Friday, 24 May 2019

Werner Schultze von Langsdorff - Thor Goote - (1899 – 1940) - German; writer, airman and aero engineer

Thor Goote was the Pen-name of Werner Schultze von Langsdorff, who was born on 27th May 1899 in Forbach, Lothringen, which is now a commune in the Department of Moselle in the northeastern area of France.  It is located on the German border near Saarbrücken, Germany

Werner was the son of a nobleman and Army officer from Hesse. During the First World War, he volunteered to serve in the German army and joined an Artillery Regiment. He was wounded, after which he joined the German Air Force with the rank of Lieutenant. Werner was awarded the Iron Cross Ist Class.

In 1919 Werner enrolled on a course to study aeronautical engineering at Darmstadt Technical University, graduating in 1923 as an engineer with a doctorate  - Dr.-Ing.  He then worked as a freelance engineer and test pilot and published numerous books and essays. He also published “The Yearbook of Aviation” and “The Aviation Handbook”. Werner sustained serious injuries in an aircraft crash in 1928 amd had to wait until 1936 before he was allowed to fly again.   He then taught aeronautical engineering and aviation at Karlsruhe Technical University.

During the 1920s Werner joined the Nazi Party and worked as a civil servant in the National Socialist Air Corps.

In 1939, Werner was called up to serve in a fighter squadron, after which he was in the research department of the Technical Office of the Reich Ministry of Aviation. In 1940 he requested a transfer to a combat squadron and joined a reconnaisance unit.  He was killed on 3rd July 1940 when his plane crashed  in the North Sea off the coast of Scotland.


Thursday, 23 May 2019

George Henry Bonner (1895 - 1929) – British poet and journalist

George Henry Bonner was born on 26th May 1895.  His parents were Baptist Church Minister the Reverend Henry Bonner – Minister of Hamstead Road Baptist Church – and his wife Margaret Elizabeth, nee Johnson. George had a younger brother, Augustine Ralph, b. 1896.

The Rev. Bonner died when George was just 4 years old, and he and his brother, Austin, were brought up by their mother.

George was educated at King Edward’s School in Birmingham, where he was a Prefect, edited the School Magazine and a contemporary of J.R.R.Tolkien. He then went up to Magdalen College, Oxford University but, at the outbreak of war, postponed his studies and joined the South Staffordshire Regiment.  He transferred to the Royal Field Artillery in 1915 and was commissioned as a Subaltern.  He was sent back to Britain in November 1916, suffering from Shell Shock and was sent to Craiglockhart Hospital in October 1917, where he became editor of “The Hydra” magazine after the magazine’s previous editors, Wilfred Owen and J.B. Salmond, had left.

George’s brother, Augustine Bonner, joined the Royal Flying Corps and was killed in 1917 over France.

George married Eleanor Ford in 1921 and they had one son, Augustine, known as Austin, born in 1925 and named after George’s brother.  After the war, George became a journalist.

George had a poem published in the Basil Blackwell anthology “Oxford Poetry 1920”, edited by Vera Brittain and others.

Research into the life and work of George Bonner is by writer, editor, researcher John Garth, who met Bonner’s son, Austin shortly before his death.  Austin handed most of his father’s papers over to Magdalen College, where he had also been an undergraduate. John Garth went to look over the Hydra issues with Dr Stuart Lee, director of the First World War Poetry Digital Archive. They provide a fascinating glimpse into a lost world, in which traumatised officers understandably fell back on the comfortable certainties of life as they had known it before the war. The Hydra reads like a school or college magazine, and reports enthusiastically, and often with gentle wit, on the clubs and pastimes fostered by the hospital inmates: debates, literature, poultry-keeping, sports, model boats, photography and gardening.

In George Bonner’s editorial in Hydra of January 1918, he wrote: ‘Our late Editor, Mr Owen, has reduced the Antaeus saga to blank verse. This poem we hope to print in our next number.’ The poem does not appear in the newly-found issues, and perhaps was never published in Owen’s lifetime. But Owen did write an article in the January 1918 issue of The Hydra about the Greek myth of Antaeus, saying: ‘Now surely every officer who comes to Craiglockhart recognises that, in a way, he is himself Antaeus who has been taken from his Mother Earth and well-nigh crushed to death by the war giant or military machine . . . Antaeus typifies the occupation cure at Craiglockhart. His story is the justification of our activities.’

Antaeus, in Greek mythology, was a giant from Libya. He was the son of the sea god Poseidon and the Earth goddess Gaea. He compelled all strangers who were passing through the country to wrestle with him.


The photograph of George Henry Bonner was by American photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Victor Rousseau (1865 – 1954) - Belgian sculptor, writer and poet

A chance find on the Facebook Group Cemeteries & Memorials of the Gret War, was a post about the Belgian Gratitude Memorial of The First World War that is situated on the Embankment in London, UK.  The main sculpture was the work of Belgian sculptor Victor Rousseau.

Victor Rousseau was born in Feluy, Hainaut, Belgium on 15th December 1865 in “La Sonnette.”  His parents were Emile Rousseau and Philomène Duquesnes and his family were stone masons.   Victor took refuge in Britain during the First World War, returning to Belgium when the war was over.

Victor died at his home in Vorst (Forest), Brussels, on 17th March 1954. A street in Feluy was named after Victor.

Between 1935 and 1953 Victor wrote his memoirs, “Country pictures from my childhood,” as well as numerous “Notes” and over 300 poems.

I am now trying to find poems written by Victor Rousseau.

Photograph of the Belgian Memorial in London reproduced here by kind permission of photographer Kim Haslam - Photos ©️Kim Haslam 2019…/Anglo-Belgian_Memorial,_London

Private Joseph Roach of the Royal Scotts Regiment.

