Friday 3 May 2024

New Zealand Troops on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire, UK in WW1

With thanks to John Daniel who sent me a message about ANZAC Day that prompted this reseach

Sling Camp was a military camp near the town of Bulford on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, UK, occupied by New Zealand soldiers during the First World War.   

Created in 1903 as an annexe to Bulford Camp, Sling Camp was originally named "Sling Plantation" after nearby woods. 

Soon after the beginning of the First World War, New Zealand troops started work on building wooden huts there. They were later joined by Canadian troops, joiners, bricklayers, and civilian workers. The word "Plantation" was dropped from the title and it became Sling Camp. After building was completed, it was said that if each hut were placed end-to-end they would measure 6 miles.

In 1916, the camp was occupied by New Zealand forces and was then known as Anzac Camp by some. It comprised four main sections: Auckland, Wellington, Otago, and Canterbury Lines. It was officially called the 4th New Zealand Infantry Brigade Reserve Camp, and trained reinforcements and casualties who were regaining fitness.

Ten New Zealand soldiers were killed when they were hit by a train at Bere Ferrers in southern England. The accident occurred as troops from the 28th Reinforcements for the NZ Expeditionary Force were being transported from Plymouth to Sling Camp.

To occupy them before deployment, the New Zealand soldiers were put to work carving the shape of a large Kiwi in the chalk of the hill that overlooks the camp. The Bulford Kiwi, as it is known, is still there today and as of 2007, the Kiwi has been maintained by the Ministry of Defence. In 2017 the chalk figure was designated as a scheduled monument.

In 1918, there were 4,300 men at Sling. Soon after this date the camp suffered large casualties as a result of the Spanish influenza.

The camp also housed fourteen New Zealand conscientious objectors (among them Archibald Baxter and his brothers Alexander and John), who had been forced into the army and sent all the way from New Zealand to England to make an example of them.

At the end of the war, there were 4,600 New Zealand troops stationed at the camp and it became a repatriation centre. At that time there was unrest in other camps as a result of delays in demobilising troops. To try to maintain order the "spit and polish" regime was enforced and route marches ordered. The men requested a relaxation of discipline as the war was over and they were far from home, however this was refused and the troops rioted, stealing food from the mess and all of the alcohol from the officers' mess, hundreds of New Zealand soldiers rioted. It was the most serious breakdown of discipline in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force in the European theatre.

In an attempt to resolve the situation, the officers and men were promised no repercussions, but this promise was not honoured; the ringleaders were arrested, jailed and immediately shipped back to New Zealand. 

Much of the original camp was demolished in the 1920s and replaced by newer buildings.


ANZAC DAY – remembered on 25th April annually.  25th April marks the first major military action fought by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps forces during The First World War, at Gallipoli.

Cathy Sedgwick, who does the most wonderful work researching the ANZAC soldiers buried in the UK, has researched all 66 NZ War Graves in Codford (ANZAC) Cemetery, Wiltshire.  Cathey tells me there is a New Zealand War Graves Project -


Wednesday 24 April 2024

Adolphe Célestin Pégoud (1889 – 1915) – French aviator, flight instructor and fighter pilot Ace WW1.


Adolphe Célestin Pégoud was born on 13th June 1889 in Montferrat, France. Between 1907 and 1913 Adolphe served in the French Army. When he was discharged on 13th February 1913, he immediately began flying, and earned his pilot's licence on 1st March 1913. 

Adolphe became the first pilot to make a parachute jump from a plane. During the first jump, observing the unexpected path of the plane and particularly a loop-like trajectory, he was convinced he could reproduce and control the same in flight. After landing, Adolphe told reporters: "I've seen him, alone, looping the loop. So you see that this is possible. Also, I will try!"

As a test pilot for Louis Blériot, he devoted himself to that goal with a Blériot model XI monoplane in a series of test flights exploring the limits of airplane maneuvers. Having modified his plane, and after realistic "head down" ground training, he then flew the first inverted flight on 1st September 1913.

Adolphe became an instructor of pilots from France and other European countries.

When the First World War began, Adolph volunteered for flying duty and was immediately accepted as an observation pilot. On 5th February 1915, he and his gunner were credited with shooting down two German aircraft and forcing another to land. Soon he was flying single-seat aircraft and in April claimed two further victories. His sixth success came in July.

