Friday, 31 December 2021

William Cadwaladr Roberts (1892 – 1918) – Welsh WW1 soldier poet – Bardic Name Alaw Alltwen

With thanks to Clive Hughes of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum for finding this information about another hitherto unknown WW1 Welsh soldier poet. Unfortunately we have not been able to find examples of William’s poems.  If anyone can help please get in touch. 

William Cadwaladr Roberts was born in Llanddeiniolen (aka Deiniolen) parish, Caernarfonshire, Wales, circa 1892/3, the eldest of four children. His parents were Cadwaladr Roberts, a slate quarry man, and his wife Annie Roberts (nee Parry). William – known to the family as Willie – had the following siblings: Cadwaladr Roberts, born 1895, Benjamin Roberts, born 1897 and Mary C. Roberts, born 1901.

In the 1901 census the family were living at Allt Ddu, Dinorwic.  In the 1911 census they were living at Bron y Fferam (or Bron Fferam), Dinorwig (i.e. near Llanberis), in the house of William’s maternal grandfather, Benjamin Parry. He was recorded as a Quarryman (slate dresser).  

When war broke out, William enlisted in the Army as a Private – No. 40158 – in the 1st Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers.  John Krijnen's roll states: born Dinorwic, Quarryman.  Enlisted 22nd (Reserve) Bn. RWF 2.2.16.   (??Embarked) 28.6.16 and joined 1st RWF 4.8.16 (in France).  He became a Lance Corporal on 4.11.16.  The Unit was sent to Italy in late 1917.  William was promoted to the rank of Corporal on or about 8.5.18.  He was wounded (GSW) in the legs on 3.5.18 during a company raid on Austrian positions at Ambrosini, and was admitted to the 24th Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) 11.5.18.  William was sent to the 29th Stationary Hospital on 15.5.18 and posted to a Convalescent Depot on 24.5.18., rejoining the Battallion. 26.6.18.  He contracted Influenza, was admitted to the 22nd Field Ambulance on 10.11.18, sent to 39th CCS on 15.11.18 and died 24.11.18 aged 26.  William Cadwaladr Roberts was buried in Giavera Cemetery, Arcade, Italy, Grave Reference Plot 3. Row B. Grave 4.

William is remembered on the War Memorial, Deiniolen, as William C. Roberts, Bron Fferam. 

William had a bardic name - "Alaw Alltwen" - which is known to his descendants. His bardic name was mentioned in his obituary in a local Welsh language newspaper - “Yr Herald Gymraeg” (The Welsh Herald) - on 24.12.18 p3 : 

The town of Giavera is in the Province of Treviso. It is 12 kilometres east of Montebelluna and 14 kilometres west of Conegliano on the main road between the two places. Giavera British Cemetery is 500 metres north-west of the town close to the church. The Italians entered the war on the Allied side, declaring war on Austria, in May 1915. Commonwealth forces were at the Italian front between November 1917 and November 1918.

The Royal Welch Fusiliers (In Welsh: Ffiwsilwyr Brenhinol Cymreig) was a line infantry regiment of the British Army and part of the Prince of Wales' Division, founded in 1689 shortly after the Glorious Revolution. In 1702, it was designated a fusilier regiment and became The Welch Regiment of Fusiliers; the prefix "Royal" was added in 1713, then confirmed in 1714 when George I named it The Prince of Wales's Own Royal Regiment of Welsh Fusiliers. After the 1751 reforms that standardised the naming and numbering of regiments, it became the 23rd Foot (Royal Welsh Fuzileers).

The RWF retained the archaic spelling of Welch, instead of Welsh, and Fuzileers for Fusiliers; these were engraved on swords carried by regimental officers during the Napoleonic Wars. After the 1881 Childers Reforms, its official title was The Royal Welsh Fusiliers, but "Welch" continued to be used informally until restored in 1920 by Army Order No.56.

Information sent to me by Clive Hughes.

Saturday, 27 November 2021

Auguste Marius Treilles (? - ?) – French soldier poet

With thanks to Sue Robinson of the Group Wenches in Trenches

for telling us about this poet 

‘Au Fées du Royaumont’ by Sergent Auguste Marius Treilles - Translation by Clare Brock :

The best-tempered steel of deadly weapons,

Is transformed in your hands into humanitarian tears,

And your delicate gentle fingers Miss Nicholson.

Are thrust into the palpitating body without fear,

While in a dream Miss Ivens, Miss Heyworth,

Under the confident spell that your science inspires,

I see you on waking searching for that smile,

Comforting balm on the bleeding wounds

You compassionate women shed uninterrupted.

The poem was written by Auguste Marius Treilles, a Sergeant in the French Army who was treated at the Scottish Women’s Hospital in Royaumont Abbey, France. It praised and was dedicated to the doctors, nurses and staff of the hosopital and was entitled ‘Au Fées du Royaumont’. The poem was published in a special SWH edition of “Common Cause”.-  "Common Cause", VII.344 (12 November 1915), p. 397.

Royaumont Abbey is a former Cistercian abbey, located in France near Asnières-sur-Oise in the Val-d'Oise, approximately 30 km north of Paris. From January 1915 to March 1919 the Abbey housed a voluntary hospital – L’Hôpital Auxiliaire 301 – which was operated by The Scottish Women's Hospitals(SWH), under the direction of the French Red Cross.  The hospital was especially noted for its performance treating soldiers involved in the Battle of the Somme. After the war the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Frances Ivens CBE MS(Lond) ChM(Liverp) FRGOG (1870–1944), was awarded membership of the French Légion d'honneur.

"The Common Cause" was a weekly publication, founded in 1909, that supported the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies. The first issue was published on 15 April 1909 and the magazine was mainly financed by Margaret Ashton. The final issue was published on Friday, 30 January 1920, in which the successor magazine – “The Woman's Leader” was announced.

"In The Cloister of the Abbaye at Royaumont. Dr. Frances Ivens inspecting a French patient."
painted by Nora Neilson Gray

Norah Neilson Gray (16 June 1882 – 27 May 1931) was a Scottish artist of the Glasgow School. She was a member of The Glasgow Girls whose paintings were exhibited in Kirkcudbright in July and August 2010.  During the First World War, Norah volunteered to serve with the Scottish Women's Hospitals and was sent to France.   She managed to find time to paint and sketch. Nora offered a painting entitled “Hôpital Auxilaire 1918” showing the SWH Hospital in Royaumont Abbey to the Imperial War Museum but the Women's Work Sub-committee of the Museum refused to accept it and requested a painting showing a woman doctor instead.  Thea bove painting was accepted by the IWM in 1920


Wenches in Trenches Facebook page

See note 206

“The Women of Royaumont: Scottish Women's Hospital on the Western Front” by Eileen Crofton (Tuckwell Press, 1997)

“International Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology of Lost Voices” Editor Constance M. Ruzich (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020)

Dr. Connie Ruzich, a former Fulbright Scholar in the UK, is now a University Professor at Robert Morris University, Sewickley, Pennsylvania, United States  of America.  She has edited a fantastic WW1 Anthology entitled “International Poetry of the First World War: An Anthology of Lost Voices” Editor Constance M. Ruzich (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020)  157.50$

Ranging beyond the traditional canon, this ground-breaking anthology casts a  new light on poetic responses to the First World War. Bringing together poems by soldiers and non-combatants, patriots and dissenters, and from all sides of the conflict across the world, "International Poetry of the First World War" reveals the role that poetry played in shaping the responses to and the legacies of that conflict.

Through more than 150 poems, this anthology explores such topics as :

· Life at the Front

· Psychological trauma

· Noncombatants and the home front

· Rationalising the war

· Remembering the dead

· Peace and the aftermath of the war

With contextual notes throughout, the book includes poems written by authors from America, Australia, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand, Russia, and South Africa.

