Saturday, 30 November 2019

Miles Jeffery Game Day, DSC (1896 – 1918) – British Air Ace Flight Commander, Royal Naval Air Service

Miles was born on 1st December 1896 in St. Ives, which is now in Cambridgeshire, UK but was in the County of Huntingdonshire at the time of his birth. His parents were George Dennis Day, a solicitor and Town Clerk of St. Ives, and his wife Margaret Jane, nee Davis.  Miles had the following siblings:  George L., b. 1891, Dennis Ivor, b. 1892, and Gwladys M., b. 1895.  The family lived in a large house called Rheola in St. Ives.

Educated at Sandroyd School in Tollard Royal, Wiltshire and at Repton School in Derbyshire, Miles was due to go up to St. John’s College, Cambridge when war broke out.  He joined the Royal Naval Air Service and served as a Flight Commander.  Five victories in air battles, one captured enemy aircraft, two shared victories and two enemy planes disabled made Miles an Air Ace.

He was shot down flying a Sopwith Camel plant on 27th February 1918 while leading a patrol to attach six enemy seaplanes.  His DSC was awarded after his death.  Miles has no known grave but is commemorated on a memorial tablet at St. John’s College Cambridge, on Panel no. 30 of Chatham Naval Memorial and on the War Memorial in St. Ives, Cambridgeshire.

In 2015 a commemorative bench was placed in Broad Leas Cemetery, St. Ives in memory of Miles and his brother, Dennis Ivor, who initially served with the Royal Naval Division but was commissioned into the Royal Field Artillery and was October 1915 at Vermelles during the Battle of Loos.  Dennis died on 7th October 1915.

George L. Day also served during the First World War, was wounded in 1918 but survived.  After the war, he joined the family’s law firm, served as Town Clerk for St. Ives and died in 1974.

Miles’ WW1 collection “Poems and Rhymes” was published by Sidgwick & Jackson, London in 1919, with a memoir from “Cornhill Magazine”, October 1918, written by Edward Hilton Young.

Miles also had poems published in nine WW1 anthologies.

“On The Wings Of The Morning” by Miles Jeffery Day

A sudden roar, a mighty rushing sound,
A jolt or two, a smoothly sliding rise,
A tumbled blur of disappearing ground,
And then all sense of motion slowly dies,
Quiet and calm, the earth slips past below,
As underneath a bridge still waters flow.

My turning wing inclines toward the ground;
The ground itself glides up with graceful swing
And at lane’s far tip twirls slowly round,
Then drops from sight again beneath the wing
To slip away serenely as before,
A cubist-patterned carpet on the floor.

Hills gently sink and valleys gently fill.
The flattened fields grow ludicrously small;
Slowly they pass beneath and slower still
Until they hardly seem to move at all.
Then suddenly they disappear from sight
Hidden by fleeting wisps of faded white.

The wing-tips, faint and dripping, dimly show
Blurred by the wreaths of mist that intervene.
Weird, half-seen shadows flicker to and fro
Across the pallid fog-bank’s blinding screen.
At last the choking mists release their hold,
And all the world is silver, blue and gold.

The air is clear, more clear than sparkling wine;
Compared with this wine is a turgid brew.
The far horizon makes a clean-cut line
Between the silver and depthless blue.
Out of the snow-white level reared on high
Glittering hills surge up to meet the sky.

Outside the wind screen’s shelter gales may race;
But in the seat a cool and gentle breeze
Blows steadily upon my grateful face.
As I sit motionless and at my ease,
Contented just to loiter in the sun
And gaze around me till the day is done.

And so I sit half sleeping, half awake,
Dreaming a happy dream of golden days
Until at last, with a reluctant shake
I rouse myself and with lingering gaze
At all the splendour of the shining plain
Make ready to come down to earth again.

The engine stops; a pleasant silence reigns-
Silence, not broken, but intensified
By the soft, sleepy wire’ insistent strains,
That rise and fall as with a sweeping glide
I slither down the well-oiled sides of space,
Towards a lower, less enchanted place.

The clouds draw nearer, changing as they come.
Now, like a flash, fog grips me by the throat.
Down goes the nose: at once the wire’s low hum
Begins to rise in volume and in note,
Till, as I hurtle from the choking cloud
It swells into a scream, high pitched, and loud.

The scattered hues and shades of green and brown
Fashion themselves into the land I know,
Turning and twisting, as I spiral down
Towards the landing-ground; till, skimming low
I glide with slackening speed across the ground,
And come to rest with lightly grating sound.

