Sunday, 30 May 2021

Reverend Sir Albert Evans-Jones – Bardic name Cynan - (1895 - 1970) –Welsh Poet, writer and playwrite


Albert in WW1
Albert was born in Pwllheli on 14th April 1895. His parents were Richard Albert Jones andhis wife, Hannah Jane (née Evans). His father, Councillor Richard Albert Jones, ran the Liverpool House confectionery shop and Central Restaurant in Pwllheli. In 1917 Albert's mother opened a women’s labour exchange, to supply “Ladies requiring superior Maids” as far away as Manchester, Blackpool and Aberystwyth. She also found work for shop workers, waitresses, cooks and kitchen maids.

Educated at Pwllheli Grammar School, Albert went on to study at the University College of North Wales in Bangor, graduating in 1916.  During the First World War, Albert joined the Welsh Student Company of the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC), serving in Salonika and France, initially as an ambulance man and then, from 15th September 1917, as the Company's temporary military chaplain.

After the war, Albert went to college in Pwllheli to train for the ministry of The Presbyterian Church of Wales. He was ordained at Penmaenmawr Caernarfonshire in 1920, and served there as minister until 1931.   His poem Mab y Bwthyn, describing a young Welshman’s life while serving during WW1, won Albert the crown at the National Eisteddfod in Caernarfon in 1921.  

From 1931 until his retirement, Albert was a university tutor in Bangor, living in Menai Bridge, Anglesey, Wales. He won the Eisteddfod crown again in 1923 and 1931 and the chair in 1924. He was also a dramatist and directed many plays, sometimes playing an acting role.

He was the National Eisteddfod’s Cofiadur (Recorder) from 1935 to 1970, and also served as thier Archdruid.   Made a freeman of Pwllheli in 1963, Albert was knighted on 18th November 1969.  He died on 26th January 1970 and was buried in the churchyard of St Tysilio's Church, Menai Bridge, Church Island, Menai Strait, Anglesey.

Translation of Ballade by the War Memorial. (A Speech that would not be heard on Armistice Day). By Alfred Evans-Jones.  Translated by Alan Llwyd.

From ghostly realms I come, a shade,

On your dead sons' behalf, to see

What honour, praise, or accolade:

We would return to, not that we

Would wish for your false eulogy.

But what is this? -- the old, old lie

On stones to shame our memory:

"For one's own land, it's sweet to die."

When the wild heart of youth was made

Tame by the clumsy artistry

Of some rough blacksmith's bayonet blade

Or the hot bullet's ecstasy,

Or when the shells whined endlessly,

And then became a colder cry,

Would you still sing so joyously:

"For one's own land, it's sweet to die?

But it is sweet to be dismayed

On seeing those whom we made free

Through war grown wealthy, while, betrayed,

My friends who fought for victory

Now starve: I'd break these stones to be

Bread for old comrades of days gone by

While you still sing with so much glee:

"For one's own land it's sweet to die."


Friend, in the colours of the O.T.C.,

One day you will remember why

I challenged such hypocrisy:

"For one's own land, it's sweet to die."

Albert's Works:


Telyn y Nos (1921)

Caniadau (1927)


Hywel Harris (1932)

Absalom Fy Mab (1957)


Ffarwel Weledig (1946)


Mosquit Magazine, Magazine of the Salonica Campaign Society, December 1954

The London Gazette, 2 October 1917

Find my Past,Welsh%20war%20poet%20and%20dramatist.

Thursday, 27 May 2021

Huw Owen Williams – pen name Huw Menai - (1886 – 1961) – Welsh-born poet who wrote in English

Huw Owen Williams, who took the pen-name Menai, was born in Caernarfon; Wales on 13th July 1886. His parents were William Williams and his wife Elizabeth Williams, nee Williams. Educated at the Ragged School in Caernarfon, Huw left school when he was twelve, later becoming a coal miner at Gilfach Goch. In 1910, he married Anne Jones and they went on to have three sons and five daughters.

Huw began writing poetry during the First World War, contributing to newspapers such as the “Western Mail”.  His friends and correspondents included Wil Ifan, John Cowper Powys and Raymond Garlick. 

