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Association Newsletters.  2.

If you are not in receipt of the WFRA ENewsletter and have internet connection,please contact

RHQ Mercian Nottingham (rhqmercian.notts@btconnect.com) and we will send you the ENews update.


Patron: HRH The Princess Royal
President: Brig P Denni


23 July 2021     WFRA NEWSLETTER           Volume 12 Issue 33


403384 Major Anthony John Bartholemew 

Major Anthony (Tony) John Bartholemew died  in Crete on 14 July 2021 aged 92.

Tony Bartholemew was commissioned from RMA Sandhurst into the 1st Battalion The Sherwood Foresters in September 1949 in Goslar as a Platoon Commander.

After 9 months with the battalion he volunteered for and was posted to the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers and disembarked in Korea in the summer of 1950 for 18 months as part of 29 Brigade. He served with that battalion in the defence of Happy Valley, north of Seoul. As a result he was the only regular officer in the Regiment to wear both the UK and UN Korean War medals.

After service in Korea he rejoined the recently reformed 2nd Battalion in October 1952 in Wuppertal and then moved to Celle in October 1953, commanding a Scout Platoon and then becoming 2 i/c C Company.

When the 2nd Battalion disbanded in May 1955, Tony joined the 1st Battalion in Sennelager, as 2i/c C Coy before commanding the company for the autumn exercises.

In 1956 he joined the 1st Battalion Sierra Leone Regiment as a company 2i/c before becoming Adjutant of the regiment and then moving to HQ Sierra Leone Military Forces as SO 3 G2/G3. It was a tour Tony described as "very stimulating".

On return to the UK Tony became Adjutant of the Depot in Derby before rejoining the 1st Battalion in mid 1961 as 2i/c A Company. In December 1961 he transferred to RARO and entered the recently formed Formula Junior Racing as he had an keen interest and significant skill in motor racing and rallying.

In his own words "the money went faster than the cars" and after attending a regimental wedding in Holywood, Belfast in 1963 he applied to rejoin the regiment and did so in Colchester in 1963, very soon commanding C Company in its UN role in Cyprus and then on its return to Colchester. After Ex Pond Jump in Canada Tony moved to the Depot at Lichfield as OC Junior Soldiers Company.

When the 1st Battalion moved to Minden he rejoined as OC HQ Company. On amalgamation in 1970 he undertook several training appointments then became Garrison Commander in HQ Northern Ireland before ending his career as a Company Commander at REME HQ Arborfield.

After leaving the Army, Tony was Head of a Leonard Cheshire Foundation Home.

In retirement Tony moved first to Cornwall and then to Crete where in early 2021 he was diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

He is survived by his widow, Valerie and two daughters, Catherine and Patricia.

Anyone wishing to contact Valerie is advised to email Lt Col Roger Stockton.



Tony Thres died on 13 July aged 92. A funeral will be held at St Michaels Church, Chagford, Devon on Wednesday 28th July at 11.30 am.
An obituary notice will appear in next week’s Newsletter.


The funeral for Daz Gilder will be held at 1315 hours on Thursday 29 July, at Bramcote Crematorium.  Due to limited numbers inside the chapel (no standing room), anyone wishing to attend is kindly requested to inform Maj Gary Spencer of their intentions via either email: gary.spencer529@mod.gov.uk or Tel: +443001670407

For those unable to attend in person, a live Webcast of the funeral can be accessed as follows;


   Login / Order ID: 103390

  Password: jfskmgxq

  If you experience issues with your login details please call 01536 314 890.

Family flowers only.  Donations can be made to Cancer Research.  A collection box will be available on the day.

Standard Bearers
The family have requested Standard Bearers at Daz’s funeral. If any Standard Bearer is able to attend, it is requested that they contact Maj Gary Spencer (details above)

Daz’s family invite you to join them directly after the Service, at the Nottingham Belfry Hotel, Mellors Way, off Woodhouse Way, Nottingham NG8 6PY



23921545 CSgt Frank Inniss, who served 22 years with The Worcestershire & Sherwood Foresters Regt, followed with 10 Years NRPS with The Mercian Regiment and now completing a 22 year stint in the Civil Service as the AO to the XO 4 Mercian Regiment, is having a leaving lunch at Thursday 16 December at midday.  The lunch will be held at Wolves ARC and the cost is £10.  Anyone who wishes to attend is asked to contact BQMS Patterson  michelle.patterson640@mod.gov.uk  



Corporal John Davenport Sheffield

John was born in Coalville, Leicestershire during July 1879, the day and month is not recorded.  After schooling he continued to study and trained as an architect and surveyor.  His footballing career started playing for Coalville Albion in 1897.  He transferred and played for Leicester Fosse.  He played outside right back on twelve appearances for Burton United. 
John started his military career by joining the 1st Battalion Leicester Regiment in 1900 and he served in South Africa during the 2nd Boer war.  In August 1914 John, with his previous military career was transferred to the 2nd Battalion Leicester Regiment.  With his comrades he crossed the Channel to the continent.  It was during front line action that John was hit, causing an injury to his head during the battle at Neuve Chapelle. 

Corporal John Sheffield died on the 13th March 1915 aged just thirty-six years of age.  John, along with many of his comrades, he has no known grave but is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial at Pas de Calais in France.




Lance Corporal Douglas Scott Hardcastle

Douglas was born in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, during 1886.  The day and month are not recorded.  After finishing his schooling, it was realised that he had a gift for football.  Douglas joined Derby County F.C. where he played inside left on five appearances, he scored during one of the matches.  He then played for Worksop Town F.C.  He worked as a stove grate pattern maker during the working week.  Douglas was lucky enough to be good enough to become a football professional.
After war was declared in August 1914, Douglas trained along with his comrades, before they crossed the Channel to the continent.  He was promoted to Lance Corporal with the 1st Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters and saw action at the front.  Douglas was aged twenty-nine years of age when he was killed during action on the 9th May 1915 at Hainaut, Belgium.
Douglas, along with many of his comrades, has no known grave.  He is remembered on the war memorial at St Johns and St Marys in Worksop and on the Ploegsteert Memorial in Belgium.