By kind permission of Historian Geoff Harrison, who has supported my commemorative project since it began, here is a poem written by one of the survivors of the terrible multi-train crash known as the Quintinshill Rail Disaster. The accident happened near Gretna Green in Dumfriesshire, Scotland on 22nd May 1915, when a troop train carrying soldiers of the 1/7th Battalion Royal Scots from Larbert to Liverpool was in collision with a local train. Just minutes later, an express train hit the other two trains. The soldiers of the Royal Scots Regiment were on their way to Liverpool to set sail for Gallipoli. 226 died and 246 were injured. We will remember them...

Geoff says:  "Private Joseph Roach, #1777/41000, 1/7th Royal Scotts. Gretna survivor. Even better for him, he survived the war. He rejoined his comrades, or what was left of them, on the Gallipoli Peninsula on 3rd September 1915. As for his poem, it was used at Recruiting Rallies."

The following verse was written by one of those injured at Gretna, 22nd May 1915:

I will tell you a tale of the Seventh
A Battalion we looked on with pride.
I will tell of the valour of comrades
Who for King and for Country have died.

We had been for some ten months training
And we found it was work and not play;
You may guess that each man was delighted
When we learned we were going away.

We had all said goobye to our loved ones
'Ere we set out for over the main;
And I tell you the boys were quite happy
On the morn we stepped into the train.

Off we sped, never thinking of danger;
Ah! I can see every happy face still -
Now a joke, now a laugh, now “Where are we?”
“Yes – the next box will be Quinton Hill.”

And 'twas just then the terrible smash came;
Heavens! It caught us like rats in a trap,
Just when some of our boys a bit drowsy
Were enjoying a quiet little nap.

I was thrown to the right of the carriage
My head and right arm were held fast.
Horrors! Here were the flames coming near me -
What a death! Was next minute my last?

Yes, I shouted for help – and I listened,
“Oh God!” I heard dying men shout;
And 'midst that came – a second collision -
I can tell you no more – I got out.

Ask me not of the sights I beheld there
As I lay on the ground all alone;
But I'll tell of brave lads who leapt into the flames
And saved lives at the risk of their own!

In History's pages, in letters of gold,
Write their names – it is where they should be
For many a lad on that terrible morn
Showed the valour that wins the V.C

Oh, their deeds will ave live in my memory
Their praises, I'd sing them aloud
But to shoulder with such a battalions
It's of that most of all, I'm proud.

Yea, the scenes of that war-sticken morning
From my vision I can never blot;
But 'twill ever be the boast of my life
That I was once a Seventh Royal Scot'

When the order comes - “Forward! Out bayonets!”
And your nerves need a spark that will thrill
Think, oh think of the Heroes of Gretna
And the comrades whose voices are still.

 Joseph Roach, Private with the Royal Scotts Regiment.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

First World War Turkish poets.

With grateful thanks to Şükrü Karaca, here are the names of some Turkish WW1 poets for me to research.

Yahya Kemal Beyatli born Ahmet Âgâh (December 2, 1884 – November 1, 1958)

Mehmet Akif Ersoy (20 December 1873 – 27 December 1936)

Mehmed Ziya Gökalp (23 March 1876 – 25 October 1924)

Mithat Cemal Kuntay (1885, İstanbul - 30 Mart 1956, İstanbul)

Mehmet Fuat Köprülü (December 5, 1890 – June 28, 1966), also known as Köprülüzade Mehmed Fuad

Abdülhak Hâmid Tarhan (2 January 1852, Bebek
Died: 12 April 1937

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Canon Major Frederick George Scott CMG DSO FRSC (1861 – 1944) - Canadian priest, poet and author

  Poet of the Laurentians*

Frederick George Scott was born on 7th April 1861 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He gained a B.A. from Bishop's College, Lennoxville, Quebec, in 1881, and an M.A. in 1884, before going on to study theology at King's College, London in 1882. In 1884 he became a Deacon. In 1886, he was ordained as an Anglican priest at Coggeshall, Essex. He served first at Drummondville, Quebec, and then in Quebec City, where he became Rector of St. Matthew's Anglican Church.

In April 1887, Frederick married Amy Brooks and the couple has six children who survived.  Their son, F. R. Scott, also became a poet.

In 1914, well over the age of 50, Frederick volunteered to fight when war broke He attained the rank of Major and served as the Senior Chaplain to the 1st Canadian Division on the Western Front. Frederick’s son, Captain Henry Hutton Scott, 87th Battalion (Canadian Grenadier Guards), Canadian Infantry was killed during The Somme Offensive on 21st October 1916, at the age of 24, and is buried in Bapaume Post Military Cemetery.

After the war Frederick became Chaplain of the Army and Navy veterans.

During the Quebec Conference of 1943, Scott was invited by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt to a private meeting where he read some of his poetry.

Frederick George Scott died on 19 January 1944 in Quebec City, leaving a daughter and four sons.

In 1885, Frederick published “Justin and Other Poems” which were later included in “The Soul's Quest and Other Poems” (London 1888).
John Garvin included Frederick's poems in his 1916 anthology “Canadian Poets. Garvin said of Frederick : "Frederick George Scott, 'The Poet of the Laurentians,' has this supreme gift as a writer: the art of expressing noble, beautiful and often profound thoughts, in simple, appropriate words which all who read can understand. His poems uplift the spirit and enrich the heart."  "The Unnamed Lake" has been called his best-known poem.