It is not known how many of Pégoud's victories involved destruction of enemy aircraft, as early air combat was rare enough to warrant credit for a forced landing. However, it is certain that Adolphe Pégoud, rather than Roland Garros (four documented victories, and later), was the first pilot to achieve ace status of any sort.

On 31 August 1915, Pégoud was shot down and killed by Unteroffizier Otto Kandulski (who had been his pupil) while intercepting a German reconnaissance aircraft. He was 26 years old. The same German crew later dropped a funeral wreath behind the French lines. Two weeks later, Kandulski was shot down by the French pilot Roger Ronserail, earning Ronserail the title "Le Vengeur de Pégoud" ("The avenger of Pégoud").

Photograph:  Adolphe Pégoud being awarded the Croix de Guerre

Monday 22 April 2024

James Thomas Byford McCudden, VC, DSO & Bar, MC & Bar, MM (1895 - 1918) was a British flying ace of the First World War and among the most highly decorated airmen in British military history.

 With thanks to John Daniel for finding this information for us:

Born on 28th March 1895 in Chatham, Kent, UK, James Thomas Byford McCudden’s parenst were  William Henry McCudden, A Master Sergeant in the Royal Engineers Regiment, and his wife, Amelia Emma McCudden, nee Byford.  

The McCudden family went to live in Sheerness in 1909 and James transferred to the Garrison School. He learned to shoot at the rifle range, learnt to box and was a reasonably intelligent student.

James joined the Royal Engineers in 1910. Having an interest in mechanics he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in 1913, during which time he first came into regular contact with aircraft. At the outbreak of war in 1914 James flew as an observer before training as a fighter pilot in 1916.

James claimed his first victory in September 1916 flying the Airco DH.2. He claimed his fifth victory — making him an Ace — on 15th February 1917. For the next six months he served as an instructor and flew defensive patrols over London. He returned to the frontline in summer 1917 flying the S.E.5a. That same year he dispatched a further 31 enemy aircraft while claiming multiple victories in one day on 11 occasions. 

With his six British medals and one French, James McCudden received more awards for gallantry than any other airman of British nationality serving in the First World War. He was also one of the longest serving. By 1918, in part due to a campaign by the “Daily Mail” newspaper, James became one of the most famous airmen in the British Isles.

At the time of his death, James had achieved 57 aerial victories, placing him seventh on the list of the war's most successful aces. Just under two-thirds of his victims can be identified by name. The majority of his successes were achieved with 56 Squadron RFC and all but five were shot down while he was flying the S.E.5a. 

On 9th July 1918, James was killed in a flying accident when his aircraft crashed on takeoff due to engine failure. His rank at the time of his death was major, a significant achievement for a man who had begun his career in the RFC as an air mechanic. James Thomas Byford McCudden, VC, DSO & Bar, MC & Bar, MM was buried in the British War Cemetery at Beauvoir-Wavans, Pas de Calais, France. 


A flying ace, fighter ace or air ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat. The exact number of aerial victories required to officially qualify as an ace is varied, but is usually considered to be five or more.

Sources:  Information supplied by John Daniel, Find my Past, FreeBMD

Sunday 14 April 2024

William Somerset Maugham CH (1874 – 1965) – British writer who served as an Ambulance Driver in WW1

William Somerset Maugham was born in the British Embassy in Paris, France on 25th January 1874. His parents were Robert Ormond Maugham (1823–1884), a solicitor, based in Paris and his wife, Edith Mary, née Snell. William's father handled the legal affairs of the British Embassy in Paris.

Shortly before William's birth, the French Government proposed a new law under which all boys born on French soil to foreign parents would automatically be French citizens and liable to conscription for military service. 

The British Ambassador, Lord Lyons, had a maternity ward set up within the embassy – which was legally recognised as UK territory – enabling British couples in France to circumvent the new law, and it was there that William Somerset Maugham was born.   

From 1885 to 1890 William attended The King's School, Canterbury, Kent, UK, where he was regarded as an outsider and teased for his poor English (French had been his first language), his short stature, his stammer, and his lack of interest in sport.

A legacy from his father enabled William to go to Heidelberg University to study when he was sixteen. His aunt, who was German, arranged accommodation for him. For the next year and a half he studied literature, philosophy and German.

From 1892 until he qualified in 1897, William studied medicine at St Thomas's Hospital Medical School in Lambeth.

