Friday, 20 January 2023

John Scott Haldane (1860 – 1936) – British physician and inventor of the gas mask

Educated at Edinburgh Academy, Edinburgh University and the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, John graduated in medicine from Edinburgh University Medical School in 1884, after which he was a Demonstrator at University College, Dundee. From 1907 to 1913 he was a Reader in Physiology at Oxford University where his uncle, John Burdon-Sanderson, was Waynflete Professor of Physiology.

Through his research, John Scott Haldane became an international authority on ether and respiration and was famous for self experimentation – locking himself in sealed chambers breathing potentially lethal cocktails of gases while recording their effect on his mind and body. 

John married Louisa Kathleen Coutts Trotter (1863–1961) in December 1891.  She was the daughter of Coutts Trotter FRGS and Harriet Augusta Keatinge. They had two children – a son  J. B. S. Haldane, who served in WW1 and became a scientist - and Naomi, who became a writer and wrote using her married name of Mitchison. His nephew was the New Zealand doctor and public health administrator Robert Haldane Makgill.

When the Germans used poison gas during the First World War, John travelled to the Western Front at the request of Lord Kitchener to try to identify the gases being used. One outcome of this was his invention of a respirator, known as the black veil - an early gas mask   After being forced out of combatting poison gases in WWI due to alleged German sympathies, he began working with victims of gas warfare and developed oxygen treatment including the oxygen tent.

After John’s death in March 1936, the poet Sir Henry Newbolt wrote this poem:

"For J. S. Haldane"

SILENT Moon and silent morning air,

Silver frost on green and silver lawn,

Shimmering mist in downland hollows bare,

Magical night dying in timeless dawn—

O Earth, Earth, Earth! what needs this loveliness

To quiet a graveyard of unnumbered clods?

Is thy bread truth, or we that break and bless?

Shall we not live at last, when we are Gods?

Sir Henry Newbolt 1937, published in Newbolt’s collection “A Perpetual Memory and other Poems” With brief memoirs by Walter de la Mare and Ralph Furse (Murray, 1939).

Tuesday, 10 January 2023

Paul Michel Lintier (1893 – 1916) – French Lawyer, Journalist and Writer who served and was killed in WW1


With thanks to Alan Hewer whose post on Facebook Group Great War Reads inspired me to research Paul Linter.

Paul was born in Mayenne, France.  His father – also called Paul Lintier - was a wine merchant and former Mayor of Mayenne being in office from 1898 – 1910.  Paul studied at the school in Laval, gaining his baccalauréat in 1910.  He then went to study law at the University of Lyon, where his uncle - Édouard Lambert – was a professor.  Paul worked as a lawyer and wrote books until war broke out, publishing a pamphlet about his friend the artist Adrien Bas in 1914.   

Paul volunteered at the start of hostilities, joining the French Army and was sent to the 44th Regiment – 11th Battery – of the Artillery, who were based in Le Mans.  Paul was at the forefront of the war from the start and was wounded in the hand on 22nd September 1914 fighting near Fresnières.  The doctors in the Dressing Station he was taken to wanted to amputate his thumb, so he fled to another Field Ambulance where they managed to save his thumb.  He was sent to recuperate at the Hospital in Mayenne, where he met fellow llawyer, journalist and writer Marcel Audibert (1883 – 1967), who was fighting with the 102nd Regiment of Infantry when he was also wounded. 

 While convalescing, Paul replaced Victor Bridoux, Director of the newspaper Mayenne-Journal, and published articles about the war.  Promoted to the rank of Non Commissioned Officer on 1st April 1915 Paul was sent to the front to serve in Munitions, in spite of his hand wound.  He began keeping a notebook of his impressions of the war.   Paul was killed on 15th March 1916 at Jeandelaincourt (Meurthe-et-Moselle).  His body was buried in the Cemetery at Faulx.   However, after the war his family retrieved his body and it was placed in the family vault in Mayenne in 1921.  

Paul Lintier’s wartime notebook was taken from his body on the field of battle by his comrades in arms and published as “Avec une batterie de 75 / le tube 1233: souvenirs d'un chef de pièce” (The translation of Chef de Pièce is detachment commander, gun captain, gun commander).  

The obituary in the local newspaper states that Paul’s mother was President of the local association that helped war wounded and his uncle, Louis Lintier, was Mayor of Mayenne. 

