Monday, 28 December 2020

Walter James Redfern Turner (1889 –1946) - Australian-born writer, critic and musician who lived in England

With thanks to Dominic Sheridan of the Australian Great War Poetry Journal who has researched Turner and his work extensively for his commemorative project, for his guidance and inspiration

I was surprised to discover that one of my all-time favourite poems - "Romance" - was written by a WW1 soldier poet. 

Walter was born in South Melbourne, Australia on 13th October 1889.  His parents were Walter James Turner (1857 – 1900), an organist at St Paul's Cathedral and a warehuseman, and his wife, Alice May Turner (née Watson), who was a musician.  Walter was educated at Carlton State School, Scotch College and the Working Men's College. 

After the death of his father, Walter and his mother went to live in Britain. The 1911 Census shows Walter working as a merchant’s clerk and residing in Hugh Street, London, S.W. with his widowed Mother, who is listed as a musician and pianist.   Among the literary personalities of the era, Walter met and became friends with Siegfried Sassoon, Virginia Woolf, Vita Sackville-West, and Lady Ottoline Morrell. Harold Monro, who founded the Poetry Bookshop and helped aspiring young poets to get their work published, included 13 of Walter’s poems in his Georgian Poetry anthologies. 

Walter spent ten months travelling and writing in Austria and Germany between 1913 and 1914 and served as a Lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery Anti Aircraft Section from 1916 to 1918.  

On 5th April 1918, in Chelsea, London, UK, James married Marguerite Delphine Dubuis (1891 - 1951).   From the First World War until the mid-1930s, Walter was known primarily as a poet. His 1916 poem entitled “Romance” ("Chimborazo, Cotopaxi....") is arguable the most famous of his poems.  Walter dedicated his collection entitled “The Dark Wind” (E.P. Dutton & Co. New York, 1920) to Siegfried Sassoon, with whom he and his wife shared a house on Tufton Street, Westminster, London, before Sassoon moved out in 1925.

Photo of Walter and Seigfried Sassoon by 
Lady Ottoline Morrell c. 1925

W. B. Yeats was "…lost in admiration and astonishment" about Walter’s poetry, including some of Walter’s work in his “Oxford Book of Modern Verse 1892–1935", published in 1936 by Oxford University Press. 

Walter was the literary editor of the weekly “Spectator” magazine from 1941 to 1946, and general editor of the Britain in Pictures series. He died in Hammersmith on 18th November 1946.  

“Recollecting a Visit to W. B. Yeats” by Walter Turner

It is most pitiful to watch men go

In search of beauty with despairing eyes,

And what it is they lack as this world lies

Open before their gaze they do not know.

These porcelain skies with billows of graven snow

They paint on cold, thin cups, and draw from strings

Voices of mourning winds and sense of wings;

From woods rob sad-faced flowers and bid them grow

Nearer their souls; ay, creep out in the night

And steal the stars and the bright Moon from Heaven,

And bring them home to decorate their dreams

My God it is a strange and pitiful sight

To see the treasury of a poet's room

And him alone there shrouded in beauty's gloom!


Walter’s WW1 poetry collections were: “The Hunter and other Poems” 

(Sidgwick & Jackson, London,1916)

“The Dark Fire” (Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1918)

The Dark Wind (E.P. Button & Co., New York,1920) - a compilation of poems from “The Hunter”, “The Dark Fire” and “In Time Like Glass” 

And his poems were included in eight WW1 poetry anthologies.


“The Sky-Sent Death” by Walter Turner

'A German aeroplane flew over Greek territory, dropping a bomb which 

killed a shepherd.' 

Sitting on a stone a Shepherd, 

Stone and Shepherd sleeping, 

Under the high blue Attic sky; 

Along the green monotony 

Grey sheep creeping, creeping. 


Deep down on the hill and valley, 

At the bottom of the sunshine, 

Like great Ships in clearest water, 

Water holding anchored Shadows, 

Water without wave or ripple, 

Sunshine deep and clear and heavy, 

Sunshine like a booming bell 

Made of purest golden metal, 

White Ships heavy in the sky 

Sleep with anchored shadow. 


Pipe a song in that still air, 

And the song would be of crystal 

Snapped in silence, or a bronze vase 

Smooth and graceful, curved and shining. 

Tell an old tale or a history; 

It would seem a slow Procession 

Full of gestures: limbs and torso 

White and rounded in the sunlight. 


Sitting on a stone a Shepherd, 

Stone and Shepherd sleeping, 

Like a fragment of old marble 

Dug up from the hillside shadow. 


In the sunshine deep and soundless 

Came a faint metallic humming; 

In the sunshine clear and heavy 

Came a speck, a speck of shadow — 

Shepherd, lift your head and listen, 

Listen to that humming Shadow! 


Sitting on a stone a Shepherd, 

Stone and Shepherd sleeping, 

In a sleep dreamless as water. 

Water in a white glass beaker, 

Clear, pellucid, without shadow; 

Underneath a sky-blue crystal 

Sees his grey sheep creeping. 


In the sunshine clear and heavy 

Shadow-fled a dark hand downward ; 

In the sunshine deep and soundless 

Burst a star-dropt thing of thunder — 

Smoked the burnt blue air's torn veiling 

Drooping softly round the hillside. 


Boomed the silence in returning 

To the crater in the hillside, 

To the red earth fresh and bleeding, 

To the mangled heap remaining: 

Far away that humming Shadow 

Vanished in the azure distance. 


Sitting on a stone no Shepherd, 

Stone and Shepherd sleeping, 

But across the hill and valley 

Grey sheep creeping, creeping, 

Standing carven on the sky-line. 

Scattering in the open distance. 

Free, in no man's keeping. 

From “The Dark Wind”  


Dominic Sheridan, writing in his Australian Great War Journal*, has this to say:

"Walter James Redfern Turner - Australia’s Georgian Poet" served in the Royal Garrison Artillery from 1916 - 1918. He was born in South Melbourne, Australia. Writers such as Turner, Frederic Manning, Harley Matthews, Martin à Beckett Boyd and James Griffyth Fairfax, helped give Australia a literary voice in England. Walter wrote 13 poems for the Georgian School. Whether he had meant any of these poems to be chosen is difficult to say, but Harold Monro (poet and publisher) and Edward Marsh (editor), believed that these 13 poems by the expat Australian poet were worthy, not only of consideration, but also inclusion into two of the five anthological volumes of Georgian poetry” 

https://76f98171-044b-4541-aab1-f00e8ed6041e.filesusr.com/ugd/040634_0e974ab8b64840e980f35bec476eef4d.pdf

Stephen Cribari, a poet who teaches law in America, has this to say:  “Georgian Poetry only saw maybe five volumes, many of its contributors did not survive The War, but it does seem to have brought the major figures from the end of the Victorian Era together with the poets who would have marked the fullness of the Georgian Era, some of whose writing changed with The War and then changed the arc of English poetry after the war.  

Edward Thomas, still in his prose mode, favorably reviewed the first volume.  That was just before Frost turned Thomas toward becoming a poet.  Thomas then submitted poems to Marsh for the second volume, but "Edward Marsh . . . had decided against the inclusion of either Thomas or Frost in his second volume of Georgian Poetry, not caring for Thomas's verse and imposing a new rule to exclude overseas writers from consideration."  Hollis, "Now All Roads Lead to France," p. 248 (Faber & Faber, 2011).  Thomas enlisted in The Artists' Rifles, which attracted as you know many artists and poets including Wilfred Owen.  Though nothing seems to suggest Thomas knew Owen personally, "(o)ther poet members would include two minor Georgians, W.J. Turner and Edward Shanks."  J.M. Wilson, Edward Thomas from “Addlestrop to Arras”, p. 336 (Bloomsbury, 2015).

Sources:  Find my Past, British National Archives, Free BMD,

Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St., Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 319 

*Dominic Sheridan's Australian Great War Journal can be viewed here:  https://76f98171-044b-4541-aab1-f00e8ed6041e.filesusr.com/ugd/040634_0e974ab8b64840e980f35bec476eef4d.pdf

“The Dark Wind” is available to view as a free download on Archive:

https://archive.org/stream/darkwind00turn/darkwind00turn_djvu.txt

"The Advertiser" Adelaide. Australian Associated Press (AAP). 21 November 1946. p. 8. https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/35767906

Photograph of Siegfried Sassoon and Walter James Turner by Lady Ottoline Morrell (1873 – 1938) c. 1925. 


Captain Jack (John Newman) Gilbey (1888 - 1952) – writer, poet and soldier

With grateful thanks to volunteer researcher Janet Durbin for finding this poet

John Newman Gilbey, known as Jack, was born on 4th February 1888. His parents were Newman Gilbey, a Justice of the Peace and wine merchant director, and María Victorina Gilbey, nee de Ysasi.  Newman Gilbey's father, Alfred, of Wooburn House, Wooburn, Buckinghamshire, had founded a successful wine business with his brother, Sir Walter Gilbey, 1st Baronet. One of Jack’s maternal great-grandfathers was Don Manuel María González y Angel, founder of wine and sherry bodega González Byass.  

Jack had the following siblings: Harry N.Gilbey, b. 15 Nov 1886, Charles Newman Gilbey, b. 5 February 1889, Carmen Gilbey, b. 2 Jun 1894, and Alfred Newman Gilbey b. 1901, who became a Roman Catholic priest and, later, Catholic Chaplain of Cambridge University.

Educated at Stoneyhurst College, Clitheroe, Lancashire, Jack went on to the Royal Military College in Sandhurst, Berkshire, before joining the Second Welsh Regiment in 1908.  A Lieutenant by the time war broke out, he was wounded on 14th November 1914, evacuated to Britain and sent to recuperate after treatment to Polesden Lacey Convalescent Home for Officers, which was run by Mrs Greville.  By 1915, Jack was a Captain.