By 1914 William was famous – he had written thirteen plays and eight novels.  He was too old to enlist when the First World War began, so he volunteered to serve in France as an ambulance driver for the British Red Cross.

In 1954, William was appointed Member of the Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) and was invested by Queen Elizabeth II at a private audience in Buckingham Palace.

The Order of the Companions of Honour (CH) was founded by King George V in 1917 to recognise outstanding achievements in the Arts, Sciences, Medicine and Public Service. 

Somerset Maugham died on 16 December 1965.

Wednesday 10 April 2024

Edwin Harris Dunning, DSC (1892 - 1917) – British Royal Naval pilot - first to land a plane on a moving ship

With thanks to John Daniel for finding this information for us. 

Born in South Africa on 17th July 1892, Edwin’s parents were Sir Edwin Harris Bedminster Dunning (1858 – 1923) and his wife, Lady Hannah Louise Freeman Dunning, nee Freeman (1860 – 1914).  Edwin’s siblings were Dora W. Dunning, b. 1888, Gilbert K. Dunning, b. 1895 and John D. Dunning, b. 1896.

Sir Edwin H. Dunning had been a dealer in diamonds and gold in South Africa. When he rturned to England he became a political camapigner for the Liberal Party. He was one-time Mayor of Tiverton in Devon and was knighted for public services.

Edwin was educated at Fonthill School until 1905, when he entered the Royal Naval College, Osborne. In 1907 he went to the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth, and in 1910, following twelve months on board the training cruiser H.M.S. “Cornwall,” he was gazetted Midshipman in the Navy, becoming a Sub-Lieutenant three years later. 

Fonthill was a primary school for the children of the aristocracy and wealthy landowners, professional families and industrialists founded in 1808 as a rectory-based school for young gentlemen in Fonthill Gifford, Wiltshire. Many pupils from the school went on to Eton, Harrow, Winchester, Wellington, Rugby, Charterhouse and other public schools. It also prepared boys for careers in the Royal Navy and Army and sent a number of boys to the naval colleges.

When the First World War began, Edwin was a Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Flying Corps and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant in 1915, being appointed to H.M.S. “Ark Royal.”

In 1916 Lieutenant Edwin Harris Dunning, Royal Naval Air Service was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for his service with the seaplane carrier H.M.S. Ark Royal during the Gallipoli campaign.

Later promoted Squadron Commander Edwin Harris Dunning, D.S.C., Royal Naval Air Service, became the first man to land an aeroplane on a moving ship when he piloted a Sopwith Pup onto the deck of H.M.S. Furious on 2nd August 1917. 

Being congratulated after his amazing reat

Edwin was killed on 7th August 1917 while attempting another landing when strong winds blew his aircraft overboard. He was buried in Bradfield (St. Lawrence) Churchyard, Essex, where the memorial plaque presented by his Father is on display in St. Lawrence’s Church.  

His official citation was published in the 'London Gazette' on 14th March 1916: “He performed exceptionally good work as a seaplane flyer, making many long flights both for spotting and photographing.

Western Times,' 7th April 1916. 

Edwin was also Mentioned in Despatches twice - 14 March 1916 – mentioned in despatches for service at Gallipoli, and on 1 October 1917.

Sources:  Information supplied by John Daniel,

Find my Past

Sunday 7 April 2024

Frank Richards, DCM, MM, born Francis Philip Woodruff (1883 -1961) – Welsh soldier and writer

With thanks to John Daniel for finding this information for us - Frank Richards, better known by his birth name Francis Philip Woodruff, wrote his account of the First World War from the viewpoint of an ordinary soldier entitled “Old Soldiers Never Die'”.

Born on 7th April 1883 in Upper Machen Farm, Monmouth, Wales, Frank’s parents were Francis Augustus Woodruff, a Colliery Proprietor.and his wife, Mary Ann Woodruff, nee Richards.  Frank’s grandfather Philip Woodruff, from Surrey, was a tin plate manufacturer. 

Orphaned when he was nine, Frank was brought up by his aunt and uncle in the Blaina area of the South Wales Valleys in industrial Monmouthshire. Frank’s uncle was his mother's twin brother and he adopted Frank who then changed his surname to Richards. 

When he was twelve years old Frank went to work in coal mines and the tin plate industry before joining the Royal Welch Fusiliers in 1901. He then served in India and Burma.   

He joined the reserves and re-enlisted with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at the outbreak of The First World War, serving in all of Britain's major British campaigns on the Western Front.  Frank was awarded  the Distinguished Conduct Medal and the Military Medal.