16 July 2021       WFRA NEWSLETTER      Volume 12 Issue 31


It is with great sadness that we inform you that 24619796 CSgt Darren ‘Daz’ L GILDER of Nottingham, died on 7 July 2021 aged 56. Daz, the son of WO2 (RQMS) Harry Gilder (SF & WFR), was enlisted into The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters Regiment on 10 August 1981, prior to the commencement of basic training at the Infantry Junior Leaders Battalion, Shorncliffe on 15 September 1981.  He joined the 1st Bn in Hemer, Germany, in September 1982 and also served within Germany, Cyprus and the UK.  He also served on numerous operational duties in Northern Ireland and in Bosnia, and was involved in major exercises in the USA, Canada, Jamaica and Jordan.  He was awarded the LSGC, GSM (NI), UN Medal Cyprus, ACSM and the NATO Medal (former Yugoslavia clasp) and was awarded a Commendation for his outstanding work as an Int NCO, Omagh, 1989 - 1991.  Daz was discharged on 16 November 2004 after a full career. Following leaving the Army, Daz was employed as a Senior Neighbourhood Warden with Gedling Borough Council.

His funeral will be held 1315 hours on Thursday 29 July, at Bramcote Crematorium, Coventry Lane, Nottingham, NG9 3GJ.

The family welcome attendance and have requested no flowers, with any donations going to Cancer Research.  The details of the wake will be released when known.


The 3WFR AGM & Annual Alma Dinner will be held at The Stepping Stones Centre, Heanor, 
on Saturday 11th September 2021.

Further details and timings to follow.


John Hands is trying to get in touch with guy's from his old sections.  He served from 1974 to 1981 and lost contact with some of his friends when he went to the infantry demo battalion.  He is particularly interested in contacting John Plant.  If anyone knows of John Plant please contact John Hands.

Please get in touch lisahands366@gmail.com



It was 1981, Steve Davis was at the table, snookers first televised 147 maximum break was being made.  A sixteen-year girl sitting on the carpet, was unable to leave for even the few minutes to nip to the toilet.  Yet I sat watching, knowing somehow that this break was making history.  The toilet could wait, an historic event couldn’t. 
A few years later it happened again.  This time it was Johnny Wilkinson kicking the drop goal in the Rugby Union World Cup.  Not only could the toilet wait but, along with hundreds of other people, so could breathing, just waiting for the whistle/klaxon to sound.  England winning the Rugby Union World Cup was another amazing moment in the sporting world.
As a family we always watched the ‘International’ football matches, I remember watching a ‘friendly’ match against Italy and later on noting in my diary that I couldn’t understand why they called it a friendly because through my eyes it was anything but.  It was in the late 1970s as I recall that Kevin Keegan had his famous perm.  However, the nail in the coffin, for football and me, was the ‘hand of God’ incident.  We all know that God is an Englishman and that it was just plain cheating.  Football’s credibility went through the floor for me.
The biggest event in the early 20th century was, for most people, undoubtably the Great War.  Men of all ages left their wives and families, sweethearts and friends and headed off overseas to stand up for the principles which have made this little country so attractive to others.  My grandad used to tell of his memories, of hearing the hobnail boots clanking around the Cambridge market square, silence, it seemed, was not an option.
Hundreds and thousands of young men all fighting for the freedom that we all take for granted. The cricketers who played for Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Worcestershire County Teams have already been discussed, now we will take a look at the football players who paid the ultimate price.  The three counties cricket clubs are quite distinctive whereas football doesn’t have a county team so please bear with me should I miss anyone.







George Alfred Hazard

George was born in Radford, Nottingham during 1892.  The exact day nor month are not recorded.  As a young man of nineteen he had joined the special reserve and was a carter during the working week.
George represented the reserve side from a teenager at Nottingham Forest and had just signed up for the first team, but never got to wear the Garibaldi red.
As soon as war was declared he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters as a private and along with his comrades soon landed in France as part of the reinforcement to the Battalion on 11-11-1914. 
George was fighting on the front line when he was killed in action on the 27th February 1915.  Along with many of his comrades, George is buried at the Houplines Communal Cemetery Extension.  He was only twenty-three years of age.
George is remembered on the war memorial at St Michael and All Angels, and before its demolition at the Holy Trinity Church.


09 July 2021         WFRA NEWSLETTER    Volume 12 Issue 31


The event was attended by the the Right Honorable Robin Wood, Mayor of the City of Derby, with Rev Norma Bracewell conducting the service. The Standard Bearers were Brian Smith and Gordon Carran.

Thank you to Mick Doyle for organising the event and his commitment in ensuring Crich Weekend was commemorated.



John Plant is trying to get in touch with guy's from his old sections.  He served from 1974 to 1981 and lost contact with some of his friends when he went to the infantry demo battalion.

If anyone knows John Plant please get in touch lisahands366@gmail.com


003 WORLD WAR ONE POETS by Katherine Dack

 Major Robert von Ranke Graves
(24th July 1895 – 7th December 1985)

Robert von Ranke Graves arrived in the world on the 24th July 1895 in Wimbledon, London. His father, Alfred Perceval Graves, was an Irish Gaelic scholar and poet, and his mother, Amalie von Ranke Graves, Alfred’s second wife, was German and was the great niece of the influential German historian Leopold von Ranke.  He was the third of ten siblings.  Robert was just seven years old when he contracted double pneumonia immediately after having been laid low by the measles.  His lungs would never recover fully and the problems that this caused would remain with him for the rest of his life.  

