Friday, 21 February 2020

"The Hun Hunters Cautionary Tales from The Trenches Cartoons and rhymes" Published by Grant Richards, London. (1916)

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for finding this Tweet for us

From Alex Mayhew via Twitter @AlexCMayhew :
“I was recently given this #FWW book. It uses verse to describe the front and poke fun at characters such as staff officers + old generals. I had never heard of it but it was popular enough to have 4 print runs between August + November 1916.

Has anybody come across it before?”

"The Hun Hunters. Cautionary Tales from the Trenches" (Grant Richards, 1916)

Featuring 'Sergeant Tombs, whose Passion for Experiment led him to Destruction'. A wonderful example of sardonic 'Tommy' humour from the trenches, somewhere between Belloc's 'Cautionary Tales' and Graham's 'Ruthless Rhymes'.

There don't appear to be any clues as to who wrote and/or put this book together.  Here is a sample poem:

An Envoi or envoy in poetry is used to describe: a short stanza at the end of a poem such as ballad, used either to address an imagined or actual person or to comment on the preceding body of the poem.

If anyone can throw any light on this please get in touch.

William Henry Ogilvie (21 August 1869 – 30 January 1963) - Scottish-Australian poet.

With thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron for finding the poem "Riches", published in "The Landswoman" in August 1918, thus reminding me that I had not yet researched this WW1 poet.  

Also known as Will Ogilvie, by pen names including 'Glenrowan' and the lesser 'Swingle-Bar', and by his initials, W.H.O., Ogilvie was one of the trio of Australian Bush poets, along with Banjo Paterson (1864–1941) and Henry Lawson (1867–1922).

William Henry Ogilvie was born at Holefield, near Kelso, Borders, Scotland on 21st August 1869 to George Ogilvie and Agnes Christie, the second child of eight. George farmed the lands of the Earl of Dalkeith on the Buccleuch Estates. Agnes, an orphan of the Indian Mutiny at Cawnpore, was a gifted pianist. Of the eight children – Zoe (b. 1867), George (b. 1872), Winifred (b. 1873), Tom (b. 1875), Eric (b. 1876), Kate (b. 1879), and Gladys (b. 1884) – William was the only one to marry.

Educated at Kelso High School for two terms as a weekly boarder, Ogilvie then had some tutoring in Yorkshire, before entering Fettes College, Edinburgh where he excelled as a runner and in rugby.

Ogilvie travelled to Australia, arriving in Sydney on 1st  November 1889. During his time in Australia he worked on sheep stations in north-western New South Wales, south-eastern South Australia, and central New South Wales, where he was a proficient horseman, and gained the reputation as one of Australia's top bush poets.  He returned to Britain in 1901 and became a freelance journalist. From 1905 to 1908, he held the position of Professor of Agricultural Journalism at the Iowa State College, United States of America

In 1908 Ogilvie returned to Scotland and married Katharine Margaret 'Madge' Scott Anderson (1879 – 25 June 1965), the daughter of Tom Scott Anderson.   Will and Madge had two children - Margaret Deloraine 'Wendy' Ogilvie (1909–2003)  and George Thomas Anderson Ogilvie (1912–1995).

During the First World War, Ogilvie remained in Great Britain, and was in charge of the Army Remount Depot in Wiltshire that prepared Canadian horses for military service.  Fellow Australian poet A. B. 'Banjo' Paterson was placed with the Australian Remount Service in 1915, rising to become its officer in charge in Cairo, Egypt.

In 1918, Ogilvie first leased then bought the Presbyterian church manse 'Kirklea' at Ashkirk, Selkirkshire, Scotland. At the start of the Second World War, Ogilvie, aged 71, undertook ARP warden duties in Selkirk. He continued to live in Kirklea until his death at 93 years of age in 1963, followed by his wife Madge in 1965. His ashes were scattered on the hill road to Roberton, Scotland, along with Australian wattle leaves.

Will Ogilvie’s WW1 poetry collection “Galloping Shoes: Verses” was published by Lionel Edwards in 1922 and his poems featured in eleven WW1 poetry anthologies.

