Sunday, 31 December 2017

Patrick Shaw-Stewart (1888 – 1917) – British

Patrick Houston Shaw-Stewart was born in Dolgelly, Merionethshire in Wales on 17th August 1888.  His parents were Major General John Heron Maxwell Shaw-Stewart, a retired, high-ranking British Army officer, and his wife Mary Catherine, nee Bedingfield.  He had a brother and two sisters.

Patrick was educated at Eton College before winning a Classical Scholarship to study at Balliol College, Oxford where one of his contemporaries was Julian Grenfell.

In London to work at Barings Bank, Patrick joined the Coterie poetry group.  The Coterie was a select group of Edwardian artists and intellectuals with members such as Diana Manners (Lady Diana Cooper) and Raymond Asquith. 

In America for business reasons in August 1914, Patrick returned to Britain and volunteered to join Winston Churchill’s recently created Royal Naval Division.  He was sent to Dunkirk, initially as an interpreter, then as Embarkation Officer.  He was then sent to “Hood Battalion”, where Rupert Brooke was a fellow officer.  When Rupert Brooke died and was buried on the Island of Skyros en route for Gallipoli, Patrick was in charge of the firing party at Rupert's funeral.

After service in the Gallipoli Campaign, Patrick was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander and posted to the Western Front in France in command of the Hood Battalion. He was killed in an area to the north of Cambrai on 30th December 1917. He was buried at Metz-en-Couture in the British Extension to the Communal Cemetery.  There is a memorial to the memory of Patrick Shaw-Stewart at Balliiol College Oxford, on the west wall of the Chapel passage.

Patrick was awarded the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour – Croix de Guerre (France) for his services as a Liaison Officer with the French Headquarters.  His most famous poem is “Achilles in the Trench”, which was included in three WW1 anthologies.

Sources:  Wikipedia, Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) and Anne Powell “A Deep Cry” (Palladour Books, Dyfed, 1993)

From "Achilles in the Trench"

Fair broke the day this morning
Upon the Dardanelles:
The breeze blew soft, the morn's cheeks
Were cold as cold sea-shells.

Published in "Vain Glory: a miscellany of the Great War", Cassell, London, 1937.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Christmas Poems of the First World War

"Carol for Christmas 1914" by Henry Lionel Field  
Henry Lionel Field featured in the exhibition of Poets of the Somme which was held in July 2016 at The Wilfred Owen Story museum in Birkenhead, Wirral, UK.    Henry joined the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme - 1st July 1916.   He was buried in Serre Road Cemetery No. 2, Beaumont Hamel et Hebuterne, Somme, Nord Pas de Calais, France.
On a dark midnight such as this,
Nearly two thousand years ago,
Three kings looked out towards the East,
Where a single star shone low.

Shepherds were sleeping in the fields,
When the hosts of Heaven above them sang:
“Peace upon earth, goodwill towards men”,
And the deeps in answering cadence rang.

Low in the manger poor and cold,
Lay Mary with her new-born child,
Scarce sheltered from the bitter blast
That whistled round them shrill and wild.

Be with them Lord in camp and field,
Who guard our ancient name to-night.
Hark to the cry that rises now,
Lord, maintain us in our right.

Be with the dying, be with the dead,
Sore-stricken far on alien ground,
Be with the ships on clashing seas,
That gird our island kingdom round.

Through barren nights and fruitless days
Of waiting when our faith grows dim
Mary be with the stricken heart,
Thou has a son, remember him.

Lord, Thou has been our refuge sure,
The Everlasting Arms are wide,
They words from age to age endure,
They loving care will still provide.

Vouchsafe that we may see, dear Lord,
Vouchsafe that we may see,
Thy purpose through the aching days,
And may our prayers be heard.

From "Poems and Drawings", published by Cornish, Birmingham in 1917.

Henry also features in the book of the exhibition - pp. 19 - 20.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Ewart Alan Mackintosh MC (1893 - 1917) - Scottish

Featured in last year’s Somme Poets Exhibition at the Wilfred Owen Story Museum in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, UK, Ewart was killed on 21st November 1917 during the Battle of Cambrai.  He was buried in Orval Wood Cemetery, Flesquières, Nord, France.  The photograph of Kenneth McLennan placing a wreath on the grave of Ewart Alan Mackintosh on the anniversary of the poet's death is by courtesy of Neil McLennan.

