two companies took over trenches at Railway wood, the other two at the GHQ line. Nine days in the frontline resulted in high casualties for them by the time they were relieved on the 8th July 1915.

For the next two weeks the Battalion performed various duties in and around Ypres until the evening of the 29th July 1915, when they were ordered to take over the Hooge frontline trenches once more. In a few short hours the lives of so many men would tragically change forever as the Battle of Hooge was about to commence.

We do not know with absolute certainty exactly where Rifleman Sydney Hale, of C Company, was located at 03.15am on the 30th July 1915.  We do know that his Company was split into three platoons. Two Platoons were located in trenches G4 and G5 which were in the centre of the frontline and only a few metres from the German lines. The third platoon was located in trench G7, a few short metres to the rear of G5. We also know that this was the exact time when the Germans first turned on their Flamethrowers and that these trenches were subjected to intense bombardment.

The fighting became confused and machine guns were soon out of action. Despite gallant fighting from both A and C companies of the Battalion the Germans had managed to push through the centre of the frontline, resulting in C Company being totally overrun by the advancing German troops. After unsuccessful counter attacks the remaining Battalion managed to hold on to the communication trenches and frontline of Zouave wood, until being relieved in the early hours of 31st July 1915. The Battalion had fought valiantly throughout the day and night without water or rations. Casualties were extremely high and costly and consequently C Company of the 8th Rifle Brigade ceased to exist.

Sydney is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial in France, as well as in his hometown on Stockbridge's War Memorial and at St Peters Church. He is also commemorated in Winchester where the Battalion was first formed, in an Encased Book of Remembrance inside Winchester Cathedral. 


Sunday, 20 November 2016

Walter Butler Palmer (1868 - 1932) - American

A poem posted on a WW1 commemorative Facebook Page sent me off on a search for the writer. "Dear Ancestor" was written by American poet Walter Butler Palmer (1868 - 1932).

During the First World War, Palmer bred horses for the U.S. Cavalry and was based at Spartanburg, SC. His poetry collection "Heart Throbs and Hoofbeats" was published in California in 1922 and is available to read here

Find out more and read the poem "Dear Ancestor"

Monday, 14 November 2016

John William Streets (1886 - 1916) - British

One of the poets included in the Somme Poets exhibition and book is John William Streets, who was known as Will.

John William Streets was born in Whitwell, Derbyshire on 24th March 1886, the eldest of ten children born to William Streets and his wife Clara, nee Wilcox.  

When the First World War broke out, John William Streets joined the 12th York and Lancashire Regiment and attained the rank of Sergeant.

From the Western Front, Streets wrote to his publisher Galloway Kyle about his poems:

 “They were inspired while I was in the trenches, where I have been so busy I have had little time to polish them. I have tried to picture some thoughts that pass through a man’s brain when he dies. I may not see the end of the poems, but I hope to live to do so. We soldiers have our views of life to express, though the boom of death is in our ears. We try to convey something of what we feel in this great conflict to those who think of us, and sometimes, alas! Mourn our loss.”

Streets' Battalion fought on the first day of the Somme - 1st July 1916. Streets was wounded and made his way back to the British lines for treatment. He was seen going to help another wounded man but he then disappeared.  His body lay in No Man's Land until 1917, when the fighting moved back across the area.  On 1st May 1917 the body of John William Streets was identified and he was officially recorded as “Killed”.   He was buried in Euston Road Cemetery at Colincamps on the Somme in France.  The village of Colincamps is about eleven miles north of Albert.
John William Streets’ poetry collection ‘Undying Splendour’ was published by Erskine Macdonald in 1917 and is available as a free download on Archive so that you can read his work:

Streets’ poems were also included in nine First World War Poetry Anthologies.
Some of his poems were written while he was in training at Hurdcott Camp which was situated between Compton Chamberlayne and Fovant in Wiltshire, UK.


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

David Harrop read out one of Streets's poems at a Remembrance Service in Manchester on 13th November 2016.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

H.H. Munro - "Saki" (1870 - 1916) - British writer

Best remembered for the short stories he wrote under the pen-name “Saki”, Hector Hugh Munro was born in Akyab in Burma, where his father, Charles August Munro, was in the Indian Imperial Police Force, on 18th December 1870.  Hector’s mother was Mary Frances nee Mercer, who died in 1872.    When he returned to Britain, Charles took his family to live in north Devon.

Educated at Pencarwick School in Exmouth, privately at home by governesses and at Bedford School, Hector travelled with his father to France and Germany before joining the Burmese Mounted Police.  The climate in Burma did not suite Hector, so after a year of ill health, he returned to Britain and worked as a journalist and writer.

With come difficulty because he was over age, Hector joined the 2nd King Edward’s Horse Regiment as a Trooper in the First World War and applied to go to the front.  He turned down a commission and refused to take safe jobs behind the lines.   He was transferred to the 22nd Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers and killed in action on 13-14th November 1916 at Beaumont-Hamel.   H.H. Munro is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France.

His final book “The Toys of Peace and other papers” by H.H. Munro was published by John Lane, The Bodley Head, London, 1919, with a portrait and a memoir by his friend Rothay Reynolds, who wrote a poem to Saki.

"Yon rising Moon that looks for us again,
How oft hereafter will she wax and wane;
How oft thereafter, rising, look for us!
Through this same Garden - and for one in vain.
"And when like her, O Saki, you shall pass
Among the Guests, star-scattered on the grass,
And in your joyous errand reach the spot
Where I made one - turn down an empty glass."

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

John Louis Crommelin-Brown (1888 - 1953) - British poet and cricketer

Born in Delhi, India on 20th October 1888, John Louis Crommelin-Brown was educated at Winchester College in Hampshire before going on to Trinity College, Cambridge.   While at Cambridge, he wrote lyrics for Footlights.

During the First World War John was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery and became a Lieutenant in January 1916.   

After the war, John taught at Repton School in Derbyshire and played professional cricket for Worcestershire.  He died at Minehead in Somerset on 11th September 1953. 

John's WW1 poetry collection 'Dies Heroica War Poems 1914 - 1918"', published by Hodder and Stoughton, London in 1918, is available as a free down-load on Archive:

With thanks to Michael Bully for finding this forgotten WW1 poet.  Michael has a weblog dedicated to the sea poetry of WW1 which you can see here

Sources:  Wikipedia 

An evening to commemorate the life and work of Isaac Rosenberg, 27th November 2016, London WC1E