Huw later moved to Penygraig, a village in the Rhondda Valley in South Wales, and often faced hardship, receiving a civil list pension from 1949 – as suggested by the Rev. Arthur Sturdy, Vicar of St. David’s, Ton Pentry in an atricle in“Glamorgan Advertiser” of 20 January 1922.  The Rev. Sturdy went on to say that the reviewer in “The New Commonwealth” of Huw Menai's collection “Through the upcast Shaft” said: “God made Huw a poet.”    

In 1941, Dyland Thomas wrote to E. J. Evans of Skewen, Secretary of the Port Talbot Forum, in favour of a pension to be awarded to the Welsh poet Huw Menai (i.e., Huw Owen Williams, 1886-1961): "Dear Sir, Please forgive my not having answered your letter before this. I have just come back to Wales to live, & letters have been misforwarded. I shall be most grateful if you will include my name in the list of those who are supporting the appeal to the Prime Minister for a Civil List Pension to be awarded to Huw Menai.

Huw died on 28th June 1961.

One of Huw and Anne’s sons, Huw Alun Menai Williams, was a British medical orderly who served with Thaelmann Bn, 11th International Bde in Spain, 3/1937-4/1937; NCO served as medical orderly with George Washington Bn, 15th International Bde in Spain, 4/1937-7/1937; served with Lincoln-Washington Bn, 15th International Bde in Spain, 8/1937-3/1938; served with British Bn, 15th International Bde in Spain, 4/1938-10/1938

Huw Menai’s WW1 poetry collections were: “Through the upcast Shaft” (Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1918, reprinted 1923); and “Back in the return, and other poems” (Heinemann, London, 1933).

Other Work by Huw Menai:

The Passing of Guto (1927)

The Simple Vision (1945)

Examples of Huw's poetry: 

“Thus Spake the Salamander” by Huw Menai

A dream Salamander from the heart leapt free;

“Go through the fire and be cleansed,” said he,

“Live on it, thrive on it, the fire divine.

Fear ! it shall fade in it.

All stars are made in it,

Have courage! See upward, how clear they shine!

“Burn with remorse! The dark night burn out of thee;

Burn thyself proof! The will to flight out of thee;

Burn in thine eyes till true sight is restored;

Go through the past again,

Welcome each bitter pain.

Burn theyself clean in the Love of the Lord!”

FROM: “The Simple Vision: Poems” by Huw Menai with a preface by John Cowper Powys, (Chapman & Hall Ltd., London, 1945), p. 84

“Only a Memory” by Huw Menai

Little is left, as well the scarecrow knows,

After War’s killl of corn for rooks to glean . . .

Only a memory is the wild rose,

Only the ghostly trail can now be seen

Of swallows who left all too soon because

A metal might usurp their blue demesne.

Only a memory can help to drown

The sinister droning of our dismal day, -

The sound of Afon Seiont tumbling down

From Snowdon’s heights, or swirling the boulder way

By old Pontrug towards Caernarvon Town,

When life was good and one was young and gay.

Only a memory is now the lark

Singing for joy above the yellow corn;

Only a memory can now embark

To pull the foamy tassels of the thorn;

Only a memory this night so dark

Can find a happy starway to the morn.

FROM: “The Simple Vision: Poems” with a preface by John Cowper Powys, (Chapman & Hall Ltd., London, 1945), pp 84 – 85.

“Gone West” by Huw Menai

OVER the edge – with pomp of passion goes

The fighter of the night, his duty done;

And heaven, blood-stained, remains to mark the close.

So sets the sun.

So set the sun to me.  To boom of gun

My friend set westward for the last repose,

And lost to me, the light which he had won.

And now I’ve but the night to watch my woes;

Yet, in the night, I see beyond the sun

Into the home (I fancy) where the rose

And he are one.

FROM: “Through the Upcast Shaft by Huw Menai (A Welsh Miner), Second Edition (Hodder & Stoughton Ltd., London, 1923) p. 93. 


