Friday, 23 September 2016

Claude Quayle Lewis Penrose, MC and Bar (1894 - 1918) – British poet and artist

Claude Penrose was mentioned in Dispatches twice

Claude was born in Florida in America on 10th August 1893.  His parents were Henry Hugh “Harry” Penrose, a civil engineer and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, nee Lewis, who came from Kinsale in Ireland. Mary was a successful novelist who wrote under the name of Mrs. H.H. Penrose.  

The family went to live in England in 1897.   Claude was educated at the United Services College, a private school for the sons of military officers which was in Westward Ho! In Devon, before going on to the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich.

In 1911, the family lived at ‘Deepcut Bungalow’, Frimley Green, Surrey.  Claude was commissioned into the Royal Garrison Artillery as a 2nd Lieutenant on 13th July 1913.

Posted to the Western Front and slightly wounded during the first days of The Somme Offensive in July 1916, Claude wrote a poem about his impressions of the first day of the first Battle of the Somme.  In September 1916, he was awarded the Military Cross for actions during an attack on the village of Combles on 15th September 1916.

In October 1917, Claude was promoted to the rank of Major and given command of the 245th Siege Battery of the Royal Garrison Artillery.  During the Battle of Arras in March 1918, Claude won a Bar to his Military Cross.  He was mortally wounded on 31st July 1918 while rescuing his wounded Subaltern.   He died at the 2nd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station at 5.30 p.m. on 1st August 1918 and was buried in Esquelbecq Military Cemetery, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France.  He is commemorated on the War Memorial – Heroes’ Column – at St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork, Ireland.

After his death, Claude’s mother had his poems and some of his art work published under the title “Poems; with a biographical preface” by Harrison in 1919 (274 pages). 

Sources:  Information kindly supplied by Claude’s relative and
http://digital.nls.uk/british-military-lists/pageturner.cfm?id=88179703

Catherine W. Reilly “English Poetry of the First World War A Bibliography” (St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1978) p. 251.

“On The Somme” by Claude Quayle Lewis Penrose, MC and Bar

Who heard the thunder of the great guns firing?

Who watched the line where the great shells roared?

Who drove the foemen back, and followed his retiring

When we threw him out of Pommiers, to the glory of the Lord?


Englishmen and Scotsmen, in the grey fog of morning

Watched the dim, black clouds that reeked, and strove to break the gloom;

And Irishmen that stood with them, impatient for the warning,

When the thundering around them would cease and give them room


Room to move forward as the grey mist lifted,

Quietly and swiftly – the white steel bare;

Happy, swift and quiet, as the fog still drifted,

They moved along the tortured slope and met the foemen there.


Stalwart men and wonderful, brave beyond believing –

Little time to mourn for friends that dropped without a word!

(Wait until the work is done, and then give way to grieving) –

So they hummed the latest rag-time to the glory of the Lord.


All across the No Man’s Land, and through the ruined wiring,

Each officer that led them, with a walking-cane for sword,

Cared not a button though the foeman went on firing

While they dribbled over footballs to the glory of the Lord.


And when the brought their captives back, hungry and downhearted,

They called him “Fritz” and slapped their backs, and, all with one accord

They shared with them what food they’d left from when the long day started

And gave them smokes and bully to the glory of the Lord.

NOTE: Pommiers is a town near Montaubon in the Somme, Picardie, France.


Bully Beef was a type of ‘corned beef’ introduced by the British Army during the Boer War. It was given in tins as rations to soldiers and could be made into a hot meal or eaten straight from the tin.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Edward Wyndham Tennant - 'Bim' - (1897 - 1916) - British - killed in action on 22nd September 1916

The Hon. Edward Wyndham Tennant (known to his family as 'Bim') was born on 1st July 1897 in Stockton House, near Warminster, Wiltshire, UK.

Educated initially at West Downs School in Winchester, Edward began writing poetry at an early age.  He went on to study at Winchester College school and had planned a career in the British Diplomatic Service but instead joined the Grenadier Guards when WW1 broke out.