Robert started his education by attending six different schools, King's College School in Wimbledon, Penrallt in Wales, Hillbrow School in Rugby, Rokeby School in Kingston upon Thames and Copthorne in Sussex.  He won a scholarship towards Charterhouse whilst in Sussex.  Robert started at Charterhouse School from 1909 until 1914.  Due to his half German ancestry, he was bullied terribly and learned early on how to box to protect himself.  He would later describe this period of his life as a persecution from some of the other boys due to his name, his outspokenness, his scholarly and moral seriousness and probably worse of all, his poverty relative in comparison with his fellow pupils.  

Robert found solace within the school poetry society which gave him the opportunity to become involved with finding a release through writing down his thoughts and experiences.  The first poems that he wrote were deemed to be of a good enough standard and they were duly published in 1911, giving his fellow pupils the chance to read his writings in the school magazine, The Carthusian.  He was inspired by a young master, George Mallory.  It was through George that Robert started to read, and understand, the works of modern authors, including the early works by Rupert Brooke.  Robert excelled at boxing and not only won cups representing the school, but also held the school title of welterweight and middleweight champion.  George, who would later perish on the 1924 expedition to conquer Everest, introduced Robert to rock climbing on holiday trips to Harlech in North Wales.  

Robert met a younger boy, George "Peter" Harcourt Johnstone, in the choir, they formed a very strong, intensive, friendship which caused a scandal, and led directly to an interview with the headmaster.  Robert always said that although they were in a very loving relationship, it was never physical or of a sexual nature.  ‘Peter’ had already gained a reputation which unfortunately Robert didn’t appear to have known about. 

The bullies who had spoilt his years at Charterhouse School thoroughly enjoyed finding out about Robert and ‘Peters’ relationship and made life even worse than usual.  They took delight in letting Robert know that ‘Peter’ had been seen in an embrace with the choir master.  Obviously, Robert didn’t want to believe such a story and full of jealously and rage he demanded that the choir master should be removed from the school. In his final term at Charterhouse Robert won a classical exhibition to St. Johns’ College in Oxford but he put it on ice, for just a few months, until the Great War finished.  He would talk in later life about his time at Charterhouse and recalled his very last memory of the school, before leaving on the 28th July 1914, was his headmaster saying, ‘Well, good-bye, Graves, and remember this, that your best friend is the waste-paper basket’.  

The situation in Europe was getting worse, the minor incidents were piling up, with no one episode being enough to cause conflict.  The straw that broke the camel’s back was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg on the 28th June 1914 in Sarajevo. They were shot by Gavrilo Phincip, who was a member of the Black Hand secret society trying to make changes to their advantage. The fatal shots that Gavrilo fired that day would bring to a head all of the little bits and pieces that could culminate nowhere but to total war and the lives of many thousands of young men.

War with Germany was declared by the British government on the 4th August 1914 due to the invasion of Belgium.  Believing that it would all be over by Christmas, Robert, along with so many other young men, enlisted in the armed forces within a few days.  Robert, having finished school on the 28th July, left home to join his regiment, the Royal Welch Fusiliers, in Wrexham on the 12th August.   Robert quickly obtained a commission in the Special Reserve as second lieutenant (on probation), and having finished training he, along with his comrades, made their way over the Channel and arrived in France in spring 1915.  Robert was quickly promoted to captain in October 1915. He was on active service on the Front Line during the Battle of Loos in September that year. During November 1915, he met a fellow-officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, the poet Siegfried Sassoon, forming an important on off friendship.  During the spring of 1916 the bullying, which had plagued his entire adult life, raised its ugly head again when a fellow Officer, who disliked him, started to spread the rumour that he was actually the brother of a captured German spy who had assumed the name ‘Karl Graves’.  

Saturday the 1st July 1916 will forever be known as the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the worst day of deaths and casualties throughout the British Army history.  Robert had survived nearly three weeks of the conflict before he and his men of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Welsh Fusiliers were sent to the east of the Bazentin-le-Petit Cemetery to a position on a ridge overlooking High Wood.  They were sited there to act as a buffer to any attack by the 33rd Division of German troops.  Robert was severely injured on 20th July, just four days before his twenty-first birthday.  A shell detonated nearby and a fragment passed through his shoulder and chest.  This caused a very serious wound to his, already damaged, right lung.  He would relay the story of this injury in the future and described it as ‘it felt as though I had been punched rather hard between the shoulder blades’.  Robert was taken directly to the nearest dressing station; his injuries were so severe that nobody thought he would even survive the night.  It was duly reported that he had died from his wounds.  His colonel had written to his parents a letter of condolence as he believed that Robert’s injuries would be fatal. To the astonishment and relief of his comrades, he was found to still be alive on the morning of the 21st July.  He was immediately sent to the No. 8 General Hospital in Rouen.  On the 4th August the Times newspaper printed his name on a list of the latest war dead.  

He was ’born again’ when it was announced that he had actually survived his wounds and had been sent back to Blighty to recuperate.  Robert was taken to the Queen Alexandra’s Hospital in London where, he recovered from an operation, there was great joy when it was reported in the Times that he had in fact survived and was in England getting better.  While convalescing, he spent time writing about the stretch spent on the Front Line and the very near-death experience.  Robert met Wilfred Owen through Sassoon, he spoke of this later in his life, ‘Wilfred would often send me poems from France which I cherished’.  Robert was declared medically fit to rejoin his troops and he returned to the Somme, with the 2nd Battalion. They were sent into a reserve position slightly north of Mametz Wood.  To help keep his men warm whilst on guard duty, Robert was known to go into no mans land during the cover of darkness at night to remove the heavy grey coats from dead German soldiers to bring back to the trenches for his men as they were more substantial than the British greatcoats.  