Catherine W. Reilly.- “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978), p. 337

British Newspaper Archive

“Glamorgan Advertiser”, 20 January 1922.

Photograph of Huw Menai from

Gwilym Williams – (1890 – 1916) – Welsh soldier poet

With thanks to Jim Maxwell of the Harlech Old Library and Institute for finding Gwilym Williams and contributing this post and thanks to Al Poole, a Trustee of the the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum, for additional information

Gwilym was born in Trelech, Carmarthenshire on 18th March 1890, one of 7 children born to William Williams and Esther Williams of St. Clears, Carmarthen. Gwilym attended school in Penybont then went to Carmarthen Grammar School before going on to study at Aberystwyth University, where he graduated in Welch in 1913. He was then assistant master at Newtown County School, and later at Queen Mary's Grammar School Walsall. 

Gwilym enlisted in the Army in July 1915. He was commissioned as a Temporary Second Lieutenant on 14th August 1915 into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Regiment*, assigned to the 12th Res. Bn. He was attached to 17th Battalion, joining them in France from April 1916, until he was wounded by a German rifle grenade in the fighting in the Riez Bailleul sector on 20th May. Gwilym died of his wounds in the 1/2nd London Casualty Clearing Station on Sunday, 21st May 1916. Gwilym was buried in Merville Communal Cemetery, France, Grave reference VII. A. 18.  Gwilym is also commemorated on the Penybont Chapel War Memorial, Trelech, Carmarthenshire, Wales. 

After Gwilym’s death, his brother published a book of his poetry in 1917 – “Dan yr Helig” (“Under the Willows”  - 127 pages). There is a striking similarity between Gwilym Williams and Hedd Wynne – both Welsh poets were from large families, and both went away to war never to return.  Interestingly, Gwilym Williams is not among the thousands of poets listed in Catherine W. Reilly's "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978).

Gwyilym wrote poetry from a very young age. He was awarded his first Eisteddfod Chair for poetry in the Aberystwyth University Eisteddfod in 1912. The poem had the title "Gwanwyn Bywyd" (The Springtime of Life). By the end of 1914 Gwilym had won three more Eisteddfod chairs. 

*Note: After the 1881 Childers Reforms, the Regiment's official title was The Royal Welsh Fusiliers, but "Welch" continued to be used informally until restored in 1920 by Army Order No.56.

An English poem by Gwilym Williams (his other poems are in Welsh)


There is a silence that confirms, 

Another that denies, 

And life has taught us all to know 

Wherein the difference lies. 

One sets aglow a ray of hope, 

And tunes the heart to sing, 

The other spreads a cloud of doubt 

With poison on its wing. 

A pause — and we saw fairies dance, 

And silver streamlets flow ; 

That moment's silence told us both 

The all we wished to know. 

But when alone, alone I stand 

By sorrow's sacred sod, 

Eternal silence speaks to me 

The changeless will of God.

Here is an excerpt from an unfinished work by Williams in Welsh, “Gwladgawrch” (Tr. Patriotism):

Gwell  nag anrheg aur y treisiwr

Ydoedd rhyddid ganddi hi,

Dyna bechod Belgium fechan,

Dyna’i bythol fri.

Mae cynhaeaf arall weithion,

Ar dy feysydd Belgium brudd,

A pheiriannau Mawrth yn rhuo–

‘N lladd  bob nos, bob dydd

Gwell nag anrheg ydoedd rhyddid

gan ei  dewrion gwladgar hi.

Dyna cododd gwrando Cymru

I anfarwol fri.

English Translation: “Patriotism” (Welsh: “Gwladgawrch”) (Translation by Nerys Williams)

Better than a violator’s bribe

Is Belgium’s idea of the free.

Through her resistance

Valour and honour we see.

There’s another harvest moving

Belgium fields, a broken might,

War machines are roaring

Killing day and night.

Better than treasure was freedom

Of her patriots countrywide

Wales listened with attention

Honouring Belgium’s pride.

(Translation by Nerys Williams)


 "Beirdd y Bore" (Poets of the morning) by Dafydd Owen, 1945.

Find my Past

Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Photograph – original out of copyright - of Gwilym Williams, RWF from Aberystwyth University Memorial Website

Additional information provided by Al Poole, a Trustee of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum


Sunday, 16 May 2021

Trevor Allen (1891 - 1983) – poet, journalist and author

With thanks to Al Poole of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum for additional information

Albert Thomas Trevor Allen was born in Brompton on 29th April 1891. He left school at 14 and went to work in the Mechanical Engineer's Department of the District Underground Railway. Trevor wrote satirical verses for A.R. Orage's “New Age” magazine, and met literary people while working for two years as a shorthand-typist in C.F. Cazenove's Literary Agency. 

Early in 1915 Trevor enlisted as a Private with the Royal Army Mecical Corps (R.A.M.C. Field Ambulance) and began writing articles on army life for the “Daily Chronicle” newspaper. He was attached to the 11th Royal Welsh Fusiliers Batallion (RWF) on 5th October 1917 as a Water Duties/Sanitary Specialist. He had a spell in hospital (possibly due to malaria), rejoined then eventually then left the Bn on 4th May 1918. While serving with the 11th Welsh Fusiliers on the Doiran front, Salonica, he continued writing articles, which later gave him the background material for his novel “Jade Elephants”. Discharged in 1919 he used his ex-servicemen’s grant to fund his studies of journalism at the University of London and went on to work as a journalist. He became Chairman of the London Writer’s Circle. 

Trevor Allen died on 23rd November 1983.

508422 - Pte Albert Thomas Trevor ALLEN. RAMC.

Works published: 

Underworld : the biography of Charles Brooks, criminal (1931)

Ivar Kreuger : match king, croesus, and crook (1932)

The tracks they trod : Salonika and the Balkans, Gallipoli, Egypt and Palestine revisited (1932)

Jade elephants (1934)

London lover : songs of a city's romance (1947), verse

We loved in Bohemia (1953)

Roads to success (1957)


Fomed in 1898, the Royal Army Medical Corps is the largest Corps in the British Army Medical Services (AMS). 

The Macedonian Front, also known as the Salonica Front (after Thessaloniki), was a military theatre of World War I formed as a result of an attempt by the Allied Powers to aid Serbia, in the autumn of 1915, against the combined attack of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Bulgaria

“Dust of Macedonia” (1918)  by Trevor Allen published in  “The English Review” magazine, 1920.

Ever, I taste your dust between my teeth. 

It clings about the nostrils, blinds the eyes, 

And lingers subtly in the touch of things. . . 

Dust is the fevered breath of this parched land. 

On arid hill-tracks where the convoys wind, 

On roads where limbers jolt, and marching men 

Blink in the glare, and spit, and stumble on, 

Even from the withered grasses of the plain, 

It lifts in clouds, like smoke before the sun, 

Burdens the heat, and clogs the track unending. 

And when those dry winds from the Vardar sweep 

The land is blinded by a drifting shroud. 

Camps are engulphed. Wayfaring mules and men 

Blunder, unseeing, while the dust-storm rages. 


In your dust, O land time-worn, is the tang of Death, 

In your dust is the odour of dying things, and dead ; 

Old wars, old creeds, old tyrannies lade your breath ; 

Dust of dead villages, dust of the men who bled. 

These; and your untilled lands where roots decay; 

Your febrile swamps, your flowers of burnt-up Springs- 

They rot in the dust our young lives breathe to-day; 

In the ancient dust that to our bodies clings. 

Dear dust of England, too, your dust will be 

Where whitened crosses in the fierce light gleam — 

Dust of my comrades I no more may see. . . . 

Even so. The Faith, the Home-love, and the Dream – 

These will be England's own, eternally. 