Ewart’s poem “In Memoriam” is one of the most emotive of the First World War.  His poetry was compared to that of Rupert Booke at the time of the conflict.

Ewart Alan Mackintosh was born in Brighton, Sussex, UK on 4th March 1893.  His father, from Alness in Ross and Cromarty in Scotland, was Alexander Mackintosh and his mother was Lilian, nee Rogers.  Educated initially at Brighton College, Mackintosh went on to St. Paul's School in London and then studied classics at Oxford in Christ Church College.

At Oxford, Mackintosh was a member of the University's Officer Training Corps and tried to enlist at the outbreak of the First World War.  However, poor eyesight meant that he was initially turned down.  He was commissioned into the Seaforth Highlanders on 31st December 1914 and sent to France.

Mackintosh was wounded at High Wood (Bois des Fourcaux), near Albert on the Somme in northern France, and sent back to Britain in August 1915 to recuperate.  While he was based in Cambridge, he met and became engaged to Sylvia Marsh.  

In 1916, Mackintosh was leading his men in battle near Arras when fourteen of his men were wounded and two were killed. The death of one of the men - David Sutherland, who Mackintosh tried in vain to rescue  -  inspired Mackintosh's most famous poem.   He was awarded the Military Cross on 24th June 1916.

Kenneth McLennan laying a wreath on the grave of Ewart Alan Mackintosh
Mackintosh was killed in action on 21st November 1917 on the second day of the Battle of Cambrai.  He was buried in Orival Wood near to the northern French town of Flesquieres.  The photograph of his grave shows Neil McLennan leaving a floral tribute on 21st November 2017 - reproduced by kind permission of Neil McLennan

Kenneth McLennan takes up the story: “My grandfather was second man in a Lewis Gun team in Alan Mackintosh's company in 1/4 Seaforths. They were in action near to Cantaing Mill and after some hard fighting were consolidating a counter attack. Mackintosh took the Lewis gun team slightly forward of the firing line where it was set up. He lifted his head to look for targets and was shot through mouth with the bullet exiting at the back of his head. I was told this story many times and never paid much attention to it until many years later when I went looking for who this officer was and where he was buried.”

Mackintosh’s two published poetry collections were:

"A Highland Regiment and Other Poems" published by John Lane, London in 1917 and

"War The Liberator and Other Pieces", published in 1918 by John Lane, London, and his poems were included in 8 WW1 poetry anthologies. (Source:  Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978).

Additional information supplied by Kenny McLennan, whose grandfather served in the same Regiment as E.W. Mackintosh.  

"In Memoriam"

So you were David's father,
And he was your only son,
And the new-cut peats are rotting
And the work is left undone,
Because of an old man weeping,
Just an old man in pain,
For David, his son David,
That will not come again. 

Oh, the letters he wrote you,
And I can see them still,
Not a word of the fighting
But just the sheep on the hill
And how you should get the crops in
Ere the year got stormier,
And the Bosches have got his body,
And I was his officer. 

You were only David's father,
But I had fifty sons
When we went up that evening
Under the arch of the guns,
And we came back at twilight
— O God! I heard them call
To me for help and pity
That could not help at all. 

Oh, never will I forget you,
My men that trusted me,
More my sons than your fathers'
For they could only see
The little helpless babies
And the young men in their pride.
They could not see you dying
And hold you while you died. 

Happy and young and gallant,
They saw their first born go,
But not the strong limbs broken
And the beautiful men brought low,
The piteous writhing bodies,
They screamed, "Don't leave me Sir,"
For they were only fathers
But I was your officer.

Friday, 3 November 2017

"Tipperary to Flanders Fields" commemorating WW1, Remembrance Weekend 2017, Kent, UK

The UK Kent-based Actors’ Co-operative Katapult Productions presents "Tipperary to Flanders Fields" which commemorates the First World War in words and music, using some of the songs and poems from the era.  Some of the content tells the story of the women in WW1 in their own words.  

Devised and directed by Michael Thomas the performers will be Julia Burnett, Marie Kelly, Alan Simmons and Ann Lindsey Wickens.

Performances of “Tipperary to Flanders Fields” will be held during Remembrance Weekend 2017 at the following venues:

The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne, ME10 4DN on 11th November 2017 at 7.30pm;

at The Astor, Deal, CT14 6AB on 12/11/2017 at 4pm;

and at The Queens Theatre, Hornchurch, RM11 1QT on 13/11/2017 at 2.30pm.

