Friday, 31 July 2020

Commemorative First World War Exhibition Project

This self-funded project is in memory of my Grandfather, who was an Old Contemptible  with the Royal Field Artillery who survived, and my two Great Uncles who lost their lives in WW1.

I began researching WW1 in 2012 for an exhibiton of Female Poets of the First World War, requested by Dean Johnson, founder of the Wilfred Owen Story museum (The WOS), Wirral, UK.   Once the exhibition was on display, I just continued researching, adding other headings. Inspirational Women of WW1 came about when I stumbled on the story of Canadian artist Mary Riter Hamilton, commissioned in early 1919 by the Canadian Amputees Association to go and paint the aftermath in France and Belgium.  Philip Gosse, MD, a General Practitioner in Britain was the Official Rat Catcher Officer of the British Second Army on the Western Front, which brought about Fascinating Facts of the Great War.  Realisation that Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Robert Graves were not the only male soldier poets of WW1, prompted me to start researching Forgotten Poets of the First World War.  I am now researching lesser-known artists of WW1.

Exhibition panels are e-mailed free of charge to anyone wishing to host an exhibition.  Exhibitions have been held in a wide variety of locations throughout the UK, as well as in Cork University, Ireland and in Delaware University, USA, and panels have been sent to schools.  If you know of a venue that would like to display panels, please ask them to contact me and I will send them the list of panels researched so far. 

If you are interested in exhibiting any of the panels researched so far, a full list of panels available will be sent on request.  Some of the panels have been put into book form – please see for details.

Commemorative First World War Exhibition Project

Also on Facebook:

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Ernest Miller Hemingway (21st July 1899 –2nd July 1961) - American journalist, novelist, short-story writer, poet and sportsman

With thanks to John Seriot for reminding me about Ernest's date of birth

Ernest Miller Hemingway was born on 21st July 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, USA, to Clarence Edmonds Hemingway, a physician and Grace Hall Hemingway, a musician.  Ernest was educated at Oak Park and River Forest High School from 1913 until 1917. He was a keen athlete, excelling at a number of sports — boxing, track and field, water polo, and football - performed in the school orchestra for two years with his sister Marcelline and received good grades in English classes. During his last two years at high school he edited the "Trapeze" and "Tabula", the school's newspaper and yearbook.

In December 1917 Ernest responded to a Red Cross recruitment effort and signed on as an ambulance driver in Italy, after having been rejected by the U.S. Army due to poor eyesight. In May 1918 he sailed from New York, arriving in Paris as the city was under bombardment from German artillery. That June he arrived at the Italian Front. On his first day in Milan, he was sent to the scene of a munitions factory explosion to join rescuers retrieving the shredded remains of female workers. He described the incident in his non-fiction book “Death in the Afternoon”:  "I remember that after we searched quite thoroughly for the complete dead we collected fragments." A few days later, he was stationed at Fossalta di Piave.

On 8th July, Ernest was seriously wounded by mortar fire, having just returned from the canteen taking chocolate and cigarettes for the men on the front line. Despite his wounds, Hemingway assisted Italian soldiers to safety, for which he received the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery.  He was still only 18 years old at the time. Hemingway later said of the incident: "When you go to war as a boy you have a great illusion of immortality. Other people get killed; not you ... Then when you are badly wounded the first time you lose that illusion and you know it can happen to you."  He sustained severe shrapnel wounds to both legs, underwent an immediate operation at a distribution center, and spent five days at a field hospital before he was transferred for recuperation to the Red Cross hospital in Milan.

Ernest spent six months at the hospital, where he met and formed a strong friendship with "Chink" Dorman-Smith that lasted for decades and shared a room with future American foreign service officer, ambassador, and author Henry Serrano Villard.

While recuperating Ernest fell in love with Agnes von Kurowsky, a Red Cross nurse seven years his senior. When he returned to the United States in January 1919, Ernest believed that Agnes would join him within months and the two would marry. Instead he received a letter in March with her announcement that she was engaged to an Italian officer.