After the war, Frank was unable to work due to injuries sustained during the conflict and in 1933 he published his recollections of the war with the help of a fellow soldier in the RWF - Robert Graves the poet and writer. 

In 1936, Frank published a second memoir, “Old Soldier Sahib”, covering his time in the British Army of India. Private Frank Richards aka "Big Dick" features in Captain J. C. Dunn's “The War the Infantry Knew 1914-1919”.

In 1937 Frank married Mary James and they had one daughter, Margaret.

Frank, who at no point rose above the rank of Private during the war, refusing any offer of promotion, was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and Military Medal. Frank always denied any element of bravery in his character, simply saying that he was doing his job. His account of the Christmas Truce was the first to be published by a soldier who was not an officer.  In 1954 he was interviewed by the BBC for their classic multi-part documentary of the conflict, “The Great War”.

Frank continued to correspond regularly with Robert Graves until his death in 1961 at the age of 78.

Frank’s memoir 'Old Soldiers Never Die' is considered a classic insight into soldiers lives and has been described as "arguably the greatest of all published memoirs of the Great War". 

Preliminary Source: Information sent by John Daniel

Additional sources:  Find my Past


The soldiers' folklore song “Old Soldiers Never Die”:

Old soldiers never die,

Never die, never die,

Old soldiers never die,

They simply fade away.

The song is a British Army's parody of the gospel song Kind Thoughts Can Never Die.

In the United States, the phrase was used by General Douglas MacArthur in his April 19, 1951 farewell address to the U.S. Congress (which has become known as the "Old Soldiers Never Die" speech):

"... but I still remember the refrain of one of the most popular barrack ballads of that day which proclaimed most proudly that "old soldiers never die; they just fade away."

And like the old soldier of that ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away, an old soldier who tried to do his duty as God gave him the light to see that duty.

“Soldiers’ Songs and Slang of the Great War”, collected by Martin Pegler, ISBN 9781472804150, p. 123; an update of John Brophy and Eric Partridge's “Songs and Slang of the British Soldier” (1930). Partridge, Eric (1985). “A dictionary of catch phrases : British and American, from the sixteenth century to the present day”. Beale, Paul. (2nd. ed.), London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Saturday 6 April 2024


Popular music

The Bernard S. Parker World War One Sheet Music Collection consists of 753 pieces of sheet music (most are the larger format 11x14 inch size with a small assortment of 7x10 inch "War Editions"). The sheet music is organized alphabetically by title. Most were published betweeen 1914 and 1920, but a few date back to the late 19th Century.

Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji (born Leon Dudley Sorabji; 14 August 1892 – 15 October 1988) - English composer, music critic, pianist and writer whose musical output spanned eight decades and ranges from sets of miniatures to works lasting several hours. 

Poems by Robert Nichols set to music:

In 1919 Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji wrote Music to "The Rider by Night" (not extant in full). Peter Warlock (a close friend) composed a choral setting of The Full Heart in 1916, and a song setting of The Water Lily in 1922, along with others, now lost. The Naiads' Music and The Pigeon Song were set by Arthur Bliss (also a friend) in his Pastoral: (Lie Strewn White Flocks) of 1928,[9] and Bliss also used Dawn on the Somme in his choral symphony Morning Heroes of 1930. E J Moeran set Blue-eyed spring for voice and piano in 1932[10] and used poetry from the unfinished play Don Juan Tenorio the Great for his Nocturne for baritone solo, chorus and orchestra of 1935.[11] Christian Darnton set five poems by Nichols in his 1938 work Swansong, for soprano and orchestra.

A soldier’s thought of home

This song was written by Reginald Walter Jones MC, MM, who served in the 14th Battalion and was awarded the MC and MM. Two of his brothers, also in the 14th Battalion, died on the Western Front. The lyrics could have been written after the loss of one or both of his brothers - the final line reads "He knows his old home will be lonely, when he reaches the forest again". Reginald’s mother, Salome Elizabeth Jones, wrote a letter to Birdwood in 1920 - held in 3DRL/3376 9/1 Item 5 – in which she mentions her “two dear sons who “fell” in battle and have now entered into higher service”. The music was composed by James Dodd.

Check out these websites:

The lyrics to “Keep the Home Fires burning” were written by American poet Lena Guilbert Brown Ford who was killed in an air raid in London in 1918.

Amazing addition to his AGWP website about popular WW1 music from Dominic Sheridan -

Classical Music

Prince Eugen Franz ALBRECHT of Prussia, German (1864 – 1916)- Conductor and composer,_Op.15_(Albrecht_of_Prussia,_Prince_Joachim)

Georges ANTOINE, Belgian (1892 – 1918) died of Influenza 15th September 1918

Walter ASCH, German (1893 – 1915) – 2nd May 1915, Tarnov, Galicia, pupil of Pfizner

Arthur BLISS, British (1891 - 1975); served with Royal Fusiliers then Grenadier Guards, wounded twice and gassed. Arthur’s younger brother Francis Kennard Bliss, poet, was killed Thiepval 1916; “Morning Heroes”

Alban BERG, Austrian (1885 – 1935) – served in the Austro-Hungarian Army in WW1. 

Erwin BOCK, Austrian (? – 1916) – Killed Italy, Cadet. With the Tirroler Kaiserjãggeregt.

Ina BOYLE (1889 - 1969) – Irish. Set several WW1 poems to music (Winifred M. Letts, Rudyard Kipling, Herbert Asquith Jnr.) “Soldiers at Peace” by Herbert Asquith – see photos.

William Denis BROWNE, British (1888 – 1915) RNAS Antwerp – Hood Battalion (Rupert Brooke); killed Gallipoli 4th June 1915

Thomas O’BRIEN BUTLER, Irish (   - 1915) – drowned when “Lusitania” torpedoed; wrote first Gaelic opera 

George BUTTERWORTH, British (1885 – 1916) killed on The Somme

André CAPLET, to whom Debussy had entrusted the orchestration of some of his most popular piano works, including “Clair de Lune

Edward CLARK, British (1888 - 1962) Conductor and music journalist. Attending the Bayreuth Festival in Germany in August 1914, he was interned in Ruhleben Internment Camp near Berlin, Germany until May 1918 when he was released through the intervention of the Red Cross. 

Cecil COLES, British (1888 - 1918) – killed 26th April 1918. Buried Crouy. Bandmaster Queen Victoria’s Rifles. “Cortège”. Cecil Coles ( - 1918) – British musician Friend of Gustav Holst

Emile DEBERT, French (? – 1915) – killed Argonne 30th April 1917; pianist/composer

Claude DEBUSSY, French (1852 – 1918) – Died of Cancer during the German Spring Offensive on Paris on 1918. Paris was heavily shelled during his funeral and the church in which the funeral was held was destroyed two days later killing 88 people and injuring 68.

Edward ELGAR (1857 - 1934) – Volunteered as a Special Constable in his local Police Force and then joined the Hampstead Volunteer Reserve.

Hanns EISLER ( - ) – Austrian-born

Read more:

Ernest FARRAR, British (1885 – 1918) killed Epehy Ronssay, Western Front, 16th September 1918 (Grenadier Guards – 2nd Lieutenant 3 Bn. Devonshire Regiment).  “Caprice” arranged by McOpera’s Stern Adam –

Ernest Farrar taught the young Gerald Finzi (19-1 – 1956), who later wrote his “Requiem da Camera” in memory of his teacher.

Edwin FIRTH (1888 - 1918) was 'by far the finest ever cornet player.' He had played with Earby and Skipton bands before being invited to join Foden's Band in 1909. He was 19 years old. He led Foden's Band to victories at both the National Championships at Crystal Palace and the Belle Vue British Open at Manchester. In addition, he was no mean composer and, among other compositions, won a National award for his march 'Westward Ho!' In 1917 he volunteered to enlist with the Artists Rifles. In February 1918 Edwin's Regiment was posted out to France, where he naturally took with him a cornet. On 1st June 1918 he was killed by an exploding shell and is buried in the Varennes Military Cemetery, Albert, Somme, France.


Like Holst, Foulds was active in morale boosting for the troops through the organization of concerts. Whilst he didn’t write anything during the war, his A World Requiem  (1919-21) was composed in memory of the war dead from all countries. This piece had yearly performances between 1923-6 in the first Festivals of Remembrance.