“The Offside Leader” by William Henry Ogilvie
"Bringing up the Guns" Harold Septimus Power 1917

This is the wish, as he told it to me, Of Driver Macpherson of Battery B. I WANT no praise, nor ribbons to wear ; I 've done my bit, and I 've had my share Of filth and fighting and blood and tears And doubt and death in the last four years. My team and I were among the first Contemptible few when the war-clouds burst. We sweated our gun through the dust and heat, We hauled her back in the Big Retreat, With weary horses and short of shell, Turning our backs on them. That was Hell. That was at Mons ; but we came back there, With shine on the horses and shells to spare ! And much I've suffered and much I've seen From Mons to Mons on the miles between, But I want no praise, nor ribbons to wear — All I ask for my fighting share Is this : that England will give to me My offside leader in Battery B. She was a round-ribbed blaze-faced brown, Shy as a country girl in town, Scared of the gangway and scared of the quay, Lathered in sweat at a sight of the sea, But brave as a lion and strong as a bull, With the mud at the hub in an uphill pull. She learned her job as the best ones do. And we hadn't been over a week or two Before she would stand like a rooted oak While the bullets whined and the shrapnel Broke, And a mile of the ridges rocked in glee. As the shells went over from Battery B. One by one our team went down, But the gods were good to the blaze-faced Brown. We swayed with the battles back and forth. Lugging the limbers south and north. Round us the world was red with flame As we gained or gave in the changing game ; Forward or backward, losses or gains, There were empty saddles and idle chains. For Death took some on the galloping track And beckoned some from the bivouac ; Till at last were left but my mare and me Of all that went over with Battery B. My mates have gone and left me alone ; Their horses are heaps of ashes and bone. Of all that went out in courage and speed There is left but the little brown mare in the lead, The little brown mare with the blaze on her face That would die of shame at a slack in her trace, That would swing the team to the least command, That would charge a house at the slap of my hand, That would turn from a shell to nuzzle my knee — The pride and the wonder of Battery B. I look for no praise and no ribbons to wear. If I 've done my bit it was only my share. For a man has his pride and the strength of his Cause And the love of his home — they are unwritten laws. But what of the horses that served at our side. That in faith as of children fought with us and died ? If I, through it all, have been true to my task, I ask for no honours. This only I ask : The gift of one gunner. I know of a place Where I’d leave a brown mare with a blaze on her Face, 'Mid low leafy lime-trees in cock's-foot and clover To dream, with the dragon-flies glistening over.

Sources: Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 241

Saturday, 15 February 2020

‘The Royal Munster Fusiliers’ by Cornelius O'Mahoney

With thanks to Ciarán Conlan‎ for sending me the link to this poem

A hitherto undiscovered poem written by an Irish soldier during the First World War was found in an attic.  Peter ‘Derry’ McCarron was clearing the house of his late mother in Kendal, Cumbria, UK when he discovered the poem among some old documents.The poem was written by Peter's great-uncle Cornelius O’Mahoney, who was born in Bandon, Co. Cork, Eire in 1889.

Cornelius was 26 when he fought in the Dardanelles, Turkey in 1915 with the 1st Royal Munster Fusiliers – who lost over a third of their regiment during the Great War.

‘The Royal Munster Fusiliers’ - dedicated to the memory of our dear comrades who died in Seddul-Bahr, April 25 1915.

They are gone, they are gone
Yet their memory shall cherish
Our brave boys who perished
And crossed over the bar
O’er their graves now the wild hawk
Doth mournfully hover
In that lone weary jungle
Of wild Seddul-Bahr.

In the highest of spirits they
Went through the Dardanelles
And scattered their rifles
O'er the hills afar
Not knowing their days
On this Earth they were numbered
When the regiment arrived
In wild Seddul-Bahr.

Shot down in their gloom
And the pride of their manhood
But God’s will be done
’Tis the fortune of war
With no fond mother’s words
To console their last moments
Far, far from their homesteads
In wild Seddul-Bahr.

May they rest, may they rest
Unhallowed in story
Tho’ their graves they are cold
Neath that lone Turkish star
Yet their presence is missed
From the ranks of the Munsters
Our heroes who slumber
In wild Seddul-Bahr.'

Cornelius O’Mahoney

Check out this website for the full story and for a photograph of Cornelius:

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Murray McClymont (1893 - 1976) – Scottish poet and playwright

Edward Irving Murray McClymont was born on 23rd September 1889 In Kirkudbright, Scotland.  His parents were James and Margaret McClymont.  Murray was registered on the 1911 Census as living in Tongland Road, Tranmere, Birkenhead, Wirral and in 1913, he married Jessie T. Fraser (b. 23 March 1885).

During the First World War, Murray served as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 2/10th (Scottish) King’s Liverpool Regiment.  On 7th September 1918 Wilfred Owen met "Scottish poet Murray McClymont" when they were both in France.  Wilfred  "discovered near by last night one of Erskine Macdonald’s little Georgian Poets. He is, really, a big Scotchman, of no genius, but useful as an audience."