In 1921, Hemingway and his family moved to the Left Bank of Paris (then the literature, art, and music capital of the world) and he became associated with other American expatriates, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Archibald MacLeish, E. E. Cummings, and John Dos Passos.

Although perhaps better remembered for his prose writing, Ernest Hemingway also wrote poetry:

“Riparto D'Assalto”

Drummed their boots on the camion floor,
Hob-nailed boots on the camion floor.
Sergeants stiff,
Corporals sore.
Lieutenant thought of a Mestre whore —
Warm and soft and sleepy whore,
Cozy, warm and lovely whore;
Damned cold, bitter, rotten ride,
Winding road up the Grappa side.
Arditi on benches stiff and cold,
Pride of their country stiff and cold,
Bristly faces, dirty hides —
Infantry marches, Arditi rides.
Grey, cold, bitter, sullen ride —
To splintered pines on the Grappa side
At Asalone, where the truck-load died.

Ernest Hemingway:  “Three Stories & Ten Poems” (Maurice Darantiere, Dijon, 1923)  Facsimile edition by Contact Publishing, 1977. PS 3515 E37A15 Robarts Library.

Hemingway's WW1 memorabilia
JFK Museum, Boston, USA

Other Sources:

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Frederic Herbert Trench (1865 –1923) - Irish poet, writer and playwright

Frederic Herbert Trench was born in Avonmore, County Cork, Ireland, on 12th November 1865. His parents were William Wallace Trench and his wife Elizabeth Trench, nee Allin.  Educated at Haileybury School and Keble College, Oxford, Herbert was elected a fellow of All Souls' College and in 1891, after some years spent in travelling, was appointed an examiner at the Board of Education.

On 15th July 1891, Herbert married Lilian Isabel Fox and the couple had two daughters and a son.  He gave up working for the Board of Education in 1908 in order to devote himself to literary work and became Director of the Haymarket Theatre, London.  Herbert wrote poetry from an early age;  his first volume of poems, “Deirdre Wedded” was published in 1901. That volume was soon followed by further poems, notably " Apollo and the Seaman," included in “New Poems” (1907) and “Lyrics and Narrative Poems” (1911).

In 1908, a Dramatic Symphony, opus 51, written by Joseph Holbrooke setting Trench's poem “Apollo and the Seaman” to music, was performed under the directorship of Thomas Beecham.

Herbert then began writing theatrical works for a few years, collaborating with his friend Thomas Evelyn Scott-Ellis, 8th Baron Howard de Walden. They put on “The Blue Bird” by Maeterlinck in 1909 and Ibsen's “The Pretenders in 1913 at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. Afterwards, he spent time travelling.

During the First World War, Herbert worked in Florence, Italy for the establishment of a better understanding between Great Britain and Italy. He died in Boulogne-sur-Mer on 11th June 1923.

Among Herbert Trench’s later publications were “From Italy in Time of War”  (Methuen, 1915), “Poems with Fables in Prose” (Constable, 1917), a poetic play “Napoleon” (1918), which was produced in London by the Stage Society in 1919, “Selected Poems” (Cape, 1924) and “La Bataille de la Marne” (Oxford University Press, 1925) and he had poems included in five WW1 anthologies.


Warm vines bloom now along thy rampart steeps
Thy shelves of olives, undercliffs of azure,
And like a lizard of the red rock sleeps
The wrinkled Tuscan sea, panting for pleasure.
Nets, too, festooned about thine elfin port,
Telaro, in the Etrurian mountain’s side,
Heavings of golden luggers scarce distort
The image of thy belfry where they ride.
But thee, Telaro, on a night long gone
That grey and holy tower upon the mole
Suddenly summoned, while yet lightnings shone
And hard gale lingered, with a ceaseless toll
That choked, with its disastrous monotone,
All the narrow channels of the hamlet’s soul.