In her research into Polesden Lacey, volunteer researcher Janet Durbin writes: “Like many other country houses during the First World War, Polesden Lacey became a convalescence home for wounded officers”. Janet shares her research into the lives of the soldiers who stayed there:  “Eighty officers stayed at Polesden, after being evacuated home from the front line and treated at King Edward VII hospital in London. A few of the officers left the army and became well-known in their post-war careers – such as writers Robert Julian Yeatman (who wrote “1066 and All That”), Martin Gompertz and cricketer John James Croft Cocks.”

Jack Gilbey returned to the Front and was wounded again on 13th April 1918, again recuperating at Polesden Lacey.   In 1939 Jack was living in Essex with his Father and other family members.  He died in 1984 in Harlow, Essex. 

In the Preface to Jack Gilbey’s 1936 collection "In Loving Memory and Other Poems" Arthur, Bishop of Brentwood says: “… he has a message to give in simple language to those who suffer like himself and to those who have gained by these sufferings, which while dispelling the crude sentiment that any war will make our land fit for heroes to live in, shows that men and women can be heroes in spite of war, yes even because of war, if they have faith and trust in God, company with the Saints..." 

The following poems are from that collection:

“Silence” p. 17

Two minutes – while we bow the head

And pay our tribute to the Dead.


Two minutes – can we offer less

To those who died, that peace might bless

Our days, and banish lawlessness?


So we remember thankfully

Their sacrifice – our liberty.


“Peace” p. 15

‘To safeguard peace prepare for war,’

Is still the view some nations share

To save men’s lives;  yet how much more

Might precious lives be saved by prayer.


Ere ‘tis too late may they atone,

No more must horrors be endured;

Only by prayer and prayer alone

Is good-will won and peace secured.


Sources: 

https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/#inbox?projector=1

https://www.findmypast.co.uk/transcript?id=GBM/WO76/015176

and “In Loving Memory and Other Poems” by Jack Gilbey (Burns, Oates & Washbourne, Ltd., London, 1936) - photograph from inside cover of that collection - photographer unknown.

To ensure peace, prepare for war" is from the book "Epitoma Rei Militaris," by the Roman general Vegetius (whose full name was Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus). The Latin is: "Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum."


Friday, 18 December 2020

A handkerchief featuring a poem by Harold Begbie written in the early days of WW1 commemorating the extremely popular initial publication in the August 31, 1914 “Daily Chronicle”, newspaper of London, UK.

 



A handkerchief featuring a poem by Harold Begbie written in the early days of WW1 commemorating the extremely popular initial publication in the August 31, 1914 “Daily Chronicle”, newspaper of London, UK.

The poem “Fall In” was written by Edward Harold Begbie (1871-1929) and was reprinted on broadsides, postcards, reproduced in other newspapers and in such Canadian War poetry anthologies as Carrie Ellen Holman’s (comp. & ed.)  “In The Day of Battle: Poems of the Great War”  (Toronto, Ontario,  William Briggs, 1918 (3rd edition)), page 30.   



Tuesday, 15 December 2020

“In the Poppy Field” by James Stephens (1880 – 1950)

 With thanks to Johan Moors of Flanders Fields Museum for finding this poem by Irish poet and writer James Stephens (9 February 1880 – 26 December 1950)  which, although not written during WW1, is relevant to remembrance

“In the Poppy Field”

Mad Patsy said, he said to me,

That every morning he could see

An angel walking on the sky;

Across the sunny skies of morn

He threw great handfuls far and nigh

Of poppy seed among the corn;

And then, he said, the angels run

To see the poppies in the sun.


A poppy is a devil weed,

I said to him - he disagreed;

He said the devil had no hand

In spreading flowers tall and fair

Through corn and rye and meadow land,

By garth and barrow everywhere:

The devil has not any flower,

But only money in his power.


And then he stretched out in the sun

And rolled upon his back for fun:

He kicked his legs and roared for joy

Because the sun was shining down:

He said he was a little boy

And would not work for any clown:

He ran and laughed behind a bee,

And danced for very ecstasy.


"In the Poppy Field" was published in the 1912 Georgian Poetry anthology put together by Edward Marsh.   

Red poppies, about which Canadian poet, artist, doctor and artilleryman Colonel John McCrae wrote (see Forgotten Poets), has been evident after every battle in Flanders over hundreds of years. British historian Lord Macaulay wrote in 1855 about the site of the Battle of Landen in the Province of Brabant that took place in 1693, during the Nine Years War between the French and the English, when William III was on the throne.  Landen is in Belgium and is approximately one hundred miles from Ypres.  The French lost 9,000 men and the English 19,000:

"The next summer the soil, fertilised by twenty thousand corpses, broke forth into millions of poppies. The traveller who, on the road from Saint Tron to Tirlemont, saw that vast sheet of rich scarlet spreading from Landen to Neerwinden, could hardly help fancying that the figurative prediction of the Hebrew Prophet was literally accomplished, that the earth was disclosing her blood, and refusing to cover the slain."

John McCrae's WW1 poetry collection "In Flanders Fields and Other Poems" can be viewed here::  http://www.gutenberg.org/files/353/353-h/353-h.htm

Macaulay's works are also available on Project Gutenberg.

Picture:  A painting entitled "Trenches on the Somme" by Canadian Artist Mary Riter Hamilton, who went to paint the aftermath on the Western Front in 1919. Mary's paintings were commissioned by the Canadian War Amputees Association and can be viewed on www.collectionscanada.gc.ca

https://fascinatingfactsofww1.blogspot.com/2018/01/poppies-in-flanders.html


Monday, 14 December 2020

George Robey - Sir George Edward Wade, CBE (1869 – 1954) stage name George Robey

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for finding this poem by George Robey

George Robey was an English comedian, singer and actor in musical theatre and music hall - I had heard of him but never knew he wrote poems.

During the First World War, in addition to his performances in revues, George raised money for many war charities and was appointed a CBE in 1919.  He became famous in musical revues during and after the First World War, particularly with the song "If you were the only Girl in the World”.  The song, popular during WW1, was composed by Nat D. Ayer with lyrics by Clifford Grey specially for the musical revue “The Bing Boys Are Here”, which premièred on 19 April 1916 at the Alhambra Theatre in Leicester Square, London. The song was originally performed as a duet between Lucius Bing, played by George Robey, and his love interest, Emma, played by Violet Loraine and was published in 1916 by B. Feldman & Co. and republished in 1946. In the early months of 1954, a knighthood was conferred on Robey by Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother.  He died on 29th November 1954.

This poem, entitled, 'A Tommy's Appreciation of Victoria Station Free Buffet' and written by George Robey, set the scene in Victoria Station, London, UK where weary Tommies arrived after a long journey.  Staffed mainly by middle and upper class women, the WW1 buffets in stations were a war charity close to the heart of high society magazines such as “The Tatler”.  Money also came from theatrical fundraisers such as George Robey, who adopted the buffet as one of his charities putting on matinee variety performances at the Coliseum, generously donated by the theatre impresario Oswald Stoll for the afternoon.  


"A Tommy's Appreciation of Victoria Station Free Buffet"

''Ave you ever struck London at two in the morn?

Lor' love a duck - ain't it cold!

When you're dying for something to drink as is warm,

But it ain't to be bought - not for gold'

.....

They're ladies, they are: us, an' REEL ladies, too -

Servin' cawfee and cake to the swaddies.

An' they're there all the night, with a kind word or two -

Lor' - they must have eight 'earts in their bodies.

I've never seen 'eaven - an' don't s'ppose I will -

I'm just doin' MY bit - for the Nation,

An' I ain't seen an angel, but I'd like to bet

That they're just like them gels in the station.

I says to one lady there - "Pardon me, mum,

But who's payin' for all this 'ot drink?"

She says, "Tommy, my lad - it's the Public who pays -

I SHOULD say, those of 'em who THINK!"

Well, whatever they've give - if it's pennies or quids,

As sure as the Lord's up above 'em,

Their names'll be writ in the Good Book some day,

An' all we can say is - "Gawd luv 'em!"

Photos: Robey (left), Violet Loraine and Alfred Lester in costume for “The Bing Boys Are Here” (1916) and Victoria Station Buffet WW1





Friday, 4 December 2020

Alfred Edward (A.E.) Housman (1859 – 30 April 1936) – British poet


Alfred Edward Houseman was born on 26th March 1859 in Valley House, Fockbury - a village on the outskirts of Bromsgrove in Worcestershire. His parents were Edward Houseman and his wife, Sarah Jane, née Williams. Among Alfred's six siblings were the poet Alfred Edward (A. E.) Housman (b. 26th March 1859) and the writer Clemence Housman (b. 23rd November 1861). 

The children's mother died on Alfred's twelfth birthday and his father, who was a solicitor, then married  LucyAgnes Housman, one of his cousins, in 1873.

Educated at King Edward's School in Birmingham and later Bromsgrove School, where won prizes for his poems, Alfred won an open scholarship to study classics at St John's College, Oxford.  After Oxford, Alfred went to work in the Patent Office in London.

While he was living in London, Alfred completed “A Shropshire Lad”, a cycle of 63 poems, which has been in print continuously since it was first published in May 1896. In a lecture given in 1933, entitled "The Name and Nature of Poetry", he suggested that poetry should appeal to emotions rather than to the intellect".  In 1904, “A Shropshire Lad” was set to music by Arthur Somervell.

Alfred died on 30th April 1936 in Cambridge.

“Here dead we lie” by A. E. Housman

Here dead we lie

Because we did not choose

To live and shame the land

From which we sprung.


Life, to be sure, 

Is nothing much to lose,

But young men think it is,

And we were young.

A.E. Houseman's WW1 collection "Last Poems" was published by Grant Richards in 1922.  He had WW1 poems printed in nine WW1 anthologies.

Source: Catherine W. Reilly, "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) p.p. 174 - 175.


Sunday, 29 November 2020

Joel Elias Spingarn (1875 – 1939) - American poet, writer and teacher

This poet was found for us by Dr. Margaret Stetz 


Joel Elias Spingarn was an American educator, literary critic and civil rights activist. He was born in New York City on 17th May 1875.  He studied at Columbia College, graduating in 1895.  From 1899 to 1911, he was a Professor of comparative literature at Columbia University.