Published in “The English Review” 1920 Page 199

Trevor had another poem about Macedonia published in The English Review  in April 1919 on page 273 – “A Cuckoo … in Macedonia”


Monday, 10 May 2021

A poem by WW1 soldier poet Robert Nichols (1893 - 1944) suggested for us by AC Benus

These poems have been suggested for us by AC Benus, author of “The Thousandth Regiment: A Translation of and Commentary on Hans Ehrenbaum-Degele’s War Poems” by AC Benus (AC Benus, San Francisco, 2020) includes original poems  ISBN: 978-1657220584

Robert Nichols – THE soldier poet during WW1 - features in an earlier post

AC Benus says: “As early as 1918 Nichols felt it necessary to refute the critics' assertion that he was pro-war and that his work glorified the military. It's interesting to know that in English circles as soon as 1918 there was a concern that much of the published poetry of the War had been of the armchair variety and much too gungho. It's surprising to learn Nichols got swept up in such accusations, because as the 1915 poem "The Chink" shows, he voiced early and vivid horror with the war.


WEEPING, I listen and I wait, 

The night grows long, the night grows late. 

Still gird the guns. But now a pause 

And lo ! a chink of night withdraws 

And strange and distant, thin and high, 

I hear the lost and human cry. 

The victors and victorious slain, 

The vanquished and their dead again 

Sing : ' We have slain a Foeman tall, 

Death the dreadest Foe of all. 

For bound with our own bloodied bands

One is given in our hands, 

And the steel that slit our side

Has his red hands crucified, 

We have made a gain of loss, 

Giant War hangs on his cross. 

Nothing fair has man assayed 

But by loss his gain was made. 

Giant War is dead, but still 

Live more giants that do ill.

There must have been confusion (or critic-directed dilution) that some of the narrative poems I've read from him end on notes on praising the people willing to give their life for a cause without stating that the cause itself was not tied up into larger motivations of empire, etc. Anyway, Nichols can speak well for himself. See the Introduction here:


Before, before he was aware

The 'Verey' light had risen ... on the air

It hung glistering. . . . 

                              And he could not stay his hand 

From moving to the barbed wire's broken strand. 

A rifle cracked. 

                      He fell. 

Night waned. He was alone. A heavy shell 

Whispered itself passing high, high overhead. 

His wound was wet to his hand : for still it bled 

On to the glimmering ground. 

Then with a slow, vain smile his wound he bound, 

Knowing, of course, he'd not see home again 

Home whose thought he put away.

                                                 His men 

Whispered: "Where's Mister Gates?" "Out on the wire." 

"I'll get him," said one. . . . 

                                     Dawn blinked, and the fire

Of the Germans heaved up and down the line. 

"Stand to!" 

             Too late! "I'll get him." "O the swine! 

When we might get him in yet safe and whole!" 

" Corporal didn't see 'un fall out on patrol, 

Or he'd 'a got 'un." "Sssh!"

                                 "No talking there."

A whisper: " 'A went down at the last flare." 

Meanwhile the Maxims toc-toc-tocked; their swish

Of bullets told death lurked against the wish. 

No hope for him!

                     His corporal, as one shamed, 

Vainly and helplessly his ill-luck blamed. 

* * * * * 

Then Gates slowly saw the morn 

Break in a rosy peace through the lone thorn 

By which he lay, and felt the dawn-wind pass 

Whispering through the pallid, stalky grass 

Of No-Man's Land. . . . 

And the tears came 

Scaldingly sweet, more lovely than a flame. 

He closed his eyes : he thought of home 

And grit his teeth. He knew no help could 

come. . . . 

* * * * *

The silent sun over the earth held sway, 

Occasional rifles cracked and far away

A heedless speck, a 'plane, slid on alone, 

Like a fly traversing a cliff of stone. 

" I must get back," said Gates aloud, and heaved

At his body. But it lay bereaved 

Of any power. He could not wait till night . . . 

And he lay still. Blood swam across his sight. 

Then with a groan: 

" No luck ever ! Well, I must die alone." 

Occasional rifles cracked. A cloud that shone, 

Gold-rimmed, blackened the sun and then was gone. . . . 

The sun still smiled. The grass sang in its play. 

Someone whistled : " Over the hills and far away."

Gates watched silently the swift, swift sun 

Burning his life before it was begun. . . . 

Suddenly he heard Corporal Timmins' voice:

"Now then, 

'Urry up with that tea."