For what despair, fire, shipwreck, treachery?
Was it for threat that from the macchia sprang
For Genoa’s feud, the oppressor’s piracy,
Or the Falcon of Sarzana that it rang?
Was the boat-guild’s silver plundered? Blood should pay.
Hardwon the footing of the fishers’ clan
The sea-cloud-watchers.— Loud above the spray
The maddening iron cry, the appeal of man,
Washed through the torchless midnight on and on.
Are not enough the jeopardies of day?
Riot arose — fear’s Self began the fray:
But the tower proved empty. By the lightning’s ray
They found no human ringer in the room ....
The bell-rope quivered out in the sea-spume ....

A creature fierce, soft, witless of itself,
A morbid mouth, circled by writhing arms,
By its own grasp entangled on that shelf,
Had dragged the rope and spread the death-alarms;
Insensitive, light-forgotten, up from slime,
From shelter betwixt rocks, issuing for prey
Disguised, had used man’s language of dismay.
The spawn of perished times had late in time
Emerged, and griefs upon man’s grief imposed
But the fishers closed
The blind mouth, and cut off the suckers cold.
Two thousand fathoms the disturber rolled
From trough to trough into the gulf Tyrrhene;
And fear sank with it back into its night obscene.

Herbert Trench

From: “The Book of the Homeless - Le Livre des Sans-Foyer - a 1916 collection of essays, art, poetry, and musical scores”, edited by Edith Wharton and sold during the First World War for the benefit of the American Hostels for Refugees (with the Foyer Franco-Belge) and of the Children of Flanders Rescue Committee (New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1916)

The book is now available as a free download courtesy of Gutenberg:


Find my past
Catherine W. Reilly, “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978)  p. 317-318.

Saturday, 18 July 2020

Emile Adolphe Gustave Verhaeren (1855 – 1916) - Belgian poet and art critic who wrote in French.

Portrait of Emile Verhaeren
by Theo van Rysselberghe (1862 - 1926)
Born in Sint-Amands, a rural commune in Belgium's Province of Antwerp, on 21st May 1855, Emile became one of the founders of the school of Symbolism. On 24th August 1891 he married Marthe Massin, a talented artist from Liège.

The outbreak of the First World War had a devastating effect on Emile’s deep pacifist feelings. He sought refuge in England, where he received honorary degrees from various universities. During his time in England, Emile published a collection of poems entitled "Les Ailes rouges de la Guerre".

Emile Verhaeren died on 27th November 1916 at Rouen station - he fell under a moving train while trying to board it.  Marthe Verhaeren was informed of the death of her husband by the artist Théo van Rysselberghe and his friend, the famous French writer (and later Nobel Prize winner) André Gide.

In 1920 Emile was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Order of Leopold.

A poem by Emile Verhaeren in the WW1 work edited by Edith Wharton and sold in aid of the Belgian refugees

Portrait of Emile Verhaeren by Theo van Ryselberghe
to accompany the poem in Edith's book


Tu me disais de ta voix douce,
Tu me disais en insistant:
—Y a-t-il e"ncore un Printemps
Et les feuilles repoussent-elles?
La guerre accapare le ciel
Les eaux, les monts, les bois, la terre:
Où sont les fleurs couleur de miel
Pour les abeilles volontaires?
Où sont les pousses des roncerois
Et les boutons des anémones?
Où sont les flûtes dans les bois
Des oiseaux sombres aux becs jaunes?
—Hélas! plus n’est de floraison
Que celle des feux dans l’espace:
Bouquet de rage et de menace
S’éparpillant sur l’horizon.
Plus n’est, hélas! de splendeur rouge
Que celle, hélas! des boulets fous
Éclaboussant de larges coups
Clochers, hameaux, fermes et bouges.
C’est le printemps de ce temps-ci:
Le vent répand de plaine en plaine,
Là-bas, ces feuillaisons de haine;
C’est la terreur de ce temps-ci.