Guido von GILLHAUSEN, German ( ? – 1918) – killed Eastern Front

Enrique GRANADOS, Spanish Catalan composer (1867 – 1916) – drowned 24th March 1916 trying to save his wife when the cross-Channel ferry S.S. “Sussex” was sunk

Ivor GURNEY, British (1890 - 1937); also a poet.  Shell shocked after serving on the Western Front with the Gloucestershire Regiment

Fernand Gustave HALPEN, French (1872 – 1917) – died May 1917; pupil of Massenet

Sir Herbert Hamilton HARTY (1879 – 1941) -  Irish composer, conductor, pianist and organist.

Paul HINDEMITH (1895 – 1963) - German composer, violist, violinist, teacher and conductor

Gustav HOLST, British (1874 - 1934) – Unfit for military service – bother Emil joined the British Army, wife Isabel drove ambulances in France.  At the end of the war Holst joined the YMCA and became Musical Organiser for the education of troops in the ear East. 

John IRELAND (1879 - 1962) – British Won a competition for a musical composition in 1917;  Violin Sonata No. 2: completed in January 1917, he submitted this to a competition organised to assist musicians in wartime. The jury included the violinist Albert Sammons and the pianist William Murdoch, who together gave the work its first performance at Aeolian Hall in New Bond Street on 6 March that year

Frank Maurice JEPHSON  A.R.C.O. Assistant organist of the Westbourne Park Church, 1902; organist of Richmond-upon-Thames Presbyterian Church, 1904. b. Derby, England, 1886; d. France, Apr. 20th, 1917 (killed in action).  (thanks to Ciaran Conlan for telling us about Frank)

Died 1917. Jephson was an organist and composer.

David JONES ( - 1917) – Welsh musician - harpist

Frederick Septimus KELLY, Australian-British (1881 – 1916) – Somme; also a rower – Summer Olympics 1908

Andre Victor Louis LAPORTE, French (1889 – 1918) – pupil of Paul Vidal (symphonic poem for orchestra and 

Hugh Gordon LANGTON, British (1885 – 1917) - violinist

Alberic MAGNARD, French (1865 – 3 September 1914) composer killed by German troops in his manor house in Baron, Oise, while resisting invasion. Composed operas, chamber music and songs.

Lucien MAILLIEUX, French composer/pianist (? – 14 November 1914), pupil of Xavier Leroux. Wrote 15 pieces for piano, and violin or solo piano and a ballet and songs to verses by de Dubor.

Willie (William) Braithwaite MANSON, New Zealand (1896 – 1916), composer of songs to poems by Longfellow, Rosssetti and Houseman. Royal Academy of Music, London. Studied Royal Academy of Music, London. Joined London Scottish Regiment and was killed on his birthday, 1st July 1916 Gommecourt, Somme. 

Auguste MASSACRIER, French (1872 – 1914), composer of soldiers’ marching songs Killed Chavette October 1914.

Herbert Goldstein MATHESON, British (1884 – 1918), composer of popular songs, 2nd Lieutenant, 13th Kensington Battalion, London Regiment, killed 23rd March 1918, France.

Pierre MAYER, French (1894 – 1915), killed Beauséjour/Mesnil-les-Hurlus. Composer of Chamber Music.

Ernest J. MOERAN, British-born of Irish origin (1894 – 1950)- Composer/violin and piano player.  Despatch rider in Norfolk Regiment. Transferred to West Yorkshire Regiment, wounded on Western Front Bullecourt, 3rd May 1917. After the War taught music briefly at Uppingham School before resuming his studies at the Royal College of Music with Charles Villiers Stanford.

Stevan MOKRANJAC, Serbian (? – 1914) – Composer

Philippe MOREAU, French (1880 – 1914) – disappeared near Dienz, Lorraine, France, 25th August 1914. Composer/Conductor. Pupil of Xavier Leroux.  

Jaroslav NOVOTNY, Czech (1886 – 1918) Composer of songs and choral works.  Student of Novák.  Officer in the Czech Legion. Killed Miass-Ural 1st May 1918.

Sir Hubert PARRY composer and Director of the Royal College of Music (From The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: “During the war he watched a life's work of progress and education being wiped away as the male population, particularly the new fertile generation of composing talent of the Royal College, dwindled.” But Parry proposed confidence that, even in greatest trauma, the “finest results in art” would profit, and that “those who can extract something true and inspiring out of such a welter of wild realities are likeliest to reinvigorate the things that tend to become stale and unprofitable”. “If you want to stupefy a genius, the surest way to do it is to keep him in cotton wool”. And, despite the knowledge that not all would return, he saluted those who continued to volunteer: “There are a vast number of our best and most gifted ones offering themselves to the same fate. All honour to them, and all anxiety to us!”) 