“The Times Literary Supplement” of Friday 12, November 2021 has Jean Moorcroft Wilson’s review of Coonnie’s anthology:

Connie’s wonderfully, aptly named website Behind their Lines is also worth investigating:

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Ernest Denny (1888-1917) – British schoolteacher and soldier poet

Information about this hitherto unknown WW1 soldier poet has been kindly supplied by Historian Debbie Cameron* 

Poem included with thanks to the response from the Team at Reading University and in

particular to Research Volunteer Jeremy Jones

Ernest Denny was born on 11th July 1888 in Rillington, Yorkshire, UK. He was the second son of Robert William Denny, a schoolteacher, and his wife, Ellen Hannah Denny, nee Gardner, and his siblings were Charles William Denny, Percy Gardner Denny and John Gardner Denny. By 1901 the family were living in Redditch, Worcestershire, UK, where Ernest’s father was the headmaster of a Wesleyan School. 

In 1911 Ernest became ill and was admitted to a sanatorium in Lowestoft, Suffolk.

Ernest was educated at King Edwards School in Birmingham before going on to study at Reading University from 1913-15. On graduating he became a teacher and taught in a school in Suffolk.

During the First World War, Ernest seems to have joined the Artists Rifles as a Private before being commissioned as a Second Lieutent into the London Regiment and serving with the 15th (County of London) Battalion (Prince of Wales's Own Civil Service Rifles)  on the Western Front.   

Ernest died of wounds on 4th August 1917 and was buried in Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Vleteren, Arrondissement Ieper, West Flanders (West-Vlaanderen), Belgium - Grave/memorial reference: II. C. 10.

Ernest Denny is also rememberd on Redditch War Memorial and on a memorial in Redditch Bates Hill Methodist Church, which is now in Redditch Emmanuel Church

The Ancestry website Probate records:  Ernest Denny of 196 Mount Pleasant, Redditch, Second Lieutenant, 2/5th Battalion, London Regiment, attached to the 17th King’s Rifles. 

According to various websites, Ernest had poems published in an anthology entitled “Galleys Laden: Poems by Four Writers - Ernest Denny, Nora O'Sullivan, C. Doyle, and Gwen Upcott” ("Adventurers All" Series, No. XXIII), and a collection of his own poems entitled “Triumphant Laughter: Poems 1914 – 1917” was published in paperback form in 1978 by Brentham Press, London.

“By a wayside Calvary – France” By Ernest Denny written in October 1916

Ah!  Christ, again

Thou hangest in carven agony;

Meek, yet superbly proud, Thou challengest me

To gaze afresh upon Thine ancient pain,

To see Thee at Thy penance for no sin.

Again I watch the ancient strife begin –

Thee dying, and the busy world around 

Eating and drinking, buying and selling, pause

A moment and pass by. 

And Thou, uplifted high 

In wooden imagery to plead Thy cause

Criest aloud, with lips that make no sound. 

The poem is on page 14 of “Triumphant Laughter”which was found for us by Jeremy Jones, a research volunteer at Reading University Museum of English Rural Life / Special Collections Service.

Jeremy tells us: “In 2017 the university received a donation of material relating to Ernest, which contained some of his poems in manuscript form. Ernest is described on the photograph of his grave on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website as "one of the war poets". Subsequent to his death, Ernest’s work was published In 'Galleys Laden' (1918) and 'Triumphant Laughter' (1978).”

Wayside Calvary, Fricourt, France, WW1


* Historian Debbie Cameron is the founder of the Facebook Group Remembering British Women in WW1 – The Home Front and Overseas

Friday, 19 November 2021

Raymond Heywood (? - ?) – WW1 soldier poet

With thanks to Barry Van-Asten for suggesting I research Raymond. If anyone has any further information about Raymond Heywood please get in touch.

In spite of extensive research, I have not been able to find out much about Raymond – other than that he apparently served as a Lieutenant with the 10th (Service) Devonshire Regiment during WW1 and published two collections of his poetry during that time. 

Following Barry’s comment that Raymond “may have served with 10th Service battalion, as he was in Macedonia (Salonika) after France (Neuve Chapelle, Givenchy) and possibly at Ypres (according to poem date/location)”, I contacted the Salonika Campaign Society about Heywood and received this reply: “According to the WW1 war diaries of the Devons, there is one entry relating to 2/Lt Heywood who joined the Battalion and was posted to A Company on Sunday, 1st October 1916.”

I did a little more research and found :

In July 1916, after some months spent on garrison duties, the 10th Devons arrived in the front line near Doiran close to the Bulgarian position at Petit Couronne.  Here in August the Bulgarians attacked but were repulsed by A Company, whose rapid fire inflicted heavy casualties.  By the end of September nearly a third of the 10th had been admitted to hospital suffering from malaria or dysentery.  Nonetheless, the Battalion remained in these positions for several months, patrolling and occasionally skirmishing with their opponents.

“The Devon & Exeter Gazette” carried an advertisement for “Roses, Pearls and Tears” on Saturday, 8th February 1919 

Letters of Eve in The “Tatler” of 17th July 1918 tells us that Raymond donated “… half the proceeds of the sales of “Roses Pearls and Tears” to the poorer women folk-left by the men of his company who have fallen.”  Eve quotes from a letter sent to her by Raymond with a copy of his collection “with the author’s grateful t hanks for happy hourss spent reading “The Letters””:  “You know,  Eve, how splendid these boys were, meeting death with laughter  on their lips and the love of home in their hearts.”

According to Catherine W. Reilly on page 168 of her work “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978), Raymond Hewood published two WW1 poetry collections:

'Roses, Pearls and Tears' (Erskine Macdonald, 1918) and

 'The Greater Love: Poems of Remembrance'  (Elkin Mathews,1919).  The Imperial War Museum in London apparently have a copy of this collection, autographed by the author

The “Exeter & Plymouth Gazette” of 31st May 1919 refer to Raymond as a Captain.  However, in a letter written by Raymond Heywood and published in the “Exeter & Plymouth Gazette” of 20 September 1919, he tells us that he was a Lieutenant and gives his address at that time as 10 Buckingham-street, Adelphi, London, WC2 – though that may be the address of the charity.   Raymond says:  “Sir, Under the patronage of Princess Christian, Veterans Day is to be held on the last day of this month.  The object is to create an Imperial memorial scheme to our war heroes.  It is to take the form of a Club house, with 1,000 beds and every convenience for serving and ex-Servicemen, also convalescent homes for those still requiring treatment and after-care. In order to help this scheme, I am publishing a special edition of Remembrance Poems entitled “The Great free for 2s. 6d. net to any address and the  help of your readers will be greatly appreciated.  Yours Truly, RAYMOND HEYWOOD, Lieut. Devonshire Regiment.

Here is one of Raymond's poems:


Peace is here! The bells are ringing

Through this land of ours today,

While a nations’s voice is singing 

From a heart both glad and gay;

Through a miriad streets are blending

Merry shout and hear / cheer

Everywhere is joy unending  . . .

    Peace is here!

Peace is here!  the night of sorrow

Is forgotten with our tears,

There is laughter for tomorrow –

Joy for all these latter years;

Banish thoughts of care and sadness

Cast away each passing fear

There is only room for gladness . . . 

     Peace is here!

Out in Flanders, out in France

Sleeps a nation’s hero dead,

Where the sunbeams softly dance

On each lowly hero bed;

Roses bloom where they are sleeping,

Birds are singing in the air;

Safe are they within God’s keeping . . .

                       Peace sweet peace is there!

Raymond Heywood

But ... 

As his political cartoon demonstrates, Australian soldier poet and artist Will Dyson (1880 – 1938) was not so sure...

