Saturday 20 December 2014

Book Review: "The Battle of the Frontiers Ardennes 1914"

ZUBER, Terence.  “The Battle of the Frontiers Ardennes 1914”. (Tempus Publishing Ltd., Stroud, Gloucestershire, 2007)

I knew about the Ardennes in the Second World War but I'm ashamed to admit I did not know of the  significance of the area in the First World War, in spite of having driven through there many times.

Terence Zuber, a retired American Army Officer, has 'walked the battlefield' and gives a fascinating, step by step account of the fighting that took place in the early days of the First World War.   He also explains the build up to WW1 - the 'war to end all wars' - with background information, statistics and details of what happened after the Franco-Prussian War 1870 - 1871, when France lost territory to Germany.   Terence Zuber also has an interesting website:

To my mind, this book is an excellent starting point for anyone interested in the First World War.

Sunday 23 November 2014

First World War husband and wife poets - Joyce (1886 - 1918) and Aline (1888 - 1941) Kilmer

Aline was born on 1st August 1888 in Norfolk, Virginia.  Her parents were Ada Foster Murray, also a published poet, and Kenton C. Murray, who edited the “Norfolk Landmark” newspaper.   

Alfred Joyce Kilmer was born on 6th December 1886 in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  His parents were Annie Ellen Kilmer, née Kilburn, who was a writer/composer, and Dr. Frederick Barnett Kilmer, a physician/chemist.

Aline’s Father died in 1895 and in 1900, her Mother remarried Henry Mills Alden, the Managing Editor of “Harpers’ Magazine”.

Aline and Joyce were educated at Rutgers College Grammar School, where they met.   They were married on 9th June 1908.

When their daughter Rose contracted Polio, Joyce and Aline converted to the Roman Catholic faith. 

Joyce Kilmer enlisted in the New York National Guard in May 1917, in response to America joining the conflict and his Regiment was posted to the Western Front, where he joined the 69th US Infantry Regiment with the rank of Sergeant.  He later joined his Regiment's Intelligence Unit and was killed by sniper fire on 30th July 1918. He is buried in the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial in Picardy, France. He was posthumously awarded the French Croix de Guerre for bravery.  

After her husband's death in the First World War, aline had her first collection of poetry published under the title "Candles that Burn" in 1919.   She continued to write poetry and also wrote children's books. Aline died in Stillwater Township in New Jersey on 1st October 1941.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Bournemouth, UK in WW1 - Mont Dore Military Hospital

How many times have I walked past this building without knowing anything about its history! My grandparents used to live near Bournemouth.

In 1881 a boarding house in Bournemouth called The Glen was pulled down and a hotel was built called the Mont Dore Hotel which opened in 1895.   The foundation stone for the new building was laid by His Majesty King Oscar II of Norway and Sweden.

During the First World War, the hotel was requisitioned for use as a military hospital and became the Mont Dore Canadian Military Hospital.    Since 1921, the building has been Bournemouth's Town Hall. 

Photogtaphs now and then from Google Images.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Review of "Into the Danger Zone" - book about crossing the Atlantic in The First World War

I found out about this book by Tad Fitch and Michael Poirier via Facebook where the authors have a pre-publication page which they up-date from time to time.  I was fascinated so I sent them a message to find out more.  My Father used to work in the dock area of Liverpool in the 1960s when the shipping industry was very busy.  I used to love to go with him and admire the wide variety of ships on the River Mersey, from lighters and tugs to ocean-going liners and Father often talked about famous sea battles of both world wars (he was six years old when The Great War broke out). Imagine the trauma of worrying about submarines and mines when undertaking sea journeys from crossing the English Channel (which many civilians did either to go and work on the Western Front or to visit sick or wounded relatives) to crossing larger areas of water such as the Irish Sea or The Atlantic.

As I have a keen interest of anything to do with the sea and also about The First World War, I felt this book to be an absolute 'MUST READ'.  Here is a review from Amazon:

"As the First World War loomed, the transatlantic passenger trade was at its peak and, as the enormity of the conflict grew, many liners were conscripted into military service. In an attempted counter-blockade of the UK, German U-boats began sinking Allied merchant vessels, in some cases sparking international outrage. Eventually it was the declaration of unrestricted submarine warfare in 1917 that drew the previously neutral United States into the conflict. By war’s end, the U-boats had managed to sink over 5,000 ships, killing 15,000 people in the process. Into the Danger Zone recounts what it was like for both military personnel and civilians alike to experience a sea voyage at a time of war, when they could encounter any number of dangers, including U-boats, mines and enemy surface vessels. Attacks were frequent and tragedy all too common. Using a wealth of unpublished, rare and fascinating first-hand accounts, illustrations and photographs, Fitch and Poirier present an engaging history of this often-neglected chapter of the twentieth century."