Frederick had a poem included in  “Songs of the Great Dominion”. He was one of the Canadian ‘Confederation Poets", a group including Charles G.D. Roberts, Bliss Carman, Archibald Lampman and Duncan Campbell Scott.

In all Frederick Scott published 13 books of Christian and patriotic poetry.  Frederick’s WW1 collections were “The Gates of Time, and Other Poems” (London: Samuel Bagster & Sons, 1915) and “In the Battle Silences: Poems Written at the Front.” (Toronto: Musson, 1916)

"To France"

WHAT is the gift we have given thee, Sister?
What is the trust we have laid in thy hand?
Hearts of our bravest, our best, and our dearest,
Blood of our blood we have sown in thy land.

What for all time will the harvest be, Sister?
What will spring up from the seed that is sown?
Freedom and peace and goodwill among Nations,
Love that will bind us with love all our own.

Bright is the path that is opening before us,
Upward and onward it mounts through the night:
Sword shall not sever the bonds that unite us
Leading the world to the fullness of light.

Sorrow hath made thee more beautiful, Sister,
Nobler and purer than ever before;
We who are chastened by sorrow and anguish
Hail thee as sister and queen evermore.

Frederick George Scott

From “A Treasury of War Poetry: British and American Poems of the World War, 1914 – 1917” Edited b Geporge Herbert Clarke (Hodder & Stoughton, London, New York, Toronto, 1917 ) pp 39 - 40

* The Laurentian Mountains are a mountain range in southern Quebec, Canada, north of the St. Lawrence River and Ottawa River.

The photograph is from “The Great War As I Saw It” by Frederick George Scott (F.D. Goodchild, Toronto, 1922), which is available as a down-load

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Will Dyson (1880 – 1938) - Australian artist, writer and poet

Known to friends and family as Bill, William Henry Dyson was born in Alfredton, now in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, on 3rd September 1880. His father was George Dyson, a hawker who became a mining engineer, and his mother was Jane Dyson, née Mayall.  Educated at state schools in Ballarat and South Melbourne, Will became an artist like his brother, Ambrose (1876 – 1913), and went to work for the “Adelaide Critic”.

In 1910, Will married Ruby Lindsay.  Ruby came from a well-known family of artists. The couple went to live in London and Will found work with the “Weekly Despatch”. He also drew some coloured cartoons for "Vanity Fair" magazine, which he signed with the pen-name "Emu". Some time later, he began to contribute to the British newspaper “The Daily Herald” (1912 – 1964). His work soon became popular and in 1914, Will published some of his work in a publication entitled “Cartoons”.   In 1915, he was made an official Australian War Artist on the Western Front.

Will was not concerned with his personal safety and was wounded twice while sketching on the Western Front.  Exhibitions of his work were held in London.  In November 1918, Will published a book of his work entitled “Australia at War”.

Ruby died in March 1919 and Will was overcome with grief. Not long after his wife's death, Will drew a cartoon, entitled "Peace and Future Cannon Fodder", which was remarkable in its uncanny foresight.  Published in “The Daily Herald” on 13th May 1919, the cartoon depicted David Lloyd George, Vittorio Orlando and Georges Clemenceau (the Prime Ministers respectively of Britain, Italy and France), together with Woodrow Wilson, (the President of the United States), emerging after a meeting at Versailles to discuss the Peace Treaty. Clemenceau, who was identified by his nickname "The Tiger", is saying to the others: "Curious! I seem to hear a child weeping!" A child in tears stands behind a pillar and a poster proclaims "1940 Class".

In 1920, Will published some of Ruby’s work – “Drawings of Ruby Lind (London, Cecil Palmer 1920) and he also published a volume of his poems – “Poems in Memory of a Wife”.

Will then took up dry pointing and he quickly mastered the possibilities of that medium. In 1925, he returned to Australia for five years and worked for th “Melbourne Herald” and “Punch”.  After a successful exhibition of his dry point creations in New York, Will held an exhibition in London.  He worked again for "The Daily Herald" while there.  Will died on 21st January 1938.  He and his wife are buried together in Section D10 of Hendon Cemetery in London NW7.

“Surrender” a poem by Will Dyson

Now wrap you in such armour as you may,
And make your tardy peace with suffering,
Since grief must be your housemate to the end ...
Nor is it meet that in these bloody years
Such traffic you should make of common wounds.
What is your grief above our mortal lot
That in a world where all must carry scars,
You clamour to the skies as though were fall’n
A prodigy to earth in this your woe.
Now make your peace, and go as you have gone:
The world was so before this grief befell,
But you, the broken, have in breaking learned
A wisdom that you lacked when you were whole.
... in your veins no flavoured stuff doth flow
That fate should beat upon your head in vain.
... Now bend thee to the yoke,
And teach thy heart no longer to rebel.


Friday, 10 May 2019

Frederick Charles Owlett (1883 - 1965) – British writer and poet

With thanks to Keith Johnson for his help in finding information about Frederick, who was Keith’s Grandfather, and for permission to share the information with you.  Keith has written a book:

“Shakespeare’s English : A Practical Linguistic Guide” by Keith Johnson - dedicated to the memory of his grandfather, Frederick Charles Owlett, whose lifeblood was the Elizabethan writers, particularly Shakespeare and Marlowe. In the nineteen-thirties Frederick set up the Globe-Mermaid Association with the intention of having the Globe Theatre rebuilt in London. The Second World War put paid to his efforts. Sam Wanamaker was, later, more successful. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group Ltd., 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon Oxford, OX14 4RN.