Sources:  Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War:  A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978);
Michael Copp “Cambridge Poets of the Great War” (Associated University Presses, London, 2001)

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Innes D'Auvergne Stewart Stitt (1899 - 1918) – British WW1 soldier poet

With thanks to John Milroy for telling me about Innes  

Balliol College, photo by John Milroy
Innes was born in 1899 in Cambridgeshire, UK.  His parents were Anglican priest the Reverend Samuel Stewart Stitt, Rector of St. James’s Church in Stretham, and his wife, Mary Eliza, nee Marquis.

Educated at Balliol College, Oxford University, during the First World War Innes was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the the 1/16th London Regiment 16th (County of London) Battalion (Queen's Westminster Rifles).  He was reported missing at Towy Post, near Arras on 28th March 1918.  His body was never found but Innes is remembered on the Arras Memorial, Bay 10 and also in the Parish Church of St. James in Stretham, Cambridgeshire.

Innes’s WW1 poetry collection, written in conjunction with Leo Ward, was entitled “To-morrow, and Other Poems” and was published by Longmans, Green, London, 1917.

Sources:  Find my Past, Free BMD,
Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) and

I am trying to find a photograph of Innes and some of his poems.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Raymond Jubert (1889 - 1917) - French WW1 soldier poet

Raymond Armand Alexis Jubert was born on 5th November 1889 in Charleville-Mézières (Ardennes), France. His parents were Ernest and Nathalie Jubert. Raymond studied law and was called to the Bar in Reims.  He volunteered to serve in the French Army in September 1914, joining the 91st R.I. (Infantry Regiment).  

In April 1915, Raymond was promoted to the rank of junior officer and posted to the 151st R.I. (known in French as the "Quinze-Un" (151)), seeing  action with them in the forests of the Argonne. On 1st July 1915, Raymond was shot in the foot with a bullet and received eleven grenade splinters in his right arm. His younger brother, Maurice Joubert, was killed fighting in the Argonne. A corporal in the 91st R.I., Maurice disappeared in the Bois de Boulante on 13th July 1915, only short distance from where Raymond had been wounded. Maurice's body was never recovered.

In November 1915, Raymond was promoted to Sub-Lieutenant and served at Verdun in March, April and May 1916, and again during the attack on the Chemin-des-Dames in April 1917, where he was wounded again - in the left arm. During his three years of service with the 151st, Jubert was awarded the Orders of the Division and Army Corps, along with two more in the Orders of the Army. He also received the Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur and the Croix de Guerre with two palms, and stars of vermilion, gold and silver. His Legion of Honour citation read:

"Brillant officier, of high moral valour, a true leader of men, proven himself in the Argonne, Verdun and the Somme for his gallant conduct under fire. Twice cited in dispatches: on 16 April 1917, brilliantly led his section in the assault, wounded, nevertheless continued to lead the progression and did allow himself to be evacuated until after received orders."

The 151st returned for a fourth tour to Verdun in August 1917 to take part in the French counter-attack on the Right Bank of the River Meuse. Raymond was killed on 26th August 1917 after leading his men in an attack in the Bois des Caurières (Ravin de l'Ermitage). Last seen at the objective -Tranchée Bois de la Chaume - his body was never recovered and, like his brother, Raymond has no known grave. Raymond is remembered on the memorial plaque in the Saint-Rémi Church and on the Monument to the Dead in Charleville-Mézières, France.

During his period of recuperation after seeing action and being wounded at Chemin-des-Dames, Raymond wrote his memoirs which were published as “Verdun (mars-avril-mai 1916)” by Payot, Paris in 1918.

When he was 14 years old, Raymond sent these rather prophetic lines to the French poet François Edouard Joachim Coppée (26 January 1842 – 23 May 1908):

Salus Patriæ suprema lex

Pour cela, nous suivrons l’exemple de nos pères,
Et, portant fermement le drapeau, nous irons
Défendre notre foi, le pays et nos frères,
Et s’il le faut, nous périrons.

The safety of the country is the supreme law

For that we will follow the example of our fathers,
And, carrying the flag firmly, we will go
Defend our faith, the country and our brothers,
And if necessary, we will perish.


French Croix de Guerre  

The Croix de Guerre is a military decoration of France created in 1915 and consists of a square-cross medal on two crossed swords, hanging from a ribbon with various degree pins. 

The decoration was first awarded during the First World War, again in World War II, and in other conflicts; the croix de guerre des théâtres d'opérations extérieures ("cross of war for external theatres of operations") was established in 1921. The Croix de Guerre was also bestowed on foreign military forces allied to France.