With many thanks to Tad and to Michael for their hard work in putting this book together and for answering my many queries.  I had no idea they were based in the United States of America - I wish they would go on a world tour to promote their book then perhaps we in the UK could meet them.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

An Ice Hockey Hero of WW1 - Frank McGee from Canada

FRANK ‘ONE EYE’ McGEE – Ottawa Senators

As many of you will know, since April 2012 I have been busy preparing commemorative WW1 exhibitions. I began by researching women who wrote poetry during the First World War at the request of Dean Johnson who runs The Wilfred Owen Story Museum in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral, UK.  Dean wanted to hold an exhibition of female poets - so I started looking.

By the time the exhibition was on display in November 2012, I had become so fascinated with the research that I continued.  I hit a snag - I wanted to include the Canadian artist Mary Riter Hamilton who went to paint the aftermath in France in May 1919.  Her story was so amazing that I could not leave her out so "Inspirational Women of WW1" was added to the poets.  Then I discovered Philip Gosse who was the official British 2nd Army Rat Catcher Officer on the Western Front.  How could I leave out such an interesting story?  That is how "Fascinating Facts of the Great War" came into being.

Knowing that many sportsmen joined up during WW1 - whole football teams, rugby teams, cricket teams and so on - I began to ask the question “Do you know of any Ice Hockey players who joined up during the Great War?”.

Thanks to a book called “The Greater Game Sporting Icons who fell in the Great War”, by Clive Harris and Julian Whippy, with a foreword by Richard Holmes the WW1 historian, I can now answer that question with a resounding “Yes”.

Frank McGee was born in Ottawa on 4th November 1882.   Frank’s Father was John James McGee, who had Irish ancestors and was from Kingston, Ontario.  John James was an important man – he was Clerk of the Privy Council in Canada.

When he left school, Frank too joined the Civil Service, working for the Canadian Pacific Railway.   He was an accomplished sportsman having played lacrosse and rugby and was a keen rower and boxer.  He began playing ice hockey for the local recreational team the Ottawa Aberdeens.

Incidentally, the Aberdeen Pavilion in Ottawa was the muster point when the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry were formed in 1914.

In 1900, Frank’s older brother was serving with the Canadians in the Boer War. The Canadian Patriotic Fund was an organisation that raised funds to help the war effort and an ice hockey game was arranged against a team from Hawkesbury.   Frank sustained a cut over his eye that prevented him from joining in the after match party.   His eye did not heal and he lost the sight of his eye, which meant that he retired from ice hockey.

In 1903 he was approached by a sponsor of the Ottawa Senators asking him to consider coming out of retirement.   1905 saw Frank’s best season with the Senators dominating first class hockey.   In spite of a wrist injury, he helped his team to win the Stanley Cup for three seasons in a row. 

At the end of that season, Frank retired again – he was twenty-three by then – and settled down to be a civil servant.   Frank was a Lieutenant in the Canadian Militia, which is similar to the British Territorial Army.  When Canada declared war on Germany, he joined the 21st (Eastern Ontario) Battalion of the Canadian Expeditionary Force on 9th November 1914, having managed to hoodwink the medical examiner who declared his vision ‘good’.   Frank’s Battalion went to France in September 1915 where he was blown up and wounded in the right knee.  He was sent back to England for treatment and attached to the Canadian Training Headquarters in Shorncliffe, Kent, where he instructed in machine gunnery.  He re-joined his old Regiment in March 1916 and was then seconded to assist the Director of Railways and Ordnance in the building of railways across Flanders and France.  By 29th August 1916, Frank was back with his old regiment again and took part in a battle to take the sugar refinery at Flers-Courcelette on 15th September 1916, in which the tank HMLS “Crème de Menthe” also took part.

On 16th September 1916, Frank was killed in a heavy artillery attack.  His body was never identified and he is remembered on the Vimy Ridge Memorial.

HARRIS, Clive and WHIPPY, Julian, “The Greater Game Sporting Icons who fell in the Great War”, by Clive Harris and Julian Whippy. (Pen and Sword Military, Barnsley, Yorkshire, 2008) pp 64 – 74.

Photos:  Top left Frank in his uniform and with his Ice Hockey Team, standing far right.

Photos from Google Images.

Wednesday 22 October 2014

The German Light Cruiser SMS "Emden"

"The Times" newspaper publishes extracts from the paper one hundred years ago and today's extract bears the headline "The Emden Reappears".

It concerns the German Dresden Class Light Cruiser SMS "Emden" (see left), which had apparently been wrecking havoc among British shipping and costing Britain millions of pounds in lost shipping and trade. At that stage of the war, however, the crew of the Emden and other German ships behaved impeccably as true gentlemen and though ships were destroyed, their crews were saved.  As the writer of the report on October 22, 1914 stated:  'The accounts given by the crews of the destroyed steamers invariably bear testimony to the considerate restraint with which the Emden does her deadly work".

I was interested to note that, among the problems caused by the actions of "Emden" were:  "Burma isolated for a fortnight", the trade of Calcutta paralysed, insurance for shipping on the Eastern routes increased and the interruption of the Indian mail service.

However, the Australian Navy came to our rescue and on 30th October, HMAS "Sydney" (see right) an Australian Light Cruiser engaged "Emden" after her attack on Penang, Malaya.   "Emden" was badly damaged so her captain beached her on North Keeling Island in order to save the lives of his crew.

Commemorative First World War theatrical production "Where then shall we start?" Greenwich, London, 13 - 14 November 2014

I just received an interesting e-mail via the Wilfred Owen Association in the UK announcing a new theatrical production commemorating the First World War.   The title is "Where then shall we start" and it is based on the work of Wilfred Owen, the British soldier poet, and Käthe Kolwitz, a German artist who lost her only son Peter in WW1.  The production is directed by Jennifer Leach.

There will be performances at Queens House, the Royal Museums Greenwich on Thursday, 13th and Friday, 14th November 2014 at 7.45 p.m.

Further details and to book:

Sunday 12 October 2014

Percy Haselden The Liverpool Poet (1895 - 1916) - NB UPDATE this is not the poet - please see post on Forgotten Poets of the First World War April 2023

I have received the following information from Historian Deborah Cameron:

Percy Haselden was born in Toxteth, Liverpool and his birth was registered in the September quarter of 1895.

Percy joined the Kings Liverpool Regiment and was killed on 30th July 1916 in Flanders.  He is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme, Picardie, France.

Percy's poems were published by Erskine Macdonald in 1917 under the title "In the wake of the Sword".  His poem "Searchlights on the Mersey" was published in "The Fiery Cross: an Anthology" edited by Mabel C. Edwards and Mary Booth and published by Grant Richards in 1915.  

With many thanks to Deborah for her kind help.

If anyone knows anything more about Percy or if they have a photograph of him, please get in touch.

Update on 22nd April 2023.  I just received a message from Linda Michelini :

"I am helping to research soldiers from the Liverpool Pals battalions who 
fell during WW1. Googling Percy Haselden's name I came across multiple 
sites, including yours, which hold incorrect information.

The Percy Haselden who was born in Liverpool in 1895 and killed on 
30/7/1916 was not the poet. We have his biography here -

The war poet Percy Haselden was born Percy Haselden Evans in Liscard on the Wirral Peninsula in the early months of 1887 and was baptised on 27th March 1887.  Percy’s parents were William Parry Evans, a cotton broker, and his wife, Matilda, nee Haselden, who were married in 1884.  

I thought you would appreciate being able to correct your profile of the 
WW1 poet.
Linda Michelini

Linda Michelini 

I hve now placed an entry on the weblog Forgotten Poets of the First World War about the
Merseyside poet born Percy Haselden Evans, who used the pen name Percy Haselden before changing his name by Deed Poll in 1929.

Wednesday 8 October 2014

Heroic Sportsmen of WW1 - Edgar Robert Mobbs, DSO

Keen Rugby Union fan J. Daniel Dawson has sent me this report about Edgar Robert Mobbs:

Born in Northampton on 29th June 1882. Edgar was an English Rugby Union Footballer who played for and Captained Northampton RFC and England. After being turned down as being too old to join the Army in WWI, Edgar raised his own "Sportsman's" Company of 250 Sportsmen ( Also known as Mobb's own) for the Northamptonshire Regiment. He rose to Command his Battalion with the Rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

Edgar was killed in action in July 1917 at Zillebeke (Belguim) during the third Battle of Ypres, (now called Iepers) while attacking a Machine Gun post. His body has never been found, so his name is on the Menin Gate Memorial. (Ypres/Iepers) He was honoured with the Distinguished Service Order.

A Memorial to Mobbs and other Northampton players who lost their lives in wartime stands in Franklin Gardens, home of Northampton Saints Rugby Club.  With many thanks to The Saints for allowing the use of the photo of Edgar Mobbs.

Sunday 5 October 2014

Songs of the First World War


While I was researching the songs of the First World War recently, I came across a reference on page 175 in a book called “Charlie Chaplin and His Times” by Kenneth S. Lynn, published in 1997 by Simon & Schuster, New York to the song about Baggy Trousers and the Dardanelles.  My Mother used to sing that song so I was immediately interested.

According to Lynn, Charlie Chapin’s decision not to return to Britain and enlist was because a clause in his film contract that forbade him to leave the United States of America.   The British public were none too pleased and Chaplin received quite a few letters containing white feathers which in those days was a sign of cowardice.  A sheet-music  firm in London published a set of lyrics to the tune of “Red Wing”, a song that had been written in 1907 in America with music by Karry Mills (“ who also penned Meet me in St. Louis Louis”), adapted from a piece of piano music by Schuman, and lyrics by Thurland Chattaway, about an Indian Princess who lost her Brave.

The new lyrics became popular with troops during the First World War, and referred to Charlie Chaplin’s apparent reluctance to return to England and enlist.

Now the moon shines bright on Charlie Chaplin
He’s going barmy to join the army
But his old baggy trousers they’ll need mending
Before they send him to the Dardanelles.

The moon shines bright on Charlie Chaplin
His shoes are cracking, for want of blacking
And his baggy khaki trousers still need mending
Before they send him to the Dardanelles.

Lynn goes on to explain that “in the year of the Battle of the Somme" (which began in July 1916) ",.. the movie tents behind the lines in France continued to be filled with laughter whenever Charlie Chaplin comedies were shown.”  (p. 176)

Being able to laugh must have had a positive effect on the morale of the troops who, according to Kate Luard, a senior nurse in France during The First World War who was a veteran of the Boer War, when they were frontline troops spent four days in the trenches and four days resting in camps behind the lines.

“Unknown Warriors The Letters of Kate Luard RRC and Bar, Nursing Sister in France 1914 – 1918” Edited by John and Carolie Stevens and published by The History Press, Stroud, Glos. 2014.

Picture:  Cartoon by Bruce Bairnsfather - "The Last Man"

Thursday 25 September 2014

Exhibition at Winchester Discovery Centre 4 October - 27 December 2014

'Trench Coat: From Field to Fashion' The story of an enduring classic, at Winchester Discovery Centre - 4th October 2014 - 27th December 2014. An exhibition that the Artists Rifles Association has assisted with. Many images were provided from the wartime copies of the Artists Rifles' Journal.

Wilfred Owen the famous WW1 soldier poet, was based at the Gunnery School in Fleetwood, Lancashire in November 1916.  On the advice of his mother, Susan Owen, he travelled to Blackpool to purchase a Trench Coat before going to the Western Front in December 1916.

Winchester Discovery Centre
Jewry Street
SO23 8SB
Tel. 0845 6035631

Opening Hours:

    • 9am to 7pm except:
      Saturday 9am to 5pm
      Sunday 11am to 3pm
    • Closed on public holidays

Wednesday 24 September 2014

WW1 Airman poet - Geoffrey Wall from The Wirral

Browsing through Catherine W. Reilly's wonderful "English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography" the other evening, my eye caught the word "Liscard" which is a town on the Wirral Peninsula.  WW1 poet, 2nd Lieutenant Arthur Geoffrey Nelson Wall was born in Liscard and his birth was registered in June 1897.  He was the son of Arthur E. Wall formerly of Bromley, Kent and his wife Mary.

Geoffrey was educated at Sea Bank Road High School with Mr Wrigley.  The family moved to Australia in 1907, travelling on the 'Moldavia'.  Geoffrey went to Wesley College, Melbourne University.   He returned to the UK at the outbreak of WW1 and joined the Royal Flying Corps.  He trained at No 7 Training School in Netheravon, Wiltshire and was killed in a flying accident on 6th August 1917 at Netheravon.

Geoffrey Wall is commemorated at Raikes Lane Cemetery in Wallasey, Wirral, UK

His poetry is collected in two volumes - "Letters of an Airman" and "Songs of an Airman".

With grateful thanks to Yvon Davies and Les Highton via Facebook for their help in finding out more about Geoffrey.

If anyone has any further information about Geoffrey and a photograph, please get in touch as I would like to produce an exhibition panel about him.  Thank you.

Friday 19 September 2014

Maoris in the First World War

This WW1 commemorative project is in memory of my maternal Grandfather, who was an Old Contemptible with the Royal Field Artillery who survived the war and went on to serve in WW2, and my Great Uncle who was killed at Arras on Easter Monday, 9th April 1917, the same day as the poets Edward Thomas and R.E. Vernede.

I began researching just over two years ago when Dean Johnson of The Wilfred Owen Story in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral asked me to produce an exhibition for his museum.   Since then I have not stopped and have been amazed at the huge amount of information there is.  I have barely scratched the surface.  I even dream about the project and quite often wake up in the middle of the night thinking of a name.

On 14th September, I woke up thinking of Tonga and the islands in the Pacific and the part they played in the first conflict that affected the entire globe.  So I had to look up their involvement in WW1.  I mentioned this on Facebook and Sonia sent me a photograph of one of her beautiful works of art.  

The work of art in question is a wall hanging showing the horrific journey of the islanders to the western front via Egypt.  Sonia also included the poem "Despise not the day of small things" written by E. Mary Cruttwell, which was featured in 'The Fiery Cross' WW1 Poetry Anthology, edited by Mabel C. Edwards and Mary Booth and published in 1915 by .

Sonia says :  "I was so moved to indignation I did this wall hanging showing the islanders' horrific journey to the western front via Egypt. I also included the poem by Mary Cruttwell.

The yellow represents Egypt see pyramids.   The central section is the Western Front.  The photo shows the Nuiens on trench digging, then the top is the white cliffs of Dover and Hornchurch " Horns from coat of arms "where they were sent to recover or die.  The photo of a grave Card in the left hand corner is "A long way to Tipperary" as sung in Maori."

With many thanks to Sonia, who is a Textile Artist and Storyteller who lives in Scotland, where she is well known for her unusual interpretations of myths and legends, folklore and traditions.  She designs and makes wall hangings incorporating fabric, weaving and objets trouvés.

The photo on the right shows Sonia's wall hanging for the poem by Winifred M. Letts entitled "Screens".  Winifred was a nurse and a member of the Almeric Paget Military Massage Corps - the team who in the First World War pioneered the work now knows as physiotherapy

To find out more about Sonia's wonderful work, please see 

Thursday 18 September 2014

Paul Klee (18 - 1940) - German Artist and Soldier in WW1

While I was looking for information about one of the Female Poets of the First World War, I found this German Artist so I thought I would feature him under the Fascinating Facts of the Great War section of the exhibition project. Paul Klee may be known to those of you who are art fanatics but he was new to me and I feel in love at once with his work, which you can find on the Internet. 

Klee was born of German parents in Switzerland in 1879. He was conscripted into the German Imperial Army in 1915, survived the war, worked at Bauhaus, became famous, had exhibitions in London and Paris and had to flee to Switzerland in 1933 due to persecution by the Nazis. He died in Locarno in 1940. His work inspired many musical interpretations. 

I suppose what fascinates me about Klee's work is the combination with poetry which he began to experiment with in 1916. 

Sources: Wikipedia, Google Images and Pictures: Klee (with beard) in the German Army 1916 and his painting "Beginning of a Poem.

Friday 12 September 2014

Australian Soldiers in the UK in WW1

At the outbreak of The First World War, there became an urgent need to accommodate the increasing requirements for Military Training and Transit camps. Towards the end of 1914, John Combes, of East Farm at Fovant in Wiltshire, was informed that part of his land was to be requisitioned for one such camp. 

Subsequently, land to the east and west of his farm was also commandeered and an area stretching from Compton Chamberlayne to Sutton Mandeville became one vast Military Camp. A single track railway connected the camps to the main line.

The camp located at Compton Chamberlayne became known as Hurdcott Camp, as it was on land that was part of two farms - Hurdcott and Naish's. In March 1916, this section of the camp was taken over by the Australian Imperial Forces and became their No. 3 Command Depot.

Chalk Badges on the Downs - Rising Sun & Map of Australia

In remembrance of their colleagues that had not returned from the War, many of the Regiments staying at the Military Camps carved replicas of their cap badges into the chalk hillsides near the village of Fovant. By the end of WW1 there were some 20 badges, the largest of which was the Australian Commonwealth Forces Badge - The Rising Sun. A large map of Australia was also carved into the Downs above where Hurdcott Camp was situated at Compton Chamberlayne. Sadly, the chalk map of Australia is no longer financially supported and is being left to nature. 

George Herbert Cross (1884 – 1972) was my paternal Grandfather’s friend and business associate and also Father’s best friend.

After the death of Father’s stepmother in 1960, Mr Cross contacted us to send his condolences and so renewed his friendship with Father.   Until Mr Cross’s death in 1972, my family went regularly to visit him at his home in Compton Chamberlayne, Wiltshire, having moved to Salisbury in 1967 to be closer to him.

In the chapter of his memoirs "Suffolk Punch" entitled “Wiltshire” George Cross shares with us a “very human record of Australia’s share in the Great War.  On a number of beech trees in Compton Park, probably planted before the discovery of Australia, are the names or initials, wrought with their own hands, of young men who came from that far-distant land to give themselves to the Empire in her hour of need.  They were encamped in their thousands at the foot of the Wiltshire Downs, in Compton Chamberlayne and the adjoining parishes, and many a strong man’s thoughts as he sauntered through the silent woods and saw the smooth grey skin of the beeches must have turned to his dear ones, and he felt irresistibly impelled to leave some record of himself before he faced annihilation.

George wondered “how many of those fine fellows are alive and well today?  Of some hundreds of names and initials, many partly obliterated, I mention a few:

C. Delarvillers was no mean woodcarver, R.M. of Sydney was madly in love with his Nina; her name in his hand-carving is still all over the wood.  I trust he survived and between them they now have grown-up children.  J.A.B. was a good designer as well as a carver;  C.D. climbed twenty feet up the tree to leave his mark.  C.A.W. of London, NSW, had a big bulbous heart; let’s hope he proved a better lover than a woodcarver!  Tom May – I suppose it is Tom May? – the design is ingenious but rather cryptic – is a man of ideas and if he lives has probably made a fortune. Private G. Penny and E.J. Rowlands were evidently great chums.

On the Downs overlooking the main road these handy lads outlined in the chalk a map of Australia as large as St. Paul’s Cathedral, and although overgrown by grass it can still be clearly seen.

Some of the AIF have, dead or alive, left their tangible mark behind – those strong, dare-devil, handsome cousins who had come to our aid from beyond the seas.  In the little cemetery off the village street rest the bodies of thirty or forty who died before they were vouchsafed an opportunity of firing a shot for their motherland.” (pp 419 – 420).

From the autobiography “Suffolk Punch A Business Man’s Autobiography” by George Cross. Published by Faber and Faber Ltd., London, 1937.

Note:  The badges are still clearly visible on the Downs but the map of Australia was too expensive to maintain.

Compton Chamberlayne Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery

Compton Chamberlayne Commonwealth War Graves cemetery is located on High Street. The War Graves Cemetery contains the graves of thirty four (34) World War 1 soldiers - Twenty eight (28) Australian Soldiers of the Australian Imperial Force (AIF), three (3) Soldiers from the London Regiment of the Royal Fusiliers, one (1) Soldier from Royal Engineers, one (1) Soldier from Royal Irish Fusiliers and one (1) Soldier from the Royal Irish Rifles.

The graves date from February, 1916 through to February, 1919. 33 of the graves are commemorated with a Commonwealth War Graves Headstone. The graves are laid out in three rows, with a stone plinth or cairn located at the front of the burial ground.

From the engraved lid of the cairn - "The severe winter of 1916-17 caused hardship amongst the troops encamped around Salisbury Plain. Between December, 1916 and April, 1917, eleven AIF deaths were directly associated with respiratory disorders. The majority of the casualties had only enlisted six months earlier and two of the months since enlistment had been spent on a sea voyage from the Australian summer to the British winter."

 Australian Soldiers:  W.J. Arnold, Allan Ernest Evans, P.W. Haywood/Amoore, A. Le Tisser, W.J. Park, T.J. Skipper, I.H. Turnbull, T. Cass, C.W. Ferrow, H. Howard, H.W. McCarthy, W.E. Riley, W.C. Snell, S.H. Turner, J.E. Cook, W.R. Finn, E. Jones A.H. Oliver, S. Ross, J.H. Trengove, J.T. Wehrmann, A.A. Dreckow, W. Gilbert, P.R. Knowles, A.G. Pairman, Roy Allen Sillar, C. Tull, T.H.W. White.

Cathy Sedgwick (see post on 17th March 2016) has researched all the Australian soldiers buried in Wiltshire and posted details on this website  Cathy is currently researching Australian nurses who died serving during the First World War and has kindly given me permission to share her research with you.

Photo of Badges taken in 1917 by George Donohue courtesy of the Facebook Group Mud, Mining, Medals

Thursday 11 September 2014

Owen/Britten War Requiem to be performed Sunday, 2nd November 2014, Selwyn College, Cambridge

News just in:

To mark the centenary of The First World War, Roger Williams  will perform Wilfred Owen/Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, accompanied by the Choir in Selwyn College Chapel, Cambridge.  You can read more about the War Requiem here:

Wilfred Owen was educated in Birkenhead, Wirral and in Shrewsbury.  He joined the Artists' Rifles on his return from France where he had been working as a private tutor.  He was commissioned into the Manchester Regiment and was killed on the Sambre Canal in France near Ors, on 4th November 1918.

There is a museum to the memory of Wilfred Owen at 34 Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral.  This will be open on Saturday, 13th September 2014 as part of National Heritage Week from 11 am until 2 pm.

The Wilfred Owen Story
34 Argyle Street
CH41 6AE

Tuesday 9 September 2014

A First World War Soldier Poet from Germany

I am certain that many of you will know the WW2 song "Lilly Marlene" but did you know that it was in fact originally written during the First World War as a poem?  It was written by a young German school teacher.   His name was Hans LEIP and he was born in  Hamburg in 1893 the son of a former sailor.  Educated in Hamburg, Leip became a school teacher but his dream was to become an artist.

In 1915, Leip was conscripted into the Imperial German Army and served on the Eastern Front and in the Carpathians.  He was wounded in 1917 and invalided out of the army.  After the war, Leip travelled to Paris, London, New York and Algiers. He wrote novels, plays, short stories and, of course, poetry.  He was also a talented artist and sculptor.

The poem was called "Das Lied wines jungen Soldaten aug der Wacht" - 'The Song of a Young Soldier of the Watch' and Leip wrote it combining the names of his girl friend and a nurse who looked after him.  Leip's poem was set to music in 1938 by Norbert Schultze and recorded in 1939 by a young German singer called Lale Andersen with the title "Das Mädchen under der Lanterne" - 'The Girl under the Lamps'.   The song was played on a German radio station and the song became a hit.  It appealed to all soldiers world wide during the Second World War and was sung in many languages.

Hans Leip died in 1963.

Photo:  Google Images - Hans Leip before his departure to the Front in 1915

Saturday 6 September 2014

WW1 Soldier Poet I had not heard of - Will Streets

With thanks to Margaret McKenzie of Wiltshire who has just told me about Will Streets, who was based at a training camp in Wiltshire during WW1.

I will be researching Will and bringing you more information and some of his poems as soon as possible.

Saturday 26 July 2014

Just a few of the events being organised:

The Shorncliffe Trust (on Facebook: have a very reverential scheme for the evening of 4th August 2014 lighting lanterns on the graves in memoriam to those who lie there.

The Trust are also fighting to save as much as possible of the Shorncliffe Barracks and 200-year old Redoubt and WW1 training trenches against the developers et al.

Andrew Morgan, Remembering the First World War in 2014 One Hundred Years Facebook Group


are holding a special commemorative event on 4th August 2014 - for details please contact Jonathan Catton, Heritage and Museum Officer, Thurrock Council.  The museum are running a commemorative Great War Exhibition. 

Monday, 4th August 10.00 am - 3.00 pm
Tilbury Fort, Tilbury, Essex RM18 7NR

Free WW1 Commemoration Day run by Thurrock Borough Council

Julie says: "We will be performing poems and extracts of the performance of "Merry it was to laugh there".


MESSAGE FROM SUZANNE STEELE:  I am a project lead on a Great War installation, The Long Goodbye, which you can see on Facebook -
The project is unveiling on 4 August, 2014.

For further details see also their website link:

Sunday 20 July 2014

Portugal - Britain's oldest ally - sent help during WW1

I am indebted to my friends Eurico Ventura and his wife who are translators - for this fascinating account of Portugal's contribution to Britain's war effort during WW1.  Portugal sent troops to the Western Front in January 1917.
"Portugal has the oldest European alliance with Britain. However, in the last years of the 19th century Britain took possession of Rhodesia, ignoring Portugal's claims to the land between their colonies of Angola and Mozambique. That deeply affected the relations with Britain, and they were on the verge of declaring war to Britain.  The Portuguese National Anthem today still talks of taking the arms against canons, and those canons would have been British. However, Portugal soon realized that they wouldn’t have the ships to defend their colonies on their own. Angola bordered Namibia, which was a German colony by then, and Mozambique shared a border with German Tanzania, and so they were left in a position which implied to choose the lesser evil, so to speak.

The first Portuguese soldier killed in WWI was António Gonçalves Curado - photo from Google Images.  To see his grave click on the link and scroll down to the bottom of this link:

António was born in a small town called Barquinha in Central Portugal but, by the time he was drafted in 1917, he lived in Carvalhais, a few miles away from my wife's hometown (Lavos – Figueira da Foz). The war was always immensely unpopular in Portugal, which had become a republic in 1910 and was going through the upheaval of the first years of democracy. Governments lasted months;  Presidents were always changing and the country was in a political mess, which would lead in 1928 to a military coup and a dictatorship.
When WWI broke out Portugual initially decided to stay neutral.  They sold a few artillery sets to France, which was the first country to ask for help, but were afraid to declare war on Germany because of the colonies’ question. 

Eventually German troops started to skirmish with Portuguese troops in Africa, and the Portuguese Government then asked British navy to ferry Portuguese troops to defend those colonies from Germany. In return, Britain requested that they seize all German ships in Portuguese ports, and Portugal eventually did just that in 1916. Germany and the Austrian-Hungarian Empire declared war on Portugal soon afterwards. The Portuguese Governments than realized that, if they were to align with the Allies, Portugal should send army units to France.

This was an hugely unpopular decision, first because the country was in economic chaos and that was seen as an unnecessary waste of money, and second because everybody knew by 1917 that the war was a terrible massacre.  Young men were conscripted into the Portuguese Army and sent in British ships to the Lille region in France. These troops, the Portuguese Expeditionary Corp,  consisted of two divisions, trained and equipped by the British and deployed in the British sector. During the Georgette'La Lys offensive on 19th April 1918, the Germans correctly identified that section of the front as weak and, when the British lines crumbled under the strong attack, the Portuguese 2nd division was rapidly encircled and destroyed so thoroughly that it ceased to exist.

António Gonçalves Calado was born on the 29th September 1894.  He was a poor peasant who worked for other wealthier farmers. He was sent to France in a British ship on the 22nd February 1917. He was killed during an artillery shelling on the 4thApril 1917 on the Ypres sector. He was first buried in France (see and then his family asked the transferal of the body to Portugal, arriving on the 31st July 1929. He was buried in Barquinha underneath a monument built in his memory.

There is also a monument dedicated to him in front of the military barracks in Figueira da Foz near Carvalhais, the village where he was living when he was conscripted. See "

Eurico tells me that they have tried to find relatives of Antonio's but they have had no luck so far.

Friday 18 July 2014

Strange Meetings

I was fascinated to discover
One rainy day in October
Owen, Sassoon and Graves together
Under a golf umbrella...

"In Broken Images - Selected Letters of Robert Graves 1914 - 1946" Edited by Paul O'Prey

Notes on hospitals on the Western Front during WW1

Initially those wounded at the front were taken to Casualty Clearing Stations (CCS), staffed by the Royal Army Medical Corps assisted by men from the Royal Engineers and the Army Service Corps.  Casualty Clearing Stations were near railway lines or canals. 

They were then taken on to Base Hospitals situated some way away from front line fighting. Base Hospitals in France and Flanders were near a coastal port to allow for evacuation of the more severely wounded to Britain by sea on Hospital Ships. RAMC personnel were assisted in their work at Base Hospitals by men and women from voluntary organisations such as The Red Cross.    

Diaries kept by medical personnel who served on the Western Front at that time tell us about the conditions and patients that doctors and nurses would have encountered. According to Lt. Col. John McCrae, the Canadian poet and Boer War Veteran who was both Artillery Officer and doctor, medical units were “required to keep and treat any patient who could be cured in a period of three weeks; to guard against complications and do everything possible to save the lives of the wounded or seriously ill; and to send to England all who could not get well in three weeks but were fit enough to travel on stretchers.  Those who recovered within the given period convalesced as helpers in local camps.”  McCrae was also horrified to discover that “Belgian farmers used manure in large quantities, the soil was thus rich in nitrates, potash and bacteria.  If not sterilized immediately, wounds would become infected.”

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Artists Rifles Exhibition

There is to be an Artists Rifles Exhibition at the Willis Museum in Basingstoke, Hampshire from July  until the end of September 2014.

The Artists Rifles was a volunteer infantry regiment formed in London in 1859 to help when Britain was under threat of invasion by the French.  They were founded by Edward Sterling who was studying art.   Members were painters, artists, architects, musicians, actors, writers, poets - anyone with a creative streak.  One of their most famous members was Wilfred Owen, who later transferred to the Manchester Regiment.

The Artists Rifles were deployed in the Boer Wars and in the First World War.  During WW2 they were used as an officers' training unit before being disbanded in 1945.

The Regiment still exists today,  having been re-formed in 1947 and its full title is now 21 Special Air Service Regiment (Artists) (Reserve).

Source:  Wikipedia and Google Images

For details of the exhibition please see the Willis Museum website:

Friday 4 July 2014

Did Wilfred Owen visit Rossall School when he was in Fleetwood?

My grateful thanks to Deputy Headteacher of Rossall School, Anton Maree, who researched poetry written by pupils of The Rossall School during WW1.   The results are fantastic and I will process the poems and prepare panels of them for the forthcoming exhibition to be held at the Marine Hall, Fleetwood in August 2014.

Mr Maree asked me whether I knew if Wilfred Owen had visited the school when he was based at the Gunnery School, the firing ranges of which were on Fleetwood Golf Links with the HQ in the North Euston Hotel in Fleetwood.

Mr Maree gave me a list of Rossall Poets with biographical details and examples of their poetry:

F.W. Harvey - Frederick William Harvey, born 26th March 1888.   Harvey left Rossall in 1905 to study law.  He enlisted in the Gloucester Regiment in 1914 and was in action in France by August 1915.  Harvey was captured by the Germans while on a reconnaissance mission on 17th August 1916 and his first collection of poems was published a few days later by Sedgwick and Jackson under the title "Gloucester Lad".  He was a Prisoner of War for the remainder of WW1.   Harvey died on 13th February 1957.

J.R. Ackerley

Ackerley was a sportsman - he played hockey for his House at Rossall School and became Captain of the school's shooting team.   He left school in 1914 and was commissioned into the East Surrey Regiment straight from Rossall and took part in the First Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916.  Taken prisoner by the Germans, Ackerley was sent to an internment camp in Switzerland in December 1917 after six months in hospitals and prison camps.   His brother, Peter Ackerley, also a Rossallian was killed on 17th August 1918.

Rossallians who were killed on 1st July 1916 - at the First Battle of the Somme:

G.W. AYRE - aged 25 - Anchor House
J.D. BOAZMAN - aged 26 - Rose House
C.C. CRAGGS - aged 28 - Crescent House
J.S.M. GAGE -  aged 23 - Anchor House
H. LIVESEY - aged 34 - Crescent House
D.S. ROSS - aged 21 - Pelican House
D.D. WILSON - aged 38 - Mitre House

Mr Maree also gave me a copy of a poem written by a master at Rossall School during WW1 - K.A.R. Sugden of Fleur de Lis House.

The Captain of Fleur de Lis House, N.F. McCarthy compiled a list of all former members of the House who were serving their country.   McCarthy joined the Yorkshires and was killed near Flers in Belgium - his housemaster K.A.R. Sugden wrote the following poem about McCarthy.


Serene and smiling, sunny and self-possessed,
it seems but now he worked with us and played,
And though we knew that Death's fierce cannonade
Was taking toll of dearest and of best,
We felt that even death, before his zest
For living and his clean light-hearted blade,
Must surely flinch and slink away dismayed:
And now he's passed untimely "to the west."

The voice we knew is hushed, the eye
Is darkened, silenced is the laughter glad:
Not slow, this son of Britain's line, to die;
And as he passed, pale death the victor had
For him no triumph-sting, no victory;
But oh, my friend, our hearts are very sad."

The May 1915 edition of Rossall School Magazine "The Rossallian" featured a poem written by a pupil during WW1.

I am indeed grateful to Mr Maree for the time and trouble he took.

I hope to bring you more poetry written by schoolboys during WW1 as my research progresses.