Sunday, 23 December 2018

Henry Smalley Sarson (1890 - 1967) – British poet

Henry Smalley Sarson was born in London on 16th August 1890.  His parents were Henry Logsdail Sarson, a Vinegar Distiller of the famous Sarsons Vinegar family, and his wife Maria Henrey Sarson, nee Smalley, who was from Darwen in Lancashire.   In 1891 the Sarson family lived in Islington, London.

Henry went to live in Canada and was working as a farmer when war broke out in 1914.  He joined the Army in September 1914 and served in the Canadian Expeditionary Froce.  He was wounded in 1916, while serving with the Canadian Field Ambulance.  In 1918, Henry married Geraldine L. Edmonds and they had one son – James, who was born in 1926. During the Second World War they lived in Cirencester, UK. Henry died in Surrey in 1967.

Henry’s WW1 collection “From Field and Hospital” was published in 1916.

“The Armed Liner”

The dull gray paint of war
Covering the shining brass and gleaming decks
That once re-echoed to the steps of youth.
That was before
The storms of destiny made ghastly wrecks
Of Peace, the Right and Truth.
Impromptu dances, colored lights and laughter,
Lovers watching the phosphorescent waves,
Now gaping guns, a whistling shell; and after
So many wandering graves.

H. Smalley Sarson

See also “Two Fine Ladies” written in Hyde Park in 1916 from “We Wasn't Pals: Canadian Poetry and Prose of the First World War, Part 4

Ronald Gorell Barnes, 3rd Baron Gorell, CBE, MC (1884 –1963) - WW1 Soldier Poet,British peer, Liberal then Labour politician, poet, author and newspaper editor

Ronald was born on 16th April 1884, the second son of John Gorell Barnes, 1st Baron Gorell, President of the Probate Divorce and Admiralty Division of the High Court of Justice, and his wife, Mary, nee Humpston Mitchell.   Ronald’s siblings were Henry, b. 1882 and Aura Ellida, b. 1887.

Educated at Winchester College, Harrow School and Balliol College, Oxford, Ronald studied law and was called to the Bar in 1909.  He joined the staff of “The Times” newspaper as a journalist in 1911. After leaving Oxford, Ronald played cricket for Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) for 13 seasons scored 431 runs and took 43 wickets in his 19-match career.

During the First World War, Ronald served in the Rifle Brigade, where he reached the rank of Colonel, was Mentioned in Despatches and was awarded a Military Cross in 1917.

Ronald became the third Baron Gorell on 16th January 1917 after his unmarried elder brother, Henry Gorell Barnes, DSO, a Major in the Royal Garriston Artillery, was killed in action.

After the war, Ronald spent two years working at the War Office as Deputy Director of Staff Duties (Education), and then served a year as Under-Secretary of State for Air from 1921 to 1922. In 1925, he left the Liberals and joined the Labour Party.  He devoted his life to literature, editing the “Cornhill Review”, while still serving on many public and private committees and doing charity work.

In 1922, Ronald married Maud Elizabeth Furse Radcliffe (1886–1954), eldest daughter of Alexander Nelson Radcliffe and Isabel Grace Henderson.  They had three children.

Ronald was invested as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in the 1918 Birthday Honours List and as a Commander of the same order in 1919. He was also invested as an Officier of the Order of Leopold in 1919.

He was later editor of the “Cornhill Magazine” from 1933 to 1939. He was co-President of the Detection Club with Agatha Christie from 1956 to 1963.

Ronald died at his home in Arundel on 2nd May 1963, aged 79, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Timothy John Radcliffe Barnes.

Christmas Day” by Ronald Gorell Barnes, MC - Lord Gorrel

“Peace on earth” – the drums of war
Roll their defiance o’er the bells;
“Goodwill towards men” – the murderous roar
Up from the trenches swells.

Is this the offering, this the day,
The triumph of the dripping sword?
In lowliness the nations pray
Thy pitying mercy, Lord.

Thou knowest all :  Thou readest deep;
The heart of man is in Thine eyes;
It is a vigil grim we keep
Only that Peace arise.

Peace is not dead;  she waits rebirth
Stirring within the womb of War;
And from it death shall tread the earth
More queenly than before.