Edward was killed a week after his friend Raymond Asquith by a German sniper on 22nd September 1916.  He was buried in Guillemont Road Communal Cemetery near Raymond Asquith.

Edward's WW1 poems were published under the title "Worple Flit and other poems" in 1916.

After her son's death, Pamela Adelaide Genevieve Tennant, nee Wyndham, who was also a writer, published "Edward Tennant: a memoir" which is available to read free of charge on www.archive.org

Photographs of the grave of Leonard Comer Wall (1897 - 1917), Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium

"We win or die who wear the rose
Of Lancaster."*

I am very grateful indeed to Willy de Brouwer (photo left) and to Daphne Vangelheluwe (photo below) for making a special journey to the  Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery in Belgium where Leonard Comer Wall is buried to take these photographs.

I am still trying to find a photograph of Leonard and also if he has any living relatives.

Leonard was born in West Kirby, Wirral, UK and attended Clifton Academy school in Bristol. 

In WW1 he joined the First West Lancashire Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery and was commissioned as an officer.  Deployed to the Western Front in September 1915, Leonard was killed at Ypres on 9th June 1917.

* Leonard's poem was first published in the Magazine of the 55th West Lancashire Division of the British Army in June 1918.

When Princes fought for England's crown
The house that won the most renown
And struck the sullen Yorkist down,
Was Lancaster.

And blood red emblem stricken sore,
Yet steeped her pallid foe in fore,
Still stands for England evermore,
And Lancaster.

Now England's blood like water flows
Full many a lusty German knows,
We win or die who wear the rose
Of Lancaster.

Leonard Comer Wall.

Sources: www.merseysiderollofhonour.co.uk  and www.findmypast.co.uk

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Raymond Asquith (1878 – 1916) – British lawyer and poet

Raymond was born on 6th November 1878, the eldest son and heir of Herbert H. Asquith, First Earl of Oxford and Asquith, and his first wife Helen Kelsall Asquith, nee Medland, who died in 1891. Raymond’s father was Liberal Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 until 1916.   Raymond’s younger brother Herbert (1881 – 1947) was also a poet and he also served in the Army during WW1 with The Royal Artillery in France.

Educated at Winchester School and Balliol College, Oxford, Raymond was a member of ‘The Coterie’ group of Edwardian socialites, writers and poets.  He was also a member of the “Horrace Club” founded by his close friend John Buchan in 1898. Other members included H.T. Baker, A.C. Medd, Hilaire Belloc, Lucian Oldershaw and John Phillimore.

Raymond was called to the Bar in 1904.   On 25th July 1907, he married Katharine Frances Horner, daughter of Sir John Fortescue Horner of Mells, Somerset, who, it is said, was descended from Thomas Horner, the ‘Little Jack Horner’ of British nursery rhyme fame.   Katharine’s mother, Lady Horner, who died in 1940, was a patron of the arts – in particular the Pre-Raphaelites and John Singer Sargent.  Raymond and Katharine had three children.

In December 1914, Raymond was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant into the 16th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment.  Transferred to the 3rd Battalion of the Grenadier Guards on 14th August 1915, he was offered a Staff Officer post but requested a return to active duty.   Posted to the Western Front, Raymond was killed leading his men in an attack during the advance on “Les Boeufs” on 15th September 1916, near Guinchy on the Western Front in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette.   Hit in the chest, Raymond is reported to have lit a cigarette to hide the fact that he had been seriously wounded from his men.  He died on the way to a Casualty Clearing Station and is buried in Guillemont Road Cemetery in France.

Raymond’s brother-in-law Edward Horne (1888 – 1916) was also killed during the battle and is buried in the same Cemetery as Raymond.   Katharine Asquith inherited the manor house at Mells, Somerset on the death of her brother Edward. 
I have not been able to find examples of Raymond's poems but will keep searching.