Viktor POIGER, Austrian (? – 1916) – Pilot in Austrian Air Force. Composer of songs. Killd 7th April 1916 in an air crash.

André PRADELS, French (? – 1916) composer. Son of singer Octave Pradels. Killed Verdun 8th April 1916.

Anton RABEL, German (? – 1918) Composer of songs and piano pieces;  from Munich.  Pupil of Beer-Walbrunn.

Aladar RADO, Hungarian (1882 – 1914). Composer of orchestral works, operas, songs and chamber music. Killed River Sava, Serbian Front 9th September 1914.

Maurice RAVEL, French (1875 – 1937) – Tried to enlist in the French Air Force but was not fit enough.   Joined 13th Artillery Regiment as a driver and drove lorries behind the lines.  “Le Tombeau de Couperin”

Johannes SCHMIEDGEN, German (1886 – 1916) – composer from Dresden. Requiem completed in the Trenches.

Cyril ROOTHAM (1875 – 1938) – British; set Binyon’s “For the Fallen” to music.

Arnold SCHOENBERG, Austrian (1875 – 1937) – called up for service in the Austro-Hungarian Army.

Philippe August Botho SIGWART, Graf zu Eulenburg, German (1884 – 1915) Piano Sonata D Major. Died of wounds 2nd June 1915, Leki, Galicia.

Dame Ethel Mary SMYTH Dame Ethel Mary Smyth, DBE (22 April 1858 – 8 May 1944) – composed the music to the Suffragette’s March (words by WW1 poet Cicily Hamilton). Dame Ethel also composed a comic opera about WW1 – “Entente Cordiale”

Rudi STEPHAN, German (1887 – 1915) – killed on the Eastern Front at Tarnopol, Galicia. Composed music for piano and orchestra.

Florian THIESSIG, German (1856 – 1916) – died in a Russian civil POW camp in Pensa.  Operas, Oratorios, orchestral pieces.

Francis Purcell WARREN, British (1895 – 1916) – Royal Warwickshire Regiment, killed Somme 3rd July 1916, 2nd Lt. Lancashire Regiment; Royal College of Music;  composer of music for strings.

Jerrard George WILKINSON (1885 – 1916) – killed 1st July 1916 on the Somme at Beaumont Hamel. Duke of Cambridge’s Own; Middlesex Regiment.  Composer of songs – “From a Distance”, “Nine Songs and Duets from the Ancient Japanese”

Ralph Vaughan WILLIAMS, British (1872 – 1958) – served in the British Army in WW1. Pupil of Maurice Ravel.  “A Pastoral Symphony”

Paul WITTGENSTEIN (1887 - ) – Austrian; pianist; POW WW1; wounded – lost an arm.

Sinking of the “Lusitania”, 7th May 1915

During the sinking of the “Lusitania” Justus Miles FORMAN (1889 – 7 May 1915), American novelist and playwright died, along with theatre producer Charles FROHMAN and playwright Charles KLEIN – they were travelling together.  The American painter Reginald Purse also perished.  The writer Osmund Bartle Wordsworth, who was related to the poet, was among the survivors of the liner’s sinking, along with his sister Ruth, with whom he had been returning to Britain.  He was one of the last to leave the ship and gave his lifejacket to another passenger.  Osmund was killed on the Western Front in 1917.

Additional Notes

According to Tim Cross in “Lost Voices of World War 1” (Bloomsbury, London, 1988), there was a German composer called Hermann HESSE who was killed in 1917.  He was from Hamburg and composed a symphonic poem called “Pro Patria”   Cross cites a German publication called “Neue Musik-Zeitung, xxxix, 18 as his source for this, so I will try and contact the publication if I can.

However, I can only find details via the Internet of the German writer Herman Hesse whose “Steppenwolf” I have read.  Hesse also wrote poems so I have included him in Forgotten Poets of the First World War.

Camille SAINT-SAENS French (1835 - 1921) founded the League for the Defence of French Music (La Ligue pour la Defense de la Musique Franҫaise) during the First World War in order to ban the playing of German and Austrian music.


Tim Cross “Lost Voices of World War 1” (Bloomsbury, London, 1988), pp 387 – 406.

LUCY LONDON, June 2017 (Revised, slightly, November 2018, September 2019)