                   "Hi Ginger !" " Bill!" His men! 

Timmins and Jones and Wilkinson (the ' bard '), 

And Hughes and Simpson. It was hard 

Not to see them: Wilkinson, stubby, grim, 

With his "No, sir," "Yes, sir," and the slim

Simpson: " Indeed, sir ?" (while it seemed he winked

Because his smiling left eye always blinked) 

And Corporal Timmins, straight and blonde and wise, 

With his quiet-scanning, level, hazel eyes; 

And all the others . . . tunics that didn't fit ... 

A dozen different sorts of eyes. O it 

Was hard to lie there ! Yet he must. But no: 

" I've got to die. I'll get to them. I'll go." 

Inch by inch he fought, breathless ;md mute, 

Dragging his carcase like a famished brute. . . . 

His head was hammering, and his eyes were dim; 

A bloody sweat seemed to ooze out of him 

And freeze along his spine. . . . Then he'd lie still

Before another effort of his will 

Took him one nearer yard. 

* * * * *

                                 The parapet was reached. 

He could not rise to it. A lookout screeched: 

"Mr. Gates!" 

                   Three figures in one breath 

Leaped up. Two figures fell in toppling death; 

And Gates was lifted in. "Who's hit?" said he. 

"Timmins and Jones." "Why did they that for me?

I'm gone already!" Gently they laid him prone 

And silently watched. 

                         He twitched. They heard him moan 

"Why for me?" His eyes roamed round, and none replied. 

"I see it was alone I should have died." 

They shook their heads. Then, "Is the doctor here?"

"He's coming, sir; he's hurryin', no fear." 

"No good. . . . 

                   Lift me." They lifted him. 

He smiled and held his arms out to the dim, 

And in a moment passed beyond their ken, 

Hearing him whisper, "O my men, my men!" 

Robert Nichols


Autumn, 1915. 

From “The assault and other war poems from "Ardours and endurance"” by Nichols, Robert Malise Bowyer, 1893-1944 (Chatto & Windus, London, 1918)

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Julian Thomas (1889 -1948) – British - brother of Edward Thomas

With grateful thanks to Historian Debbie Cameron, to Julian’s Granddaughter, Julia Maxted of the Edward Thomas Fellowship, to Jelly Jones via Twitter, to Deb Fisher and Phil Caradice of the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship and to members of the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum for their kind help in finding further information about Julian

Julian Thomas photographer
Julian was born in Battersea, London, on 27th July 1889.   His parents were Philip Henry Thomas, a Civil Servant, and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Thomas, nee Townsend.   Julian’s siblings were: Philip Edward, b. 1878, Ernest Henry, b. 1880. Theodore C., b. 1882, Reginald Townsend, b. 1884, and Oscar, b. 1886. The family were of Welsh origin.  Julian was educated at Upper Tooting High School, leaving school when he was fifteen to join the Civil Service as a clerk.

In June 1914, Julian married Maud Mary Ridlington in Wandsworth.  They went on to have the following children:  Cecily.Marendaz, b. April 1916,  Edward Eastaway,  b. May 1917, David Christopher Treharne, b. December 1919 and Honor Elizabeth Caenwen, b. April 1927.  

Julian Thomas died on 30th July 1948.  

His Granddaughter, Julia, who contacted me following my request for help via Twitter, sending me this lovely photograph, tells me that her Grandfather died of Pneumonia following an operation, in The County Hospital, Wolverton Avenue, Kingston-upon-Thames.  Probate was granted to his widow, Maud Mary Thomas.  They were still living at 133 Maple Road, Surbiton, Surrey.  (Source:  Ancestry).  Julian was buried in Morden Cemetery, Merton. 

Julian’s Granddaughter, Julia picks up the story:  “As far as we know he wrote just 2 poems, ‘In Memoriam: Edward Thomas’ published in ‘In Memoriam” by James Guthrie (1919) and also in ‘Elected Friends’ compiled by Anne Harvey (Enitharmon Press: 1997) and ‘Nothing has changed’ published in “The English Review”, 30 April 1920. 