Frederick Charles Owlett was born in Orsett, Grays, Essex, UK on 10th May 1883. His parents were John Webb Owlett and his wife, Mary Owlett, nee Elliott, who were married in 1879 in St. Pancras.  In 1891 the family lived in Hampden Road, Grays Thurrock, Orsett, Essex and Frederick had the following siblings:  Hellena, b. 1885, Lydia, b. 1889 and Marian, b. 1891.  By 1901, they were living in Exmouth Road, Grays Thurrock, and Frederick had several more siblings:  Harold, b. 1893, Paul, b. 1894, Donald, b. 1894 and Horace, b. 1900.

In 1905 Frederick married Annie Jones in Staines, Middlesex.  By 1911, Frederick and Annie were living in Mentone Villas Clarendon Road Ashford Middlesex and had three children.

During the First World War, Frederick initially joined the Royal Navy and then on 18th July 1917, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, which became the Royal Air Force on 1st April 1918.

In the years bewtween the wars, Frederick travelled to the United States of America several time.  In 1939, he lived in Chelmsford, describing himself as an author. Frederick died in January 1965 in Lewisham.

Frederick’s WW1 poetry collection was entitled “Kultur and Anarchy Poems” with an introduction by A. St. John Adcock (Elkin Matthews, London, 1917)

Frederick’s Grandson tells me that the poem “Verdun” was engraved on the Verdun WW1 Memorial but I haven’t been able to verify that.  It seems the original memorial may have been destroyed during WW2 and re-built afterwards.

Sources: Find my Past and Catherine Reilly “English Poetry of he First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978)  p. 245

‘Photograph, copy of the poem “Verdun” and additional information kindly supplied by Frederick’s Grandson, Keith Johnson, and Frederick’s Granddaughter, Gwyneth Westbury-Jones’.

If anyone knows anything about the inclusion of the "Verdun" on the French War Memorial, please get in touch.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Who wrote the WW1 poem “The Stretcher Bearer”?

I found an interesting discussion started by Oh, what a ladylike war @LucyMBD on Twitter regarding a poem attributed to a young British Private soldier called Thomas Albert Crawford entitled “The Stretcher Bearer”.  As always, I checked and found several posts on various Internet sites, including Oxford University’s The First World War Poetry Digital Archive, stating that the poem was written by Crawford.  However, a short while later, LucyMBD posted a correction on Twitter from Jessica Meyer to the effect that the poem was in fact written by British-born Canadian poet Robert Service and is in his WW1 poetry collection “Rhymes of a Red Cross Man” which was published in 1916.

The background to this is that the poem was apparently found among Thomas Albert Crawford’s possessions after his death in 1980 and, as his family thought he had written it, they included the poem in his memoirs "Tommy: The  First World War Experiences of Thomas Albert Crawford, 15th Durham Light Infantry", which they published in 2006.  This raises some very interesting questions – where did Crawford discover the poem?  If you look at his version, it would appear that he may have heard it recited because he has altered Service’s spelling.

It was very common at that time, and for many years after the end of the First World War, for people to copy out into notebooks poems that they found inspirational.  They very often forgot to add the name of the poet.  My Aunt had a notebook full of WW1 poems, yet no-one ever imagined that she had written them.

“The Stretcher Bearer” by Thomas Albert Crawford

My stretcher is one scarlet stain,
And as I tries to scrape it clean,
I tell you what - I'm sick of pain,
For all I've heard, for all I've seen;
Around me is the hellish night,
And as the war's red rim I trace,
I wonder if in Heaven's height
Our God don't turn away his face.

I don't care whose the crime may be,
I hold no brief for kin or clan;
I feel no hate, I only see
As man destroys his brother man;
I wave no flag, I only know
As here beside the dead I wait,
A million hearts are weighed with woe,
A million homes are desolate.

In dripping darkness far and near,
All night I've sought those woeful ones.
Dawn suddens up and still I hear
The crimson chorus of the guns.
Look, like a ball of blood the sun
Hangs o'er the scene of wrath and wrong,
"Quick! Stretcher-bearers on the run!",
Oh Prince of Peace! How long, how long?"

An interesting comment was made by Jessica Meyer via Twitter when she pointed out that the poem was in fact written by Robert Service.  Jessica says: This sort of ‘vernacular’ poetry was fairly common, after Kipling’s Barrack Room Ballads. ‘Woodbine Willie’ (Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy) does the same thing in To Stretcher Bearers. If you are interested, I discuss both in this chapter: …

Thomas Albert Crawford (1897-1980) – British WW1 Infantryman

Thomas Albert Crawford was born on 19th May 1897.  He served in the 15th Durham Light Infantry during the First World War, later transferring to the Labour Corps. The 15th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry was part of the 21st Division, which arrived in France in September 1915. The Division attacked Fricourt on 1st July 1916, the first day of the Somme Offensive, during which action Private Crawford was wounded.

Thomas survived the war but his wife and their two sons died in their early 30's. Thomas  re-married and had two sons, Colin and Brian. Colin died at 25 years of age and six months later, in 1980, Thomas passed away. His memoirs were collated and published by his son Brian Crawford in 2006, providing a vivid insight into the brutal life of the infantrymen. “'Tommy: The First World War Experiences of a Soldier in the Durham Light Infantry'”  can be ordered here: All profits go to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

Robert Service's  poem:  “The Stretcher-Bearer” from “Rhymes of a Red Cross Man”

 My stretcher is one scarlet stain,
 And as I tries to scrape it clean,
 I tell you wot--I'm sick with pain
 For all I've 'eard, for all I've seen;
 Around me is the 'ellish night,
 And as the war's red rim I trace,
 I wonder if in 'Eaven's height,
 Our God don't turn away 'Is Face.

