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


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)

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,fully%20engaged%20researching%20and%20writing


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:

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:

However, here is a link to the book written by Arthur about his time in the Balkans and published in 1920 on Archive -

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 : and (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:

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...

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.

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.

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. 


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.

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.

Sunday, 9 August 2020

Raymond Juzio Paul de Rodakowski-Rivers (1895-1917) - British WW1 soldier Poet Mentioned in Despatches

With grateful thanks to Poet and Historian Becky Bishop for telling me about Raymond

Raymond was the only son of Major Ernest de Rodakowski-Rivers and his wife, Lady Dora Susan, nee Carnegie. Educated at Heath Mound School and Lambrook, Raymond then went to Charterhouse. He excelled academically – he won both Junior and Senior scholarships, a leaving exhibition, and the Talbot Prize for Classics. He was a contemporary of Robert Graves, who talks about their friendship in the seventh chapter of his autobiography, “Goodbye to All That”. Like Graves, Raymond boxed and wrote poetry. Raymond’s poem entitled “Lares hilares” was published in Graves' book “The Green Chartreuse”. 

In his final yeat at Charterhouse, Raymond won the Junior Hulme scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford, but put his studies on hold to join the Army when war broke out.  He was commissioned into the 1st Battalion of the Irish Guards.  Apparently, he would read Greek poetry to his men in the trenches. He took sick leave from 24th July - 26th August 1915 when suffering with impetigo and was wounded on his left ankle on 25th March 1916. 

In November 1916, Raymond was wounded again and recuperated for six weeks, before rejoining his Regiment on 15th January 1917. He was killed in action at Passchendaele at a farmhouse in the Southwest Forest. At the time of his death Raymond held the rank of Captain.  He is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium – Panels 10 – 11 and in the Chapel at Charterhouse School.  

Raymond’s obituary in his University College’s magazine “ The Brazen Nose” reads: "He was with us only one Term ... but in that short time it was easy to see that he was of the best type of English Public School boy. He was a good scholar, and before the War it might have been said that his interests were mainly intellectual, but he soon showed himself to be a born fighter, and during his two periods of enforced leisure - he was twice wounded - he was eager to get back to his job and to his men, of whom he spoke with much enthusiasm ... We can only regret the loss of a very winning and gallant gentleman whose career, it may be said with confidence, would have been one of distinction."


Photograph of Raymond from

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele (1889 – 1915) – German poet, writer and editor

It is always exciting to hear of another forgotten WW1 soldier poet. As AC Benus says “…Hans can speak for all men and women who have ever had to face armed conflict first hand. It has much to teach we who have never been to war as well.”

Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele was born in Berlin, Germany, on 24th July 1889.  His father was Fritz Ehrenbaum, a prominent banker and his mother, Emilia Thekla “Mary” Degele, who was an artist, was the daughter of opera singer Eugen Degele. Hans studied in Berlin and Heidelberg during the heady early days of the Expressionist movement.  His first poems were published in 1911.  

Hans served as an officer in the German Army during the First World War and was killed fighting on the Eastern Front on 28th July 1915, while fighting on the Narew River in what is now Poland. After his death, the poet Else Lasker-Schüler immortalised him in her poetry collection entitled “Tristan”. She had met Hans in 1911 at a poetry slam - a competition arts event, in which poets perform spoken word poetry before a live audience and a panel of judges.

Here is one of his poems - translated by AC Benus

“Regiment poem No. 30” (Hans and his friends referred to this poem as "Advent")

HERE in cold storm and tinkling iron for us,

Surrendered to the quiet rage of ramparts,

We live so desolate, so forgotten,

Frozen between winning and losing all;

Here no Christmas trees twinkle lit for us,

When home bedecks itself in merriment;

There, where kids run joyously into rooms,

And the eyes of women shine with wonder –

Come to us over the snow-covered hillsides,

You Christ of old, moved by the world's suff'ring,

Spread yourself in the sky upon silver wings

High over us so that from the darkest earth

Our wound may be borne gently as your wound,

Lifting with you the great hardship of the hour.

Translated by A.C. Benus

30. Original German version:

WEIL wir in Wintersturm und Eisenklang

Der stummen Wut der Schanzen hingegeben 

So bettelarm und abgeschieden leben,

Erstarrend zwischen Sieg und Untergang,

Weil für uns keine Weihnachtsbäume brennen,

Wenn fern die Heimat sich zur Freude schmückt,

Da, wo die Kinder froh ins Zimmer rennen,

Und Frauen sind, in Anmut süß verzückt – 

Komm zu uns über die verschneiten Hügel, 

Du alter Christ, vom Leid der Welt bewegt,

Breite dich in des Himmels Silber ügel

Über uns aus, daß auf der dunklen Erde

Aus unsrer Wunde deine Wunde werde, 

Die sanft die Not der großen Stunde trägt.

The photograph of Hans in his WW1 uniform was possibly taken by his partner W.F. Murnau, who went on to become the world's most admired film director, as it's part of his archived papers.  Hans is standing at the front door of their home's in Grunewald, Berlin. Their puppy shown here was named "Pan."


