Friday, 8 March 2019

Ivan Heald MC (1883 - 1916) - British writer, poet and journalist

Ivan Shackleton Heald was born on 13th October 1883 in Accrington, Lancashire.  His parents were John Thomas Heald, a schoolteacher, and his wife Mary, nee Shackleton.  Ivan had the following siblings: Harry, b. 1880, Nora (1882 – 1961) – who became the Editor of the magazines “The Queen” and “The Lady” - and Edith (1885 – 1976).  Among Ivan’s uncles were John Shackleton, one of the first directors of the North of Ireland Paper Mills, and Mr. A. Ross of Ballyclare

In the 1901 Census, Ivan and his family lived in Fox Street, Accrington and he worked as a clerk in the Iron Works.

A gifted writer, Ivan become a journalist.  He began working for the “Ulster Gazette” then moved to Manchester to work for the “Sunday Chronicle” and then to London, where he worked for the “Daily Express”.  By 1911, he was working as a Sub Editor and lived in a Boarding House in London.  He worked for the “Daily Express” and gained a reputation as a humourous writer.

Ivan volunteered for the Royal Naval Division in 1914 and on 9th February 1915 he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant.  He joined the Benbow Battalion as Scout and Signal Officer in March 1915 and the Hood Battalion on 10th June 1915 and was posted to Gallipoli, where he was wounded. 

By 1916, Ivan was a Lieutenant and had been posted to the Western Front. In February 1916, Ivan transferred to the Royal Flying Corps as an Observer/Gunner and joined 25 Squadron.   He and his pilot were shot down in flames on 4th December 1916 near Arras.  Ivan was buried in Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, France, Grave Reference XVI. D. 11.

According to his obituary in “The People” of 10th December 1916, (p. 10), Ivan was awarded a Military Cross for bravery. He was also Mentioned in Despatches during the Gallipoli Campaign.


So quietly we left our trench

That night, yet this I know -

As we stole down to Sedd-el-Bahr

Our dead mates heard us go.

As I came down the Boyau Nord

A dead hand touched my sleeve,

A dead hand from the parapet

Reached out and plucked my sleeve.

'Oh, what is toward, O mate o' mine,

That ye pass with muffled tread,

And there comes no guard for the firing-trench.

The trench won by your dead?'

The dawn was springing on the hills,

'Twas time to put to sea,

But all along the Boyau Nord,

A dead voice followed me.

'Oh, little I thought', a voice did say,

'That ever a lad of Tyne

Would leave me alone in the cold trench side.

And him a mate of mine.'

We sailed away from Sedd-el-Bahr,

We are sailing home on leave.

But this I know – through all the years

Dead hands will pluck my sleeve.

From Ivan’s book - "Ivan Heald Hero and Humorist", with a Foreword written by fellow “Daily Express” journalist, Sidney Dark, published in 1917 by C. Arthur Pearson, Ltd., London.

With thanks to Alan Hewer for additional information.