Tickets available from the box offices of the theatres.

Initial information shared from Remembering Women on the Home Front Facebook page, with further information provided by Katapult Productions.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

A very interesting commemorative project: "The Bridge: Reading the Poetry of War"

With thanks to Deb Fisher of the Siegfried Sassoon Association and to Patrick Villa of the War Poets Association for finding this interesting project organised by Eric M. Murphy and Linda A. Saunders.  Further details about The Bridge Reading the Poetry of War can be found on their website:

The organisers are hoping for the in-put of as many people as possible so do have a look and see if your own favourite poem has been added and if not please add it.




Saturday, 28 October 2017

Poets of 1917: John Arnold Nicklin (1871 – 1917) – British

John Arnold Nicklin was born in Llanfair Caerncinion in Montgomeryshire, Wales, UK in 1871.  His parents were Thomas Nicklin, a farmer from Glamorgan, Wales and his wife Hannah Nicklin, nee Fenn, from Shropshire.  John had the following siblings:  Thomas, b. 1869 and Hannah Constance, b. 1870.  The children’s father died on 8th September 1873. 

Educated at Shrewsbury School before going up to St. John’s College, Cambridge to study Classics, John became a teacher and was Assistant Master at Liverpool College from 1896 – 1901 when the family lived in Toxteth on Merseyside.  He wrote for “The Daily Chronicle” and “The Tribune” newspapers.

In 1903, John married Maria Louisa Petrie in London and they went to live in Lambeth, where John died on 16th April 1917.

John’s WW1 collection “And they went to the war: poems” was published by Sidgwick & Jackson, London in October 1914.


Michael Copp “Cambridge Poets of the Great War: An Anthology” (Associated University Presses, London, 2001)

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

Find my Past and Free BMD websites.
From “Whitechapel” by John Arnold Nicklin (describing a volunteer)

A white and wolfish face, with fangs
Half-snarling out of flaccid lips:
Ann unkempt head that loosely hangs;
Shoulders that cower from gaoler’s grips;

Eyes furtive in their greedy glance;
Slim fingers not untaught to thieve; -
He shambles forward to the chance
His whole life’s squalor to retrieve. 

From Nicklin's WW1 collection.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Stephen Southwold (1887 – 1964) - British

It always surprises me when I research the forgotten poets of the First World War when I discover someone like writer and poet Stephen Southwold who was a very prolific writer but is now almost completely forgotten.   He has a brief mention in Catherine W. Reilly's "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) on page 300, giving the title of his WW1 collection and the fact that Reilly found a copy in the British Museum.  Fortunately, Stephen's grandson, Andrew, is working hard to ensure that Stephen's work is given more attention.

Stephen was born Stephen Henry Critten on 22nd February 1887 in Southwold, Suffolk.  His parents were George Miller Critten, an insurance agent, and his wife Emma Critten, nee Lambert.  The family lived in Suffolk but in 1911 were registered as living in West Ham, London.   Stephen’s siblings were Dorothea, b. 1880, Katherine or Catherine, b. 1882 and Percy, b. 1885.  Like Stephen, his siblings became school teachers.

Stephen studied to become a school teacher at St. Mark’s Training College in Chelsea, London.  He then worked as a teacher at Earlsmead Council School in Tottenham from 1907 until 1913 and at Culvert Road Council School from 1913 until 1927, with a break for military service.

Stephen joined the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Private and served on the Western Front from 1914 until 1919.   Many of his WW1 poems were written in France in 1918.

In 1928, Stephen married Edith A.S. Bill and they lived in Herne Bay, Kent.

Apart from poems, Stephen, who changed his surname to Southwold, wrote children’s stories, novels and science fiction and used the pen names Neil Bell, Miles, Stephen Green, S.H. Lambert and Paul Martens.

His WW1 poetry collection “The Common Day: Poems” was published by Allen & Unwin in 1915.

For further information about Stephen and to read some of his poems, please see Andrew Southwold’s Facebook page dedicated to his grandfather
Find my Past and Free BMD
Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) and information from the Facebook Page Stephen Southwold kindly supplied by Andrew Southwold.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Edward Verrall Lucas - E.V. Lucas - (1968 - 1938) - British

Edward Verrall Lucas, a Quaker poet, writer, journalist and publisher, was born in Eltham, Kent in 1868.  He was the second of four sons and three daughters born to Alfred Lucas and his wife Jane, nee Drewett.