He was a great champion, along with Helen Thomas, of Edward’s work and wrote the introduction to  "The Childhood of Edward Thomas" (Faber and Faber, London, 1938).

You can find out more about Julian in 2 articles written by my uncle, Edward Eastaway Thomas in the August 1995 and January 1996 issues of the Edward Thomas Newsletter (issues 33 and 34) . These can be found online on the Edward Thomas Fellowship website:

You will find the second poem published in issue 34 for the first time since 1920! A book by Richard Emeny – “Edward Thomas:  A Life in Pictures” (Enitharmon Editions, 2017) -  is very strong on his family and circle of friends.”

Here are the two poems written by Julian Thomas that have been published:

"In Memoriam : Edward Thomas" 

No more can I love spring though cuckoo 's here, 

Since I mourned you before that note was heard, 

Who there beyond the guns forgot cold fear 

To see the nesting of a homely bird. 

Amid the late snows of that dreadful year 

Swift thy soul passed into the written word ; 

Never to die whilst English names are dear 

And England breeds the men you charactered. 

A light rain ceases, clear one chiff-chaff sings ; 

Fresh drops are glistening on each green-tipped tree. 

Fair spring you loved the saddest memory brings 

Of Eastertide, when you rode forth with me 

In quest of something we were not to find. 

Perhaps another world has proved more kind. 

Julian Thomas. 

From : Jacqueline Theodore Trotter, Editor.- “Valour and Vision, Poems of the War, 1914 – 1918” (Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1920), pp 102 -103 – available to read as a free download on Archive

“Nothing is Changed” by Julian Thomas first published in “The English Review” Magazine in April 1920.

The sun will make the old trees young,

Uncurl the fern.

To the hedge where last year’s nest was hung

The birds will return.

Some child will find the violet,

Sweet, lonely, blue.

On a March morning, crinkled, wet,

Crisp in the dew.

The fishing fleet in the Devon way

Will curve out to sea,

And the south-east wind will choose a day

To blow unpityingly.

Despite their million casualties,

Dense armies black

Stream home from where my soldier lies,

To earth given back.

Sorrow, like joy, is fugitive.

Man must drink deep

Of the cool draught Nature has to give;

Then soon to sleep.

From: The Edward Thomas Fellowship Newsletter No. 34, February 1996

The photograph of Julian Thomas was sent to me by his Granddaughter Julia Maxted and is in her private collection


Catherine W. Reilly.- “English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 312 

Jacqueline Theodore Trotter, Editor.- “Valour and Vision, Poems of the War, 1914 – 1918” (Longmans, Green & Co., London, 1920), pp 102 -103 

Find my Past and Free BMD

“The English Review” was an English-language literary magazine published in London from 1908 to 1937. At its peak, the journal published some of the leading writers of its day.

NOTE:  I discovered Julian Thomas quite by chance while looking through Catherine W. Reilly's Bibliography for a Welsh poet called Abram Thomas. I was interested and had to find out more.  I put out an initial request for help via Twitter and Jelly Jones came to my rescue by telling Julia Maxted.  Julia is Julian's Granddaughter and she runs the Twitter account for the Edward Thomas Fellowship @EdwardThomasFS    Julia contacted me and very kindly sent me a photograph and a good deal of information about her Grandfather.  She has also helped me with editing this post, for which I am extremely grateful.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

A poem by Sir Henry Newbolt (1862 - 1938) on the importance of music for troop morale during war-time

It is always wonderful when people contact me about the posts on my weblogs.  I recently received this message about the poem below:

May I offer  a couple of corrections to the fore-word on this fascinating 


Major Bridges actually served with The 4th (Royal Irish) Dragoon Guards 

and NOT The 5th  (Inniskilling).

Also the stopry is that Bridges HIMSELF played the drum and his Trumpeter 

the tin whistle. I'm a military historian, specialising in The Mons 

Campaign and having seen several accounts of the incident, haven't seen any 

contradiction of that version though I wasn't there!