Although it had been decided that Robert was physically fit to return to the Front, the damage to his nerves and his health in general meant that his time spent in France would not be for very long.  He spent the remainder of the war in various training camps in England and Ireland.  During the latter part of the war, he had concentrated much of his time to writing his poetry.  His friend, Edward Marsh, the private secretary to Winston Churchill helped to edit and publish his first books, ‘Over the Brazier’ during 1916 and ‘Fairies and Fusiliers’ in 1917.  During this time Robert was writing to Siegfried Sassoon on a regular basis, discussing their lives, poetry, the regiment and the war in general.  Sassoon declared that these poems showed the depth of their friendship and the over sentimentality and the ‘heavy sexual element’ that it portrayed.  

During 1917 Siegfried decided to take a stand against the futility of the war, the length of time it had lasted and the massive price paid in lives.  This public outlet of emotion could have cost him his life as speaking out against the establishment would have resulted in a court martial as treason.  Robert pleaded and managed to persuade the military authorities that Siegfried was actually suffering from shell shock and his frayed nerves.  This also was the cause of the biggest fall out between the two friends.  The result of this episode was that Siegfried was admitted to the Craiglockhart War Hospital situation near Edinburgh.  

Robert wrote ‘I thought of going back to France, but realized the absurdity of the notion. Since 1916, the fear of gas obsessed me: any unusual smell, even a sudden strong scent of flowers in a garden, was enough to send me trembling. And I couldn't face the sound of heavy shelling now; the noise of a car back-firing would send me flat on my face, or running for cover.’

During hospitalization in 1917, Graves met Marjorie Machin, who was an auxiliary nurse from Kent. He enjoyed her company, her ‘...direct manner and practical approach to life...’ Robert found out that Marjorie had a fiance serving on the Front Line so did not pursue the relationship.  His muddled bisexual trait altered when he started to take more of an interest in women, who had more masculine qualities.  His future wife, Nancy, was a stringent feminist, she kept her hair in a short crop, wore trousers and had a ‘boyish directness and youth.’  

Siegfried, valued the friendship, relationship, that he had with Robert.  He felt betrayed by Roberts sudden interest in the opposite sex.  It became obvious that Robert never felt the same way about Siegfried as he did about him.  Throughout the war, the memories of ‘Peter’ Johnstone remained at the fore front of Roberts mind.  His ‘pure and innocent’ view of ‘Peter’ did not diminish at all.  This was until Robert’s cousin Gerald wrote him a letter saying that ‘Peter’ was ‘not at all the innocent fellow I took him for, but as bad as anyone could be!’.  Robert still wouldn’t believe a word against ‘Peter’ until it became public knowledge that ‘Peter’ had been arrested for trying to seduce a Canadian soldier.  Robert would suffer a collapse at this news and betrayal. 

Robert found himself serving in Limerick in the autumn of 1918, he ‘woke up with a sudden chill, which I recognised as the first symptoms of Spanish influenza’……’I decided to make a run for it’ he wrote, ‘I should at least have my influenza in an English, and not an Irish, hospital.’  By the time he arrived at Waterloo station he had a very high fever and without the official papers to demob him from the army.  Fate led to the man with whom Robert shared a taxi was ironically a demobilization officer who was also returning from Ireland.  He completed the necessary paperwork with the required secret codes and Robert’s experience serving in the British Army was at an end, aged just 23 and with the rank of major.  He would suffer from shell shock, or neurasthenia, and haunted by the memories which he never actually came to terms with, for the rest of his life.

During the spring of 1919, Wilfred Owen was one of the guests at Roberts wedding to Nancy, who was the daughter of the painter William Nicholson.  Siegfried had declined his invitation to their wedding, as he couldn’t face the rejection that he felt.  

Last Day of Leave

We five looked out over the moor
At rough hills blurred with haze, and a still sea:
Our tragic day, bountiful from the first.
We would spend it by the lily lake
High in a fold beyond the farthest ridge,
Following the cart-track till it faded out.
The time of berries and bell-heather;
Yet all that morning nobody went by
But shepherds and one old man carting turfs.
We were in love: he with her, she with him,
And I, the youngest one, the odd man out,
As deep in love with a yet nameless muse.
No cloud; larks and heath-butterflies,
And herons undisturbed fishing the streams;
A slow cool breeze that hardly stirred the grass.
When we hurried down the rocky slope,
A flock of ewes galloping off in terror,
There shone the waterlilies, yellow and white.
Deep water and a shelving bank.
Off went our clothes and in we went, all five,
Diving like trout between the lily groves.
The basket had been nobly filled:
Wine and fresh rolls, chicken and pineapple
Our braggadocio under threat of war.
The fire on which we boiled our kettle
We fed with ling and rotten blackthorn root
And the coffee tasted memorably of peat.
Two of us might stray off together
But never less than three kept by the fire,
Focus of our uncertain destinies.
We spoke little, our minds in tune
A sigh or laugh would settle any theme
The sun so hot it made the rocks quiver.
But when it rolled down level with us,
Four pairs of eyes sought mine as if appealing
For a blind-fate-aversive afterword
‘Do you remember the lily lake?
We were all there, all five of us in love,
Not one yet killed, widowed or broken-hearted.’


02 July 2021      WFRA NEWSLETTER           Volume 12 Issue 30


The Derby branch will host a Remembrance Service in honour of all ranks of The Sherwood Foresters Regiment, The Worcestershire & Sherwood Foresters Regiment and The Mercian Regiment, who have given their lives for Sovereign and Country.