Edward was educated at The Friends’ School in Saffron Walden. After leaving school Edward worked in a bookshop in Brighton before becoming a journalist for a Brighton newspaper.  He then went to London to work on an evening paper. 

In 1897, Edward married Florence Elizabeth Griffin, whose father was American, and the couple had a daughter, Audrey.

In 1904, Edward began working for “Punch” magazine and became assistant editor.  He worked there for 34 years and in 1924 he also became Chairman of the publishers Methuen.

Edward became a close friend of J.M. Barrie and joined Barrie’s recreational cricket team.  Barrie’s cricket team played their final match on 28th July 1913 against E.V. Lucas’s XI at Downe House School, which was at that time housed in Kent in a property that had belonged to Charles Darwin. E.V.’s daughter Audrey Lucas, was a pupil at Downe House School at that time.

During the First World War, E.V. Lucas worked as a Secretary for the British Red Cross in Italy.  His WW1 poetry collections were:  “The Debt” (Methuen, 1914; “Guillaumism: two aspects (Clement Shorter, 1914); “Swollen-headed William: painful stories and funny pictures after the German” (Methuen, 1914); and his poems were published in four WW1 poetry anthologies.

Soon after the end of the war Edward and Elizabeth separated and Edward died in a nursing home in Marylebone, London at the age of seventy.

Catherin W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War:  A Bibliography“, (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978), p. 204.
Audrey Lucas “E.V. Lucas A Portrait”
Find my Past: Register of British Red Cross WW1 Overseas Volunteers
Photograph E.V. Lucas in 1895.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Ronald Gorell Barnes, MC, Lord Gorell (1884 - 1963) – British politician, writer, poet and editor

Ronald Gorell Barnes, 3rd Baron Gorell was born on 16th April 1884. He was the son of John Gorell Barnes, 1st Baron Gorell, and his wife, Mary, nee Humpston Mitchell.  Educated at Winchester College, Winchester, UK and Harrow School, Harrow, UK, Ronald went up to Balliol College, Oxford, graduating with a Master of Arts.

He was called to Inner Temple in 1909 and was entitled to practise as a barrister. Between 1911 and 1915, Ronald worked as a journalist at “The Times” newspaper.  He held the rank of Captain in the Rifle Brigade and served during the First World War, being mentioned in despatches. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1917.

Ronald became the 3rd Baron Gorell, of Brampton, Derby on 16th January 1917 after the death of his elder brother who was killed in WW1. He was appointed Officer, Order of the British Empire in 1918 and was also awarded the Order of Leopold of Belgium. In 1919, Ronald was appointed Commander, Order of the British Empire in 1919.  

 On 10th January 1922, Ronald married Maud Elizabeth Furse Radcliffe, daughter of Alexander Nelson Radcliffe and Isabel Grace, nee Henderson.  The couple had three children – two sons and a daughter.  From 1913 until 1917, Maud was the spiritual medium who helped the poet William Butler Yeats.

President of the Royal Society Teachers from 1929 to 1935 and editor of “Cornhill Magazine” between 1933 and 1939, along with Agatha Christie Ronald was co-president of the Detection Club from 1956 until 1963.

Ronald died on 2nd May 1963 at the age of 79.   His WW1 poetry collections were:

“Days of Destiny: war poems at home and abroad”, (Longmans, Green, London, 1917)

“Many mansions (poems)” (Murray, 1926)

“Pilgrimage and other poems” (Longmans, Green, London, 1920 and his poems were published in seven WW1 poetry anthologies.


“Days of Destiny” is available as a download from Archive:


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

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Herbert Asquith (1881 - 1947) – British poet, writer and lawyer

Herbert was the second son of Herbert Henry Asquith, the British Liberal politician, First Earl of Oxford, and his wife Helen Kelsall Asquith, nee Medland. Herbert junior wa born on 11th March 1881.  He had the following siblings:
Raymond (1878 – 1916), Arthur, b. 1884, Helen Violet (1887 – 1969) and Cyril (1890 – 1954).  Herbert senior’s first wife Helen Asquith died in 1891. 

Herbert Asquith senior was the British Prime Minister from 1908 until 1916 when he became ill following the death during the Somme Offensive of his eldest son Raymond. 