Commissioned in the U.S. Army during the First World War, Joel served as a Major.   He established the Spingarn Medal (see below) in 1914.

Joel died on 26th July 1939. 

His collection "Poems by J.E. Spingarn was publised by Harcourt, Brace, New York, 1924. 


"The English Aviator"  (scene: inn near the front)


A fine, fresh face, and manners exquisite;

A voice that tuned the vowels of our tongue

Into rich rhythms ; figure strongly knit,

And every movement graceful, shy, and young:

"You know," he said, "a suit that doesn't fit,

Hat always straight, a raw and raucous lung,

And talk made up of figures, facts, and dates,

That's how we picture people from the States."


And as he spoke, I heard the raucous drawl

(How well I know it, love it, pity, hate!) :

"Say, did you see those fellows cross that wall,

And get that gun? Gee, ain't those French men great!"

Yes, there it was, the hat on straight and all,

The clothes that didn't fit, the tones that grate;

But, O dear God, I thank you for this breed

That, scorning envy, loves the noble deed !

pp. 50 - 51



The Spingarn Medal is awarded annually by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) for outstanding achievement by an African American. The award was created in 1914 by Joel Elias Spingarn, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the NAACP.  It was first awarded in 1915  to biologist Ernest E. Just, Head of Physiology, Howard University Medical School, for research in biology and has been given most years thereafter.



Sunday, 15 November 2020

John Oxenham (1852 - 1941) was the pen name of William Arthur Dunkerley – British Poet, writer, journalist and publisher

With grateful thanks to Connie Ruzich for reminding me that I had not  properly researched John Oxenham/William Arthur Dunkerley yet

William was born William Arthur Dunkerley on 12th November 1852 in Chorlton, Manchester, UK.  His parents were William Dunkerley and his wife Jane, nee Haydock.  William had the following siblings:  Mary J. b. 1848, and Agnes C., b. 1849.  He was educated at Old Trafford School and Victoria University in Manchester.

William wrote novels, poetry and hymns under his own name as well as the pen-name John Oxenham, however, he used the pen-name Julian Ross when writing as a journalist.  He married Margery Anderson (1853 – 1925) from Scotland and they had two sons and four daughters -  the eldest of whom,  Elsie Jeanette, became well known as Elsie J. Oxenham a writer of children's fiction. Another daughter, Erica, also used the Oxenham pen-name. Their elder son, Roderic Dunkerley, had several titles published under his own name.   The family moved from Lancashire to Ealing, West London, where they lived for forty years.

In February 1892, William founded the monthly magazine  "The Idler" with Robert Barr who edited the publication with Jerome K. Jerome.  He also started the publication "To-Day".  William lived for a while in France and travelled extensively in Europe, Canada and America. He also lived for a while in North America after his marriage, before moving to Ealing, where he served as a Deacon and teacher at the Congregational Church in Ealing. 

In 1913, William wanted to publish his poetry collection entitled "Bees in Amber". However, his publisher wanted to limit the book run to 200 copies.  William therefore had the collection printed at his own expense and sold almost 300,000 copies. 

During the First World War, William  published several volumes of poetry at his own expense and altogether they sold over a million copies, making him arguably the most widely read poet of WW1.  . He also wrote a song called "Hymn for the Men at the Front" which was set to music by American musician/composer Norris C. Morgan. That eventually sold more than 8,000,000 copies in aid of the wounded of the conflict.

In 1922, William and his family went to live in Worthing in Sussex, where he became mayor.  He died on 23rd January 1941, in Worthing, England.

“For The Men At The Front” by William Arthur Dunkerley (John Oxenham) set to music by Norris C. Morgan (? – 1936)

Lord God of Hosts, whose mighty hand

Dominion holds on sea and land,

In Peace and War Thy Will we see

Shaping the larger liberty.

Nations may rise and nations fall,

Thy Changeless Purpose rules them all.


When Death flies swift on wave or field,

Be Thou a sure defence and shield!

Console and succour those who fall,

And help and hearten each and all!

O, hear a people's prayers for those

Who fearless face their country's foes!


For those who weak and broken lie,

In weariness and agony--

Great Healer, to their beds of pain

Come, touch, and make them whole again!

O, hear a people's prayers, and bless

Thy servants in their hour of stress!

[Five million copies of this hymn have been sold and the profits given to the various Funds for the Wounded.    It is now being sung all round the world.]

For those to whom the call shall come

We pray Thy tender welcome home.

The toil, the bitterness, all past,

We trust them to Thy Love at last.

O, hear a people's prayers for all

Who, nobly striving, nobly fall!


To every stricken heart and home,

O, come!    In tenderest pity, come!

To anxious souls who wait in fear,

Be Thou most wonderfully near!

And hear a people's prayers, for faith

To quicken life and conquer death!


For those who minister and heal,

And spend themselves, their skill, their zeal--

Renew their hearts with Christ-like faith,

And guard them from disease and death.

And in Thine own good time, Lord, send

Thy Peace on earth till Time shall end! 

“NEWFOUNDLAND MEMORIAL” a poem by John Oxenham



This poem is engraved on a plaque at the entrance to Newfoundland Memorial Park, in France - the scene of the attack by the 1st Battalion of the Royal Newfoundland Regiment on 1st July 1916. Every Canadian officer who fought in that battle was either killed or wounded.

Tread softly here! Go reverently and slow!

You let your soul go down upon its knees

And with bowed head, and heart abased strive hard

To grasp the future gain in the sore loss!

For not one foot of this dank sod but drank

Its surfeit of the blood of gallant men.

Who for their faith their hope - for life and liberty

Here made the sacrifice - here gave their lives

And gave right willingly - for you and me.


From this vast altar-pile the souls of men

Sped up to God in countless multitudes.

On this grim cratered ridge they gave their all.

And giving won.

The peace of Heaven and immortality

Our hearts go out to them in boundless gratitude.

If ours - then God's for His vast charity

All sees, all knows, all comprehends - save bounds

He has repaid their sacrifice - and we - ?

God help us if we fail to pay our debt

In fullest full and all unstintingly!

Sources:  Find my Past

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

http://www.masters.ab.ca/bdyck/Diary/Quentin2/index.html

https://www.public-domain-poetry.com/william-arthur-dunkerley/for-the-men-at-the-front-28224

https://www.warmuseum.ca/firstworldwar/history/after-the-war/remembrance/beaumont-hamel-newfoundland-memorial/

https://www.loc.gov/collections/world-war-i-sheet-music/?fa=location:no+place,+unknown,+or+undetermined%7Csubject:world+war%7Coriginal-format:notated+music%7Clocation:place+of+publication+not+identified&sp=4&st=gallery

https://www.newspapers.com/clip/9097345/norris-c-morgan-obit-1936/

https://www.istockphoto.com/photo/poem-on-plaque-at-newfoundland-memorial-beaumont-hamel-gm466196748-60275724 


Monday, 26 October 2020

Laurence Housman (1865 - 1959) – British writer, poet and artist


Laurence was born in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire on 18th July 1865. His parents were Edward Houseman and his wife, Sarah Jane, née Williams.   He was one of seven children – among his siblings were the poet Alfred Edward (A. E.) Housman (b. 26th March 1859) and the writer Clemence Housman (b. 23rd November 1861). 

His mother died in 1871 and in 1873 his father married one of his cousins - Lucy Agnes Housman. Educated inititially at Bromsgrove School, Laurence went with his sister Clemence to study art at the Lambeth School of Art and the Royal College of Art in London.

A staunch socialist and pacifist, in 1907 Laurence founded the Men's League for Women's suffrage with Henry Nevinson and Henry Brailsford.   In 1909 Laurence and his sister Clemence founded the Suffrage Atelier - an arts and crafts society that worked closely with the Women's Social and Political Union and Women's Freedom League. They encouraged non-professional artists to submit work and paid them a small percentage of the profits. The “Anti-Suffrage Alphabet”, written by Laurence Housman and edited by Leonora Tyson, was published in London In 1911.

With regard to his art work, Laurence illustrated George Meredith's Jump to Glory Jane (1892), Jonas Lie's Weird Tales (1892), Christina Rossetti's Goblin Market (1893), Jane Barlow's The End of Elfintown (1894) and his sister's novella The Were-Wolf (1896). He also wrote and published several volumes of poetry and a number of hymns and carols.

"Armageddon - and After" 

We fought at Armageddon for the freedom of the world ! 

I fought, and you fought, and here our bones lie mixed. 

By the master-hands which held us, eastward and westward hurled, 

We were shattered, we fell down, for the place and time were fixed. 


Tell me, O Brother Bone, what here remains to know : 

Marched we as comrades then, or foemen, ere we died ? 

Was it my hand or yours which dealt the murderous blow? 

Was it your hand or mine which turned the blow aside ? 


Took I my brother's life : what better life was mine ? 

Fought I for freedom ; — of freedom so bereft ? 

Had I the clearer sight to read the Heavenly sign? 

Had I the cleaner heart, to keep my hands from theft ? 


We fought at Armageddon for the freedom of mankind. 

And while we fought, behind us freedom was bought and sold ! 

The light that lit these sockets is out, and we are blind. 

Now with blind eyes we read ; now with dead hands can hold. 


Bone to my bone you lie, companion of my pains ! 

What link of life is this, which binds us wrist to wrist ? 

These, brother, these are not links but only chains, 

Worn by the living, that the dying lips have kissed. 


Millions we marched ; and the rattle of the drums 

Drowned the rattle of our chains, and the shouting held our ranks. 

For sweet to our ears was "The conquering hero comes," 

And sweet to our hearts " A grateful Country's thanks." 


We fought at Armageddon for the brotherhood of Man ; 

And safe within their fences the tricksters plied their trade. 

'Twas the old fight we fought ; and it ends as it began : 

The gamblers held their hands till the Last Trump was played. 