VENUE: The Memorial Square of the War Memorial Village, Sinfin Avenue, Shelton Lock, Derby. DE24 9JA, 


1450   Opening            Mr Mick Doyle.

1455   Address            The Right Honourable Mr Robin Wood Mayor of The City of Derby.

1500   Service             The Rev Norma Bracewell, Chaplain WMVD.

                                    The Prayers.

                                    The Regimental Act of Remembrance.

                                    The Last Post.

                                     Two Minutes Silence


Laying of wreaths:        The Right Honourable Mr Robin Wood Mayor of The City of Derby.

The Regiments             Mr Ross McCristal, Reservist Mercian Regiment

The Closing                   Mr Mick Doyle.

We would ask that you comply with current Covid Regulations.


The latest from the Cathedral Library blog, contains details about the recovery from the effect of WW1 and the memorialisation including Gheluvelt Day. St Georges Chapel in the Cathedral was one result of WW1 and hosts many of the Regiment's old Colours.
It is a very interesting article and there are many other military history and other historical articles on the website if you are interested. 




The Veterans Mess Tent is open every Tuesday live on Zoom at11:30 hrs.
Come and join us for a cuppa and a chat from the comfort of your home, we talk about anything and everything.

Please email mark@forces.org.uk and he will email you the link to join in.


004 WORLD WAR ONE POETS by Katherine Dack

Robert Laurence Binyon
10th August 1869 to 10th March 1943

On the 10th August 1869 Robert Laurence Binyon entered this world in Lancaster, he was always known as Laurence.  He was the second of nine children born to Frederick and Mary Binyon.  His father was a clergyman.  Laurence was interested in the written works of poetry and visually through art and he found these mediums a great way to express himself.  His education started at St. Paul’s School in London and later he went up to Trinity College, Oxford.  During his time at University, he wrote a poem ‘Persephone’ which was entered into the Newdigate competition for which he won a prize.  This poem was to be published in a book called ‘Primavera’: Poems by Four Authors in 1890, which included Laurence’s works and those of three other undergraduates’ who were all studying at Oxford, one of the three was his cousin, Stephen Phillips.  After finishing at University having earned a degree in classical moderations in 1890 and a degree in litterae humainoires in 1892, he started his lifetime connection with the British Museum, starting in the Department of Printed Books writing catalogues for the museum and art monographs on the side for himself.  In 1895 ‘Dutch Etchers of the Seventeenth Century’ was published.  During 1904 he married Cicely Margaret Powell who was an historian, together they raised three daughters.  Laurence moved to the Department of Prints and Drawings.  He was promoted to Assistant Keeper in 1909, and in 1913 he was promoted to Keeper of the new Sub-Department of Oriental Prints and Drawings.  


Looking out over the sea on a beautiful autumnal day it is easy to see why Laurence was inspired to start writing.  His love of the country and pride in the young men who, with the British Expeditionary Forces, had headed off over the Channel to fight for King and Country and to bring peace to the world.  Undoubtably Laurence would have done his bit apart from the fact that he was too old to enlist.  Instead of khaki and a gun he volunteered as a Red Cross hospital orderly dressed in white and armed with bandages, helping to look after the numerous wounded soldiers from the Verdun campaign, originally in France at the Hôpital Temporaire d'Arc-en-Barrois, Haute-Marne, during 1915, and then he returned to England in the summer of 1916.  Laurence gave a rendition of his experiences in a work called ‘For Dauntless France’ published in 1918 and his poetry, ‘Fetching the Wounded’ and ‘The Distant Guns’, ‘The Winnowing Fan’, ‘The Anvil’, ‘The Cause’, and ‘The New World’ all tried to find reason for the tragedy of the conflict. 


The ‘home for Christmas’ start to the fighting had rapidly evaporated, the folk at home were immediately taken in by the writing of ‘For the Fallen’ as it expressed the emotions felt by the entire country so perfectly.  Regardless of race, colour or creed the poem rang true to so many people, and still does, those fighting or those helping to pick up the pieces.  ‘For the Fallen’ completely encapsulated the sentiments felt by the entire nation, nay by the combined allied nations, due to the loss of a generation of young men and boys.

‘For the Fallen’
(published in The Times newspaper on 21st September 1914)

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables of home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

Laurence : Life After the Great War

At the end of the Great War Laurence returned to the British Museum and concentrated his time working on a number of books looking at art, including on William Blake, the art of Persia, and collective arts of the Japanese nation.   Laurence’s work took a variety of formats, in his poems, ‘The Sirens’ published in 1926 and ‘The Idols’ published in 1928 are major works of prose which look at man’s internal fight to accept himself.  Laurence enjoyed a reputation for craft and elegance in his works and this would continue to grow. During 1931, his works, ‘Collected Poems’ were produced, this was a two-book edition. In 1932, Binyon rose to be the Keeper of the Prints and Drawings Department, in 1933, he retired from the British Museum.    Laurence received an honorary Doctorate from Oxford University, he was named an honorary fellow of Trinity College, and continued to lecture on art and literature at many universities throughout the world, in the United States, Holland, China, Scandinavia, Japan, Rome, Berlin, Vienna, and Paris.  In 1934, he was appointed the Norton Professor of Poetry at Harvard University. Laurence delivered a series of lectures on ‘The Spirit of Man in Asian Art’, which were then published in 1935. He went to live in the country at Westridge Green, near Streatley, Berkshire, where his daughters also came to live during the Second World War, and he continued to write poetry.  In May 1939, he gave the prestigious Romanes Lecture in Oxford on ‘Art and Freedom’, and in 1940, he was appointed the Byron Professor of English Literature at University of Athens. He worked there until he was forced to leave, narrowly escaping the German invasion of Greece in April 1941.  He was also named a chevalier of the French Foreign Legion, a fellow of the Royal Society, and was appointed to the Byron Chair of Letters at Athens at the age of 70.  Laurence continued to write poetry during the Second World War including a major work which was about the London Blitz, "The Burning of the Leaves", which is regarded by many to be his masterpiece.  