After the death of his first wife in 1891, Herbert senior married Emma Alice Margaret Tennant, known as Margot, in 1894.  The couple had a son, Anthony (1902 – 1968), who became a film director, and a daughter Elizabeth (1897 – 1945), who became a writer and poet.
In 1910, Herbert junior married Cynthia, daughter of Hugo Richard Charteris, the 11th Earl of Weymss.  Cynthia was also a writer.

Like his brother Raymond, Herbert junior became a lawyer.  They both served with the Royal Artillery during the First World War, Herbert junior reaching the rank of Captain.
Herbert junior died on 5th August 1947.

The Hon. Herbert Asquith’s First World War poetry collections were:
“Poems 1912 – 1933” (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1934

“The Volunteer and other poems” (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1915)
“The Volunteer and other poems, 2nd edition with new poems added” (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1917)

And his poems were published in 21 WW1 anthologies.

“The Fallen Subaltern”

The starshells float above, the bayonets glisten;
We bear our fallen friend without a sound;
Below the waiting legions lie and listen
To us, who march upon their burial-ground.

Wound in the flag of England, here we lay him;
The guns will flash and thunder o’er the grave;
What other winding sheet should now array him,
What other music should salute the brave?

As goes the Sun-god in his chariot glorious,
When all his golden banners are unfurled,
So goes the soldier, fallen but victorious,
And leaves behind a twilight in the world.

And those who come this way, in days hereafter,
Will know that here a boy for England fell,
Who looked at danger with the eyes of laughter,
And on the charge his days were ended well.

One last salute; the bayonets clash and glisten;
With arms reversed we go without a sound:
One more has joined the men who lie and listen
To us, who march upon their burial-ground.


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

Arthur Newberry Choyce (1893 - 1937) – British poet

Arthur was the ‘Leicestershire WW1 Soldier Poet’ whose poetry was compared by “The Independent” newspaper to that of Rupert Brooke

Arthur Newberry Choyce was born in Hugglescote, Leicestershire, UK in 1893.  His parents were Benjamin Choyce, a carpenter, and his wife Mary Ann Choyce, nee Newberry.  The Leicestershire village in which the family lived was near Coalville, about ten miles from Loughborough.

At the outbreak of war, Arthur joined the Leicestershire Regiment as a Second Lieutenant.  He was sent to the Western Front where he saw action during the Somme Offensive in 1916.

Wounded on 15th June 1917, Arthur sheltered for twenty hours in a shell hole before being rescued and sent for treatment.

When he had recovered sufficiently he was sent to America on a speaking tour, reciting his poems to great acclaim, encouraging Americans to join in the fight.

After the war, Arthur continued writing and publishing his work.  He became headmaster of Snibston village Primary School in Coalville, Leicestershire.   Arthur died in 1937 in Ashby-de-la-Zouche.

Arthur’s WW1 poetry collections were:  "Crimson Stains: poems of war and love" published in 1917 by Erskine Macdonald, London;

"Memory: poems of war and love" published in New York by John Lane in 1918. Which you can find here: and

“Songs while wandering” (John Lane, New York, 1919), written in America and dedicated to England

Arthur also had some poems published in the WW1 Anthology "Soldier Poets: more songs of the fighting men" edited by Galloway Kyle and published by Erskine Macdonald in 1917.

Arthur wrote a poem while crossing the Atlantic in April 1918 but it does not reflect the dangers of such a journey.  Tad Fitch and Michael Poirier have written a book that describes in details the perils of crossing the Atlantic – “Into the Danger Zone”.  For a review please see

Atlantic Crossing

The little song that you sing to me
Seems part of the sea’s own melody
(We are alone, just you and I).
It is late … you wanted to see the moon.
Have you heard that we come to harbour soon?
(How swiftly the stars and the sea slip by!).

Churned in the wonderful waves below
Clusters of phosphorous fishes glow,
(How swiftly the stars and the sea slip by!)
And we who have just a remaining day
Are silently staring our dreams away…
(We are alone, just you and I).

Alone, alone, just you and I …
My soul! … how the stars and the sea slip by!