Murray presented Wilfred with a copy of the book in which a few of his poems were published  – “More Songs by the Fighting Men” – and inscribed it thus:

‘A little book and a little song,
The first all right and the last all wrong;
Which is but meet, let it be known,
Since mine’s the song, and the book’s for Owen!’

According to Catherine Reilly, Murray McClymont also had poems published in "War Verse, 7th Editiion" Edited by Frank Foxcroft (Crowell, New York, 1918).

In 1922 Murray graduated from University College, London with a Diploma in Journalism.

Murray then went on to become a successful playwright.  Someone serching for information about him via the Internet said: "He is very obscure. He served as an officer with the Liverpool Scottish Regiment and made a successful debut as a playwright at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1927 when on 26th  February 1927, his play “The Mannoch Family”, a comedy about the age-old struggle between the values of youth and the older generation, was performed for the first time at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre. A young actor called Laurence Olivier starred in that production, which was, by all accounts, a great success.”

In the 1939 Census, Mr and Mrs McClymont lived at 33 Tettenhall Road, Wolverhampton C.B., Staffordshire, England and Murray described himself as a Dramatist.  Murray died in Wales in 1976.

“God's Acre” by Murray McClymont

Dedicated to my "skipper," Captain Alan Cookson (killed in action 27th June, 1917), who now sleeps eternally in the shadow of the little grey church at . . .

WHEN sands of Time have run their course
And mortal heart is stilled,
We render back unto its Source
The dust that He fulfilled;

And in some still, subduéd spot
Where all is peace, and they
Who walk the silent paths are taught
To meditate and pray,

We to that dust its rest afford
And dry our idle tears:
For Death is peace, and Peace adored
Reigns here throughout the years.

B.E.F., France, Sept., 1917.
From: "More songs by the fighting men. Soldiers poets: second series"  (1917) pp 109 - 112


Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War:  A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978) pp. 11, 18-19 and 208.

Supplement to the “London Gazette” 14 March 1917…/we-learn-more-from-salter-cl…/

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888 – 1970) – Italian Poet

Giuseppe Ungaretti was born in Alexandria in Egypt on 8th February 1888.  His family were from Italy – from the city of Lucca in Tuscany. Ungaretti's father worked on the excavation of the Suez Canal and had a fatal accident in 1890.

Giuseppe's formal education began in the French language, as he attended The Swiss International School in Alexandria. There he read poetry by Gabriele d'Annunzio, Charles Baudelaire, Jules Laforgue, Stéphane Mallarmé and Arthur Rimbaud.

In 1912, Giuseppe went to live in Paris in France.

When war broke out in 1914, Giuseppe enlisted in the Italian Infantry and saw action on the Italian Front.  While serving, he began to write poetry inspired by his experiences.

One of his famous poems regarding the First World War is “Soldati” (soldiers):

Si sta come
sugli alberi
le foglie

They’re like
The leaves
of the trees
in autumn

—Bois de Courton[22], July 1918 —M. Tanzy, November, 2015


Un'intera nottata
buttato vicino
a un compagno
con la sua bocca
volta al plenilunio
con la congestione
delle sue mani
nel mio silenzio
ho scritto
lettere piene d'amore

Non sono mai stato
attaccato alla vita

Composta giovedì 23 dicembre 1915

dal libro "L'Allegria" di Giuseppe Ungaretti Poesie d'Autore - da <>



A whole night
Snuggled close
to a slain colleague
with his clenched mouth
at the full moon
with his swollen
my silence
I wrote
letters filled with love

I have never been
attached to life.

Written at Cima Quattro, Thursday, 23rd December 1915

From "L'Allegria" (Tr. Cheerfulness) by Giuseppe Ungaretti, published in 1931

One of Ungaretti’s poems, carved in stone in the square of San Martino del Carso in Sagrado in the Province of Gorizia.

Works by Ungaretti:

Il porto sepolto ("The Buried Port", 1916 and 1923)
La guerra ("The War", 1919 and 1947)
Allegria di naufragi ("The Joy of Shipwrecks", 1919)
L'allegria ("The Joy", 1931)
Sentimento del tempo ("The Feeling of Time", 1933)
Traduzioni ("Translations", 1936)
Poesie disperse ("Scattered Poems", 1945)
Il dolore ("The Pain", 1947)
La terra promessa ("The Promised Land", 1950)
Un grido e paesaggi ("A Shout and Landscapes", 1952)
Il taccuino del vecchio ("The Old Man's Notebook", 1960)
Vita di un uomo ("The Life of a Man", 1969)