With grateful thanks to AC Benus who sent me a message concerning his new book about the poet Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele, with commentary, a biography of the poet and translation of Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele’s poetry collection entitled "The Thousandth Regiment" - which also mentions other WW1 poets.  

This book is very timely as it comes at another time of turmoil in the world and it has much to offer to both poetry lovers and those interested in the history of the First World War.  I urge you all to read it.  As A.C. Benus says “…Hans can speak for all men and women who have ever had to face armed conflict first hand. It has much to teach we who have never been to war as well.”

"The Thousandth Regiment: A Translation of and Commentary on Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele’s War Poems” by AC Benus (AC Benus, San Francisco, 2020)

This book is a fascinating read and the poems are wonderful and have been beautifully translated. I am glad to say the original poems are also included.

Book details: ISBN: 978-1657220584

Cover photo: Mark Basarab

Evan Frederic Morgan, 2nd Viscount Tredegar, FRHortS, FRSL, FRSA, FZS, FAGS, FIL (13 July 1893 – 27 April 1949) - poet, artist, soldier, and statesman

With thanks to Becky Bishop for finding Evan Morgan, who was a cousin of Raymond Juzio Paul de Rodakowski-Rivers (1895 - 1917)

Born on 13th July 1893, Evan’s parents were Courtenay Morgan, 1st Viscount Tredegar, of Tredegar Park, Monmouthshire, Wales, and his wife, Lady Katharine Carnegie.  Educated at Eton College and Christ Church, Oxford University, Evan was commissioned into the Welsh Guards in 1915 and served during WW1 as a King’s messenger (Carrying diplomatic papers to Embassies), working for French General Robert Nivelle in North Africa, after which he became ill. While recuperating at Garsington Manor, Evan became friends with another Oxford graduate, the poet Robert Graves, who had been at school with Evan's cousin, Raymond Rodakowski-Rivers and who was recuperating after being wounded while serving in France.

In 1917, following a period of ill health, Evan became private secretary to British government minister William Clive Bridgeman. From 1915 to 1916, Bridgeman was Lord of the Treasury and Assistant Director of the War Trade Department. With the creation of Lloyd George's coalition in 1916, Bridgeman became Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Labour until 1919 and then Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade in 1919 and 1920, after which he served as Secretary for Mines from 1920 to 1922.

On 3rd March 1934, Evan succeeded to the title of 6th Baronet Morgan, 4th Baron Tredegar, and 2nd Viscount Tredegar, after the death of his father.

During the Second World War, Evan served with MI8, his responsibility was to monitor carrier pigeons. He carelessly let slip on occasion departmental secrets to two girl guides and was court martialed but not sent to jail or worse.

He painted a good deal in his youth and exhibited his works at the Paris Salon. He was a knowledgeable collector of works of art, particularly of the period of the Renaissance in Italy. He published one novel – “Trial by ordeal” in 1921 and a number of volumes of poems, among them these WW1 collections:

“Fragments – Poems” (Erskine Macdonald, London, 1916)

“Gold and Ochre: Poems” (Erskine Macdonald, London 1917)

He also had a poem published in Kyle Galloway’s “Soldier Poets: Songs of the Fighting Men” (Erskine Macdonald, London, 1916) 

Evan received the following awards: He was decorated with the following awards:

Knight of Honour and Devotion, Sovereign and Military Order of Malta

Knight of Justice, Constantinian Order of St. George

Knight of Justice, Order of St. John of Jerusalem (KJStJ)

Commander, Order of the Holy Sepulchre (with star)Here is one of his poems:

“What of the Dead ?”

IF in the repose of an arbour 

Under a western sky 

One dreams of a vast eternal 

And one questions the reason why ; 

Why joy should dissolve into sorrow, 

Why pearls should melt in the wine, 

And whether the new dawning morrow 

Will reckon the close of our time ? 

If in the repose of the arbour 

One gazes on nature around, 

Is there some definite answer 

In the earth or the sky to be found ? 

Are we the pawns of a Jevah 

That move on a cross-chequered board ? 

Propelled from the back by a lever, 

Controlled, supervised by a Lord ? 

Given a pen as a plaything 

To scribble out poems and plays 

Works that we worship with reverence, 

The blossoms of earlier days 

Given a spirit of reason, 

Given a mind to attend, 

Given a soul filled with treason 

To embitter and poison the end ? 

Is there a peaceful Nirvana ? 

Is there a rest for the soul ? 

A bed for the toil-driven Karma, 

A telos ? a Heaven ? a goal ? 

What of the slain in the battle ? 

What of the dead on the field ? 

Foul slaughtered like horses and cattle, 

Those men that we use as a shield : 

If ever a soul got to Heaven ! 

If ever soul reaped a reward ! 

Those whose red blood has been given 

A gift to their own native sward : 

Those are the ones for a Heaven, 

For a peace and a pleasure unknown, 

By their work are they all self-forgiven, 

Let their blood for His Blood atone. 

From “Soldier Poets: Songs of the Fighting Men” Edited by Galloway Kyle (Erskine Macdonald, London, 1916) which is available as a free download on Archive:


Catherine W. Reilly, “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978), pp 18, 229 and 317.,_2nd_Viscount_Tredegar,-2nd-Viscount-Tredegar