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

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Passchendaele Poets and more

An exhibition featuring some of the poets, writers and artists involved in the Battles of Messines (Mesen), Passchendaele and after in 1917 is currently on display at The Wilfred Owen Story, 34 Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, CH41 6AE.  Entry is free.  The WOS is open Tuesdays to Fridays from 11 am until 2 pm but it is advisable to telephone first - 07903 337995.
Among the poets, writers, one musician and nurses in the exhibition are:
Harry Amos and Oscar Walters (on the same panel)
Charles James Beech Masefield                                    
Dennis Wheatley and Herbert Read (on same panel)
Eugene Rhuelier and MacKintosh (on same panel)
Francis Ledwidge
Frank Prewett – Canadian
Geoffrey Wall
Hamilton Fish Armstrong
Hedd Wyn
Hugh Gordon Langton - musician
Patrick Shaw-Stewart
T.E. Hulme
Thomas Carnduff
Thomas Ewart Mitton and John Allan Wyeth (on same panel)
Arthur Hugh Sidgwick
Arthur Lewis Jenkins
Frank C. Lewis
Geoffrey Caldwell Siordet
Gerald George Samuel
Isaac Rosenberg
John Frederick Freeman
Leonard Comer Wall  (photo of his grave, in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery Belgium taken by Willy de Brouwer and reproduced here with his kind permission)
Nathan Percy Graham
William Robert Hamilton
David Jones and Edmund Blunden (on same panel)
Eric Fitzwater Wilkinson
Edmund Valpy Knox (E.V. Knox)

Nurses of Passchendaele
Kate Luard
Nellie Spindler
Minnie Wood
Wirral, Cheshire VADs Amy and Kath Isaac
Also on display
When Wilfred met Siegfried (the Craiglockhart meeting of two of WW1’s greatest soldier poets)
The Wilfred Owen Story
34 Argyle Street
CH41 6AE.
United Kingdom.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Hamilton Fish Armstrong (1893 - 1973) – American

With thanks to Dr. Margaret Stetz for telling me about Hamilton.

Hamilton Fish Armstrong was born in New York, America on 7th April 1893.  His parents were Maitland Armstrong, an American Diplomat and artist, and his wife Helen Armstrong, nee Neilson.  Helen was a niece of the American politician and Governor of New York, Hamilton Fish.   Maitland and Helen had seven children.

Hamilton studied at Princeton University and then went to work as a journalist for the “New Republican Magazine” which was founded in 1914 and dealt with the arts and politics.

I understand that Hamilton went to the Western Front in France in 1917 and then became Military Attache in Serbia.  Among his many awards were The Order of the Serbian Red Cross (1918), the Order of St. Sava Fifth Class (1918), Order of the Crown – Roumania (1924), le Legion d’Honneur – France (1924) and the Order of the British Empire (OBE) (1972.

In 1922, Hamilton joined the staff of the American magazine “Foreign Affairs” and in 1928 he became the magazine’s editor, a post which he held until 1972.  He had a long and distinguished career as a writer and diplomat and died on 24th April 1973.  I have not been able to find any further details of his WW1 experience but from the following poem it seems clear that by the time it was written in 1916, Hamilton had already visited the Western Front.

On Sick Leave (p. 333 “New York Verse”)

He limped beneath the Arch, across the Square,
And through the dazzling shaft of rainbow-air
That blew from where the busy fountain leaped.
For him within that vision-laden cloud
There were no peaceful hills, no valleys loud
With streams, no field in honeysuckle steeped.

Grim hills there were, emplumed with puffs of smoke –
Valleys there were, where biting guns awoke
Echoes that died amid the eternal din –
Broad honeysuckle-bordered fields there were,
Stamped down by passing troops, - and in the air
That smell which only is where war has been.

From the poetry anthology edited by Hamilton and published in 1917 “The Book of New York Verse“, which is available as a free down-load on Archive:  Photo of the Armstrong Family in around 1910 - photographer unknown - from


Thursday, 13 July 2017

Exhibition: Poets of Messines (Mesen), Passchendaele and after - 1917 at the Wilfred Owen Story Museum, Birkenhead

An exhibition featuring some of the poets, writers and artists involved in the Battles of Messines (Mesen), Passchendaele and after - 1917 is currently on display at The Wilfred Owen Story in Birkenhead, Wirral, UK   Entry is free. 

The WOS is open Tuesdays to Fridays from 11 am until 2 pm but if you are planning a visit it is advisable to telephone first - 07903 337995.

The Wilfred Owen Story

34 Argyle Street,
Birkenhead, Wirral,
CH41 6AE.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Remembering Leonard Comer Wall who was killed on 9th June 1917

Remembering today, 9th June 2017, WW1 Soldier Poet Leonard Comer Wall who was killed a hundred years ago on 9th June 1917. Leonard was buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery. He is one of the poets featured in the 1917 commemorative exhibition on display at The Wilfred Owen Story in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral.

See earlier posts about Leonard.

Photo by Paul Breeze.   There are still some copies of the Wirral Poets 2017 Calendar left if anyone wants one. Leonard is featured in June.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Gerald George Samuel (1886 – 1917) – British

Gerald was born in Marylebone, London, UK on 6th May 1886.  His parents were Marcus Samuel, first Viscount Bearsted and his wife, Fanny Elizabeth Samuel, nee Benjamin, Viscountess Bearsted.  Gerald’s father ran an import company, trading with the Far East and set up the Shell Transport and Trading Company.

Gerald had the following siblings - Walter Horace Samuel, 2nd Viscount Bearsted; Nellie Samuel (married name Ionides) and Ida Marie Samuel (married name Sebag-Montefiore).  Educated at Eton College, Gerald travelled to Japan, Canada and the United States in 1912.

During the First World War, Gerald was turned down twice when he applied to join the Army, due to defective eyesight.  However, he was commissioned into the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment and posted to the Western Front, where he was wounded twice.

Gerald was killed leading his men during the Battle of Messines on 7th June 1917.  At the time of his death, he held the rank of Lieutenant.  He is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium, panel 45 and 47, at Willesden Cemetery in London and at Eton College.

Gerald devoted his life to the welfare of working lads in the East End of London, and had a Home for Orphans built - The Samuel and Myer Home. On his death Gerald bequeathed the house and £10,000 for its maintenance to the Jewish Board of Guardians.

Gerald George Samuel’s WW1 poetry collection “Poems” was published by Arthur L. Humphreys, London in 1917.  Source:  Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978)

I don’t usually comment on the writing of the poets I feature but I am very impressed indeed by Gerald George Samuel’s writing, enjoyed reading his poems and made a few notes to share with you.  

The Introduction, written by Gerald’s father, has a copy of the last letter of encouragement Gerald wrote from the Front to the boys he worked with in Stepney. I found it particularly moving.  And in the poem “My Aim” Gerald wrote that he would like “To make the world a happier, better place” (page 24).

Gerald described the weapons of the conflict, which was the first using the tools of the Industrial Revolution, as “the brutal inventions of crime” and the conditions in the trenches as “the pitiless welter of shell” (From “Consolation”, page 32).

In “Lost Years” I found a sentiment reflected in one of my Mother’s favourite poems – “The Moving Finger writes…”: from Edward FitzGerlad’s translation into English of Omar Khayam’s poem in Farsi:

“For I cannot call back the ebbing tide
And live again the seasons that are gone.” (page 34)

On page 40 is a poem dedicated “To Music” – echoing my own feelings about music:

And on page 41 are a few lines about music, poetry and art.

I leave you with two of Gerald’s poems:

“War and After” 

I hope that when at last these days are o’er,
I may return my labours to renew,
And try to wipe away the marks of war
That stain the nations with their bloody hue.
To bring some ray of solace to a few,
To make their lives less difficult to live,
Is all I ask.  My work I shall not rue
If I can help to comfort some who grieve,
And added happiness to some poor toilers give.

Untitled (page 22)

I care too little for this earth
To love it, though it gave me birth;
But I would leave to those like me
In future days some legacy.

Joy is not mine, but if my pain
Bring forth for someone else a gain:
I only wish that when in Heaven
I may observe the joy I’ve given.

“May” (page 27)

But I would not forgotten be,
When only dust is left of me:
And so I try, with painful strife,
To justify my having life.

From "Poems" by Gerald George Samuel (Arthur L. Humphreys, London, 1917)

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Poets killed in WW1 who are commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium

Tom BRANDON, kia 13th May 1915, Ypres

The Hon. Gerald William GRENFELL, Lieutenant, Rifle Brigade, 2 Bn., kia 30th July 1915, Ypres - His poems were published in two WW1 Anthologies.

(NOTE:  The Hon. Julian Grenfell who died on 26th May 1915 of wounds sustained on 12th May 1915 near Ypres, is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.)

Sydney HALE, 8th Battalion, Rifle Brigade, kia 31st July 1915, Zouave Wood

Walter Scott Stuart LYON, a Lieutenant in the Royal Scots, kia 8th May 1915, Ypres – His WW1 collection “Easter at Ypres 1915 and other poems” was published by Maclehose, Glasgow in 1916.