His three daughters, Helen, Margaret and Nicolete, became skilled artists. Helen Binyon, produced many books for the Oxford University Press, she was also a marionettist. Helen later taught puppetry and wrote a work called, ‘Puppetry Today’, in 1966, following this up with ‘Professional Puppetry in England,’ which was published in 1973. Margaret Binyon wrote children's books, which were illustrated by, her sister, Helen.  Nicolete, as Nicolete Gray, was a distinguished calligrapher and art scholar. 

At his death, Laurence was still working to complete a major three-part Arthurian series, which was published after his death a’s The Madness of Merlin’ in 1947.  He died in Dunedin Nursing Home, Bath Road, Reading, of bronchopneumonia on the 10th March 1943, aged 73, after an operation.  His funeral service was held at Trinity College Chapel in Oxford on the 13th March.  His ashes were later scattered in St. Mary’s Church in Aldworth and a memorial made from slate was placed where his ashes lay.
There is a corner in Westminster Abbey which is dedicated to all British Poets.  Laurence was one of sixteen poets from the Great War who were commemorated on a slate stone which was unveiled on the 11th November 1985.  The stone has an inscription carved into it, a quote from fellow poet, Wilfred Owen, which reads 

"My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity".


Members of Derby branch Mick Doyle and John Higginbottom with their display on Armed Forces Day. 


25 June 2021         WFRA NEWSLETTER           Volume 12 Issue 29


The Combined Military Service Museum are holding their first Models for Heroes model making session on Sunday 18th July from 13:00 to 15:00 hrs and every two weeks thereafter.  There are eight places for veteran's or serving members of the armed forces or emergency services to take part in the free model making workshop.  The kits are provided free of charge and you can enjoy tea and biscuits, conversation and learn new skills or re-visit an old hobby.  The models are your to take home.

For more information or to book a place please contact julie.miller@cmsm.co.uk

Combined Military Services Museum, Station Road, Heybridge, Maldon CM9 4LQ  

002 WORLD WAR ONE POETS by Katherine Dack


Pte. Walter ‘David’ Jones C.B.E.
(01-11-1895 – 28-10-1974)

David was born on 1st November 1895 in Brockley, Kent.  His father, James, was a printer originally from Flintshire and his mother, Alice, was from Surrey.  His love and ease with a paint brush started very early in David’s life.  In fact, his control of reading and writing were delayed as he found that he could easily express himself through watercolour paintings, wood carving and sketches.  He talked his parents into releasing him from traditionalist schooling and gained admittance to the Camberwell School of Art which he attended from 1910 to 1914. 

David tried to sign up in August 1914 with the Artists’ Rifles but was turned down due to ‘insufficient chest expansion’.  Things had changed by the end of the year and he was able to join the 15th (London Welsh) Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers as a private on the 2nd January 1915.  His first year was spent training at different locations around the country, London, north Wales and on Salisbury Plain before his unit, part of the 38th Welsh Division, made their way over the Channel to France in December 1915.  The lack of proper equipment would cause many problems during this training time.

As their introduction to the Front Line, David and his comrades saw action in the La Bassee sector, then the entire Battalion were relocated ready for the Somme offensive which would start on the 1st July 1916.  He survived the opening days but was injured in the leg just eleven days later during the attack on Mametz Wood.  It was a Blighty wound which saw David return to convalesce in England for three months.  He then returned to the front with the 2nd Field Survey Company as an observer and headed to Ploegsteert Wood.  When he was deemed fit enough to return to active service, he saw action on the Ypres salient at Bosinghe, Pilkem Ridge, Langemark and Passchendaele. 

In February of 1918 he returned to England as he had severe trench fever.  He had spent an amazing one hundred and seventeen weeks on the Front Line, more than any other of the recognised wartime poets.  It would appear that David enjoyed the feeling of comradeship.  He was a man of the ranks, not an Officer nor and official war-artist nor a soldier poet.  He wrote from the heart without any unnecessary flourishes. His experiences gained during the Great War would colour his art work and writings throughout his life.  He was quite devastated when a close friend, Reg, died, who he would immortalise in his work, In Parenthesis along with many other comrades who were either killed or wounded whilst serving.   David would remain in Ireland for the rest of the Great War.  It was noted that in January 1919 when he was about to be de-mobbed, his rifle was stolen when he left it to use a public toilet. Luckily, he was able to purloin a replacement rifle from a pile that had already been handed-in. David confided this story to a friend in later life but still expected the authorities to call him to account.  Even though David was seen by the authorities as not a bad soldier, he described himself in the preface to In Parenthesis as ‘amateur…….. grotesquely incompetent, a knocker over of piles, a parades despair’.  David once said ‘we watch the characters we’ve come to know die or be maimed, we don’t so much feel for these individual men, as for all mankind,’ which I believe is really appropriate for the pandemic period of time that we as individuals and as humans have found ourselves in.

Later in the year he received a grant to study at the Westminster School of Art which he attended from 1919 to 1921.  It was said that his poetry was equally impressive as his paintings and sculpture.  He suffered from a very severe breakdown in 1932 and then later in 1947, the stress would lead to dropping his shopping, losing his papers and finding himself smoking two cigarettes at a time, one in each hand.  He was advised to continue his writing and drawing as part of his treatment which appeared to help.  He moved to Harrow later in 1947.  He was awarded the C.B.E. in 1955 and a Companion of Honour in 1974.  His works were recognised by a number of prizes and awards which included the Gold Medal of the Royal National Eisteddfod in 1962 and he received an honourary degree of Doctor of Literature from the University of Wales in 1960.  David was known as a humourist and he had an amazing sensitivity to his fellow man, he knew a little about a great deal and found talking with anyone easy regardless of historical or technical or visual or intellectually.  It was noted, by friends, that while in deep conversation his eyes would twinkle and glitter.