Saturday, 6 November 2021

George Reston Malloch (1875-1953) – Poet and writer

With thanks to AC Benus for helping to find this poet for us

George Reston Malloch was born in Renfrewshire, Scotland on 18th November 1875. His parents were John Malloch, a cotton manufacturer, and his wife, Margaret Malloch.  George had the following siblings: Elizabeth Cochran Malloch, b.1868, Donald Mcleod Malloch, b.1870, James Edward Malloch, b. 1872, Jane Esdon Malloch, b.1874 and Charles Bruce Malloch, b. 1879.  The family lived in Glen House, Paisley Abbey, Johnstone & Elderslie, Renfrewshire, Scotland.  Jane Esdon Malloch also became a writer.

In 1900, George married Ethel Josephine Oliver and the couple lived in Essex.  In the 1901 Census George and Ethel were at the home of journalist Henry N. Brailsford in London, who by then was married to George's sister Jane Esdon Malloch. 

During the First World War, George worked in the Casualty Department at the Admiralty.

Ethel J. V. Malloch died in June 1926 and George married Amy C. Felton the following year.  The 1939 Census shows them living in Suffolk Road, Barnes, Barnes, Surrey.  George died in 1953. 

The WW1 poetry collections of George Reston Malloch were: 

"Poems" (Heinemann, 1920)

"Poems and Lyrics" (Heinemann, 1916)

"Poems and Lyrics" (Dutton, New York, 1917)

Here is one of George's poems:

“The Reason Why”

"Youth Mourning" by George Clausen
(1852 - 1944)

They ask me why

I write few poems of war

I will tell them why.

Because I have seen the tears

Of mothers and new-made widows

Because the message I sent

Has told the defeat of life.

Because the words I have written

Have been the herald of death.

Because I have seen the faces

Of women change and shrivel

At the thing I told them.

Because to the telephone summoned,

I have heard far-off foices

Ask, “Is my husband saved?”

And have answered “No.”.

From “Poems & Lyrics” (E.P. Dutton & Co., New York, 1917), p xi

Christopher Murray Grieve (11 August 1892 – 9 September 1978), best known by his pen name Hugh MacDiarmid, wrote this poem to George:

“The Sauchs in the Reuch Heuch Hauch”BY HUGH MACDIARMID

(For George Reston Malloch)

There’s teuch sauchs growin’ i’ the Reuch Heuch Hauch.   

Like the sauls o’ the damned are they,

And ilk ane yoked in a whirligig

Is birlin’ the lee-lang day.

O we come doon frae oor stormiest moods,

And Licht like a bird i’ the haun’,

But the teuch sauchs there i’ the Reuch Heuch Hauch   

As the deil’s ain hert are thrawn.

The winds ’ud pu’ them up by the roots,

Tho’ it broke the warl’ asunder,

But they rin richt doon thro’ the boddom o’ Hell,   

And nane kens hoo fer under!

There’s no’ a licht that the Heavens let loose   

Can calm them a hanlawhile,

Nor frae their ancient amplefeyst

Sall God’s ain sel’ them wile.

Hugh MacDiarmid, “The Sauchs in the Reuch Heuch Hauch” from Selected Poetry. Copyright © 1992 by Alan Riach and Michael Grieve. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Complete Poems (Grove/Atlantic Inc., 1993)

Additional Sources: Find my Past,

Catherine W. Reilly, “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978, p. 216

Saturday, 30 October 2021

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson (1878 – 1962) – British WW1 soldier poet and writer

Wilfrid Wilson Gibson was born in Hexham, Northumberland, UK on 2nd October 1878.  His parents were John Pattison Gibson, a chemist, and his wife, Judith Frances Gibson, nee Walton (1836 - 1902), who were married in September 1861. Wilfried had the following siblings: Frances, b. 1864, Clara, b. 1866, Elizabeth, b. 1869, John, b. 1872, Constance, b. 1873, Anna, b. 1874, Mary, b. 1876, and Muriel, b. 1880.  Elizabeth Gibson also became a poet, later adding her married name of Cheyne. 

In 1912, he left Hexham for London, where he met Rupert Brooke, Edward Marsh and other literary people of that era.  Wilfrid was one of the poets who took advantage of the rooms for rent for poets above Harold Monro’s Poetry Bookshop in London. There he met Harold Monro’s secretary - Geraldine Townshend.   In 1913, Wilfrid and Geraldine were married.  They went to live in Gloucestershire, where Wilfrid was was one of the founders of the Dymock poets. That was a community of writers who settled, shortly before the outbreak of the Great War, in the village of Dymock, in north Gloucestershire.

Wilfrid's p oem to Rupert Brooke

When war broke out, Wilfrid volunteered to join the army but was rejected four times until being accepted as a Private in the Army Service Corps Motor Transport in October 1917, later becoming a medical officer’s clerk in south London. After Rupert Brooke’s death, Wilfrid became one of Brooke's literary executors, along with the poets Lascelles Abercrombie and Walter de la Mare. 

Wilfrid’s poetry collections were: “Thoroughfares” (Elkin Mathews, London, 1914);  “Battle (Elkin Mathews, London, 1915 - reprinted with an introduction by Kelsey Thomton, 1999); “Collected Poems 1905 – 1925 (Macmillan, London, 1926);  “Friends” (Elkin Mathews, London, 1916);  “Livelihood: dramatic reveries” (Macmillan, London, 1917);  “Home” (P. Beaumont, 1920);   “Neighbours” – written in memory of friends killed in the war (Macmillan, London 1920); Twenty-three selected poems (Athenaeum Literature Department, 1919); Sixty-three poems. Selected for use in schools and colleges by E.A. Parker, with a critical intro. (Macmilland, London, 1926).

Wilfrid also had poems included in thirty-two WW1 poetry anthologies. 


I should like to refer you to the wonderful website created by Judy Greenaway, Wilfrid’s Grand-daughter, and trustee of his literary estate

Other sources:  Find my Past

Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 139.

NOTE: I have included Wilfrid’s sister Elizabeth in the Female Poets of The First World War section of my project, where you willl find my post about her:

Friday, 29 October 2021

Frank Bernard Camp (1882 - ?) – American WW1 soldier poet

I recently found a remembrance poem for WW1 on Facebook and trying to find out who wrote it, I came across information about Frank Bernard Camp.  With the kind help of author Chris Dubbs, and having scoured the Internet, I have been able to piece together a little about Frank Camp.   I am trying to find out more about Frank - if anyone can help please get in touch. 

It seems that Frank was born in 1882.  According to a report in “Trench and Camp” (Deming, New Mexico) of 30th October 1917, Frank may possibly have come from from Douglas, Arizona and he must have  joined the army because he served with the “2nd Montana Infantry on the Mexican Border.”   Referring to the First World War, the report continues “When war was declared, he applied for admittance to the Officers’ Training Camp but, owing to loss of weight and a bad right leg, he was turned down by the examining physicians”.  

As a result of that rejection, Frank “… decided to make what he calls his enthusiasm-arousing campaign” embarking on a 35-week tour of all the “army camps and contonments in the United States, gathering data for a collection of new soldier ballads pertinent to the life of the American soldier.”  “At each camp he visits, he secures permission from the Commanding Officer to read  his collection of ballads about the life of the American soldier.”

“Trench and Camp” newspaper was published weekly by the National War Work Council of the YMCA, in partnership with various city newspapers, for soldiers during The First World War. The paper was printed in different editions for each of the thirty-two cantonments, with about half the material supplied from a central editorial office in New York, and half by local reporters. 