We fought at Armageddon for the freedom of mankind : 

I fought, and you fought, and here our bones lie strewn. 

The flesh is stript from off us, the chains remain behind, 

And the Freedom that we fought for is an unremembered tune.


From: “The Paths of Glory: a collection of poems written during the Wara, 1914 – 1918” (Allen & Unwin, London, 1919) which is available to read as a download from Archive:

https://archive.org/details/pathsofglorycoll00lloy/page/12/mode/2up

Laurence’s WW1 collections were:

“Collected poems” (Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1937)

“The Heart of Peace, and other poems” (Heinemann, London 1918)

“The winners” (Booklovers’ Resort, 1915) and he had poems published in 4 WW1 anthologies.  Catherine W. Reilly, p. 175

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

Wikipedia

Find my Past

Free BMD



Friday, 25 September 2020

Charles Scott Moncrieff (1889-1930) – British poet and writer

Charles Scott Moncrieff was included in the exhibiton of poets, writers, etc. “Arras Messines, Passchendaele & More 1917” held in 2017


Charles Kenneth Scott Moncrieff was born on 25th September 1889 in Weedingshall, Stirlingshire, Scotland. His parents were William George Scott Moncrieff, a lawyer, and Jessie Margaret Scott Moncrieff, a writer – William and Jessie were cousins. Charles had two older brothers – Colin William, b. 1879, and John Irving, b. 1881.

Educated at Winchester College and Edinburgh University, Charles was commissioned into the King’s Own Scottish Borderers Regiment. On

23rd April 1917, Charles was badly wounded in the leg by an exploding shell, while leading his men. He was sent back to Britain to recuperate and managed to avoid losing his leg but was left with a limp.

Invalided out of the Army, Charles went to work at the War Office in Whitehall, London until the end of the war. He also worked as a reviewer for the magazine “New Witness”, edited by G.K. Chesterton. 

In January 1918, Charles met Wilfred Owen at the wedding of Robert Graves to Nancy Nicholson at St. James in Piccadilly.

After the war, Charles worked for a year as private secretary to Alfred Harmsworth the press baron. He then moved to Italy for health reasons and began translating works by foreign authors, including Marcel Proust’s “A la recherché du temps perdu”. Charles died of cancer in Rome in 1930 and was buried in Campo Verano.

The WW1 poetry collection of Charles Scott Moncrieff “War thoughts for the Christian year” was published in 1915 by Skeffington. He also had a poem published in “The Muse in Arms” anthology, edited by Edward Bolland Osborn and published by Murray in 1917.

“Au Champ d’Honneur” by Charles Scott Moncrieff

Mud-stained and rain-sodden, a sport for flies and lice,

Out of this vilest life into vile death he goes;

His grave will soon be ready, where the grey rat knows

There is fresh meat slain for her. Our mortal bodies rise,

In those foul scampering bellies, quick…

And yet those eyes

That stare on life still out of death and will not close,

Seeing in a flash the Crown of Honour, and the Rose

Of Glory wreathed about the Cross of Sacrifice,

Died radiant. May some English traveller to-day,

Leaving his London cares behind you, journeying West

To the brief solace of a carnal holiday,

Quicken again with boyish ardour, as he sees,

For a moment, Windsor Castle towering on the crest

And Eton still enshrined amid remembered trees.


Portrait of Charles by Edward Stanley Mercer (1889 - 1932)

Sources: http://www.poshupnorth.com/2018/07/arras-messines-passchendaele-more-poets.html

And

Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p.p. 289 and 22.


William Faulkner (1897 – 1962) – American artist, writer, poet and Nobel Prize winner


William was born on 25 th September 1897 in New Albany, Missippi, USA. He was the eldest of four sons born to Murry C. Falkner and his wife Maud F. Falkner, nee Butler. William had the following siblings: Murry Charles, b. 1899, John, b. 1901 and Dean Swift, b. 1907. John also became a writer. The family later moved to Oxford, Missippi.

During the First World War, William worked as a clerk in a munitions factory in Connecticut then volunteered to join the Royal Flying Corps in Canada, where he began training as a pilot.

After the war, William married Estelle Oldham, who had two children from a previous marriage.  He went to work as a screen writer for MGM in California. In 1949, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. William died on 6th July 1962 from complications to injuries sustained when he fell off his horse. He was buried in St. Peter’s Cemetery, Oxford, Missippi.

William’s poetry collections were “The Marble Faun” (1924) and “A Green Bough” (1933.

Extract from “A POPLAR” by W. FALKNER.

Why do you shiver there

Between the white river and the road?

You are not cold,

With the sun light dreaming about you;

And yet you lift your pliant supplicating arms as though

To draw clouds from the sky to hide your slenderness.

https://archive.org/stream/williamfaulkner00faul/williamfaulkner00faul_djvu.txt 

Poplar Trees

According to the Celtic code of symbolic trees, the poplar is associated with victory, transformation and vision.  The poplar trees of northern France were legendary long before WW1 began but they took on a particular significance during and after the conflict.

In Birkenhead, Wirral, UK a playing field and pavilion opened in 1926 as a memorial to the 88 students of the Birkenhead Institute school who were killed in the First World War, among them Wilfred Owen the poet. In 1933, 88 poplar trees were planted round the edge of the field in memory of the fallen. The pavilion on site had a mounted rectangular tablet bearing a memorial inscription. Ornamental memorial gates were also added in 1933. In 1938 a bell was donated by Mr and Mrs Luton in memory of their son killed in the First World War.  The field was sold recently for property development and a statue has been made in recompense. The “Futility” Statute, situated in Hamilton Square, Birkenhead, was designed by Wirral based sculptor Jim Whelan and was inspired by an original drawing by David S.W. Jones - a former pupil and art teacher at the Birkenhead Institute.

"Futility" statue, Hamilton Square, Birkenhead

Looking through some of the Facebook Groups dedicated to WW1 commemoration some years ago, I found a reference to a Canadian Officer who lived in England and when he came back after WW1 he planted poplar trees in memory of his fallen comrades.  I wonder if those poplar trees are still there?

Photo of William in Toronto, 1918 - photographer unknown

Sources:

"Aviator Poets and Writers of the First World War" - book of the exhibition  held at Cosford Air Show, June 2018 


Wednesday, 23 September 2020

A.P. Herbert (1890 - 1971) - British writer, poet, playwright, humourist & Member of Parliament


Alan Patrick Herbert was born on 24th September 1890. His parents were Patrick Herbert, a civil servant, and his wife Beatrice Eugenie, nee Selwyn, daughter of Sir Charles Jasper Selwyn, a lawyer. Patrick and Beatrice had two other sons – Sidney, born in 1892, and Owen, born in 1894. Beatrice died when Alan was eight years old.

Alan was educated at The Grange preparatory school in Folkestone, before going on to Winchester College, then New College Oxford, where he eventually studied law.

In 1915, Alan married Gwendolyn Harriet Quilter, who he met in 1914 and they went on to have four children.  When war broke out, Alan joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve as an Ordinary Seaman.  The RNVR formed part of the Royal Naval Division and Alan was commissioned as a Sub-Lieutenant before being posted to Hawke Battalion and sent to Gallipoli in May 1915.   He was taken ill and sent back to Britain to recuperate, after which he was seconded to Naval Intelligence.  


In July 1916, Alan returned to Hawke Battalion, which by then was serving on the Western Front on The Somme.  He took part in the Battle of the Ancre, from which he was one of only two officers to survive.   Alan became Adjutant of the Battalion and was badly wounded at Gavrell, near Arras, in April 1917 and had to be invalided home. His novel, “The Secret Battle”, drawing upon his experiences during the war, was published in 1919.  Alan’s younger brother, Owen Herbert went missing, presumed dead after the Battle of Mons in 1914 and his other brother, Sidney, was killed in 1941.

After the First World War, Alan was called to the Bar in 1919, joined the staff of ‘Punch’ magazine in 1924 and began writing plays.  He became an Independent MP in 1935 and was re-elected from 1945 – 1950 and was knighted in 1945.

During the Second World War, Alan volunteered with his boat ‘The Water Gypsy’ for the River Emergency Service on the Thames.  He wrote the lyrics to the ‘Song of Liberty’ which was very popular during WW2.

Sir A.P. Herbert (sometimes known as ‘A.P.H.’) died on 11th November 1971.

 A.P. Herbert’s collections of First World War poetry were ‘Half Hours at Helles’ published in 1916 by Blackwell, Oxford and ‘The Bomber Gypsy and Other Poems’ published in 1919 by Methuen, London. His poems were included in ten WW1 anthologies. You can read “The Secret Battle” on the Project Gutenberg website http://www.gutenberg.org/files/35164/35164-h/35164-h.htm

“The Beach at Anzac” by Frank Crozier

‘The Helles Hotel’ by Sub-Lieutenant A. P. Herbert, Hawke Battalion, RND

When I consider how my life is spent

In this dark world of sugar-cards and queues,

Where none but babes get proper nourishment

And meanly men remunerate the Muse,

I dream of holidays when Peace is sent,

But not such dreams as common persons use –

I know a headland at the Dardanelles

Where I shall build the best of all hotels.


I know a cliff-top where the wealthy guest

From languid balconies shall each day view

Far over Samothrace the tired sun rest

And melt, a marvel, into Europe’s blue,

To come back blushing out of Asia’s breast

And hang, at noon, divided ‘twixt the two,

While shuttered casements looking out to Troy

Shall faintly stimulate the Fifth-form boy.


There shall they have, with those delicious skies,

All that rich ease for which the Armies prayed,

Nor dust nor drought nor shortage of supplies,

But long cool glasses in the cypress’ shade,

And starlight suppers, and, of course, no flies,

And in their bathing-place no mules decayed;

Shall swim in the Aegean, if they want,

Or go and do it in the Hellespont.


There shall they hear from olives overhead

The cricket call to them and no shells sing,

While painted lizards flash before the sudden Spring;

Shall walk, unblended by disease and dread,

Where myrtle beckons and rock-roses cling,

And find it difficult to tell their aunts

The proper names of all these funny plants.