The National Order of the Legion of Honour (French: Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur), formerly the Royal Order of the Legion of Honour (Ordre royal de la Légion d'honneur), is the highest French order of merit, both military and civil. Established in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte, it has been retained (with occasional slight alterations) by all later French governments and regimes.

The order's motto is Honneur et Patrie ("Honour and Fatherland"); its headquarters is the Palais de la Légion d'Honneur next to the Musée d'Orsay, on the left bank of the Seine in Paris.

The order is divided into five degrees of increasing distinction: Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandeur (Commander), Grand officier (Grand Officer) and Grand-croix (Grand Cross).

Monday, 4 November 2019

J.R. Ackerley (1896 – 1967) – WW1 soldier poet and playwright

J.R. Ackerlwy, WW1
Joe Randolph Ackerley was born on 4th November 1896 in Herne Hill, Kent. His father was Roger Ackerley, a successful fruit merchant and his mother was Janetta Aylward, an actress.

Joe Ackerley attended Rossall School in Fleetwood, Lancashire, played hockey for his House and became Captain of the School shooting team. His literary ambitions were fostered by S.P.B. Mais, a young schoolmaster who set up a debating and literary society which met in his rooms every Saturday night. Mais regarded Ackerley as a promising poet and in1923 wrote: “I’ve watched the progress of this young poet since he was 14.”

Ackerley left Rossall School in 1914 and was commissioned into the 8th Battalion of the East Surrey Regiment straight from school. The East Surreys went to France in June 1915. He sent the occasional poems back to his old school, one of which was entitled “R.H. in the Trenches”.

Ackerley was wounded at the Battle of the Somme, on the first day of the Somme Offensive - 1st July 1916 - and was sent back to Britain. A few months later, he returned to the front to serve in the same Regiment as his brother Peter, who also attended Rossall School. Peter was wounded in February
1917. In May 1917, Joe Ackerley saw action at Arras and was wounded again. While waiting to be rescued, the Germans arrived and took Joe prisoner. His brother, Peter was killed on 17th August 1918. Joe was fortunate in that he was released into internment in Switzerland in December 1917, after six months in hospitals and prison camps.

The war left a lasting impression on Ackerley as is revealed in his poem “The Everlasting Terror”. It was written in memory of his friend Bobby Soames who was killed on 1st July 1916.   After the war, Ackerley went to Cambridge University. When his father died in 1929, Ackerley discovered that his father had a second family. His father’s mistress, Muriel Perry, had been a nurse during WW1. Roger and Muriel had three daughters, one of whom was Sally Grosvenor, Duchess of Westminster.

Following a move to London, Ackerley met E.M. Forster and other literary stars of that time. In 1923 he had a poem published in an anthology of young British Writers. Forster arranged for Ackerley to
travel to India to work as secretary to the Majaraja of Chhatarpur, a position he held for about six months.

As well as poetry, Ackerley also wrote a play called “Prisoners of War” which was finally produced in 1925 and performed initially in London at The Three Hundred Club, before transferring to The Playhouse. This enabled Ackerley to meet and mix with some of the famous names of the London theatrical scene of the 1920s, among them John Gielgud.

In 1928, Ackerley joined the BBC, which had been set up in 1927, to work in the department that arranged radio lectures. In 1935 he became Literary Editor of “The Listener”. During his time at the BBC, Ackerley helped many young aspiring writers such as Philip Larkin, W.H. Auden, Stepen Spender and Christopher Isherwood. He left the BBC in 1959, travelled to Japan and when back in London worked on his memoir about his father. Ackerley died on 4th June 1967 in Putney, where he had lived since 1941. His memoir “My Father and Myself” was published in 1968.

“R.H. in the Trenches” by J.R. Ackerley

He’s snoring on his bed,
His mouth is wide;
And black strands of moustache
Dip down inside.
Like some great fallen log,
Bereft of sense;
His feet encased in boots
Appear immense.
A curse upon his head
For lying there;
His hand beneath his head
Of matted hair.
How can I write to thee,
My pretty one?
With this unwieldy thing
Beneath the sun.

First published in “The Rossallian”, Rossall School Magazine and reproduced here by their kind permission.

Sources:  The Rossall School and


Rossall School was founded in 1844 by St. Vincent Beechey and had connections with Marlborough College, which was founded in 1843. The idea of having a boarding school on England's Fylde Coast came from a Corsican called Zanon Vantini, who owned the North Euston Hotel in Fleetwood. As
the school was close to the sea and had its own stretch of beach, for many years the boys swam in the sea every day before lessons.