Its purpose was “to print the news, to inform, to stimulate, and to help relieve the tedium and monotony of camp life” for soldiers, as well as “to be a graphic account of the life of our soldiers, whether they be drilling or fighting, at home or ‘over there’ for civilians. Contributions from soldiers include descriptions of the entertainments at the camps, athletic contests, educational lectures, jokes, and poetry, as well as personal columns telling of their experiences. The papers also sponsored cartoon contests, resulting in many good pictures portraying camp life. In addition, each Trench and Camp was a channel of communication to the troops from the President, Congress, and War Department.

Described as a “soldier poet” in an article in the “Anniston Star” newspaper of 24th June 1919, after the war, Frank apparently joined the United States Forestry and “made his base at the Coram Ranger Station, eighty miles from the nearest railroad line.”   Frank obviously had time to write as his book “Alaska Nuggets” was published in 1922.  He also published “Alaska Tales For The Cheechako” but I’m not certain when that was published. 

NOTE; A Cheechako is someone new to Alaska, ignorant in the ways of the Last Frontier and lacking the skills required to survive the Alaskan wilderness.

Page 4 of the “Cordova Daily Times” of 7 December 1921 has an article under the heading “Clever Poems by Local Author”, so it seems that by then Frank may have been living in Cordova, Tennessee.

Historical information taken from the collection and from "Thirty-two Camps Have Newspaper in Common," New York Times, 6 Jan 1918.

The poem that led me to the discovery of Camp was apparently inspired by  “Our Hitch in Hell” by Frank Bernard Camp, which “became so popular so quickly that between 1917 and 1921 many people started plagiarizing it.”

"Our Hitch in Hell" is a ballad by American poet Frank Bernard Camp, originally published as one of 49 ballads in a collection entitled "American Soldier Ballads", that went on to inspire multiple variants among American law enforcement and military, either as The Final Inspection, the Soldier's Prayer, the Policeman's Prayer, etc.

As far as I have been able to ascertain, Frank Bernard Camp’s poetry collections were:

“Mexican Border Ballads” (Douglas, Arizona, 1916) Poetry written while guarding the Mexican border and about the soldiers who guard the border.

“American Soldier Ballads” (Geo. Rice & Sonbs, Los Angeles, 1917)

“Rhymes in Khaki” (The Cornhill Company, Boston, 1918).


The musings of a soldier revised and set down in verse 

EVERY day and night I'm thinking of the things I left behind, 

Yet I loath to put on paper what is running through my mind, 

But I think I'll feel much better, so I guess I'll take a chance, 

Ere the regiment is ordered to the shores of sunny France. 

We've dug a million trenches and have cleared ten miles of ground, 

And a meaner place this side of Hell, I know has ne'er been found, 

We've drilled in dust and scorching sun, in mud and driving rain, 

'Till our eyes and ears and legs and arms were yelling loud with pain. 

But there's still one consolation, gather closely while I tell, 

When we die we're bound for Heaven, 'cause we've done our hitch in Hell. 

We've built a thousand mess halls for the cooks to stew our beans, 

We've stood a hundred guard mounts, and cleaned the camp latrines, 

We've washed a million mess kits, and peeled a million spuds, 

We've rolled a million blanket rolls and washed a million duds, 

The number of parades we've made is awfully hard to tell, 

But we'll not parade in Heaven, for we paraded here in Hell. 

We've passed a million sleepless hours upon our army cots, 

And shook a hundred centipedes from out our army socks, 

We've marched a hundred thousand miles and made a thousand camps, 

And pulled a million cacti thorns from out our army pants, 

So when our work on earth is done, our friends behind will tell, 

" When they died they went to Heaven, 'cause they did their hitch in Hell." 

The slum and coffee we have cussed, likewise the Willie canned, 

We've damned the gentle gusts of wind that filled the air with sand, 

We've taken the injections, ten million germs or more, 

And the vaccine scratched upon our arms has made them very sore, 

With all these things to get our goats, we all are here to tell, 

When the order comes to cross the pond we'll give the Germans Hell. 

When the final taps is sounded and we lay aside life's cares, 

And we do the last and gloried parade, on Heaven's shining stairs, 

And the angels bid us welcome and the harps begin to play 

We can draw a million canteen checks and spend them in a day, 

It is then we'll hear St. Peter tell us loudly with a yell, 

"Take a front seat you soldier men, you've done your hitch in Hell." 

by Frank B. Camp in “American Soldier Ballads” pp. 20 and 21 


“Trench and Camp” (Deming, New Mexico) of 30th October 1917 – downloaded by Chris Dubbs on 27 October 2021 

“Cordova Daily Times” 7 December 1921 under the heading “Clever Poems by Local Author” – Cordova, Tennessee

“American Soldier Ballads” (Los Angeles, G. Rice & sons, 1917) is  available to read as a free download from Archive:

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Major Sir William Newenham Montague Orpen, KBE, RA, RHA (1878 – 1931) - Irish-born official WW1 artist who also wrote poetry

Self-Portrait, 1913
Born in Stillorgan, County Dublin, William Orpen was the fourth and youngest son of Arthur Herbert Orpen (1830–1926), a solicitor, and his wife, Anne, nee Caulfield (1834–1912), the eldest daughter of the Right Rev. Charles Caulfield (1804–1862), Archdeacon of the Bahamas, who was consecrated Bishop of Nassau and the Bahamas at Lambeth Palace on 1 December 1861.

Both William’s  parents were amateur artists and his eldest brother, Richard Caulfield Orpen, became an architect.

During The First World War, Orpen was the most prolific of the official war artists sent by Britain to the Western Front. He produced drawings and paintings of ordinary soldiers, dead men, and German prisoners of war, as well as portraits of generals and politicians. He donated the majority of these works - 138 in all -  to the British government and they are now in the collection of the Imperial War Museum, London.

Orpen's connections to the senior ranks of the British Army allowed him to stay in France longer than any of the other official war artists, and although he was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1918 Birthday Honours, and also elected a member of the Royal Academy of Arts, his determination to serve as a war artist cost him both his health and his social standing in Britain.

William Orpen’s book about his war-time observations, “An Onlooker in France 1917 – 1919” (Richard Clay & Sons, London, 1921) is available as a down-load on the Gutenberg Project:

“A Memory of the Somme” a poem by Sir William Orpen.

A fair Spring morning – not a living soul is near.

Far Far away I hear the faint grumble of the guns.

The Battle has passed long since, all is Peace.

Sometimes there is the hum of aeroplanes as they pass overhead,  

Amber specks high up in the blue.

Occasionally there is the movement of a rat in the old battered trench on which I sit – still in the confusion of which it was left.

The sun is baking hot, strange odours come from the door of a dug-out with its endless steps running down into blackness.

The land is white – dazzling.

The distance is all shimmering in heat.

A few little spring flowers have forced their way through the chalk.

He lies a few yards in front of the trench, we are quite alone.

He makes me feel awed and small and ashamed

He has been there a long long time.

Hundreds of eyes have seen him.

Hundreds of bodies have felt faint and sick because of him.

This place was Hell.

But now all is peace – the sun has made him Holy and Pure.

He and his garments are bleached pale and clean.

A daffodil is by his head and his golden curly hair is moving in the slight breeze.

He, the man who died in “No Man’s Land” doing some great act of bravery for his comrades and country.

Here he lies – Holy and Pure, his face upward turned.

No earth between him and his maker.

I have no right to be so near.

With thanks to Dominic Lee for bringing to our attention the poem by Orpen.