There shall they see across the storied Sound

Some snow-peak glisten like a muffled star,

And murmur, “That’s Olympus, I’ll be bound,”

And tread old battle-fields where vineyards are;

With scarred young veterans they’ll amble round

The Turks’ entanglements at Sedd-el-Bahr,

And practice at a reasonable charge

Heroic landings in the hotel barge.


But there are dates when tourists shall be Banned,

High dates in April and of early June,

When only they that bear the Helles Brand,

A few tired Captains and the Tenth Platoon,

Shall see strange shadows in that flowery land,

And ghostly cruisers underneath the moon:

They only then shall scale the sunny hills,

And they alone shall have no heavy bills.


First published in ‘The Bomber Gipsy’ by Methuen & Co. Ltd, 1919.

Copyright by A. P. Watt on behalf of Crystal Gale & Jocelyn Herbert.

As reproduced by Len Sellers in his magazine ‘RND’ issue No.18, Sept. 2001

https://warpoets.org.uk/worldwar1/poets-and-poetry/a-p-herbert/

“The Beach at Anzac” by Frank Crozier (1883 - 1948) – Australian artist


Thursday, 10 September 2020

A translation of August Stramm's poem "Kriegsbrag" by AC Benus

 A translation of August Stramm's poemm "Kriegsbrag" by AC Benus


“Field Grave”


Pickets plead cross-armed 

Writing pales, faded, unknown 

Blooms of promise mock 

Diffident ash and dust.

Silica flashes 

Watered

Iced

Forgotten.


Original : "Kriegsgrab" by August Stramm

Stäbe flehen kreuze Arme

Schrift zagt blasses Unbekannt

Blumen frechen

Staube schüchtern.

Flimmer

Tränet

Glast 

Vergessen.


AC Benus is the author of a wonderful book about the German soldier poet Hans Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele "The Thousandth Regiment." 




Thursday, 3 September 2020

August Stramm (1874 –1915) - German war poet and playwright considered to have been among the first of the expressionists

With thanks to Discover War Poets @war_poets on Twitter for reminding me that I had not researched August Stramm

August Stramm, WW1
Born in Münster, Westphalia, Germany on 29th July 1874, August went to work for the German Post Office when he left school. He worked in the postal service of ships that sailed the Bremen to New York route, which enabled him to visit America.  In 1902, August married the German novelist Else Kraft and the couple had two children.  August, who had served his military service in the Imperial German Army, was a reservist with the rank of Captain.  He was therefore among the first to be called out for military service in 1914 and saw action in the Vosges, in Alsace and on the Western Front. 

In January 1915, August was made company commander to the newly formed Infantry Regiment 272, which was stationed at Oise, near the Somme River in northern France.  He was awarded the Iron Cross (Second Class) for courage under fire. On 1st September 1915, August  led an attack against the Imperial Russian Army in the Rokitno Marshes. The attack degenerated into brutal hand-to-hand combat and Stramm, who had been in action 70 times in all, was shot in the head by a Russian soldier. August Stramm' was buried with full military honors at Gorodets, in the Kobryn District of modern Belarus, on October 2, 1915.



"Kriegsgrab" (Translation: War Grave) by August Stramm

Stäbe flehen kreuze Arme
Schrift zagt blasses Unbekannt
Blumen frechen
Staube schüchtern.
Flimmer
Tränet
Glast
Vergessen.

Translation:

“War Grave”

Sticks form a cross
Faint inscription reads ‘unknown’
Impudent flowers
Dust settling.
Flickering
Weeping
Impassive
Forgotten.

https://austria.arbos.at/index.php?article_id=11

The Rokitno Marshes separated the Austro-Hungarian Fourth Army from the XII corps; the few roads that traversed the region were narrow and largely unimproved. That left a wide gap and the Third Army Corps of the Imperial Russian Army poured in before the Austro-Hungarian Second Army's transfer from Serbia was complete. The Russians soon captured the valuable railhead at Lemberg (now Lviv), which at that time was in the far east of Austria-Hungary (now part of the western Ukraine), as a result. Throughout the rest of the war, the wetlands remained one of the principal geographic obstacles of the Eastern Front.

Painting of the Rokitno Marshes by Russian artist Ivan Shishkin


Works by August Stramm:

Die Bauern (Drama 1902/05)
Auswanderer! (Essay 1903)
Das Welteinheitsporto. Historische, kritische und finanzpolitische Untersuchungen über die Briefpostgebührensätze des Weltpostvereins und ihre Grundlagen. Halle, Kaemmerer 1910 (Dissertation online – Internet Archive)
Das Opfer (Drama 1909, verschollen)
Der Gatte (Drama 1909/11)
Die Unfruchtbaren (Drama um 1910) (online – Internet Archive)
Rudimentär (Drama um 1910)
Sancta Susanna (Drama um 1912, Grundlage für Paul Hindemiths Operneinakter Sancta Susanna)
Die Haidebraut (Drama 1914)
Der Letzte (Prosa 1914)
Warten (Prosa 1914)
Traumwiese (Gedicht um 1914, verschollen)
Erwachen (Drama 1914) (online – Internet Archive)
Die Menschheit (Gedicht 1914/17)
Kräfte (Drama 1914) (online – Internet Archive)
Krieg (unvollendetes Drama 1914, verschollen)
Blüte (Gedicht 1914)
Du (Liebesgedichte 1915)
Vorfrühling (1915)
Untreu (1915)
Weltwehe (Gedicht 1915)
Geschehen (Drama postum 1915) (online – Internet Archive)
Tropfblut (Gedichte postum 1919)
Frostfeuer (Gedicht 1914)
Sturmangriff (Gedicht 1915)
Vorübergehen (Gedicht 1915)

Sources:
Sources: Discover War Poets
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_Stramm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinsk_Marshes
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_Stramm
https://ishamcook.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/august-stramm-poems-19881.pdf
https://www.poemhunter.com/august-stramm/
Portrait of August Stramm and painting of the Marshes by Russian artist Ivan Shishkin

Wednesday, 19 August 2020

Arthur James Mann (1884 - 1933) - British WW1 airman and soldier poet

With grateful thanks to Historians Paul Simadas and Debbie Cameron for their help in researching this post and to Alison T. McCall, Genealogist who found Arthur James Mann’s date of death and what he did after the war, along with details of his sister’s brilliant medical career.

Arthur James Mann was born on 15th August 1884 in Hampstead, London, UK.  His parents were Frederick William Mann, a civil servant, and his wife, Ellen Mann, nee Packham. Arthur had a sister, Ida Caroline (1893 – 1983), who went on to study medicine and achieve renown as an Opthalmologist and a writer*.  In the 1901 Census and the 1911 Census, Arthur is listed as a student, living with his parents and sister Ida at 13 Minster Road, Hampstead, London.

Arthur seems to have joined the Royal Aero Club and presumably learnt to fly, though I have not yet been able to find evidence of a pilot's licence.  Arthur studied at Oxford University and was about to take up a post as a Professor in Canada when war broke out in 1914.  According to his military record, Arthur was a Captain in the Army Service Corps 2902036 and then a Captain, later Recording Officer, in 22 Balloon Company 23767, when he was posted to the Balkans and served during the Salonika Campaign.  He had two books published after the war: "The Salonika Front" by Arthur James Mann, illustrated by William Thomas Wood and a collection of poems “Balkan Fancies and Other Poems by Captain A.J. Mann, RAF”.

On 29th April 1916, Arthur married Marie Henrietta Berthon (1 August 1893 – 11 May 1940), who was born in Birmingham in 1883, where her Father, Henry Edward Berthon (1862 – 1848), was assistant master at King Edward VI High School.  Henry Berthon went on to become a Professor of French at Oxford University and was tutor to the Prince of Wales from 1912 – 1914.

According to the British National Archives records, Arthur and Marie Henrietta’s address was 22 Charlbury Road, Oxford.   On 3.1.1919 Arthur was admitted to Central Hospital and on 18.3. 1919 Arthur relinquished his Commission due to ill health contracted while on active service.  Under the section Special Qualifications are French and Spanish, so Arthur must surely have studied those languages.  Arthur and Marie Mann had a son and a daughter. Their son, James Edward Ludlow Mann was born on 17th July 1923.   In 1939. James Edward Ludlow was at St. Lawrence College, College Road, Ramsgate, Kent .  In 1962,he married Madeline J. Commander.  He died on 27th November 2008 in Truro, Cornwall.

During the 1920s and early 1930s, Arthur worked in school management and when he died on 28th April 1933, he had managed Craigend Park Schools in Edinburgh for seven years.   Before that, he worked in school management in Australia and Fiji.

In the 1939 Census, Marie Henrietta Mann was living in Manchester (next door to the Pankhursts) and by then she was a widow.  She died in 1940 and left her estate to Arthur’s sister Ida Caroline.  

 

A poem by Arthur:

“Onward and Upward” by Arthur James Mann

NOT Goethe nor yet Shakespeare will I take

As this life’s final form wherein to pour

The molten richness of my young mind’s ore,

Now that to manhood’s powers my soul’s awake.

Rather will I the beaten track forsake

That such as these have trod.  Gone on before,

They teach us how we too at length may soar

If we for our own selves new paths will make

Girt round with freedom, led by purpose high,

For ever pushing forward to their goal,

These faltered not but raised the battle cry,

“Onward and upward.”   Thus the human soul

Learns slowly all  life’s weakness to defy

Ere its predestined glory shall unroll.

From:  “Balkan Fancies and Other Poems by Captain A.J. Mann, RAF (A. and C. Black Ltd., London, 1919) p. 48.