Mayenne is a department in northwest France named after the river Mayenne. Mayenne is part of the administrative region of Pays de la Loire and is surrounded by the departments of Manche, Orne, Sarthe, Maine-et-Loire, and Ille-et-Vilaine.  

For anyone who is interested, Paul Lintier’s book about his wartime experiences is available to read in French on Archive:

English translataions of the book

You can find Alan Hewer’s post to the Facebook Group Great War Reads here:

Sunday, 8 January 2023

Dennis Yeats Wheatley (1897 – 1977) – British writer

Born in Brixton, London on 9th January 1897, Dennis’s parents were Albert David Wheatley, a wine merchant, and his wife, Florence Elizabeth Harriet Wheatley, nee Baker. Dennis was the eldest of three children in the family, which owned the wine company, Wheatley & Son of Mayfair. Educated at Dulwich College after preparatory school, Dennis was expelled – apparently for forming a ‘secret society’. 

Dennis then went to train at nautical school planning to join the British Merchant Navy.  He trained aboard the sail training ship HMS Worcester, which was moored off Greenhythe in Kent.  The Thames Nautical Training College, as it is now called, was, for over a hundred years, situated aboard ships named HMS Worcester. 

Painting of the First boat race on the Mersey between cadets of HMS Conway, which was moored on the River Mersey, and HMS Worcester, 11th June 1891 by Charles William Wyllie (1853 – 1923).  The race became an annual event. 

During the First World War, Dennis was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant into the Royal Field Artillery, receiving his basic training at Biscot Camp in Luton. He was then assigned to the City of London Brigade and the 36th (Ulster) Division and served in Flanders on the Ypres Salient and in France at Cambrai and St. Quentin. Gassed in a chlorine attack during Passchendaele, Dennis was invalided out of the Army.   

Photograph of Dennis in WW1 from

Saturday, 15 October 2022

Book Review: “Cricket in the First World War: Play up! Play the Game” by John Broom (Pen & Sword, Barnsley, 2022)


“Cricket in the First World War: Play up! Play the Game” is by John Broom and has a fantastic Foreword written by former England International cricketer Mike Atherton, who was described in 2001 as a ‘determined defensive opener who made "batting look like trench warfare”’. Mike Atherton is now chief cricket correspondent of “The Times” newspaper.  (Pen & Sword, Barnsley, 2022)

The cover design is by Paul Wilkinson.

This wonderful book is the perfect gift for a cricket fan who is also interested in the First World War.  

Although I knew, through seeing the map of Australia drawn in the chalk downs by Australian soldiers who camped at Hurdcott Camp in Wiltshire while waiting to deploy or recuperating during WW1 when I was in my late teens, I did not know there was a magazine called the “Hurdcott Herald” in WW1. Nor did I know there was a baseball game played at Lord’s in London between Canadian and American teams in aid of the Canadian Soldiers’ Widows and Orphas Fund in 1917. (p. 163).

As I am also interested in the lesser-known artists and poets of the First World War, I was interested to discover both a poet and an artist I had not come across before.  And there is a mention of the poet and writer Siegfried Sassoon MC, whose work I admire greatly.  He loved to play cricket and the Siegfried Sassoon Fellowship organise a special commemorative game every year.

I found so many fascinating facts that I could go on and on but I am planning to write briefly about some of them in my various weblogs AND I don’t want to spoil your enjoyment of the book and the discoveries you will make.  With copious photographs, a detailed Index, interesting source list and excellent Bibliography, if, like me, you are a cricket fan, this is a book you will definitely want to refer to again and again.

“Cricket in the First World War: Play up! Play the Game” begins and ends with mention of the famous 1892 cricketing poem by Sir Henry Newbold -   Vitaï Lampada ("They Pass On The Torch of Life").  

Lifelong cricket fan John Broom, now a history teacher, has written seven books which have been published by Pen & Sword. To find out more about this book and others published by Pen & Sword, please visit their website:

Lucy London, October 2022 

Sunday, 17 July 2022

Hugh Seymour Walpole (1884 - 1941) - British writer

Walpole, c. 1915
The writer Sir Hugh Walpole, CBE (13 March 1884 – 1 June 1941) had a very interesting First World War. Poor eyesight meant he could not join the British Armed forces or the Police, so he accepted an appointment with “The Saturday Review” and “The Daily Mail” to travel to Russia to report on their WW1 Fronts. Walpole was appointed an officer in the Russian Sanitar, which is part of the Red Cross and deals with the evacuation of wounded from the trenches, as well as assisting at Base Hospitals.