 I don't care 'oose the Crime may be;
 I 'olds no brief for kin or clan;
  I 'ymns no 'ate:  I only see
  As man destroys his brother man;
  I waves no flag:  I only know,
  As 'ere beside the dead I wait,
  A million 'earts is weighed with woe,
  A million 'omes is desolate.

 In drippin' darkness, far and near,
 All night I've sought them woeful ones.
 Dawn shudders up and still I 'ear
 The crimson chorus of the guns.
 Look! like a ball of blood the sun
 'Angs o'er the scene of wrath and wrong. . . .
 "Quick!  Stretcher-bearers on the run!"

Robert W. Service Service (1874 – 1958) – British-born Canadian Poet - known as “Canada’s Kipling”

“… a people’s poet” Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph of Sept. 16, 1958

Born in Preston, Lancashire, UK in Service went to live in Canada

When war broke out in 1914, Robert tried to enlist in the British Army but was turned down because he had Varicose Veins. He was a friend of the writer John Buchan, who suggested that Robert join the Officers Training Corps (OTC) scheme and apply for a commission. However, Robert did not want to be an officer, so instead, he joined the Ambulance Corps of the American Red Cross as a Stretcher Bearer.

While recuperating in Paris after an illness, Robert wrote and published “Rhymes of a Red Cross Man”, which he dedicated to his brother, Lieutenant Albert Service, who served with the Canadian Infantry on the Western Front and was killed in action in August 1916.

During the Second World War, Robert and his family narrowly escaped being arrested by the Nazis because of Robert’s satirical verses about Adolf Hitler amd went to live in Canada. After the war the family returned to France and in 1947 went to live in Monaco.

Robert died in Lacieux, Brittany, on 11th September 1958 and was buried in the local cemetery.

The following obituary appeared in the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph of Sept. 16, 1958: A GREAT POET died last week in Lancieux, France, at the age of 84.

He was not a poet's poet. Fancy-Dan dilettantes will dispute the description "great." He was a people's poet. To the people he was great. They understood him, and knew that any verse carrying the by-line of Robert W. Service would be a lilting thing, clear, clean and power-packed, beating out a story with a dramatic intensity that made the nerves tingle. And he was no poor, garret-type poet, either. His stuff made money hand over fist. One piece alone, The Shooting of Dan McGrew, rolled up half a million dollars for him. He lived it up well and also gave a great deal to help others.

"The only society I like," he once said, "is that which is rough and tough - and the tougher the better. That's where you get down to bedrock and meet human people." He found that kind of society in the Yukon gold rush, and he immortalized it.

Other books by Robert W. Service:

The Trail of '98--A Northland Romance (1910)

Ploughman of the Moon (1945)  | A two-volume

Harper of Heaven (1948)       | autobiography.

Poetry collections by Robert Service: “Songs of a Sourdough”, “Rhymes of a Red Cross Man”, “The Trail of '98”.

A comment via Twitter continues the discussion: As well as the authorship issue, there are variants in spelling and therefore in tone. The version you quote is quite different in style from the one @LucyLondon7 links to (Project Gutenberg), which is written in a kind of "Mockney".

Foreword to Rhymes of a Red Cross Man:

     I've tinkered at my bits of rhymes
     In weary, woeful, waiting times;
     In doleful hours of battle-din,
     Ere yet they brought the wounded in;
     Through vigils of the fateful night,
     In lousy barns by candle-light;
     In dug-outs, sagging and aflood,
     On stretchers stiff and bleared with blood;
     By ragged grove, by ruined road,
     By hearths accurst where Love abode;
     By broken altars, blackened shrines
     I've tinkered at my bits of rhymes.

     I've solaced me with scraps of song
     The desolated ways along:
     Through sickly fields all shrapnel-sown,
     And meadows reaped by death alone;
     By blazing cross and splintered spire,
     By headless Virgin in the mire;
     By gardens gashed amid their bloom,
     By gutted grave, by shattered tomb;
     Beside the dying and the dead,
     Where rocket green and rocket red,
     In trembling pools of poising light,
     With flowers of flame festoon the night.
     Ah me! by what dark ways of wrong
     I've cheered my heart with scraps of song.

     So here's my sheaf of war-won verse,
     And some is bad, and some is worse.
     And if at times I curse a bit,
     You needn't read that part of it;
     For through it all like horror runs
     The red resentment of the guns.
     And you yourself would mutter when
     You took the things that once were men,
     And sped them through that zone of hate
     To where the dripping surgeons wait;
     And wonder too if in God's sight
     War ever, ever can be right.

     Yet may it not be, crime and war
     But effort misdirected are?
     And if there's good in war and crime,
     There may be in my bits of rhyme,
     My songs from out the slaughter mill:
     So take or leave them as you will.

Since I began my commemorative WW1 poetry exhibition project, I have been given several notebooks of poems written out by people during the war.  We are fortunate indeed that with the advent of the Internet it is now possible to check these poems and to try to find out exactly who wrote them.

Leonard Nield Cook, MC, GVR, ( - 1917) – British poet

Leonard Nield Cook was born on 9th July 1896. He was the third and youngest son of Dr. Jonathan Nield Cook, Medical Officer of Health for Calcutta, and his wife, Lavinia.

In 1903, Leonard started at Bedford Grammar School and then went on to Rugby in 1910, having been awarded a Scholarship. He was Secretary of the School Debating Society for two years. He went up to Queen’s College, Oxford with a Classical Scholarship in October 1915.

Abandoning his studies, Leonard was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the Royal Lancaster Regiment in December 1915 and was posted to the Western Front in July 1916.