According to Paul Simadas, Arthur commissioned the British artist William T. Wood to illustrate his work about their Balkan experiences during the First World War.  "The Salonika Front" by Arthur James Mann and William Thomas Wood was published in 1920 by A and C. Black, Ltd., London. It is available as a download here https://archive.org/details/salonikafront00mannuoft/mode/2up

Sources:

Find my Past

National Archives Catalogue Reference: AIR-76-332

Free BMD

Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) p. 216. NOTE In her entry Reilly seems to have mixed up the WW1 soldier poets Arthur James Mann and Alexander James Mann - see separate posts about that and about Alexander James Mann.

And information supplied by Alison T. McCall, Genealogist, who found a copy of Arthur’s death certificate and of his obituary from “The Scotsman” newspaper of 29 April 1933 and details about Arthur’s sister Ida -

* Professor Dame Ida Caroline Mann, Mrs Gye, DBE, FRCS (6 February 1893, West Hampstead, London – 18 November 1983, Perth, Western Australia)

https://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/mann-dame-ida-caroline-14894

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ida_Man





Heinrich Lersch (1889 – 1936) – German WW1 soldier poet

Heinrich was born in Mönchengladbach on 12th September 1889. His father was a boilermaker and, after learning the trade from his father, Heinrich travelled to various German cities to find work.

When the First World War broke out, Lersch volunteered to join the German Army. The refrain of his poem “Soldiers' Farewell” “Soldatenabschied” confirmed his reputation as a war poet in 1914: “Deutschland muss leben, und wenn wir sterben müssen!” "Germany must live even if we must die!" 

Invalided out of the Army due to ill health in mid 1915 after being buried under earth when a shell explosion collapsed his trench, Heinrich ran his father's boiler-maker’s shop until 1924 and then gave it up because of bronchial disease. 

As a result of his illness, Heinrich made several trips abroad: 1926 to Davos, 1926 to 1928 and 1931 to the Island of Capri and 1931 to Greece. 

Along with the German poets Max Barthel and Karl Bröger, Heinrich became a well-known ‘worker poet’. 

Heinrich died in Remagen on 18th June 1936.


Author Jack Sheldon has kindly translated one of Heinrich's poems for us:

Brüder / /Brothers

Es lag schon lang ein Toter vor unserm Drahtverhau

A dead man had been lying outside our wire for days

Die Sonne auf ihn glühte, ihn kühlte Wind und Tau.

Cooled by wind and morning dew; warmed by the sun’s bright rays.

Ich sah ihm alle Tage in sein Gesicht hinein

Each day that passed I stared at him, and strained to see his face

Und immer fühlt ichs fester: Es muß mein Bruder sein.

And ever felt more certain; my brother lay in that place.

Ich sah in allen Stunden, wie er so vor mir lag,

Throughout each day I stared at him and never ceased

Und hörte seine Stimme aus frohem Friedenstag.

And heard his voice call out to me, from happy days of peace.

Oft in der Nacht ein Weinen, das aus dem Schlaf mich trieb

At night there often came a cry which jerked me from my rest

Mein Bruder, liebe Bruder – hast du mich nicht mehr lieb?

My brother, my dear brother, do you now not love me best?

Bis ich, trotz allen Kugeln, zur nacht mich ihm genaht

Till I, despite the bullets, crawled out one night to see

Und ihn geholt. – Begraben – Ein fremder Kamerad.

And brought him in - and buried him - a man unknown to me.

Es irrten meine Augen. – Mein Herz, du irrst dich nicht:

My eyes, they did deceive me. – My heart it knew its place:

Es hat ein jeder Toter des Bruders Angesicht.

For, on every fallen soldier, I see my brother’s face.

Translated by Jack Sheldon author of numerous books about the  German Army.  Sheldon is the leading authority on the German Army in the First World War. A retired soldier he lives in France and is fully engaged researching and writing.  For a list of his works please see https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/Jack-Sheldon/a/511#:~:text=Jack%20Sheldon%20is%20now%20firmly,fully%20engaged%20researching%20and%20writing

Sources:

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinrich_Lersch

https://www.projekt-gutenberg.org/lersch/herzblut/chap001.html






Monday, 17 August 2020

A.J. Mann – 2 British WW1 soldier poets with the same initials: Alexander James Mann (1896 – 1917 - pen names Hamish Mann and Lucas Cappe) and Arthur James Mann (1884 - 1933)

With thanks to Australian Army Officer/Historian Paul Simadas for his post on Artists of the First World War Facebook page that led to this discovery and to Historian Debbie Cameron for her help in confirming some of the information I found regarding Arthur James Mann and to Alison T. McCall, genealogist who found Arthur James Mann’s date of death and what he did after the war, along with his obituary and details of his sister’s brilliant medical career.

If you follow my posts regularly, you will know that I am in great admiration of the work done by Catherine W. Reilly to publish her book “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978).  It must have taken her years of hard work, travelling and research to put this amazing collection of poets and their work together, at a time when there was no Internet and  none of the many electronic resources that we have in the 21st Century.

I consulted Reilly’s book while looking for the WW1 poet Arthur James Mann and I think I have discovered an anomaly.  The entry on page 216 for Arthur James Mann confuses him with Scottish poet Alexander James Mann (1896 – 1917).  The collections listed in Reilly are “Balkan Fancies and Other Poems” (Black, 1919) and “A Subaltern’s Musings: Poems” (John Long Ltd., London, 1918).

As far as I am aware, Alexander James Mann was never in the Balkans. At the start of WW1, Alexander helped out at the Second Scottish General Hospital, Craigleith, Edinburgh, Scotland, where he jointly edited  “The Craigleith Chronicle”, contributing some of his work. He also had poems published in other Scottish publications under the pen-name Lucas Cappe. According to the Introduction to his poetry collection, written by his parents,  he was commissioned in July 1915 and sent to France in August 1916, where he joined the 8th Battalion of the Black Watch Regiment near Bethune.  He was involved in several battles on the Somme and then was wounded during the advance at Arras on Easter Monday, 9th April 1917 and died the following day.   

Alexander wrote using the pen name Hamish Mann, which Riley correctly states.  His collection of poems “A Subaltern’s Musings: Poems” (John Long Ltd., London, 1918) was published privately by his parents in 1918. The frontespiece of that collection shows this photograph of Alexander and, as that would have been supplied by his parents, I feel sure it is the right one: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hamish_Mann_(Alexander_James_Mann)_frontispiece_from_A_Subaltern%27s_Musings_(1918).jpg

However, “Balkan Fancies and Other Poems” (A. and C. Black Ltd., London, 1919) was written by a different poet - Arthur James Mann - who, as far as I have been able to discover, was a member of the Royal Aero Club before WW1.  He was a Captain in the Army Service Corps and may have seen service on the Western Front before joining the Royal Flying Corps as a Captain in February 1915.  Arthur was sent to the Balkans, where he served as Recording Officer for 22 Balloon Company – hence the title of his collection.  There does not seem to be a download of Arthur’s collection available, however a copy is for sale here which gives you an idea of what his poetic works were like: https://www.ebay.com/itm/1919-Captain-Mann-RAF-of-22-Balloon-Company-BALKAN-FANCIES-OTHER-POEMS-Balkans-/381751527950?fbclid=IwAR3adiZrHNSnTPCwKdHh7gwgzfgovUt2a7YLuFGYvi3MyOhux4wygCtY0ZY

However, here is a link to the book written by Arthur about his time in the Balkans and published in 1920 on Archive -https://archive.org/details/salonikafront00mannuoft/page/n11/mode/2up

According to Paul Simadas, a Royal Flying Corps unit went to Salonika in February 1917 to command three observation balloon sections, the newly raised 26 and 27 Balloon Sections and the already resident Number 17 Balloon Section. On 1st of April 1918, the company became part of the fledgling Royal Air Force. After the war, Arthur Mann commissioned William Wood to paint a number of water-colours to illustrate his book "The Salonika Front" (A. and C Black, London, 1920).

The photographs do look a little similar but the uniforms are different.



These websites seem to perpetuate the confusion about the two different poets with similar names on the Internet :  https://allpoetry.com/Arthur-James-Mann

https://www.wikidata.org/wiki/Q21296538 and

https://www.poemhunter.com/arthur-james-mann/ (The poem “The Great Dead” is on page 29 of Alexander James Mann’s collection “A Subaltern’s Musings: Poems” (John Long, London,1918) which is available as a download from The Hathi Trust here:

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.31175035245268&view=1up&seq=7

With help from Alison T. Alison T. McCall, Genealogist, I am happy to be able to share definitive information about Arthur James Mann with you, which you will find in the post dedicated to  him. 




Wednesday, 12 August 2020

One Hit Wonders - WW1 Soldier Poets who 'only wrote one poem'

I don't know about you, but when I read or hear that a WW1 soldier poet “only wrote one poem”, for instance Patrick Shaw-Stewart and The Hon. Gerald William Grenfell, I find it very hard to believe. How come?  Were they given a task of writing a poem by their commanding officer?  Or did they always write but kept quiet about their writing and had nothing published that we have been able to find? 

It could perhaps be that their notes and draft poems were lost in the confusion of the battlefield, or that they were returned to their families but no-one noticed the poems or thought them insignificant.  I suspect that may have been the case of The Hon. Gerald William (Billy) Grenfell, because his brother Julian’s poetry would surely have been considered superior, as this quotation from a WW1 anthology suggests: “Captain Julian Grenfell, D.S.O., whose "Into Battle" (published in “The Times” on May 28th, 1915 the day his death from  wounds was recorded and afterwards included in Robert  Bridges' Anthology, " The Spirit of Man," and in " A  Crown of Amaranth ", has been described as  ‘the one  incorruptible and incomparable poem which the war has yet given us in any language.’ Some of his “poems were sent home while on service in India, where he killed  thirty-six boars in one season. Both achievements are characteristic of the fine courageous spirit and all-round activities of the young Dragoon who " knocked out the  champion boxer of South Africa in the intervals of writing poetry." (From "Songs of the Fighting Men") .


Julian Grenfell was also one of sixteen Great War poets commemorated on a slate stone unveiled in Westminster Abbey's Poets' Corner. 

If I cannot talk to the poet about his or her work and find out what inspired them, etc. (and if that was truly the only thing they wrote), I don’t feel able to comment further.

Having written since I was very small, in our home you will find notebooks, scraps of paper, backs of envelopes and so on full of lines I’ve scribbled over the years.  I came up against some criticism from friends when I showed them my work when I was in my 20s, so I threw a lot of my poems away.  And I once showed my father one of my poetic efforts when I was in my early 30s.  He asked: “Did you write this?” in an incredulous tone – “Yes”, I replied.  He sniffed and turned away and that was it.  To the best of my knowledge, few people know that I write, so it would be understandable if people assumed that a poem I had published in a magazine was the only one I had written...



https://forgottenpoetsofww1.blogspot.com/2017/12/patrick-shaw-stewart-1888-1917-british.html

https://forgottenpoetsofww1.blogspot.com/2016/07/ww1-poets-included-in-poets-corner.html

https://forgottenpoetsofww1.blogspot.com/2020/08/gerald-william-billy-grenfell-1890-1915.html

https://archive.org/stream/soldierpoetssong00kyleuoft/soldierpoetssong00kyleuoft_djvu.txt

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Gerald William (“Billy) Grenfell (1890 – 1915) – British soldier poet.

With thanks to Poet/Historian Becky Bishop for all her help 

The Honourable Gerald William Grenfell, known as Billy, was born in London on 29th March 1890. His parents were William Henry Grenfell, who became first Baron Desborough, and his wife, Ethel Anne Priscilla, nee Fane, daughter of the diplomat and poet The Hon. Julian Henry Charles Fane.  Billy and his elder brother Julian (1888 - 1915) had a sister, Monica (1893 – 1972), a brother, Ivo George Grenfell (1898 - 1926) and a sister, Alexandra Imogen Clare (1905 – 1969).

Educated at Eton College, Billy went up to Balliol College, Oxford, where he won the Craven scholarship and was awarded his 'Blue' for tennis.

Although he had planned a legal career, Billy volunteered for service shortly after the outbreak of war and was gazetted as a Second Lieutenant into the 8th Rifle Brigade on 12th September 1914.  He was posted to France in May 1915.

As an officer, Billy was able to inspire his men and also to remain popular with all ranks.  He was killed at Hooge, West Flanders, Belgium on 30th July 1915, leading a counter attack in the face of heavy machine gun fire. His body was buried where he fell and Billy has no known grave but is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres. It was reported that in that particular battle the battalion lost 20 officers and more than 500 men in fourteen hours.

Billy’s  elder brother, The Hon. Julian Henry Francis Grenfell DSO, died after being wounded on 26th May 1915 and his younger brother, Ivo George Winfred Grenfell, who served in the Grenadier Guards during WW1, died after a car accident in 1926. Their sister, Monica, was a Red Cross nurse in France and Britain during WW1. Their cousins, the twins Francis Octavius Grenfell VC and Riversdale Nonus Grenfell, were both killed during the war in 1915 and 1914 respectively.

According to several sources, this is the only poem that Billy wrote:

“To John” * by William Grenfell

O heart-and-soul and careless played

Our little band of brothers,

And never recked the time would come

To change our games for others.

It's joy for those who played with you

To picture now what grace

Was in your mind and single heart

And in your radiant face.

Your light-foot strength by flood and field

For England keener glowed;

To whatsoever things are fair

We know, through you, the road;

Nor is our grief the less thereby;

O swift and strong and dear, good-bye.

* (The Hon. John Manners)

From “The Muse in Arms a collection of war poems for the most part written in the field of action” Edited by Edward Bolland Osborn (1867-1938) was published by John Murray, London in 1917.

Sources: Dictionary of National Biography 1901 - 1911 and De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour 1914-1918.

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/12049494/gerald-william-grenfell

https://archive.org/details/museinarmscollec00osbouoft

The photograph is reproduced from: Cameos of the Western Front; Salient Points Four by Tony Spagnoly & Ted Smith. Leo Cooper, publisher


Monday, 10 August 2020

Some of the poets and writers who received awards for outstanding bravery during WW1

Military Cross
Some of the poets, artists and writers who received awards for outstanding bravery during WW1 that I have found so far during the course of my research for a series of commemorative exhibitions.  If you know of any others please let me know:

Poets and Writers

William Robert Fountaine Addison VC (1883 – 1962) – British Anglican Church Minister and poet

Gabriele d’Annunzio (Italian) OMS,GMG, MVM

Edmund Clerihew Bentley - Chevalier of the Belgian Order of the Crown
Paul Bewsher, DSC
Edmund Blunden MC
Lt. John Brown, MC
Charles Carrington, MC

Stanley Casson (1889 - 1944) - WW1 poet and amateur soldier - Mentioned in Despatches and Chevalier of the Greek Order of the Redeemer 
Erskine Childers, DSC
2nd Lieutenant L. N. Cook, MC, GVR, Royal Lancaster Regiment

Noel Marcus Francis Corbett (1887 – 1962) – British Royal Naval officer and poet - French Croix de Guerre
Miles Jeffery Game Day, DSC

Owen Evans, MM (1888 – 1918) - Welsh poet – Bardic name Rhiwlas
John Orr Ewing, MC (1884 - 1961) – poet; Major in 16th Lancers

Denys Garstin MC, DSO, Order of St. Catherine of Russia (1890  - 1918) – British writer, poet, diplomat and soldier

Edward John Langford Garstin MC (1893 - 1955) – British poet 

Henri Gervex (1852 - 1929) – French artist – French Croix de Guerre

The Hon. Julian G. Grenfell, DSO

Llewelyn Wyn Griffith (1890 - 1977) - poet and writer; Captain Rioyal Welch Fusiliers, O.B.E., French Croix de Guerre & three Mentions in Despatches

James Norman Hall (1887 – 1951) – American WW1 soldier, airman, writer and poet – awarded French Croix de Guerre with five palms, the Médaille Militaire, French Légion d'Honneur and the American Distinguished Service Cross.
Lt. Col. John Hay Maitland Hardyman DSO, MC
F.W. Harvey, DCM
Ivan Heald MC (1883 - 1916) - British writer, poet and journalist
William Noel Hodgson, MC 1893 – 1916) – British soldier poet

Robert Jentzsch (1890 – 1918) – German poet and mathmetician - Iron Cross 2nd and 1st Class

Raymond Jubert (1889 – 1917) – French poet, writer and lawyer - Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur & Croix de Guerre with two palms, and stars of vermilion, gold and silver. 

Ernst Jünger (1895 – 1998) - German writer; served in German Army WW1. Awarded 1916 Iron Cross (1914) II. and I. Class; 1917 Prussian House Order of Hohenzollern Knight's Cross with Swords; 1918 Wound Badge (1918) in Gold; 1918 Pour le Mérite (Blue Max) - military class

Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy MC (1883 –1929) aka Woodbine Willy; Army Chaplain and poet 

Joyce Kilmer (1886 - 1918) – French Croix de Guerre
Percy Hugh Beverley Lyon, MC – British poet known as PHBL

Donald Alxander Mackenzie MC (1889 - 1971) – British school teacher; served Royal Field Artillery, France
Ewart Alan Mackintosh, MC
John Charles Beech Masefield, MC
Charles Scott Moncrieff, MC
Armine Frank Gibson Norris MC
Wilfred Owen, MC

George Smith Patton Jr. (1885 - 1945) Distinguished Service Cross, Distinguished Service Medal and Purple Heart for his combat wounds after the decoration was created in 1932.
Vivian Telfer Pemberton MC,
Alexander Lancaster Pemberton, MC
Claude Quayle Penrose MC and Bar, MiD
Herbert Edward Read, MC, DSO, MiD,
Edgell Rickword MC
Siegfried Sassoon, MC
William Maunsell Scanlan, MC, MM – Canadian
Gerald Caldwell Siordet, MC – British (Somme, 1st July 1916 kia Feb. 1917)
Francis W. Smith, MC - Lieutenant, Leeds Rifles, West Yorks Regt. Reilly p 296
Captain James Sprent, MC (1883 - 1948) – Australian poet and doctor

Olaf Stapledon (1886 – 1950) - British poet, writer and philosopher; served Friends' Ambulance Unit, Western Front; awarded French Croix de Guerre 
Adrian Consett Stephen, MC – Australian writer
John Ebenezer Stewart MC - 
Patrick Shaw-Stewart was awarded the Chevalier of the Legion of Honour – Croix de Guerre (France) for his services as a Liaison Officer with the French Headquarters.
W.G. Thomas, MC (1883 - 1960) - Captain

Edward John Thompson, MC, MiD - Poet and Chaplain (1886 – 1946)  – 7th Division, Mesopotamia

Arthur Walderne St. Clair Tisdall VC (1890 - 1915) – British poet

Hugh Walpole (1884 - 1941) - awarded The Russian Cross of St. George, and the C.B.E. in WW1 and a knighthood in 1937

Richard Brereton Marriott Watson MC (1896 -  1918)

Archibald Percival Wavell, 1st Earl Wavel MC (1883 - 1950) - awarded MC during 2nd Battle of Ypres

John Hunter Wickersham Congressional Medal of Honor (1890 - 1918) – American WW1 soldier poet
Eric Fitzwater Wilkinson, MC

Alice Williams Medaille de la Reconnaissance Française - Welsh Poet bardic name being Alys Meirion
Fabian Strachey Woodley, MC (1888 - 1957) 

Robert Julian Yeatman MC (15 July 1897 – 13 July 1968) - British humorist wrote for “Punch” magazine.
Edward Hilton Young, GBE, DSO, DSC & Bar, PC

Geoffrey Winthrop Young (1876 - 1958) - British poet and mountaineer; served with the Friends Ambulance Unit,and later in command of the First British Ambulance for Italy. He was mentioned in British Despatches and awarded the Belgian Order of Leopold for exceptional courage and resource, and the Italian silver medal' for Valour'


Artists/Photographers, etc:

Joseph Marius Jean Avy (1871 - 1939)- French Croix de Guerre – French artist 

Geoffrey de Gruchy Barkas, MC, artist/film maker

Hans Bartle (1880 - 1943) - Austrian official WW1 artist. Iron Cross; Silver Medal for Bravery; the Knight's Cross of the Franz Joseph Order

Alan Edmund Beeton, MC

John Warwick Brooke DCM – official WW1 war photographer

John Cosmo Clark, MC (1897 – 1967) – British artist and art teacher; served in Artists Rifles WW1

Philip Lindsey Clark, DSO, ARBS (1889–1977)  - British sculptor. In December 1917, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (D.S.O) for "...conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty when in command of the left flank company of the battalion."

