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.