David never married but lived alone suffering from ill-health and poverty.  He suffered from a nervous disorder from his wartime experiences and this prevented him from holding down employment for any length of time.  He was dogged by a series of severe breakdowns during 1932 and later in 1947 which would take over eighteen months to fully recover.   He was given much support, both emotionally and financial, from friends.  David was awarded the CBE in 1955, a Companion of Honour in 1974 and received an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from the University of Wales in 1960.  ‘In Parenthesis’, is a one hundred- and eighty-seven-page poem of seven parts, was his major work that was to be published.  It examined his wartime experiences as a soldier, John Ball who was and wasn’t David’s alter ego, who wrote poetry, and it took over ten years to produce to the standard that David needed. 
David lived out his life at the Calvary Nursing Home, in Harrow, as an artist and poet until his death, having suffered illness for over a decade, on the 28th October 1974.  He is buried with his parents at the Ladywell Cemetery in south east London.


Poem with no title 1
He sinks on one knee
And now on the other
His upper body tilts in rigid inclination
This way and back…………….
Poem with no title 2
And when I look
Into the mirror,
All I see are
The people I
Could have been


Lance Corporal Thomas Reginald Allen

Lance Corporal Thomas Reginald Allen was born during the final quarter of 1893.  He loved the area around Abertillery in Monmouthshire where he grew up. His parents were Sir Thomas and Lady Allen so his education would probably have been in house and then onto private boarding schools.  Very little is known about his childhood and early adulthood until he enlisted into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at Holborn as private 21767 at the outbreak of the Great War.
The dedication page for ‘In Parenthesis’ by David Jones was to his close friend Lance Corporal Thomas Reginald Allen.  Known as Reg or R.A.  They were both serving in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers 15th Battalion.  Reg was a machine gunner as part of a Lewis-gun crew. 
David and Reg were very good close comrades and his death really concerned David and this can be seen in his writings and art work for the remainder of his life.  David didn’t come to terms of his friend’s demise.  Lance Corporal Allen was killed in action in Flanders fields in the Boesinghe Sector North West of Ypres on Sunday 6th May 1917, his body was laid to rest in the Essex Farm Cemetery.  His grave stone inscription reads, ‘BELOVED AND MOURNED HE GAVE TO THE UTMOST.’



Following the announcement by the Prime Minister in respect of the final stage of the Roadmap out of Lockdown, it with great sadness, that the Crich Pilgrimage 2021 is now cancelled . 

We appreciate how much the Pilgrimage means to so many, especially our serving soldiers, veterans and the wider Regimental family, however we must follow the government guidelines in regards to the restrictions and to keep all who would normally attend, safe. Wreaths will be laid at an appropriate time to remember all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and to whom the site is dedicated. 

We would ask that you consider the safety and health of those that work and live on the site and do not visit Crich on the day. The main gate will be closed on 4 July and we hope that instead you are able to hold a private act of remembrance with a minute silence at 3pm; when traditionally The Annual Pilgrimage would commence. 

We thank you for your understanding and co-operation during these unprecedented times, especially as this is the 2nd one we have had to cancel. We  look forward to the next Pilgrimage on Sunday the 3rd July 2022. 

RHQ Mercian 
For The Colonel of the Regiment


18 June 2021           WFRA NEWSLETTER         Volume 12 Issue 28


Following the announcement by the Prime Minister in respect of the final stage of the Roadmap out of Lockdown, it with great sadness, that the Crich Pilgrimage 2021 is now cancelled . 

We appreciate how much the Pilgrimage means to so many, especially our serving soldiers, veterans and the wider Regimental family, however we must follow the government guidelines in regards to the restrictions and to keep all who would normally attend, safe. Wreaths will be laid at an appropriate time to remember all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, and to whom the site is dedicated. 

We would ask that you consider the safety and health of those that work and live on the site and do not visit Crich on the day. The main gate will be closed on 4 July and we hope that instead you are able to hold a private act of remembrance with a minute silence at 3pm; when traditionally The Annual Pilgrimage would commence. 

We thank you for your understanding and co-operation during these unprecedented times, especially as this is the 2nd one we have had to cancel. We  look forward to the next Pilgrimage on Sunday the 3rd July 2022. 

RHQ Mercian 
For The Colonel of the Regiment


This is the latest version of the statue of a Worcestershire soldier, which we hope will be available for unveiling this autumn (end October/Early November) but we will wait and see how Covid effects this plan.

Below are pictures that branch member Dennis Hodgkins and his wife Tracey have sent on the progress of the soldier statue that is to be placed in the village of Norton where the Worcestershire Regiment had their barracks / depot.  In the photograph the statue is two feet off the ground which gives an indication of the height when fixed onto a plinth.

A big thank you to Dennis and Tracey who have spent so much time on this project and sourcing the funding for this to take place.

The date of the siting and unveiling will be announced later in the year.


Message from Kim Kennan received via the Worcester Branch website.

Hey, I just wanted to say a big thanks, I came across this site while browsing.....And I've found some wonderful photos of my dad Tanky Taylor 55 in Germany in 1963 that I never knew existed. he was with 1 Mercian MT, I would love anyone that knew him to get in touch, Funnily Enough I am the Administration officer in the Army Resereve Centre in Kidderminster where I believe you meet once a month when there is not a pandemic on. I have some old photos of my dad's day's in 1 Merc which I'm more than willing to share with you all, so if any of you knew my dad please get in touch.