Henri Farré (1871-1934) - French artist. Awarded the French Legion d’Honneur and the 1914-1918 Croix de Guerre.

Helena Gleichen - awarded the Italian Bronze Medal of Military Valour

William Robert Gregory MC (1881 – 1918)  - Irish-born, RFC/RAF British airman, artist and cricketer; France made him a Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur in 1917

Antony Gibbons Grinling, MC – artist and sculptor

Carl W Herman, MM (1888 – 1955) – artist

Charles Constantin Joseph Hoffbauer, Croix de Guerre (1875 – 1957) – French-born American artist 

Christopher Wyndham Hughes MC (1881-1961) – British artist and teacher; served as a Temporary Captain in the 7th Battalion Wiltshire Regiment 

Charles Sargeant Jagger MC ARA (1885 – 1934) British sculptor

Richard Barrett Talbot Kelly MC (1896-1971), Lieutenant Royal Field Artillery

Henry Taylor Lamb MC (1883 - 1960) - Australian-born artist; Royal Army Medical Corps battalion medical officer with the 5th Battalion, The Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in Palestine & Western Front 

Paul Maximilien Landowski, Croix de Guerre (1 June 1875 – 31 March 1961) – French Scultpor and WW1 camouflage artist 

A W Lloyd, MC – Arthur Wynell Lloyd (1883 - 1933) – British cartoonist

Walter Marsden MC (1882–1969) – sculptor

John B. McDowell, MC, BEM (1877 – 1954) – British film maker, director and cameraman during WW1

Waldo Peirce (December 17, 1884 – March 8, 1970) was an American painter, who for many years reveled in living the life of a bohemian expatriate.  Croix de Guerre

William Charles Penn MC

Geneste Penrose MM

Gerald Spencer Pryse MC (1882–1956) was a British artist and lithographer.

E. Claude Rowberry, MM, (1896 - 1962) – artist

Walter Westley Russell (1867–1949) - Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers; Mentioned in Dispatches.

E.H. Shepard, MC – artist

William George Storm, MC (1882 - 1917) – Canadian artist

Dents Wells, BEM (1881-1973) served in the Artists Rifles during WWI; awarded a B.E.M. for gallantry. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Empire_Medal

Charles Arthur Wheeler, DCM (1880 - 1877) - New Zealand artist. Served in 22 Bn Royal Fusiliers; awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (1916) for his actions at Vimy Ridge

Sir George Hubert Wilkins MC & Bar (31 October 1888 – 30 November 1958).


NOTE:  James Miles Langstaff ( 1883 - 1917) was Mentioned in Despatches and recommended for a Military Cross. 


Chaplains


Rev. W.R.F. Addison VC - Army Chaplain AND poet also awarded the Order of St George-Russia.

Walter Ernest Dexter DSO, MC, DCM, MiD Australian Army Chaplain - served at Gallipoli with the 5th Battalion AIF and on the Western Front.

Rev. Theodore Bayley Hardy, VC, DSO, MC (20 October 1863 – 18 October 1918) 

Reverend Captain Herbert B. Cowl, MC

Rev. Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy MC (1883 –1929) aka Woodbine Willy; Army Chaplain and poet 

Rev. Noel Mellish VC, MC

Rev. Basil Pemberton Plumptre, MC (1883 - 1917) – British Army Chaplain

Rev. David Railton MC (1884 – 1955) - British Army Chaplain who had the  idea for creating a British Unknown Warrior memorial  

Edward John Thompson, MC, MiD - Poet and Chaplain (1886 – 1946)  – 7th Division, Mesopotamia

Rev. Morgan Watcyn-Williams, MC


Medal Shown above:  British Military Cross. The Military Cross award was created on 28th December 1914 for commissioned officers of the substantive rank of Captain or below and for Warrant Officers. Awards were announced in “The London Gazette”.  From August 1916, recipients of the Cross were entitled to use the post-nominal letters MC, and bars could be awarded for further acts of gallantry meriting the award. 


Military Medal 
The Military Medal (MM) see left - was a military decoration awarded to personnel of the British Army and other arms of the armed forces, and to personnel of other Commonwealth countries, below commissioned rank, for bravery in battle on land. 


The award was established in 1916, with retrospective application to 1914, and was awarded to other ranks for "acts of gallantry and devotion to duty under fire". 


The Military Medal was discontinued in 1993 when it was replaced by the Military Cross, which was extended to all ranks, while other Commonwealth nations instituted their own award systems in the post war period.








The Victoria Cross

Victoria Cross

The Victoria Cross (VC) is the highest military decoration awarded for valour "in the face of the enemy" to members of the armed forces of various Commonwealth countries, and previous British Empire territories. It takes precedence over all other orders, decorations and medals.


The VC t may be awarded to a person of any rank in any service and to civilians under military command. The VC is usually presented to the recipient or to their next of kin by the British monarch at an investiture held at Buckingham Palace.


The VC was introduced on 29th January, 1856 by Queen Victoria to honour acts of valour during the Crimean War. Since then, the medal has been awarded 1,358 times to 1,355 individual recipients.


https://www.forces-war-records.co.uk/medals/victoria-cross


Belgium's Order of  the Crown

The Order of the Crown is the second highest Belgian Order of Knighthood, 
junior only to the Order of Leopold. H.M. King Leopold II 
established the Order in 1897. Receiving a Knighthood in the 
Order of the Crown is considered a gift of very high value in international diplomacy.
Belgian Order of the Crown




This award can be compared to the modern 'Order of the Merit'...

It was awarded for important contributions to the First World War 
effort by way of artistic, written or scientific contributions, 
or important contributions to industry and trade.









German Pour le Mérite

The Pour le Mérite is an order of merit (German: Verdienstorden) established in 1740 by King Frederick II of Prussia. It was awarded as both a military and civil honour and ranked, along with the Order of the Black Eagle, the Order of the Red Eagle and the House Order of Hohenzollern, among the highest orders of merit in the Kingdom of Prussia. The order of merit was the highest royal Prussian order of bravery for officers of all ranks. After 1871, when the various German kingdoms, grand duchies, duchies, principalities and Hanseatic city states had come together under Prussian leadership to form the federally structured German Empire, the Prussian honours gradually assumed, at least in public perception, the status of honours of Imperial Germany, even though many honours of the various German states continued to be awarded.

The Pour le Mérite was an honour conferred both for military (1740–1918) and civil (1740–1810, after 1842 as a separate class) services. It was awarded in recognition of extraordinary personal achievement, rather than as a general marker of social status or a courtesy-honour, although certain restrictions of social class and military rank were applied. The order was secular, and membership endured for the remaining lifetime of the recipient, unless renounced or revoked.

During the First World War, the Pour le Mérite was known informally as the Blue Max (German: Blauer Max), in honour of flying ace Max Immelmann, the first recipient during the war. Immelmann was also the first aviator to win the award.


The German Iron Cross

The Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm III established the Iron Cross on 13th March 1813, at the beginning of the German campaign as part of the Napoleonic Wars. The design was a silver-framed cast iron cross.    Iron was a material which symbolised defiance and reflected the spirit of the age. The Prussian state had mounted a campaign steeped in patriotic rhetoric to rally their citizens to repulse the French occupation. To finance the army, the king implored wealthy Prussians to turn in their jewels in exchange for a men's cast-iron ring or a ladies' brooch, each bearing the legend "Gold I gave for iron" (Gold gab ich für Eisen). The award was reinstituted for the wars in 1870 and 1914.

Emperor Wilhelm II reauthorized the Iron Cross on 5th August 1914, at the start of The First World War. The 1813, 1870, and 1914 Iron Crosses had three grades:

Iron Cross 2nd Class (Eisernes Kreuz 2. Klasse, or EKII)
Iron Cross 1st Class (Eisernes Kreuz 1. Klasse, or EKI)
Grand Cross of the Iron Cross (Großkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes, often simply Großkreuz)

The Iron Cross 2nd Class





The Iron Cross 1st Class



American Distinguished Service Cross

First awarded during the First World War, the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC) is the United States of America's Army's second highest military decoration for soldiers who display extraordinary heroism in combat with an armed enemy force.










American Distinguished Service Medal

Authorized by Presidential Order dated 01-02-1918, and confirmed by Congress on 07-09-1918, the award was announced by War Department General Order No. 6, 1918-01-12.  

The Distinguished Service Medal (DSM) is a military decoration of the United States Army that is presented to soldiers who have distinguished themselves by exceptionally meritorious service to the government in a duty of great responsibility.






American Purple Heart 

The Purple Heart (PH) is a United States military decoration awarded in the name of the President to those wounded or killed while serving, on or after 5th  April 1917, with the U.S. military. With its forerunner, the Badge of Military Merit, which took the form of a heart made of purple cloth, the Purple Heart is the oldest military award still given to U.S. military members. The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor is located in New Windsor, New York.

The original Purple Heart, designated as the Badge of Military Merit, was established by George Washington – then the commander-in-chief of the Continental Army – by order from his Newburgh, New York headquarters on 7th August 1782.

After the award was re-authorized in 1932, some U.S. Army wounded from conflicts prior to the First World War applied for, & were awarded, the Purple Heart - veterans of the Civil War and Indian Wars, the Spanish–American War, China Relief Expedition (Boxer Rebellion), and Philippine Insurrection.


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.