Émile Verhaeren
Saint-Cloud, le 31 Juillet 1915


Sadly your dear voice said:
“Is the old spring-time dead,
And shall we never see
New leaves upon the tree?
“Shall the black wings of war
Blot out sun, moon and star,
And never a bud unfold
To the bee its secret gold?
“Where are the wind-flowers streaked,
And the wayward bramble shoots,
And the black-birds yellow-beaked
With a note like woodland flutes?”
No flower shall bloom this year
But the wild flame of fear
Wreathing the evil night
With burst of deadly light.
No splendour of petals red
But that which the cannon shed,
Raining their death-bloom down
On farm and tower and town.
This is the scarlet doom
By the wild sea-winds hurled
Over a land of gloom,
Over a grave-strewn world.

Émile Verhaeren
Saint-Cloud, 31st July 1915

Emile ‘s WW1 collections were: “Les ailes rouges de la guerre” (Tr. The Red Wings of War),1916 and
“Les flammes hautes” (Tr. High Flames), 1917 but written in 1914.


Thursday, 9 July 2020

Sir John Stanhope Arkwright (1872–1954) – British writer, poet, barrister, politician and hymn writer

Author of the hymn 'O Valiant Hearts' which written to honour the war dead of the First World War.

With thanks to Geoff Harrison for finding this poet.

John Stanhope Arkwright was born at 11 Lowndes Street, London, UK on 10th July 1872, the only son of four children born to John Hungerford Arkwright (1833–1905), landowner and lord lieutenant of Herefordshire, of Hampton Court, Leominster, Herefordshire and his wife, Charlotte Lucy Arkwright, nee Davenport.

John was the great-great grandson of the cotton-spinning industrialist Sir Richard Arkwright.  Educated at Eton and Christ Church, Oxford, where he won the Newdigate Prize for English Poetry in 1895, in the 1900 general election John was elected as MP for Hereford, a position he served in until his resignation in 1912.  In April 1902 he was appointed private secretary (unpaid) to Gerald Balfour, President of the Board of Trade.

In 1905, John maried Helen Mariel Stephanie Robinson and the couple had a son John Richard Steven, born in 1907.

In 1934 he was knighted and made an Honorary Freeman of the City of Hereford. John became Chief Steward of the City of Hereford - he died in Kington, Herefordshire in 1954.

O valiant hearts who to your glory came
Through dust of conflict and through battle flame;
Tranquil you lie, your knightly virtue proved,
Your memory hallowed in the land you loved.

Proudly you gathered, rank on rank, to war
As who had heard God’s message from afar;
All you had hoped for, all you had, you gave,
To save mankind—yourselves you scorned to save.

Splendid you passed, the great surrender made;
Into the light that nevermore shall fade;
Deep your contentment in that blest abode,
Who wait the last clear trumpet call of God.

Long years ago, as earth lay dark and still,
Rose a loud cry upon a lonely hill,
While in the frailty of our human clay,
Christ, our Redeemer, passed the self same way.

Still stands His cross from that dread hour to this,
Like some bright star above the dark abyss;
Still, through the veil, the Victor’s pitying eyes
Look down to bless our lesser Calvaries.

These were His servants, in His steps they trod,
Following through death the martyred Son of God:
Victor, He rose; victorious too shall rise
They who have drunk His cup of sacrifice.

O risen Lord, O Shepherd of our dead,
Whose cross has bought them and whose staff has led,
In glorious hope their proud and sorrowing land
Commits her children to Thy gracious hand.

John’s WW1 collection was entitled “The Supreme Sacrifice and Other Poems in Time of War” (Skefington, 1919).

Catherine W. Reily “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 42.