Awarded a Military Cross for bravery during a trench raid in 1916, Leonard was also awarded the King of Italy’s Silver Medal for Military Valour in May 1917, about the time of the capture of Beauchamp.

Leonard was killed instantly along with two fellow officers when a shell hit their dug-out in the village of Villers Pluich, near Gouzeaucourt and Beaucamp, on the night following his return from his first leave home. He had volunteered for a raid, and was probably discussing it with the other two officers when they were killed on 7th July 1917, two days before Leonard’s 21st birthday.  He was serving with the 3rd Bn., attached to the 11th Bn. The King's Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment).

Leonard was buried in the Fifteen Ravine British Cemetery, Villers-Plouich, France, Grave Reference: I. C. 48.

Leonard Neild Cook’s poem, “Plymouth Sound”, was published in the Soldier Poet series, “More Songs by the Fighting Men”, Edited by Galloway Kyle (Erskine MacDonald Ltd., London, 1917) and in “The Valiant Muse: An Anthology of Poems by Poets killed in the World War”, Edited by Frederic W. Ziv (Putnam, New York, 1936).

“Plymouth Sound”

‘Obedient to the echoed harbour gun
The homing traffic on the water’s breast
Fold up their tawny wings and take their rest.
The pale-eyed stars already one by one
Steal softly forth to look upon the sun,
So proudly parting. While from island-nest,
Deep-shadowed cove, torn slope, or purple crest,
All things give praise to God in unison.

Then, brothers - for the time is very near
When I, the youngest floweret of the heath,
Will open in the gloomy courts of Fear,
Perchance to crown the pallid brow of Death -
Oh let me, clinging to greensward here,
Drink in God’s quietness with every breath.’

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

Find my Past and

Sunday, 5 May 2019

Harry Fellows (1896 – 1987) – British Poet

Harry Fellows was included in the commemorative exhibition "Arras, Messines, Passchendaele & More" held in 2017

Harry Fellows was born in Nottingham on 5th May 1896.  His father was Edward Fellows, a coal miner, and his mother was Mary Ann Fellows, nee Hough.   Harry had the following siblings:  Doris, Edward and Frank S.  Their mother died in 1911 at the age of 42.  Harry went to work initially as a butcher’s delivery boy and then for Raleigh the cycle manufacturers.

Harry’s father died of pneumonia in 1914 at the age of 47, leaving Harry in charge of his siblings.  His sister went into service and Harry made arrangements for his two brothers to be looked after by some relatives in Melton Mowbray.   When war broke out, Harry joined the Army, in spite of being a year under the official age.   Given the choice of the Notts & Derby Regiment or the Northumberland Fusiliers, Harry chose the latter and travelled to Newcastle for training.   He became a Private in “C” Company, 12th Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers, 62nd Brigade, 21st Division.

Harry saw action on the Western Front at Loos and on The Somme at Fricourt and Mametz.  In March 1917, he was on the Bapaume to Arras Road near Boiry-Becquerelle, where he narrowly escaped death.  During the Battle of Bullecourt in June 1917, Harry was badly wounded and sent back to hospital in Britain via Rouen, Le Havre and Southampton.

Once recuperated, Harry returned to the Western Front to Etaples where he was placed on permanent burial duty. During the First World War, Etaples had a large British Army base training camp, a hospital and a cemetery.  Harry transferred to the Royal Flying Corps, where he was able to put his pre-war experience at Raleigh to good use repairing motor cycle wheels before being demobilised in March 1919.

After the war, Harry went back to work for Raleigh where he stayed until he retired in 1962.   In 1984 Harry returned to the Western Front to visit the graves of his comrades who fell in battle.  At Lochnagar Crater, Harry met the Marquis de Thezy, owner of Mametz Wood and the two became friends.  Harry became an active member of the Friends of Lochnagar.

Harry died on 1st September 1987, soon after attending the 1st July service at Lochnagar Crater.   His funeral was filmed by a French film crew and is part of a film presentation at the Musée Historial in Peronne, France.  Harry’s ashes were buried in Mametz Wood on 13th March 1988 and a memorial stone erected.

Excerpt from one of Harry's poems:  “Zero Hour 1917”

What are your thoughts as you wait in a trench?
Awaiting the whistle to blow,
Are you anxious, nervous, shaking with fear?
Or are you ready to go?
No one is eager to go my friend!
It’s a task that must be done,
Discipline bids us obey the rules
But for many their last day has come.

Dick Turnbull, the oldest and lone married man
With a wife and two little bairns,
We all know Dick’s worry, ‘can wor lass’ cope
With her allowance and pittance she earns.
He had a long letter in yesterday’s mail
With no hint of the trouble he fears
The ink on the paper was stained quite a lot,
Could these stains have been caused by her tears?

That’s how it feels to stand in a trench
Awaiting the whistle to blow,
These are the thoughts that pass through our heads
Emotions we’re not keen to show.
All men react in different ways
A few to heroics aspire
But if a man should boast, that he never knew fear,
Then in my book, that man is a liar!

'REFLECTIONS of a Veteran: HARRY FELLOWS: His Life and His Poems', plus a CD of Harry talking about his experiences in Mametz Wood, can be purchased for £10 (postage and packing included). Cheques made payable to 'The Friends of Lochnagar' and sent to George Heron at 8 Glendue Close, Nunthorpe, Middlesbrough, Cleveland, TS7 0QN. For further information, George can be contacted by email:

With thanks to George Heron for all his help.