The Hon. Colwyn Erasmus Arnold PHILIPPS, MC, Captain, Royal Horse Guards, kia 13th May 1915 – His WW1 collections “Verses, prose, fragments, letters from the Front” was published by Murray in 1916 and he had poems published in two WW1 poetry anthologies.

Gerald George SAMUEL, Royal West Kent Regiment, kia 7th June 1917 during the Battle of Messines – His WW1 collection “Poems” was published by Humphreys in 1917.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Frank S. Brown (1893 - 1915) – Canadian

Francis Smith Brown, known as Frank, was born in Canada in 1893.  His father was the Reverend S.G. Brown of Almonte, Ontario.

Frank described himself as a ‘soldier and clerk’ when he joined the Princess Patricia’s Regiment at the outbreak of war. He was known as the “poet of the Pats.”

Frank was among the first of the Canadians to come to Britain in WW1.  His unit was initially stationed on Salisbury Plain, where he spent some time in hospital when he became ill.  Frank was an accomplished pianist and sang as a baritone.  He was also a good horseman and an expert shot.  After his recovery, Frank was posted to the Western Front where he served with the rank of Sergeant.   He was killed at St. Eloi on 3rd February 1915. and is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial, Menenstraat, 8900 Ypres, Belgium - Panel 10.

Frank had poems published in the “Ottawa Citizen” newspaper and his  WW1 Collection “Contingent Ditties and Other Soldier Songs of the Great War“, edited by Holbrook Jackson, was published by Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd., London, in 1915.  The collection is available as a free down-load here:

Source: “Contingent Ditties and Other Soldier Songs of the Great War” (Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd., London, 1915) 

“THE P.P.C.L.T. (Princess Pat's)”

The trumpet sounded loud o'er hill and plain :

To Arms ! To Arms ! Our Empire is at war !

Come, join your colours, on the land or main.

All Britons who have served the King before.

And in the mountain mine; by prairie plow,

They answered to the trumpet's brazen voice :

They, who had served the Empire long enow

As soldiers by profession and from choice.

No conscripts, these, in whose unwilling hands

Weapons are thrust, to wage unwilling strife.

But — freemen all, who needed not commands

To volunteer their service, limb and life.

Thus rose a regiment, as 'neath a wand.

Of seasoned men, with medalled service too :

Soldiers from every corps throughout the land —

Britons beyond the seas; tried men and true.

This is indeed a princely gift to give

To our Imperial Realm in crisis sore —

Proud in the nation of the sturdy men,

And prouder yet of him who raised the Corps.

Then go, ye able sons of Britain's soil,

To take your place, wherever it may be ;

God speed you in the glory — and the toil.

Princess Patricia's Canadian Infantry.


The sunny rose of autumn's smoky day

Had almost fled. The chill was in the air,

When issued forth from Gaspe's smiling bay

A grand Armada, 'neath a cruiser's care.

A great and grand flotilla, speeding forth

Beneath the oily pall of clinging smoke —

A gift to Motherland, of priceless worth —

Th' Atlantic's lazy swells to life awoke.

Thrice ten and two great modern Argosies,

That hurried to the Field the best of youth

To bear their country's colours o'er the seas,

And herald Canada to national growth.

Great sons of sires whose willing blood has given

To our New World the sterling of the Old ;

Most worthy volunteers are these, undriven

To take up arms ; freemen, but strong and bold.

Beneath the watching escort's wakeful eyes

The fleet pulsed on. The ocean's lazy roll

Bore three long straggling lines, 'neath low'ring skies,

Spread as a flock of geese cleave toward their goal.

Thrice ten and two great, sullen merchantmen,

As, sullen in their cloaks of drab and black,

They freighted over thrice ten thousand souls.

How many of these same pay they bring back ?

The days roll by. The ocean slowly yields Its bosom to the squadron's steady pace,

Until the cliffs of England rise to greet

The scions of her colonizing race

Come home — to give their all. Come home -  to fight.

Come home— though born of that far Western land,

Where Britain's shield is 'stablished for the right,

They volunteered to lend an armed hand.

Oh 1 Plymouth, Cradle of the mighty Drake ;

The haven of his vessel's hopes and fears ;

Yet have you ever seen so fine a sight?

Or have you waked to such a crest of cheers

As roars aboard the transports, on whose decks

Are packed the khaki hosts ? Has e'er a day

Such wealth of loyal blood, such willing hands

Brought to your shores ?

All England answers, " Nay."