Sunday, 23 December 2018

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”.