Sunday, 24 October 2021

John Reed (1887 – 1920) – American writer, poet and journalist

With thanks to AC Benus for drawing my attention to the fact that John Reed also wrote poems.  John Reed is now probably best known for the book “Ten Days that Shook the World”, an eyewitness account of the Russian Revolution, based on the reports he sent to the magazine“The Masses” in the early autumn of 1917.  Perhaps there is a clue regarding his poetry here: “John Reed was so active in radical politics as to have too little time left for poetry,” wrote Harriet Monroe in her “Poetry” magazine, explaining why Reed’s poetry career had never reached its full potential. “Knowing himself for a poet, he hoped to prove his vocation by many poems worthy to endure; but life was so exciting, and the social struggle in these States and Mexico, in Finland, Russia –everywhere - so tempting to a fighting radical, that poetry had to wait for the leisure which - alas! - never came.” Did he write anything about the war or the Revolution?  Perhaps we will never know.

John Silas Reed was born in Portland, Oregon, USA on 22nd October 1887.  His father, Charles Jerome Reed, was a representative of a manufacturer of agricultural machinery, who served for a time as a US Marshal. John’s mother, Margaret, was from a well-known Portland family called Green. John was not a strong child and had several bouts of illness.  Educated at Moristown School, New Jersey, before going on to Harvard, John went on a tour of Europe after graduating and, on his return, his father’s friend Lincoln Steffans, a radical, investigative journalist, got him a job on “The American Magazine”.

In June 1906, journalists Ray Stannard Baker, Lincoln Steffens and Ida M. Tarbell created "The American Magazine".  So began John's career as a journalist.   He later worked for the "Metropolitan Magazine".

Blakely Hall founded the “Metropolitan Magazine” in 1895. In 1898 the magazine became more serious and began publishing articles by Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad and Booth Tarkington.  Harry Payne Whitney purchased the magazine in 1912 and installed the socialist and member of the Fabian Society, H. J. Wigham, as editor. He began publishing the work of George Bernard Shaw, Walter Lippmann, Morris Hillquit and Theodore Dreiser. Later on, Carl Hovey became the editor of the magazine.

In December 1913, Hovey sent John Reed to Mexico to report on Pancho Villa and his army. Former communist Bertram D. Wolfe (1896 – 1977) argued: "To Reed the Mexican Revolution was a pageant, a succession of adventures, a delight to the eye, a chance to discover that he was not afraid of bullets. His reports overflow with life and movement: simple, savage men, capricious cruelty, warm comradeship, splashes of color, bits of song, fragments of social and political dreams, personal peril, gay humor, reckless daring... Reed's mingling of personal adventure with camera-eye close-ups lighted by a poet's vision made superb reporting."

Carl Hovey was very impressed with Reed's work in Mexico. After he received one of his articles he sent a telegramme to Reed: "Nothing finer could have been written. We are absolutely delighted with your stuff.”  John's reports from Mexico were later collected and published as “Insurgent Mexico”, which earned him the reputation of being one of the great war correspondents.   

John also covered the class war and the striking coal miners in Ludlow, Colorado, before being sent to France to report on the First World War for the “Metrolopitain Magazine”.  John reported on both Allied and German lines but, due to his socialist views, he was not granted the same insider’s view as he had been in Mexico.  On his return, John declared to the Americans “This is not our war” and opposed America’s entry into the conflict, speaking often at anti war meetings.  John also worked for “The New York Mail” newspaper, which, it was later revealed, was financed by the German Government. 

Portrait of Louise Bryant in 1913
by American artist John Henry Trullinger (1870 - 1960)

On 9th November 1916, John married the feminist, political activist, and journalist Louise Bryant (1885 – 1936), who was born Anna Louise Mohan but preferred to use the surname of her stepfather, Sheridan Bryant. Eleven days after the wedding, John had emergency surgery to remove one of his kidneys. 

John and Louise c. 1916

1914 cover
In the autumn of 1917, John and Louise sailed for Russia to report on the Revolution for “The Masses” magazine. John was not permitted to return to the United States due to a sedition charge against him for articles he had written for “The Masses”. 

When he was finally allowed back into the country, John switched from journalism to politics, and organized the Communist Labor Party, one of the two rival communist parties in the United States. When “Ten Days that Shook the World” was published in 1919, John was in trouble and was indicted as a communist leader during the “Red Scare” after the First World War.  He fled the country, eventually returning to Russia where he continued trying to teach the world about the Bolshevic Revolution and encouraging people to follow their exampe.   

He died of typhus in Moscow on 17th October 1920. John Reed was buried, honoured as a Soviet hero, under the Kremlin wall facing the Red Square, the only American and one of the few foreigners to receive such an honour.

The 1981 film “Reds”, starring Diane Keaton as Bryant and Warren Beatty as Reed, tells the story of their Russian adventure.  Supporting actors include Jack Nicholson as Eugene O'Neill, Maureen Stapleton as Emma Goldman, Jerzy Kosiński as Grigory Zinoviev (one of the Bolshevik leaders), and Edward Herrmann as Max Eastman.

Here is one of John Reed’s poems:

"Love at Sea"

Wind smothers the snarling of the great ships,

And the serene gulls are stronger than turbines;

Mile upon mile the hiss of a stumbling wave breaks unbroken –

Yet stronger is the power of your lips for my lips.

This cool green liquid death shall toss us living

Higher than high heaven and deeper than sighs –

But O the abrupt, stiff, sloping, resistless foam

Shall not forbid our taking and our giving!

Life wrenched from its roots – what wretchedness!

What waving of lost tentacles like blind sea-things!

Even the still ooze beneath is quick and profound –

I am less and more than I was, you are more and less.

I cried upon God last night, and God was not where I cried;

He was slipping and balancing on the thoughtless shifting planes of sea.

Careless and cruel, he will unchain the appalling sea-gray engines –

But the speech of your body to my body will not be denied!

By John Reed, Published in “The Masses” magazine, May 1916

The complete poetry of John Reed 1887-1920 is available to read on loan on an hourly bsis from Archive:

“The Masses” was America's leading  monthly socialist magazine. It was founded in 1911 by Piet Vlag, a Dutch immigrant journalist, whose aim was to educate the working people of America about art, literature, and socialist theory.  In 1917, Federal prosecutors brought charges against the magazine’s editors for conspiring to obstruct conscription. “The Masses” was succeeded by “The Liberator” and later by “The New Masses”. It published reports, fiction, poetry and art by the leading radicals of the time such as Max Eastman, John Reed, Dorothy Day, and Floyd Dell. Numerous denunciations of American participation in the First World War were published in “The Masses”, many written by Max Eastman, provoking controversy and reaction. Eastman was twice indicted and stood trial under provisions of the Sedition Act, but was acquitted each time. In a July 1917 speech, he complained that the government's aggressive prosecutions of dissent meant that "[y]ou can't even collect your thoughts without getting arrested for unlawful assemblage". In 1918, “The Masses” was forced to close due to charges under the Espionage Act of 1917.

Poem by John Reed, published as a Hillacre Broadside, 1916 (pp. 51 and 52 “The Complete Poetry of John Reed (University Press of America, Washington, D.C. 1983). Broadsides are single-sheet publications, often issued as ephemera or announcements. Hillacre Broadsides were printed on Tuscany hand made paper, at Hillacre, Riverside, Connecticut, USA.

A poem by John Reed to 
Max Eastman

Max Forrester Eastman (January 4, 1883 – March 25, 1969) was an American writer on literature, philosophy and society, a poet and a prominent political activist. In 1913, he became editor of “The Masses”, whose contributors during his tenure included Sherwood Anderson, Louise Bryant, Floyd Dell, Amy Lowell, Mabel Dodge Luhan, Robert Minor, John Reed, Carl Sandburg, Upton Sinclair and Art Young. That year, Eastman published “Enjoyment of Poetry”, an examination of literary metaphor from a psychological point of view.