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Review of “A Service Rendered” WW1 poems written by blind poet William Kilburn (1887 – 1942), edited by William’s niece, Mae Murray McClymont

The First World War was the first ‘total’ war, involving men, women and children and affecting every country of the globe.  It is probably for that reason that World War One, which was also known as The Great War or The War to end all Wars, has been written about more than any other conflict.   As I began to research women who wrote poetry during WW1, I thought it was highly probable that there were still unpublished poems hidden away in attics, drawers and suitcases waiting to be heard.   This book proves me right.

William Murray Kilburn, born in Alva, Clackmannanshire, Scotland in 1887, lost his sight after he fell into a canal containing toxic waste.  William’s niece, Mae Murray McClymont, has collected together a remarkable tribute to her uncle in an anthology of the poems he wrote during the First World War.  According to family members, William used to walk to the local railway station and chat to wounded soldiers returning from the War.   The conversations he had inspired him to write poems, which Mae suggests, were his way of contributing to the war effort.  William died in 1942 at the age of fifty-four.

In the anthology of William’s poems called “A Service Rendered”, Mae McClymont has gathered together sixty-eight of the WW1 poems written by her uncle, covering pretty much every aspect of the War from the sea and the early days, through to the Balkans, Egypt, Galipoli and Cambrai.  There are poems dedicated to individuals as well as to regiments such as the Royal Scots Greys, the 42nd Royal Highlanders, Irish Troopers, the Argylls, the Gordons, troopships, gun horses, mules, the Seaforths and more.

William's poems would be remarkable enough if we did not know that the writer was blind. During the course of my research, I discovered that such poems were often published in pamphlet form and sold to raise funds for the war effort – perhaps this was the case with William’s poems?   Mae tells us that William's poems were published in the North-East Lanark Gazette.

Mae, who lives in Scotland, worked in the health service as a radiographer.  With a deep and enduring interest in poetry, she was unaware that her uncle William had written poetry until cousins in Canada brought them to her attention.    She searched for the poems in the library's microfiche records and found them, though the records were black, smudged and difficult to read.   Mae persevered and spent two winters typing up her uncle's poems.    The results is “A Service Rendered”, an anthology of WW1 poems written by William Murray Kilburn throughout the 1914 – 1919 years, edited and published by Mae Murray McClymont in 2013. The anthology is available from   The price is £6.95 with £2 postage and packing in the UK - £8.95.   Profits from the book are aid of Guide Dogs for the Blind.

With interests that range from literature, paintings,  music, and more recently, astronomy, Mae has travelled quite a bit, mainly in Europe, Canada and North America. 

Mae mentions that her uncle also wrote other poems – we hope she will collect those together too for this is a wonderful collection – for any serious student of the poetry of the First World War "A Service Rendered" is definitely is a must-read. 

To hear one of William's poems please click on the link:

Frank C. Lewis (1898 – 1917) – British Aviator Poet

Frank was one of the Aviator Poets of WW1 fetured in the exhibition
held at Cosford Air Show in June 2018.

Frank Concanen Lewis was born in Kingston, Surrey, UK on 4th May 1898.

Educated at Marlborough College, where he wrote poetry, Frank joined the Royal Naval Air Service as a Flight Sub-Lieutenant when he was nineteen and was posted to France. He was chosen to join a front line fighting squadron three days later.

Described by his commanding officer as “a brilliant pilot”, Frank was killed flying a Sopwith 20 Triplane during an air battle on 20th August 1917 over Plogstreet Wood just 12 days after his arrival in France. His adversary was Oblt. Hartmann.

Frank was buried in Bailleul Communal Cemetery Extension Nord.

The ‘Belgium’ sonnets were written in 1915 while Lewis was still at Marlborough College and are taken from “Soldier Poets: More Songs by the Fighting Men”  (Erskine Macdonald, 1917).

“Belgium 1914”

THE lithe flames flicker through the veil of night,
Licking with bitter tongue; and soon the dawn
Will come, and gaunt and black against the white
Cool sky will loom a smoking home, forlorn
Of all the joy and peace that once was there.
The pleading, pitiful dead lie mute and cold
And all untended still. The fields are bare
Of the young green, the parent of the gold.
O little land, great-hearted, who didst give
Thine all for sake of others' liberty.
Knowing the cost, nor shrinking at the thought,
Be sure that thy immortal name shall live
Writ large in thine own ashes. Men shall cry,
"This was a nation marvelously wrought!"

There came a voice from out the darkness crying—
A pleading voice, the voice of one in thrall—
"Come, ye who pass—oh, heed ye not my sighing?
Come and deliver! Hear, oh hear my call!
For when the invader stood before my gate
Demanding passage through with haughty tone,
A voice cried loud, 'Wilt thou endure this fate?
Better have death than live when honour's
And so my children now lie slain by him
I had not wronged; with strife my land is riven;
Dishonoured here I lie with fettered limb.
To desecration all my shrines are given.
And nought remains but bondage drear and grim. .
God! Is there any justice under heaven?"


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

“Soldier Poets: More Songs by the Fighting Men”, Ed. Galloway Kyle (Erskine Macdonald, 1917)

"Aviator Poets & Writers of WW1 - with a special section on women pilots" is available from

Friday, 3 May 2019

Captain Aristide Louis Armand Bruand (1883 – 1917) – French soldier poet

Son of the singer/nightclub owner Aristide Bruant (who used the surname Bruant for his professional name)

Aristide was born in Paris on 3rd May 1883.  His father was Aristide Bruant, the famous Paris night-club owner/singer/songwriter, whose portrait was painted by the French artist Toulouse-Lautrec (see below), and his mother, Marioni, was also a singer.

Aristide Junior was educated at the Stephane Mallarme College and went on to the prestigious French military academy Saint Cyr, after which he was commissioned into a Zouave Regiment.