During WW1, the North Euston Hotel, just along the coast to where the school was situated, was the Headquarters of the Gunnery School, of which the firing ranges were situated on Fleetwood Golf Links. Wilfred Owen was posted to the Gunnery School in Fleetwood in October – November 1916.  Bearing in mind that the Hotel was owned by Zanon Vantini, and that one of the Rossall School Teachers held a regular poetry meeting, we think it highly likely that Wilfred Owen would have attended at least one of those meetings while he was based in Fleetwood.

Saturday, 2 November 2019

Remembrance Event: War Poets, Sunday, 10th November 2019 16h.30 at The New Boulevard Theatre, 6 Walker's Court, Soho, W1F 0BT, UK

Boulevard Theatre and Live Canon Ensemble present War Poets, Sunday, 10th November 16h.30 at The New Boulevard Theatre, 6 Walker's Court, Soho, W1F 0BT, UK -
On Remembrance Sunday 2019, there will be a performance in London by the Live Canon ensemble showcasing several centuries of war poetry. 

The programme features well-known poems from the First World War, including work by soldier poets Rupert Brooke, Edward Thomas, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen and by female poets Sylvia Townsend Warner, May Herschel Clarke, Edith Sitwell, Helen Dircks and Eva Dobell.  

Also featured will be work from other conflicts - the Crimea, Second World War, Vietnam, Iraq, Liberia and Afghanistan.  The performance showcases some of the most extraordinary war poetry by women from every generation. 

Live Canon perform from memory – these are not readings – and this is a rare opportunity to hear this collection of poetry performed live.

To book tickets for this unmissable event please follow this link

Friday, 1 November 2019

Poets born on 1st November - David Jones (1895 - 1974) - David Jones

British WW1 soldier poet and artist David Jones (1895 – 1974) was born on 1st November 1895 - he is among the First World War poets remembered in Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey, London, UK.

David Jones had a Welsh father but was born in Kent on 1st November 1895.  He joined the Royal Welch Fusiliers in WW1 as an Infantryman and served on the Western front from December 1915.  Wounded during the Battle of Mametz Wood during the Somme Offensive in July 1916, David later returned to the front and saw action in the Battles of Messines and Passchendaele.

After the war, David returned to the study of art and enjoyed a successful career with his work being widley exhibited world-wide.  He suffered a nervous breakdown in 1933, died on 28th October 1974 and was buried in Brockley Cemetery, London, SE4, UK. 

In 1937, David published “In Parenthesis” about his experience of war.


Poets born on 1st November - Edmund Blunden, MC (1896 - 1974) - British

Edmund Blunden 
British WW1 soldier poet Edmund Blunden MC was born on 1st November 1895. He joined the Royal Sussex Regiment as a Second Lieutenant and served on the Western Front throughout the war. Edmund was awarded a Military Cross during the Somme Offensive.  After the war, Edmund returned to his studies at Oxford University - where he was a contemporary of Robert Graves – and in 1924 was appointed Professor of English at Tokyo University, Japan.   Later, Edmund became Professor of Poetry at Oxford University and wrote poems on rural life as well as about the war.  He was a friend of WW1 soldier poet Siegfried Sassoon. Edmund died in 1974 and is buried at Long Melford in Suffolk.

He is one of the Great War Poets remembered in Poets Corner at Westminster Abbey, London, UK.

A Concert Party at the Front 

“Concert Party: Busseboom” by Edmund Blunden

The stage was set, the house was packed,
The famous troop began;
Our laughter thundered, act by act;
Time light as sunbeams ran.

Dance sprang and spun and neared and fled,
Jest chirped at gayest pitch,
Rhythm dazzled, action sped
Most comically rich.

With generals and lame privates both
Such charms worked wonders, till
The show was over – lagging loth
We faced the sunset chill;

And standing on the sandy way,
With the cracked church peering past,
We heard another matinée,
We heard the maniac blast

Of barrage south by Saint Eloi,
And the red lights flaming there
Called madness: Come, my bonny boy,
And dance to the latest air.

To this new concert, white we stood;
Cold certainty held our breath;
While men in tunnels below Larch Wood
Were kicking men to death.

“Undertones of War” Edmund Blunden’s book about his war experiences is available to read on Archive:

Portrait of Edmund Blunden - National Portrait Gallery

Photo of Concert Party from