In his first editorial for "The Masses", Eastman wrote:

"This magazine is owned and published cooperatively by its editors. It has no dividends to pay, and nobody is trying to make money out of it. A revolutionary and not a reform magazine: a magazine with a sense of humour and no respect for the respectable: frank, arrogant, impertinent, searching for true causes: a magazine directed against rigidity and dogma wherever it is found: printing what is too naked or true for a money-making press: a magazine whose final policy is to do as it pleases and conciliate nobody, not even its readers."  


The complete poetry of John Reed 1887-1920

Portrait of Louise Bryant in 1913 by American artist John Henry Trullinger (1870 - 1960)

Photograph of John Reed photographer unknown

Photograph of John and Louise c. 1916 photographer unknown.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Archibald Percival Wavell, 1st Earl Wavell, GCB, GCSI, GCIE, CMG, MC, KStJ, PC (1883 - 1950) - British soldier

 With thanks to Historian Dr. Vivien Newman for bringing Wavell to my attention 

Archibald Percival Wavell (5 May 1883 – 24 May 1950) became a senior officer of the British Army. He served in the Second Boer War, the Bazar Valley Campaign and the First and Second World Wars.  He was awarded a Military Cross for bravery during the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915, during which he was wounded and lost an eye.  

I knew that Wavell had published an anthology of poetry entitled "Other Men's Flowers" but until Dr. Newman suggested I look in greater depth at the anthology, I did not realise that Wavell also wrote poetry.   

I imagine there will be many people who say he should not be included here because there is no evidence that he wrote any poems during WW1.  But he was a poet and he served with distinction during the conflict.

In my experience, very few people 'only write one poem', so I feel it is likely that Wavell wrote much more but did not feel able to have them published - if you look at his description of the poem reproduced here, this becomes clear.    Wavell had a lifelong love of poetry for we know that he knew all of the poems included in his anthology by heart and loved to recite them

Here is the poem by Lord Wavell which is the last one he included in his anthology.  He described his poem thus:  "At the the end of my garden of other men's flowers, outside the gate, I have put this little wayside dandelion of my own. It has no business here even outside the garden, but the owner of the lady for whom it was written is anxious for it to be included. She is a beautiful lady designed though not actualy painted by Leonardo da Vinci, and I have loved her ever since I saw her."

Sonnet for the Madonna of the Cherries

Dear Lady of the cherries, cool, serene,

Untroubled by the follies,strife and fears,

Clad in soft reds and blues and mantle green

Your memory has been with me all these years.

Long years of battle,bitterness and waste,

Dry years of sun and dust and eastern skies,

Hard years of ceaseless struggle, endless haste,

Fighting 'gainst greed for power hate and lies.

Your red-gold hair, your slowly smiling face

For pride in your dear son, your king of kings,

Fruits of the kindly earth, and truth and grace,

Colour and light, and all warm lovely things -

For all that lovelieness, that warmth, that light,

Blessed Madonna, I go back to fight.

Written in Northwick Park, April 29th 1943

From “Other Men’s Flowers” an anthology of war verse compiled by  A. P. Wavell Field-Marshal Viscount Wavell G.C.B., G.G.S.I., G.C.I.E., C.M.G., M.C. (Jonathan Cape, London, 1944), which is available to read as a free download from Archive:

Historian Dr Vivien Newman’s latest books are all available through Amazon and Pen and Sword:

We Also Served: The Forgotten Women of the First World War 

Nursing Through Shot and Shell: A Great War Nurse's Diary  

Tumult and Tears: The Story of the Great War Through the Eyes and Lives of its Women Poets

Régina Diana: Seductress, Singer, Spy

Suffragism and the Great War

The photograph is of Wavell and Robert Brooke-Popham of the Royal Flying Corps and later the Royai Air Force, during WW1.


Thursday, 7 October 2021

A poem in remembrance of Arthur Walderne St. Clair Tisdall, VC

 The following poem is on page 120 of the book entitled “Verses, Letters and Remembrances of Sub-Lieutenant Arthur Walderne St Clair Tisdall, V.C”, published in London in 1916 by Sidgwick and Jackson. The writer of the poem is one L.C. but who was L.C.? Does anyone know?

HE stood upon Life’s threshold, girt with grace,

Equipped by Nature, trained with skilful art,

Keen for the Contest, poising for the start,

Conscious of power:  in the swift, long race

Through the great world’s immeasurable space

Ready to pierce, with eager mind and heart,

As arrows through the hazy sunlight dart,

A straight, strong course, a great career to trace.

The Race is run!  Far off a soldier’s grave

On alien shores marks where a hero lies,

Honoured, beloved, brave among many brave

Who sleep with him ‘neath hostile Eastern Skies.

A Greater World’s immensity of scope

Stretches before  him, radiant with hope!      

By L.C. 

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

William St. Clair Lomas Tisdall (1859 - 1928) - linguist, historian and philologist


Ithuriel by
Evelyn De Morgan
“In Memoriam A.W.St.C.T.” 

By The Rev. William St. Clair Tisdall (1859 – 1928) 

HE is not dead, who died for Home and Duty,

To crush foul Tyranny, to right the wrong:

He is not dead whose life was filled with beauty,

Who gave that life in battle with the strong.

With health and courage, genius, nobly gifted,

Fitted for grandest work beneath the sun –

To help his brethren, see the fallen lifted

Out of the mire – nor yet his work is done.

His comrades’ love, his squadron’s deep devotion,

Won by unselfish deeds, proclaimed his worth:

Brave men who feared no foe nor rage of Ocean

Wept when they saw their leader fall to earth.

The fatal Beach, bestrewn with dead and dying,

Him to their rescue called, nor called in vain.

Many a life he saved.  Soon, death defying,

He fell victorious mid the leaden rain.

Higher his work now: nought from Christ can sever,

Who first for him, for all, His life laid down:

Christ hath abolished death, and, living ever,

Grants to His own the amaranthine crown.

O England, England, so thy noblest fall,

To keep thy shores inviolate and free:

- In vain, if thou become the drunken thrall

Of Vice, and drug the Orient lands for fee.

Rise in GOD’S Name, O England! Burst the chain:

Hold Right is Might: smite with Ithuriel’s spear

Each sukulking foe;  thus cleanse they shield from stain,

And start victorious on they new career.

W.St. C.T. 

Page 121 “Verses, Letters & Remembrances of Sub-Lieutenant Arthur Waldern St. Clair Tisdall, VC (Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 1916)

The poem in memory of Arthur Walderne St. Clair Tisdall VC (1890 – 1915) was written by his father, The Rev. William St. Clair Tisdall, who was an Anglican Church Minister - Vicar of St George’s Deal, Kent, UK at the time of Arthur’s death.

William St. Clair Lomas Tisdall was born on 19th February 1859 in Pembroke, Wales.  His parents were William St. Clair Tisdall and his wife, Mary Jenkin Cecilia.  Ordained in 1883, William became vicar of St George’s in 1913.  He married Marian Louisa Gray and they had eight children, Arthur being the third born. Their son John Theodore, b. 1894, was also killed during the First World War - in France on 6th August 1916.

William was a linguist, historian and philologist. He served as the Secretary of the Church of England's Missionary Society in Isfahan, Persia, where three of his children were born. He spoke several Middle Eastern languages, including Arabic, and spent much time researching the sources of Islam and the Qur'an in the original languages. He also wrote grammars for Persian, Hindustani, Punjabi and Gujarati.

A memorial was erected by the Tisdall family as a private monument to their two sons killed in the war.  The memorial was unveiled in 1916 and the list of names of 55 men of the parish was added to the reverse side after 1918. An Order of service was made for the occasion, with several hymns, one of which was Rudyard Kipling’s Recessional, which was quoted by Tisdall in his Parish letter for March 1918. The unveiling was conducted and the sermon delivered by the Chaplain General of the Forces, the most senior chaplain in the Empire. 