From R.  Gorell Barnes  “Days of Destiny: War Poems at Home and Abroad” (Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1917) – available as a free down-load on Archive:

Other WW1 collections by Ronald Gorell Barnes were:  “Pilgrimage and other poems” (Longmans, Green, London, 1920) and “Many Mansions” (Murray, London, 1926). He also had poems published in seven WW1 anthologiesand his poems were published regularly in “The Times”, “The Contemporary Review”, “The Yorkshire Post”, “The Observer”, “The Nation”, “Westminster Gazette” and “Pall Mall Gazette”.

Henry Lionel Field (1894 - 1916) - British Soldier Poet and Artist

“Carol for Christmas 1914”By Henry Lionel Field

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 hast a son, remember him.

Lord, Thou hast been our refuge sure,
The Everlasting Arms are wide,
Thy words from age to age endure,
Thy 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: “For Remembrance, Soldier Poets who have fallen in the War” Edited by Arthur St. John Adcock (Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1920)

Henry Lionel Field (1894 – 1916) featured the exhibition “Poets, Writers and Artists on The Somme, 1916”, held at The Wilfred Owen Story in Birkenhead, Wirral in 2016.  There is a book of the exhibition panels available via Amazon.  Henry was killed on 1st July 1916 and is buried in Serre Road Cemetery No. 2, Beaumont Hamel et Hébuterne, Somme, Nord Pas de Calais, France.

Thursday, 20 December 2018

Carl Sandburg (1878 – 1967) – American poet, writer, journalist, singer and songwriter

Born in Galesburg, Illinois, USA on 6th January 1878, Carl’s parents were Clara Mathilda (née Anderson) and August Sandberg, who were of Swedish descent. He left school at thirteen and did a variety of jobs, later becoming a journalist on the “Chicago Daily News”.  He volunteered for military service during the Spanish-American War of 1898.   In 1908, he married Lilian Steichen, sister of the photographer Edward Steichen who served in France with the Photography Division of the American Army Signal Corps in 1917.

In 1919, Carl won the Pulitzer Prize (known then as the Columbia University Prize) for his poetry collection "Cornhuskers". The Award was shared with fellow poet Margaret Widdemer for her collection “The Old Road to Paradise”.

Carl won other Pulitzer Prizes – in 1940 for History for the four-volume “The War Years” and in 1951 for “Complete Poems”.

Carl died in 1967, leaving behind an enormous legacy of work. His body was cremated and his ashes were interred under "Remembrance Rock", a granite boulder located behind the house in Galesburg in which he was born.  When Carl died, Lyndon B. Johnson, President of America, said "Carl Sandburg was more than the voice of America, more than the poet of its strength and genius. He was America."

Two war poems (1914 – 1915) by by Carl Sandburg

77. “Wars”

In the old wars drum of hoofs and the beat of shod feet.
In the new wars hum of motors and the tread of rubber tires.
In the wars to come silent wheels and whirr of rods not
yet dreamed out in the heads of men.

In the old wars clutches of short swords and jabs into
faces with spears.
In the new wars long range guns and smashed walls, guns
running a spit of metal and men falling in tens and
In the wars to come new silent deaths, new silent hurlers
not yet dreamed out in the heads of men.

In the old wars kings quarreling and thousands of men
In the new wars kings quarreling and millions of men
In the wars to come kings kicked under the dust and
millions of men following great causes not yet
dreamed out in the heads of men.

73. “Buttons”

I have been watching the war map slammed up for advertising in front of the newspaper office.
Buttons—red and yellow buttons—blue and black buttons—are shoved back and forth across the map.
A laughing young man, sunny with freckles,
Climbs a ladder, yells a joke to somebody in the crowd,
And then fixes a yellow button one inch west
And follows the yellow button with a black button one inch west.

(Ten thousand men and boys twist on their bodies in a red soak along a river edge,
Gasping of wounds, calling for water, some rattling death in their throats.)
Who would guess what it cost to move two buttons one inch on the war map here in front of the newspaper office where the freckle-faced young man is laughing to us?