During the First World War, Aristide Jnr. served on the Western Front and was wounded in October 1914 while fighting near Boureilles.  He was wounded again at Longuyon and then, more seriously, at Noyers, where he was Mentioned in Despatches.  He was made a Chevalier of the Legion d’Honneur and received the Croix de Guerre avec Palme.

On 16th April 1917, Aristide was in charge of a Machine Gun Battalion when he was killed on the Craonne Plateau, Chemin des Dames, Aisne. His body was not recovered for six months.


J’ai voulu sur le bord de sentes
Au plus profond de la forêt,
Surprendre l’émouvant secret
Des fleurs en la mousse naissantes ...

Questionneur aux regards fous,
Nous ne sommes, sans nul mystère,
Rien qu’un sourire de la Terre ...
Que veux-tu connaître de nous ?...

Nous n’avons que la poésie
De nos parfums et de nos tons
Et l’âme que nous possédons
Naît de la seule fantaisie...

Vous poussez trop près des chemins,
Pauvres fleurs que tout le monde aime,
Vous servez trop souvent d’emblème
Et vous passez en trop de mains...

Mais je connais des fleurs de flamme
Faites de nuit, d’or et de sang,
Et, sous leur coloris puissant,
J’ai senti palpiter une âme ...

Toutes gardent, d’avoir été
Le reflet des âmes ardentes
Qui les eurent pour confidentes,
Une impérissable beauté ...

Ces fleurs-là sont les fleurs sacrées
Qui, loin des chemins, à l’écart,
Comme de belles oeuvres d’art,
Gagnent encor d’être ignorées.”

Note:  The spelling ‘encor’ is a frquent poetic license, if followed by a consonant.

With thanks to the late Pierre Virey for finding me a poem by Captain Bruand.  Pierre Virey’s legacy is a vast collection of WW1 poetry from many different countries, which he translated into French.

Here is my humble English translation of Aristide's poem:

 “The Soul of Flowers” (1911)

Along the footpaths
In the heart of the forest
I tried to discover the deepest
Secret of the flowers blooming in the moss

You, the questioner with the crazy look,
There is no mystery about us,
We are but one of earth’s smiles …
What do you wish to know about us?

All we have is the poetry
Of our scents and our colours
Any soul we posess
Is born from sheer fantasy…

You grow too close to the footpaths
Poor flowers that everyone loves
Too often you are used as a symbol
And too many hands pick you…

But I know of flowers made of flames
Forged during the night from gold and blood
And, beneath their pulsing colours
I felt a soul beating…

They all retain a reflection
Of the passionate souls
Who told them their secrets,
A lasting beauty …

Those are the sacred flowers
That, far from footpaths
Are out of sight, hidden
And, like beautiful works of art,
They grow in beauty when no one sees them.

Lucy London, May 2019

Henry Chappell (1874 - 1937) – British poet

With thanks to Charles Booth on Twitter for reminding me that I had not yet posted my research about Henry Chappell.

Known as the Railway Porter Poet, Henry worked at Bath Railway Station.

Henry Lang Chappell was born in 1874 in London, where his father ran a shop.  Henry Chappell’s family originally came from Cornwall and his Mother’s maiden name was Lang.

When war broke out, Henry wrote a poem entitled “The Day”, with which he achieved instant fame.  However, this was “…no sudden miracle or lucky accident” - if you look at the other poems in Henry's collection, he was obviously a very prolific poet.  "The Day" was published in the “Daily Express” on 22nd August 1914 and then as a broadside and postcard.  In the Introduction to Henry Chappell’s collection, Sir Herbert Warren says the poem was “reprinted in every paper in America” soon reaching “Canada, The Cape and Australia”.

In 1894, Henry married Edith Elizabeth Hancock.  By 1911, Henry and Edith were living at No. 18 Park Avenue, Bath, Somerset and they had two daughters - Nellie Elizabeth, b. 1896 and
Alma Rose Edith, b.1899.

According to Henry’s Great-Grandaughter, he gave the money he earned from that poem to the Red Cross.  Poems by Henry Chappell were published in eight WW1 poetry anthologies.

Henry Chappell’s WW1 collection “The Day and other poems”, with an introduction by Sir Herbert Warren, was published by The Bodley Head in 1918 is available as a free down-loan on Archive:


Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry in the First World War:  A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 83

Find my Past

Postcard of Henry's famous poem

"The Day"

YOU boasted the Day, and you toasted the Day,
    And now the Day has come.
Blasphemer, braggart and coward all,
Little you reck of the numbing ball,
The blasting shell, or the "white arm's" fall,
    As they speed poor humans home.

You spied for the Day, you lied for the Day,
    And woke the Day's red spleen.
Monster, who asked God's aid Divine,
Then strewed His seas with the ghastly mine;
Not all the waters of the Rhine
    Can wash thy foul hands clean.

You dreamed for the Day, you schemed for the Day;
    Watch how the Day will go,
Slayer of age and youth and prime,
(Defenceless slain for never a crime),
Thou art steeped in blood as a hog in slime,
    False friend and cowardly foe.

You have sown for the Day, you have grown for the Day;
    Yours is the harvest red.
Can you hear the groans and the awful cries?
Can you see the heap of slain that lies,
And sightless turned to the flame-split skies
    The glassy eyes of the dead?

You have wronged for the Day, you have longed for the Day
    That lit the awful flame.
'Tis nothing to you that hill and plain
Yield sheaves of dead men amid the grain;
That widows mourn for their loved ones slain,
    And mothers curse thy name.

But after the Day there's a price to pay
    For the sleepers under the sod,
And He you have mocked for many a day --
Listen, and hear what He has to say:
    What can you say to God?