A book entitled “Verses, Letters and Remembrances of Sub-Lieutenant Arthur Walderne St Clair Tisdall, V.C” was published in London in 1916 (reprinted in 1992). The family had connections to New Zealand, and an obituary notice even appeared in the Otago Daily Times (see

Ithuriel is an angel mentioned in John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost.

Painting of Ithurial by British artist Evelyn De Morgan (1855 – 1919 

Sources:  Find my Past,

Sunday, 3 October 2021

John Galsworthy OM (1867 – 1933) - British novelist and playwright

John Galsworthy is probably best remembered now for his novels in the series “The Forsyte Saga”.

John Galsworthy by his
nephew Rudolf Sauter
John Galsworthy was born on 14th August 1867. His parents were John Galsworthy, a solicitor, and his wife Blanche Bailey Galsworthy, née Bartleet. His siblings were: Blanche Lilian, b. 1865, Herbert, b. 1869. Mabel E, b. 1872,  

Educated at Harrow and New College, Oxford, where he studied law, John was called to the bar in 1890. He then began to travel in order to look after the family's shipping business. During his travels, John met Joseph Conrad in 1893, who was serving as the Chief Officer aboard the sailing-ship “Captain Cope” moored in the harbour of Adelaide, Australia, and they became close friends.

When war broke out, David Lloyd George, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, was given the task of setting up a British War Propaganda Bureau (WPB). He chose writer and fellow Liberal MP Charles Masterman as head of the organization.  On 2nd September 1914, Masterman invited twenty-five of the most successful British writer to Wellington House, the headquarters of the War Propaganda Bureau, to discuss ways of best promoting Britain's interests during the war.  Among those who attended the meeting were Arthur Conan Doyle, Arnold Bennett, John Masefield, Ford Madox Ford, William Archer, G. K. Chesterton, Sir Henry Newbolt, John Galsworthy, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, Gilbert Parker, G. M. Trevelyan and H. G. Wells.

During the war, John worked for the French Red Cross in a hospital in France as an orderly, after being rejected for military service. In 1917 he refused to accept a knighthood, for which he was nominated by David Lloyd George, who by that time was Britain’s Prime Minister.  John argued that a writer's reward comes simply from the writing itself.


Men of my blood, you English men!

From misty hill and misty fen,

From cot, and town, and plough, and moor,

Come in—before I shut the door!

Into my courtyard paved with stones

That keep the names, that keep the bones,

Of none but English men who came

Free of their lives, to guard my fame.

I am your native land who bred

No driven heart, no driven head;

I fly a flag in every sea

Round the old Earth, of Liberty!

I am the Land that boasts a crown;

The sun comes up, the sun goes down—

And never men may say of me,

Mine is a breed that is not free.

I have a wreath! My forehead wears

A hundred leaves—a hundred years

I never knew the words: "You must!"

And shall my wreath return to dust?

Freemen! The door is yet ajar;

From northern star to southern star,

O ye who count and ye who delve,

Come in—before my clock strikes twelve!

John Galsworthy

John Galsworthy’s WW1 poetry collections:

“The bells of peace” (Cambridge, Heffer, 1920)

“The Inn of Tranquility, and other impressions and poems” (Heinemann, 1923)

“Verses new and old” (Heinemann, 1926)

Collected poems. (Heinemann, 1934).

He also had poems printed in six WW1 poetry anthologies.  John Galsworthy died on 31st January 1933. 

Sources:  Find my Past,

Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 136 

“A Treasury of war poetry: British and American poems of the World War 1914 -1917” Edited by George Herbert Clarke1914 (Houghton Mifflin, Boston, Mass., 1917)

Geoffrey Winthrop Young (1876 – 1958) – British mountaineer, writer, teacher and poet

Geoffrey was born in Kensington, London, UK on 25th October 1876. His parents were Sir George Young, 3rd Baronet, a classicist and charity commissioner, and h is wife, Alice Eacy, nee Kennedy.  Geoffrey's brother Edward Hilton Young (1879 – 1960) became the 1st Baron Kennet and married Kathleen Scott, widow of the Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott. 

Educated at Marlborough, Geoffrey went on to study at Trinity College, Cambridge University, where he was awarded the Chancellor's Medal for English Verse, In I900 Geoffrey was appointed to a post of assistant master at Eton School. Five years later, he accepted a post as Inspector of Secondary Schools. 

Geoffrey was 38 years old when the First World War began and, too old to enlist, he served first with the Friends' Ambulance Unit in Flanders, and later in command of the First British Ambulance for Italy. Mentioned in Despatches, awarded the Belgian Order of Leopold for exceptional courage and resource, and the Italian silver medal' for Valour', Geoffrey was badly wounded in 1917 and had to have his leg amputated above the knee.

Geoffrey’s WW1 poetry collections were:

“Bolts from the blues: rhymes, Gorizia, 1917”. Sketches by Sebastian B. Meyer and rhymes by Geoffrey Young serving with the first British ambulance unit of the Red Cross on the Italian Front.

“Collected poems” (Methuen, London 1936). 

Geoffrey also published “From the trenches Louvain to the Aisne, the first record of an eye-witness 1914” (T. Fisher Unwin, 1914)  and “Freedom”  (London, Smith Elder, 1914).

“I hold the Heights” by Geoffrey Winthrop Young

I have not lost the magic of long days,

I live them, dream them still

Still I am a master of the starry ways,

And freeman of the hills;

Shattered my glass, ere half the sands had run.

I hold the heights, I hold the heights, I won.

Mine still the hope that haileth me from each height

Mine the unresting flame.

With dreams I charmed each doing to delight;

I charm my rest the same.

Severed my skin, ere half the strands were spun

I keep the dreams, I keep the dreams I won.

What if I live no more those kingly days?

Their night sleeps with me still.

I dream my feet upon the starry ways;

My heart rests in the hill.

I may not grudge, the little left undone.

I hold the heights, I keep the dreams I won.

“Waste” by Geoffrey Winthrop Young

Grub for gold with prisoned life;

Mint it at the price of breath;

Let it bear the stamp of strife;

Let it purchase power of death:

Life and gold, one wasted bar,

Lavish it on waste of war.

Dig the gold with good men’s toil;

Leave the holes for dead men’s graves;

Starve the growth, and hoard the spoil

Stored in trenches, heaped on waves:

Murder, lurking underground,

Till the trump of Azrael sound.

Drain the gold, and forge the chain;

Drain the strength, and bind the race;

Rouse the brute in man to reign;

Train him for his princely place:

Flunkey to a nation’s pride

In the lust of fratricide.

Sources:  Catherine W. Reilly, “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 346.

Find my past, Free BMD

Michael Copp, “Cambridge Poets of the First World War: An Anthology” (Rosemount Publishing & Printing Corp., Cranbury, New Jersey, USA, 2001) p. 215

Sunday, 19 September 2021

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

 Found in an article sent to me by Historian Debbie Cameron. As Arthur is one of only

two VC poets of WW1 I have found so far, how come we have not heard of him previously? 

Arthur Walderne St. Clair Tisdall was born in Girgaum, Bombay, India, on 12th July 1890. His parents were Marian Louisa Tisdall, nee Gray, and her husband, The Reverend William St. Clair Tisdall, a Minister in the Anglican church.  By all accounts Arthur’s early life must have been interesting as he was born in India and his father, who was a linguist, historian and philologist, served as the Secretary of the Church of England's Missionary Society in Isfahan, Persia, where three of Arthur’s siblings were born.

 Arthur's Father, The Rev. William St ClairTisdal, was fluent in several Middle Eastern languages, including Arabic, and spent much time researching the sources of Islam and the Qur'an in the original languages. He also wrote grammars for Persian, Hindustani, Punjabi and Gujarati.