As a matter of interest, both Commanding Officers of the disorderly men 

comcerned, were subsequently Court Martialled - - just missing death 

penalties for their decisions to surrender - though that never actually 


Hope this helps


Atephen Acaster**

Quoted in the ‘War Years’ section of Lady Maud Warrender's Memoir "My First Sixty Years", on the subject of the importance of music for the troops in time of war, Lieutenant-General Sir G. T. Bridges, K.C.B. said:

“ Let me take you to a scene that actually happened in the retreat from Le Cateau some months ago. The remains of two British battalions were found at St. Quentin. They had marched and fought for several days and been defeated in pitched battle, retreating all the time, losing two-thirds of the men and nearly all of their officers — dead beat for want of sleep and food. 

“ Major Tom Bridges of the 5th Dragoon Guards was with the rearguard and found them. He realized that unless he could get them to rally they would be captured by the enemy, who were approaching the other end of the town. 

“He assembled the men, telling them they must move on, which seemed to them absolutely impossible in their state of utter exhaustion. 

“ He then happened to see a toy drum and a penny whistle in a shop window. These he bought, found a couple of men to play, and started off down the road, his ‘ Band ’ in front. The others followed, and he got them along a few miles that night and on again next day, when they rejoined the Division. 

“ It is a good story which goes to prove what the sound of Music can do in an emergency. Henry Newbolt has immortalized the incident in his lines, 

‘ The Toy Band : A Song of the Great Retreat’, which was published in “The Times” of December 6th, 1914. "

Dreary lay the long road, dreary lay the town, 

Lights out and never a glint of moon I 

Weary lay the stragglers, half a thousand down. 

Sad sighed the weary big Dragoon. 

“ Oh, if I’d a drum here to make them take the road again I 

Oh, if I’d a fife to wheedle, “Come, boys, come! 

You that mean to fight it out, wake and take your load again, 

Fall in! Fall in! Follow the Fife and Drum! 

Hey, but here’s a toy shop ; here’s a drum for me, 

Penny whistles too, to play the tune! 

Half a thousand dead men soon shall hear and see 

We’re a band,” said the weary big Dragoon. 

“Rubadub! Rubadub! Wake and take the road again! 

Wheedle-deedle-deedle-dee — Come, boys, come! 

You that mean to fight it out, wake and take your load again. 

Fall in! Fall in! Follow the Fife and Drum!” 

Cheerly goes the dark road; cheerly goes the night, 

Cheerly goes the blood to keep the beat ; 

Half a thousand dead men marching on to fight 

With a little penny drum to lift their feet. 

Rubadub! Rubadub! Wake and take the road again, 

Wheedle-deedle-deedle-dee — Come, boys, come! 

You that mean to fight it out, wake and take your load again. 

Fall in! Fall in! Follow the Fife and Drum! 

As long as there’s an Englishman to ask a tale of me, 

As long as I can tell the tale aright. 

We’ll not forget the penny whistle’s wheedle-deedle-dee. 

And the big Dragoon a-beating down the night. 

Rubadub! Rubadub! Wake and take the road again. 

Wheedle-deedle-deedle-dee — Come, boys, come! 

You that mean to fight it out, wake and take your load  again. 

Fall in! Fall in! Follow the Fife and Drum. 

By Sir Henry Newbolt

From “My First Sixty Years” by Lady Maud Warrender (Cassell & Co. Ltd.,, London,  1933)

** Stephen Acaster, military historian and former soldier, says: “John Brereton,  an ex- soldier and prolific author on military subjects produced the official, Regimental History of the 4/7 Royal Dragoon Guards 1685-1980... in the early 1980s  ( those two  components - old British Army Cavalry Regiments having amalgamated in 1922). The book is divided into two parts - each covering the hundreds of years history of both of those components until they were joined (as many British Cavalry Regiments were, just after the Great War). The part of particular interest to this post, covering the service of The 4th Royal Irish Regiment of Dragoon Guards in WW1, is found from p. 306 et sq.”

“A History of the 4th/7th Royal Dragoon Guards and Their Predecessors, 1685-1980”, Brereton, J.M. (John Maurice). Published by The Regiment, Catterick, 1982