From “Chicago Poems” (New York, Henry Holt and Company, 1916)

Monday, 17 December 2018

Robert Haven Shauffler (1879 - 1964) – American poet

Robert was born on 8th April 1879 in Brünn, in Bohemia, now known as as Brno, which is in the Czech Republic.  His parents were missionaries. By the time he was two years old, Robert’s family had moved back to America. His parents founded the Schauffler College of Religious and Social Work in Cleveland in 1886 for immigrants from Bohemia who were interested in social or religious work.  Robert studied music and became a cellist.

After studying at Princeton University, Robert went to Berlin for a year.  In 1906, he represented America at the Intercalated Games held in Athens, taking part in the Men’s Singles and Doubles Tennis Tournaments. He married Katharine de Normandie Wilson before the First World War but she died in 1916. In 1912, Robert published a book of his poetry entitled “Scum o' the Earth”, which was the title of one of the poems in the collection. That poem attracted attention after publication in a magazine. The poem focussed attention on the monetary divide between middle class Americans and poor immigrants.

Robert joined the Army during the First World War as a Second Lieutenant and served as an instructor. He was posted to the Western Front and awarded a Purple Heart for his actions at the Battle of Montfaucon, which took place in mid October 1918, during which he was wounded.

After the war, Robert became a university lecturer but continued to write poetry in his spare time.

In 1919, Robert married fellow poet Margaret Widdemer, who was jointly awarded the Pulitzer Award for Poetry for her collection “The Old Road to Paradise”.  Robert lectured and wrote biographies of Schubert, Robert Schumann, Brahms and Beethoven.   Robert’s marriage was not a success and the couple divorced.  Robert died on 24th November 1964.

Robert’s WW1 poetry collection was “The White Comrade and Other Poems” (Houghton Mifflin, Company, Boston and New York, 1920).

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Albert Troman, MM (1898 – 1962) - British poet and Stretcher Bearer during WW1

Phil Johnson has kindly given me permission to share a poem written by his Grandfather, Albert Troman, MM (1898 – 1962).  As Albert became a pawnbroker and tomorrow is St. Nicholas' Day who was the Patron Saint of Pawnbrokers, I thought this was the right time to share Albert's story.

Albert Troman was born in Warrington on 10th February 1898. His parents were Joseph Edmund Troman and his wife, Sarah Ann Troman, nee Woodward. Albert had the following siblings:  Emmeline, b. 1892 (who became a milliner), Walter, b. 1896, Joseph E., b. 1901.

In 1914, Albert joined the  55th South Lancashire Regiment - 1st Battalion C Company 11th Platoon - and was posted to France in 1915, where he served as a Private with the 1st Battalion Warrington Regiment of Infantry.    He was awarded the Military Medal on for bravery as a Stretcher Bearer at Givenchy, risking his life on six occasions to rescue wounded comrades.

After the war, Albert became a pawnbroker initially in Warrington and then managing a shop in Manchester. In 1922, Albert married to CarolineWoodhead, who was born on 12th December 1896 and they spent their married life in Salford, with their only child Dorothy (my mother), who was born in 1923. During the Second World War, Albert was an Air-Raid Precautions (ARP) Warden. He died in 1962 aged 64. His life was shortened due to gassing in WW1

Albert’s Poem:

Albert wrote several pages of verse describing various members of his Platoon.  The poem is rather long, so I have just included one or two verses for now:

“Verses on 11th Platoon C Company South Lancs Regiment” composed by Private A. Troman

Our Commander is Lieutenant Mr Hale,
A man with such courage can’t fail,
And when put to the test
He always acts for the best
And he’s true to his word is Mr Hale.

Now we get (bombing) Seargent Clever
Ver handy with the “pin” and the “lever,”
When the boys are at work,
You can bet they won’t shirk,
If they’re anywhere near Sergeant Clever.

Next we get Corporal Homer,
I can’t say he’s much of a roamer,
But to give him his due,
There are Corporals few
Who will work like Corporal Homer.


Now I hope all those mentioned here,
Will take all in very good cheer,
And that before very long,
We’ll go home well and strong
With A. Trowman (S.B.) in the rear.

With thanks to Laurence Manton for sending me the link to the post by Phil Johnson on
where you can see the entire poem.