While in training for that, Walpole learnt Russian. In the summer of 1915 he served on the Austrian-Russian Front, assisting at operations in Field Hospitals and collecting the wounded and dead from areas of combat. As Walpole wrote to his friend Arnold Bennett: "A battle is an amazing mixture of hell and a family picnic – not as frightening as the dentist, but absorbing, sometimes thrilling like football, sometimes dull like church, and sometimes simply physically sickening like bad fish. Burying dead afterwards is worst of all." (Walpole was friends with writers Henry James and Arnold Bennett, who encouraged the young Walpole with his writing.)

During a battle in June 1915 Walpole single-handedly rescued a wounded soldier who his Russian comrades had refused to help. Alone, he carried one end of the stretcher and dragged the man to safety. For this action Walpole was awarded the Russian Cross of Saint George.

Russian Cross of
St. George

In late 1917 it became clear to Walpole and to the British authorities that he was no longer much use in Russia. His departure on 7th November 1917 meant that he missed the start of the Revolution. In London, Walpole was appointed to a post at the Foreign Office in its Department of Information, headed by John Buchan. Soon after returning, he volunteered for the British Army but failed the medical examination due to poor eyesight. Walpole continued to work in the British Propaganda Department when it was reconstituted under Lord Beaverbrook in April 1918, and remained there for the rest of the war, resigning in February 1919. He was awarded a CBE for his services during WW1.

Walpole received a knighthood in 1937.

The Cross of Saint George is a state decoration of the Russian Federation. Initially established by Imperial Russia and officially known as the Decoration of the Military Order of Saint George between 1807 and 1913, the Cross of Saint George was reinstated into the Russian awards system in 1992.

The British CBE

The CBE - The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire - is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4th June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a Knight if male or a Dame if female.

Photos: Walpole c. 1915, the Russian Cross of St. George and the British CBE

Sources: Wikipedia

People reached

Monday, 20 June 2022

The Reverend Canon Frederick George Scott, C.M.G., D.S.O. (1861 – 1944) - Canadian WW1 Army Chaplain & poet

 With thanks to Daryl G Hudson, Admin on the World War One Facebook Group who gave me permission to share his post about Canadian poet The Reverend Frederick George Scott who I wrote about in a post on my weblog Forgotten Poets of the First World War

At the time of writing my previous post, I was unaware of Scott's search for his missing son.  Daryl Hudson says:

The Reverend Frederick George Scott  was serving as a Chaplain with the First Canadian Division in France when he learned of the death of his twenty-four-year-old son Henry, killed in October 1916 while leading an attack on enemy lines near Albert. After the chaos of battle, Henry’s body had been hastily buried between the lines, but could not be recovered. 

Scott was able to return to the area near Regina Trench over a month later in mid-November, and with a runner, he found a cross marking his son’s grave. They began to dig until they exposed a hand wearing Henry’s signet ring. Removing the ring, the chaplain read the burial service, then “made a small mound where the body lay, and then by quick dashes from shell hole to shell hole we got back at last to the communication trench…. It was a strange scene of desolation, for the November rains had made the battle fields a dreary, sodden waste.”° 

A working party brought Henry Hutton Scott’s remains back behind the lines on Nov. 24. His father was there as they "laid my dear boy to rest in the little cemetery on Tara Hill …. I was thankful to have been able to have him buried in a place which is known and can be visited .… In June of the following year, when the Germans had retired after our victory at Vimy Ridge, I paid one more visit to Regina Trench. The early summer had clothed the waste land in fresh and living green. Larks were singing gaily in the sunny sky. No sound of shell or gun disturbed the whisper of the breeze as it passed over the sweet-smelling fields. Even the trenches were filling up and Mother Nature was trying to hide the cruel wounds which the war had made upon her loving breast. One could hardly recall the visions of gloom and darkness which had once shrouded that scene of battle. In the healing process of time all mortal agonies, thank God, will finally be obliterated."

Frederick George Scott, known as the poet of the Laurentians, was an Anglican priest before the war. He volunteered as an Army Chaplain in August 1914 and recalled his thoughts when he stood in the pulpit that same Sunday: “When I was preaching at the service and looked down at the congregation, I had a queer feeling that some mysterious power was dragging me into a whirlpool, and the ordinary life around me and the things that were so dear to me had already begun to fade away.”

