Monday, 4 January 2021

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

Another poet with the family name of Garstin and another MC - however,

I cannot find a connection between Edward and brother poets Crosbie anbd Denis Garstin 

Edward was born in Kensington, London, UK on 8th June1893.  His parents were Edward Charles Garstin, an officer in the Indian Army, and his wife, Mary. 

During the First World War, Edward served as a Lieutenant and then as a Captain in the 12th Battalion Middlesex Regiment and went to France in August 1914 with the British Expeditionary Force.  In 1917, he was awarded a Military Cross - ” For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty at Poelcapelle on 17-10-1917. His company had to spend forty-eight hours in the open, within about 150 yards of the enemy, who caused many casualties and disorganised the company. He collected the men quickly and re-established the line under heavy fire with great skill.”

In 1917, Edward married Ethel S. Hoblyn and in 1943, he married Catherine E. Alcock.  Edward died in 1955.

Edward was a prominent member of the Rosicrucian Order of the Alpha and Omega and published the book “The Secret Fire: An Alchemical Study” in 1932. 

He had poems published in 3 WW1 anthologies.



Trench rats, WW1 (photographer unknown)

"To the Rats" 

O LOATHSOME rodent with your endless squeaking, 

You hurry to and fro and give no peace, 

Above the noise of Hun projectiles' shrieking 

The sound of scratching footfalls never cease. 

There is a thing which I could never pen, 

The horror with which I regard your race, 

For how can I describe my feelings when 

I wake and find you sitting on my face. 

Oh, how shall I portray the depths I plumb 

When, stretched upon this bed, my body numb, 

I see you, agile, helter-skelter fly. 

Oh, Ignominy ! while I sleepless lie, 

You play your foolish games with eager zest 

And sport and gambol freely on my chest. 

E. J. L Garstin p. 24 “Soldier Poets: Songs of the Fighting Men”

Rats were a big problem for the troops in the trenches during the First World War.  So much so that the British Army designated a Rat Catcher Officer - Philip Henry G. Gosse (1879 - 1959). Philip, son of the poet Sir Edmund Gosse, studied medicine at St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in London then became a General Practitioner with a practice in Beaulieu in the New Forest.   He joined the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1914 and served in WW1 on the Western Front and in India. Philip was the British Army’s Official Rat Catcher Officer on the Western Front and he toured the camps lecturing about the importance of hygiene and care of food - especially left-overs and food waste.

Sources:  Find my Past

Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliogrpahy” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978)  p. 137 

“Soldier Poets: Songs of the Fighting Men”, Ed. Galloway Kyle (Eskine Macdonald, London, 2016), which is available to view as a free down-load on Archive: