Saturday, 22 July 2017

Hamilton Fish Armstrong (1893 - 1973) – American

With thanks to Dr. Margaret Stetz for telling me about Hamilton.

Hamilton Fish Armstrong was born in New York, America on 7th April 1893.  His parents were Maitland Armstrong, an American Diplomat and artist, and his wife Helen Armstrong, nee Neilson.  Helen was a niece of the American politician and Governor of New York, Hamilton Fish.   Maitland and Helen had seven children.

Hamilton studied at Princeton University and then went to work as a journalist for the “New Republican Magazine” which was founded in 1914 and dealt with the arts and politics.

I understand that Hamilton went to the Western Front in France in 1917 and then became Military Attache in Serbia.  Among his many awards were The Order of the Serbian Red Cross (1918), the Order of St. Sava Fifth Class (1918), Order of the Crown – Roumania (1924), le Legion d’Honneur – France (1924) and the Order of the British Empire (OBE) (1972.

In 1922, Hamilton joined the staff of the American magazine “Foreign Affairs” and in 1928 he became the magazine’s editor, a post which he held until 1972.  He had a long and distinguished career as a writer and diplomat and died on 24th April 1973.  I have not been able to find any further details of his WW1 experience but from the following poem it seems clear that by the time it was written in 1916, Hamilton had already visited the Western Front.

On Sick Leave (p. 333 “New York Verse”)

He limped beneath the Arch, across the Square,
And through the dazzling shaft of rainbow-air
That blew from where the busy fountain leaped.
For him within that vision-laden cloud
There were no peaceful hills, no valleys loud
With streams, no field in honeysuckle steeped.

Grim hills there were, emplumed with puffs of smoke –
Valleys there were, where biting guns awoke
Echoes that died amid the eternal din –
Broad honeysuckle-bordered fields there were,
Stamped down by passing troops, - and in the air
That smell which only is where war has been.

From the poetry anthology edited by Hamilton and published in 1917 “The Book of New York Verse“, which is available as a free down-load on Archive:  https://archive.org/details/bookofnewyorkver00armsiala  Photo of the Armstrong Family in around 1910 - photographer unknown - from www.thepassingtramp.blogspot.co.uk

 

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Exhibition: Poets of Messines (Mesen), Passchendaele and after - 1917 at the Wilfred Owen Story Museum, Birkenhead

An exhibition featuring some of the poets, writers and artists involved in the Battles of Messines (Mesen), Passchendaele and after - 1917 is currently on display at The Wilfred Owen Story in Birkenhead, Wirral, UK   Entry is free. 

The WOS is open Tuesdays to Fridays from 11 am until 2 pm but if you are planning a visit it is advisable to telephone first - 07903 337995.






The Wilfred Owen Story

34 Argyle Street,
Birkenhead, Wirral,
CH41 6AE.

http://www.wilfredowenstory.com/

Friday, 9 June 2017

Remembering Leonard Comer Wall who was killed on 9th June 1917

Remembering today, 9th June 2017, WW1 Soldier Poet Leonard Comer Wall who was killed a hundred years ago on 9th June 1917. Leonard was buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery. He is one of the poets featured in the 1917 commemorative exhibition on display at The Wilfred Owen Story in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral.

See earlier posts about Leonard.

http://forgottenpoetsofww1.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=Leonard+Comer+Wall

Photo by Paul Breeze.   There are still some copies of the Wirral Poets 2017 Calendar left if anyone wants one. Leonard is featured in June.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Gerald George Samuel (1886 – 1917) – British

Gerald was born in Marylebone, London, UK on 6th May 1886.  His parents were Marcus Samuel, first Viscount Bearsted and his wife, Fanny Elizabeth Samuel.  Gerald’s father ran an import company, trading with the Far East and set up the Shell Transport and Trading Company.

Gerald’s siblings were Walter, Nellie and Ida Marie.  Gerald travelled to Japan, Canada and the United States in 1912.

During the First World War, Gerald was turned down twice when he applied to join the Army, due to defective eyesight.  However, he was commissioned into the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment and posted to the Western Front, where he was wounded twice.

Gerald was killed during the Battle of Messines on 7th June 1917.  At the time of his death, he held the rank of Lieutenant.  He is commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium, panel 45 and 47 and at Willesden Cemetery in London.

Gerald George Samuel’s WW1 poetry collection “Poems” was published by Humphreys, London in 1917.  
 
Catherine W. Reilly "English Poetry of the First World War: A Bibliography" (St. Martin's Press, New York, 1978)


I don’t often comment on the writing of the poets I feature but I am very impressed indeed by Gerald George Samuel’s writing, enjoyed reading his poems and made a few notes to share with you.  

The Introduction, written by Gerald’s father, has a copy of the last letter of encouragement Gerald wrote from the Front to the boys he worked with in Stepney. I found it particularly moving.  And in the poem “My Aim” Gerald wrote that he would like “To make the world a happier, better place” (page 24).
 
Gerald described the weapons of the conflict, which was the first using the tools of the Industrial Revolution, as “the brutal inventions of crime” and the conditions in the trenches as “the pitiless welter of shell” (From “Consolation”, page 32).

In “Lost Years” I found a sentiment reflected in one of my Mother’s favourite poems – “The Moving Finger writes…”: from Edward FitzGerlad’s translation into English of Omar Khayam’s poem in Farsi:

“For I cannot call back the ebbing tide
And live again the seasons that are gone.” (page 34)

On page 40 is a poem dedicated “To Music” – echoing my own feelings about music:

And on page 41 are a few lines about music, poetry and art.

I leave you with two of Gerald’s poems:

“War and After” 

I hope that when at last these days are o’er,
I may return my labours to renew,
And try to wipe away the marks of war
That stain the nations with their bloody hue.
To bring some ray of solace to a few,
To make their lives less difficult to live,
Is all I ask.  My work I shall not rue
If I can help to comfort some who grieve,
And added happiness to some poor toilers give.
 

Untitled (page 22)

I care too little for this earth
To love it, though it gave me birth;
But I would leave to those like me
In future days some legacy.

Joy is not mine, but if my pain
Bring forth for someone else a gain:
I only wish that when in Heaven
I may observe the joy I’ve given.

“May” (page 27)

But I would not forgotten be,
When only dust is left of me:
And so I try, with painful strife,
To justify my having life.


 

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Poets killed in WW1 who are commemorated on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Belgium


Tom BRANDON, kia 13th May 1915, Ypres

The Hon. Gerald William GRENFELL, Lieutenant, Rifle Brigade, 2 Bn., kia 30th July 1915, Ypres - His poems were published in two WW1 Anthologies.

(NOTE:  The Hon. Julian Grenfell who died on 26th May 1915 of wounds sustained on 12th May 1915 near Ypres, is buried in Boulogne Eastern Cemetery.)

Sydney HALE, 8th Battalion, Rifle Brigade, kia 31st July 1915, Zouave Wood

Walter Scott Stuart LYON, a Lieutenant in the Royal Scots, kia 8th May 1915, Ypres – His WW1 collection “Easter at Ypres 1915 and other poems” was published by Maclehose, Glasgow in 1916.

The Hon. Colwyn Erasmus Arnold PHILIPPS, MC, Captain, Royal Horse Guards, kia 13th May 1915 – His WW1 collections “Verses, prose, fragments, letters from the Front” was published by Murray in 1916 and he had poems published in two WW1 poetry anthologies.

Gerald George SAMUEL, Royal West Kent Regiment, kia 7th June 1917 during the Battle of Messines – His WW1 collection “Poems” was published by Humphreys in 1917.

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Frank S. Brown (1893 - 1917) – Canadian

Francis Smith Brown, known as Frank, was born in Canada in 1893.  His father was the Reverend S.G. Brown of Almonte, Ontario.

Frank described himself as a ‘soldier and clerk’ when he joined the Princess Patricia’s Regiment at the outbreak of war. He was known as the “poet of the Pats.”

Frank was among the first of the Canadians to come to Britain in WW1.  His unit was initially stationed on Salisbury Plain, where he spent some time in hospital when he became ill.  Frank was an accomplished pianist and sang as a baritone.  He was also a good horseman and an expert shot.  After his recovery, Frank was posted to the Western Front where he served with the rank of Sergeant.   He was killed at St. Eloi on 3rd February 1915.

Frank had poems published in the “Ottawa Citizen” newspaper and his  WW1 Collection “Contingent Ditties and Other Soldier Songs of the Great War“, edited by Holbrook Jackson, was published by Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd., London, in 1915.  The collection is available as a free down-load here: https://archive.org/stream/contingentdittie00brow/contingentdittie00brow_djvu.txt

Source: “Contingent Ditties and Other Soldier Songs of the Great War” (Sampson Low, Marston & Co. Ltd., London, 1915) 

“THE P.P.C.L.T. (Princess Pat's)”

The trumpet sounded loud o'er hill and plain :

To Arms ! To Arms ! Our Empire is at war !

Come, join your colours, on the land or main.

All Britons who have served the King before.

 

And in the mountain mine; by prairie plow,

They answered to the trumpet's brazen voice :

They, who had served the Empire long enow

As soldiers by profession and from choice.

 

No conscripts, these, in whose unwilling hands

Weapons are thrust, to wage unwilling strife.

But — freemen all, who needed not commands

To volunteer their service, limb and life.

 

Thus rose a regiment, as 'neath a wand.

Of seasoned men, with medalled service too :

Soldiers from every corps throughout the land —

Britons beyond the seas; tried men and true.

 

This is indeed a princely gift to give

To our Imperial Realm in crisis sore —

Proud in the nation of the sturdy men,

And prouder yet of him who raised the Corps.

 

Then go, ye able sons of Britain's soil,

To take your place, wherever it may be ;

God speed you in the glory — and the toil.

Princess Patricia's Canadian Infantry.

 

 

“THE CONVOY”

 

The sunny rose of autumn's smoky day

Had almost fled. The chill was in the air,

When issued forth from Gaspe's smiling bay

A grand Armada, 'neath a cruiser's care.

A great and grand flotilla, speeding forth

Beneath the oily pall of clinging smoke —

A gift to Motherland, of priceless worth —

Th' Atlantic's lazy swells to life awoke.

 

Thrice ten and two great modern Argosies,

That hurried to the Field the best of youth

To bear their country's colours o'er the seas,

And herald Canada to national growth.

Great sons of sires whose willing blood has given

To our New World the sterling of the Old ;

Most worthy volunteers are these, undriven

To take up arms ; freemen, but strong and bold.

 

Beneath the watching escort's wakeful eyes

The fleet pulsed on. The ocean's lazy roll

Bore three long straggling lines, 'neath low'ring skies,

Spread as a flock of geese cleave toward their goal.

Thrice ten and two great, sullen merchantmen,

As, sullen in their cloaks of drab and black,

They freighted over thrice ten thousand souls.

How many of these same pay they bring back ?

 

The days roll by. The ocean slowly yields Its bosom to the squadron's steady pace,

Until the cliffs of England rise to greet

The scions of her colonizing race

Come home — to give their all. Come home -  to fight.

Come home— though born of that far Western land,

Where Britain's shield is 'stablished for the right,

They volunteered to lend an armed hand.

Oh 1 Plymouth, Cradle of the mighty Drake ;

 

The haven of his vessel's hopes and fears ;

Yet have you ever seen so fine a sight?

Or have you waked to such a crest of cheers

As roars aboard the transports, on whose decks

Are packed the khaki hosts ? Has e'er a day

Such wealth of loyal blood, such willing hands

Brought to your shores ?

All England answers, " Nay."

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Alan Seeger commemoration evening, American Library in Paris, Monday, 5th June 2017 at 19h. 30

At the American Library in Paris on Monday evening, 5th June 2017, American writer Chris Dickon will give a talk about the life of Alan Seeger and his involvement and death in WW1.  Alan’s father founded the American Library in Paris after the war.

Composer/saxophonist Patrick Simmerli will perform a piece of music he has composed inspired by Alan Seeger. 

The evening promises to be very entertaining - find out more here:


Alan Seeger is one of the poets featured in the book “Somme Poets”, available from www.poshupnorth.com
The American Library in Paris
10, rue General Camou,
75007 PARIS,
France.