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Richard Aldington (1892 – 1962) – British WW1 soldier poet

Christened Edward Godfree Aldington, Richard was born on 8th July 1892 in Portsmouth,  Hampshire, UK. He was the eldest of four children born to Albert Edward Aldington, a solicitor, and his wife Jessie May Aldington, nee Godfree. Both his parents wrote and published books and the home held a large library of European and classical literature. As well as reading, Richard's interests included butterfly-collecting, hiking, and learning languages –  French, Italian, Latin and ancient Greek. He was educated at Mr Sweetman's Seminary for Young Gentlemen, St Margaret's Bay, near Dover, before going on to Dover College, then the University of London. Unable to complete his degree because of the financial circumstances of his family, Richard worked as a sports journalist, started publishing poetry in British journals and gravitated towards literary circles that included poets William Butler Yeats and Walter de la Mare.

Richard was married to American poet and writer Hilda Doolittle (known as H.D.) from 1913 – 1938, although the couple divorced.  Between 1914 and 1916 Aldington was literary editor and a columnist for the magazine “The Egoist”.  Richard joined the Army in June 1916 and was sent for training at Wareham in Dorset.  He encouraged H.D. to return to America where she could make a safer and more stable home.

Richard was sent to the front in December 1916.  He wrote that he managed to complete 12 poems and three essays since joining up and wanted to work on producing a new book, keeping his mind on literature, despite his work of digging graves.

Although he initially joined the 11th Leicestershires, Richard was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the Royal Sussex Regiment in November 1917.  He was gassed but finished the war as a signals officer and temporary Captain, and was demobilised in February 1919. After that, he became a critic and biographer.


Four days the earth was rent and torn
By bursting steel,
The houses fell about us;
Three nights we dared not sleep,
Sweating, and listening for the imminent crash
Which meant our death.

The fourth night every man,
Nerve-tortured, racked to exhaustion,
Slept, muttering and twitching,
While the shells crashed overhead.

The fifth day there came a hush;
We left our holes
And looked above the wreckage of the earth
To where the white clouds moved in silent lines
Across the untroubled blue.

Richard Aldington’s WW1 poetry collections were: “Collected poems” (Covici Friede, New York, 1928; “The Eaten Heart” (Chapele-Reanvile, France, 1919), “Images and other Poems” (The Egoist, 1919) and his poems were included in thirten W1 poetry anthologies.

Sources: Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Pres, New York, 1978) pp. 38 – 39.

Friday, 3 July 2020

Richard Dennys (1884 – 1916) – British musician, artist, poet and writer

Richard Molesworth Dennys was born in Simla, Bengal, India on 17th December 1884.  His parents were Edward Augustus Dennys and his wife, Louisa Mary Dennys, nee Molesworth.

When the family were in Britain, they lived in a house in South Kensington, London.  After attending Winchester School, Richard went on to study medicine in London’s St. Bartholomew’s Hospital.

In 1914, when war broke out, Richard was in Florence.   He returned to Britain and offered his services to the Red Cross and the Royal Army Medical Corps – who said he was not needed.  He was commissioned into the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, promoted to the rank of Temporary Captain and sent to the 10th Service Battalion.  They were posted to the Western Front on 3rd July 1915, where he became a Company Commander a few months later.   The Adjutant of the Regiment was Richard’s friend Desmond Coke, who wrote the Foreword to the collection of poems written by his friend Richard Dennys and published in 1917 by The Bodley Head - "There is no Death, Poems... With a foreword by Desmond Coke, and a portrait, etc. by Richard Molesworth Dennys and Desmond Francis Talbot Coke"

Captain Richard Molesworth Dennys was wounded on 12th July 1916 during the Somme Offensive.  He died of his wounds on 24th July and was buried in St. Sever Cemetry, Rouen, France - Grave Reference: Officers A 4 7.  Richard’s poems were included in two WW1 poetry anthologies.

“Come When It May”

Come when it may, the stern decree
For me to leave the cheery throng
And quit the sturdy company
Of brothers that I work among.
No need for me to look askance,
Since no regret my prospect mars.
My day was happy ~ and perchance
The coming night is full of stars.

Sources: by Paul McCormick

Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) pp. 110, 22 and 33.

Anne Powell, Ed. “A  Deep Cry: Soldier Poets killed on the Western Front” (Palladour Books, Aberporth, Wales, 1993)