Friday 3 November 2023

George Henry Powell pen name George Asaf (1880 –1951) - Welsh songwriter

George Henry Powell was born on 27th April 1880 in St. Asaph, Denbighshire, Wales. His parents were John Morris Powell and his wife, Sarah Snelson Powell, nee Hill. 

Although George's brother Felix Lloyd Powell (1879 - 1942) served as a Sraff Sergeant during the First World War, George was a Pacifist and became a Conscientious Objector when Conscription was introduced i n 1916.  

On the 1921 Census, George is registered as living in Telscombe, Sussex, Uk with his wife Leila, and he described his occupation as 'actor'.

Using the pen name George Asaf, George wrote the lyrics of the famous WW1 marching song "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag" in 1915. The music was written by George's brother Felix Powell, and the song was entered into a competition held during the First World War to find the "best morale-building song". It won first prize and was noted as "perhaps the most optimistic song ever written".


While you've a Lucifer to light your fag,

Smile, boys, that's the style.

What's the use of worrying?

It never was worth while, so

Pack up your troubles in your old kit-bag,

And smile, smile, smile.

By the time of the 1939 Census, George was living in Peacehaven, Sussex, UK with his wife Leila, and described his occupation as 'Journalist'.  He died on 3rd December 1951. 


What is a Lucifer?  Lucifer was a brand of matches sold during WW1.

The first match was created by a French chemist named Jean-Louis Chancel. It was difficult to ignite and released strong, smelly fumes when the head was finally lit, but it also paved the way for the future of lighters.

John Walker from England created a match that worked via friction. He never received a patent for this invention, so another matchmaker named Samuel Jones stole his idea and marketed it under the name “Lucifers” a few years later.

Lucifer matches

Sources: Find my Past, FreeBMD and