In Scott’s memoir, “The Great War as I Saw It” (1922), he recalls his time in Flanders: 

The wood [Ploegsteert] in those days was a very pleasant place to wander through. Anything that reminded us of the free life of nature acted as a tonic to the nerves, and the little paths among the trees which whispered overhead in the summer breezes made one imagine that one was wandering through the forests in Canada. In the wood were several cemeteries kept by different units, very neatly laid out and carefully fenced in. I met an officer one day who told me he was going up to the trenches one evening past a cemetery in the wood, when he heard the sound of someone sobbing. He looked into the place and there saw a young boy lying beside a newly made grave. He went in and spoke to him and the boy seemed confused that he had been discovered in his sorrow. “It’s the grave of my brother, Sir,” he said, “He was buried here this afternoon and now I have got to go back to the line without him.” The lad dried his eyes, shouldered his rifle and went through the woodland path up to the trenches. No one would know again the inner sorrow that had darkened his life.

My source:    20.6.2022 

“The Great War as I Saw It” by Canon Frederick George Scott, C.M.G., D.S.O. (F. D. Goodchild Co, Toronto, Canada, 1922) is available to read as a free download on Project Gutenberg:

Friday, 17 June 2022

British Army Chaplains in the First World War and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

The British Army Chaplains' Department (AChD) was formed by Royal Warrant of 23rd September 1796; until then chaplains had been part of individual regiments, but not on the central establishment. Only Anglican chaplains were recruited until 1827, when Presbyterians were recognised, but not commissioned until 1858. Roman Catholic chaplains were recruited from 1836, Methodist chaplains from 1881, and Jewish chaplains from 1892. During the First World War some 4,400 Army Chaplains were recruited and 179 lost their lives on active service.

In recognition of their dedicated service, in 1914 King George V conferred upon the Army Chaplains’ Department the prefix “Royal”.

According to my on-going research, quite a few Army Chaplains were awarded the Military Cross (MC) during WW1. Here is the list of those I have found so far:

Rev. W.R.F. Addison VC - Army Chaplain and poet; also awarded the Order of St George-Russia.

Rev. Theodore Bayley Hardy, VC, DSO, MC (20 October 1863 – 18 October 1918) 

Rev. Captain Herbert B. Cowl, MC

Rev. Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy MC (1883 –1929) – known as “Woodbine Willy”; Army Chaplain and poet 

Rev. Noel Mellish VC, MC

Rev. Basil Pemberton Plumptre, MC (1883 - 1917) – British Army Chaplain

Rev. David Railton MC (1884 – 1955) - British Army Chaplain who had the  idea for creating a British Unknown Warrior memorial  

Rev. Edward John Thompson, MC, MiD - Poet and Army Chaplain (1886 – 1946)  – 7th Division, Mesopotamia

Rev. Morgan Watcyn-Williams, MC

The Military Cross

The British Military Cross. The Military Cross award was created on 28th December 1914 for commissioned officers of the substantive rank of Captain or below and for Warrant Officers. Awards were announced in “The London Gazette”.  From August 1916, recipients of the Cross were entitled to use the post-nominal letters MC, and bars could be awarded for further acts of gallantry meriting the award. 

 The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior 


The idea for a British Unknown Warrior memorial came to one of the chaplains who served on the Western Front during the First World War – the Reverend David Railton MC (1884 – 1955).  Ordained in Liverpool in 1908, he then became Curate of Edge Hill in Liverpool.   Serving alongside soldiers in the front line during WW1, burying many, he was awarded a Military Cross (MC) for attending wounded men under heavy enemy fire.

In 1916 the Rev. Railton noticed, in the garden of a ruined house, a single grave, marked by a rough wooden cross, with the words “An Unknown British Soldier” written on it in pencil.   Deeply moved by this and conscious that each man lost left behind someone who loved him, he wondered how he could “ease the pain of father, mother, brother sister, sweetheart, and friend.

The Unknown Warrior came home through the port of Dover on 10th November 1920,  and was buried the following day, among the monarchs in Westminster Abbey. The coffin was covered with a Union Flag flag, which the Reverend Railton had used as an altar cloth during services he held on the Western Front.  That flag now hangs in Westminster Abbey, near the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior.