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