Arthur had the following siblings: Irene M, b. 1888 and Edith R. b. 1889 in India, John Theodore, b. 1894, Edward G., b. 1896, Ruth M., b. 1897 and Violet M, b. 1899 in Persia, and Francis R., born in 1901 in Bedford, UK.   

Educated at Bedford School, Arthur went on to Trinity College, Cambridge where he gained a BA Double 1st Class Degree with Honours and was awarded the Chancellor's Gold Medal.

Arthur joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) as a Sub Lieutenant and served in Anson Battalion.  The Battalion was involved in the Gallipoli Campaign and Arthur was awarded the Victoria Cross for his bravery on 25th April 1915.

The VC Citation reads:  “During the landing from the S.S. “River Clyde” at V Beach in the Gallipoli Peninsula on the 25th April, 1915, Sub-Lieutenant Tisdall, hearing wounded men on the beach calling for assistance, jumped into the water and, pushing a boat in front of him, went to their rescue. He was, however, obliged to obtain help, and took with him on two trips Leading Seaman Malia and on other trips Chief Petty Officer Perring and Leading Seamen Curtiss and Parkinson. In all Sub-Lieutenant Tisdall made four or five trips between the ship and the shore, and was thus responsible for rescuing several wounded men under heavy and accurate fire. Owing to the fact that Sub-Lieutenant Tisdall and the platoon under his orders were on detached service at the time, and that this Officer was killed in action on the 6th May, it has only now been possible to obtain complete information as to the individuals who took part in this gallant act. Of these, Leading Seaman Fred Curtiss, O.N. Dev 1899 has been missing since the 4th June, 1915.”

From: Supplement to The London Gazette of 31 March 1916. 31 March 1916, Numb. 29530, pp. 3515-16

Arthur was killed in action some days later on V Beach, Sedd-el-Bahr, Gallipoli on 6th May 1915.  He has no known grave but is remembered on The Helles Memorial in Turkey -  Panel 8 to 16. 

Helles Memorial, Photo by
Andrew Mackay

Arthur is also remembered on a wall plaque in the school chapel of Bedford Preparatory School in Bedfordshire. 

Arthur’s brother John Theodore St Clair Tisdall joined the King’s Liverpool Regiment and was killed in action on 8th August 1916. 

Regarding Arthur’s poems, I found this reference about his time at university: 

A. W. St. C. Tisdall, who has just fallen in the Dardanelles, was a frequent contributor to “The Cambridge Magazine” during 1912-13. He was an enthusiastic and conscientious member of the O.T.C., and during the Michaelmas Term, 1912, published, under the pseudonym C. Vilian Roberts, two forcible criticisms of the Corps which caused a great deal of excitement at the time. We feel sure the authorities had long forgiven his indiscretion.

He was also a staunch supporter of the C.I.C.C.U., and though he did not succeed in converting the staff to the tenets of that body, for a long time also contributed an account of their weekly sermon to our columns. But many of our readers will remember him chiefly for two little poems signed W.T., which we cannot forbear to quote. 

The first, “White Hands,” was thus:--

Lady, your hands are white, so white and clean,

But I have looked and seen

The chapt and grimy hands that keep them so.

You do not know.

Your hands are white like Pilate’s, white and clean;

For others come in between

To shed the innocent blood that gemmed them so.

What did you know?

With your white hand, my lady, stop your ear,

Lest you ma chance to hear

Your reckless slaves that curse you in their woe.

Why should you know?

The second was inspired by the Balkan war, and entitled “Nick of Crnogora (vulgarly called Montenegro).”

Who batted first in this great war a-

Gainst the Turk and proved a scorer?

Who chased the Turkish carnivora

Like rabbits to their own Angora,

And made them wiser p’r’aps, if sorer?

Who now of liberty restorer

Shining red fingered like Aurora

Reigns haloed in a golden aura?

Who, but King Nick of Crnagora?

And then, poor fellow, himself to be killed at the hands of the Turks! He was a careful and accurate scholar; Bell Scholar in 1909; Double First in the Classical Tripos and first Chancellor’s medallist: and we deplore in his loss not only the vivacious contributor, but, with all who knew him.

Helles Memorial
Photo by Andrew Mackay


An article found by Debbie Cameron, which was writted by Dr. E.M. Purkes and publshed in the “Westminster Gazette” on 3rd November 1916 by 

Find my Past

Supplement to “The London Gazette” of 31 March 1916. 31 March 1916, Numb. 29530, pp. 3515-16

Photographs of Helles Memorial provided by Andrew Mackay and shared with his kind permission.


Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Owen Evans, MM (1888 – 1918) - Welsh poet – Bardic name Rhiwlas

With thanks to Clive Hughes of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum 

for finding Owen Evans for us and supplying additional information 

and a poem by Owen - with the help of Owen's Granddaughter

Owen Evans was born on 17th March 1888 at Llaneilian Anglesey, Wales. His parents were Owen Evans, a farmer, and his wife Elizabeth Evans, nee Owen.    Owen’s siblings were Hannah, William, Grace and Elizabeth.   The family lived on a farm in School Lane, Llaneilian, Anglesey.

Owen’s bardic name was that of his father’s farm, "Rhiwlas". He married Sarah Jane Williams in December 1909. Owen was the hwsmon or foreman at Tanrallt Farm at some point.  There came a junior farm servant or farm-boy named John Morris Jones.  

In those days it was common for farm workers to agree with their employer in May and October each year whether they would stay on for another 6-month period.  Those who weren't wanted, or who wanted to leave, went to the hiring fair to offer their services to other employers.  John Morris came to the end of his first hiring period, and had given satisfaction, so was offered a second 6-months.  As he started this, he bought himself a new pair of fustian trousers.  The new pants caught the eye of Owen Evans, who was eminently capable of framing rural rhymes, and he got the urge to compose the following:

Trowsus di-fai i'r brenin,

Ni bu am undyn amgian cerpyn,

Ond daw amser i wisgo fesul dipyn

A bydd John Morris yn dinoeth wedyn.

This translates poetically as:

Trousers fit for a king’s wearing,

Ne’er a man wore better clothing;

But time will tell upon them, leaving

John Morris with his bare arse showing.

Translated by Howard Huws of Bangor.

During the First World War, Owen enlisted as Private 37345 in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. When he was posted to the Western Front, he became 44132 in the 11th Battn. South Wales Borderers.  He was a stretcher-bearer and was awarded the Military Medal for gallantry at Pilckem Ridge, 3rd Battle of Ypres, July-August 1917, when he was wounded.  

Military Medal

Early in 1918, Owen’s unit was disbanded and he was transferred to the 10th Battn. South Wales Borderers. He was badly wounded in April 1918, probably in the 38th (Welsh) Division's attack at Bouzincourt Ridge on the Somme.  Owen was evacuated and died of his wounds on 30.4.18 in the base hospital in Rouen.  He is buried at St.Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France, Grave reference P. XI. J. 18B. 

If you are visiting the St. Sever Cemetery in Rouen you might also like to visit the graves of Richard Molesworth Dennys (1884 – 1916), a Captain in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment who was wounded on 12th July at Tara Redoubt on the Somme and died on 24th July 1916 in Rouen Hospital.  His Grave Reference is Officers A 4 7.

And Francis St. Vincent Morris (1896 – 1917), a Second Lieutenant in No. 3 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, attached to the Sherwood Foresters.  He crash landed at Vimy Ridge and died on the operating table at the military hospital in Rouen on 27th April 1917.  Grave Reference Officers B 6 5.

There are also seven women casualties of WW1 in that cemetery and seven more in the Extension Cemetery at Rouen. 

NOTE:  The Military Medal (MM) 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 award 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.

Sources:  Find my Past, Free BMD and

information supplied by Owen's Grandaughter via Clive Hughes.