004 WORLD WAR ONE POETS by Katherine Dack
May Wedderburn Cannan
(14-10-1893 to 11-12-1973)

May was born on the 14th October 1893 in Oxford.  She was the middle child of three sisters.   Her father, Charles, was Dean of Trinity College, Oxford University.  He was the head of the Oxford University Press from 1895 through to his death I 1919.  At the age of 18 she decided to join the Voluntary Aid Detachment, training to become a nurse.  She continued with her training and rose to the rank of Quartermaster.  Her love of poetry first showed itself in her writing The Red Cross,

‘……and all you asked of fame, was crossed swords in the Army list, My Dear, against your name’. 
The red cross on her uniform was comparable to the crossed swords on the records representing that her lover had died in battle.

During the spring of 1915 she travelled to Rouen to help run the canteen at the busy rail head which was located there.  This lasted for a month, she then spent some time in England helping her father.  May travelled back to France in the espionage department of the War Office Department in Paris 1918, where she was united with her fiancé Bevil Quiller-Couch.  During the Great War May published three volumes of poetry.  Her final work was called Grey Ghosts and Voices which was published shortly before her death in 1973.

May never got to marry Bevil, who had served as a gunner and survived the war with no injury to speak of, only to lose him to the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1919.  She would later marry Percival James Slater on the 26th July 1924, who was a balloonist during the war and who was promoted to Brigadier during the second world war. They corresponded while Percy was recovering from an accident, who having read some of her poetry wrote and wanted to meet her.  Their first meeting went well according to May,
‘He was tall and had brown eyes.  He wore loose brown tweeds, drove a bull nosed Morris two seater, and was nice to my dog…..’
After their marriage Percy returned to the family firm of solicitors and May looked after the sheep, pigs, ducks and hens that they kept on a smallholding in Staffordshire which she thoroughly enjoyed.   Percival would, after the second world war, become Aide-de-camp to the Queen, his tenure ship expired on the 26th March 1955.  He had been awarded the following titles, Colonel, (Hon. Brig) D.F.C., T.D., D.L., M.A. (2797) late Inf. (T.A.)
May, outlived Percy who died during October 1967, died of a heart attack at the age of eighty on the 11th December 1973.

August 1914
The sun rose over the sweep of the hill
All bare for the gathered hay,
And a blackbird sang by the window-sill,
And a girl knelt down to pray:
‘Whom Thou hast kept through the night, O Lord,
Keep Thou safe through the day.’
The sun rose over the shell-swept height,
The guns are over the way,
And a soldier turned from the toil of the night
To the toil of another day,
And a bullet sang by the parapet
To drive in the new-turned clay.
The sun sank slow by the sweep of the hill,
They had carried all the hay,
And a blackbird sang by the window-sill,
And a girl knelt down to pray:
‘Keep Thou safe through the night, O Lord,
Whom Thou hast kept through the day.’
The sun sank slow by the shell-swept height,
The guns had prepared a way,
And a soldier turned to sleep that night
Who would not wake for the day,
And a blackbird flew from the window-sill,
When a girl knelt down to pray.
The Role of Balloons during the Great War

When I think of balloons, I automatically think of the brightly coloured ones which are usually seen hanging from the ceiling during children’s parties and over the Christmas period.  Add war to this and I think of the barrage balloons hanging desolately over London during the Second World War.  I vaguely remember balloons appearing in an episode during Blackadder Goes Forth, but that was the limit of my knowledge.
In fact, there were two different types of balloons used during the Great War.  Firstly, the barrage balloons which were huge and tethered to the ground via thick steel cables, these were used over cities to prevent low flying bombers.  These balloons would be raised to four thousand five hundred metres, fifteen thousand feet, and were strung together to form a net, then extra lengths of chain would be added between the balloons.  By the end of the war in 1918 there was a chain of defensive balloons measuring fifty miles circling London.    Secondly there were the observation balloons which where manned and secured to the ground.  They had telephone communication with the ground staff and would report on troop movements and positions.  The balloons were also kitted out with cine cameras so they gave a real time report on what was happening on the ground, their use as an aerial platform reached their peak during the Great War but are still used today, in a restricted way. 

The first recorded use of an observation balloon being used on the field of battle was in 1794 during the French Revolutionary Wars during the Battle of Fleurus.  They were also used by the North and the South during the American Civil War (1861 – 65) and during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870 – 71.  The British army had used them in Bechuanaland and Suakin in 1885, and also during the Second Boer War (1899 – 1902) during the Battle of Magersfontein and the Siege of Ladysmith but they were still using the spherical shaped balloons which were being improved and became more sausage shaped so they were more stable and could be used in all kinds of weather as the wind would cause if to face into the breeze.  The allies are still using balloons to this day in support during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts with camera attached to the underside of the ship.  The observation team who would unwind the steel cable, supporting the balloon and its officer, via a winch out to approximately three thousand feet, or higher, and at the end of the session would wind it in again.  The balloons were so important to both sides of the trenches that they were protected by anti-aircraft guns and groups of machine gunners for any low flying opposition fighter aircraft. 
Attacking the balloons was a perilous project but there were some pilots who enjoyed the challenge.  They were known as balloon busters.  Every country had their own aces who risked life and limb to cause damage or destroy the balloons.  They knew not to go any lower than one thousand feet, three hundred metres, to avoid the anti-aircraft guns. It is believed that the phrase ‘the balloon’s going up’ indicated that there would be action in the very near future, as it showed a need for information before the bombardment that would follow. 

The balloons were constructed from a very tightly woven fabric.  Originally, they were filled with hydrogen, but this obviously led to fire consuming the body of the balloon.  Quite quickly this was changed to non-flammable helium.  The observer would still have his parachute so that they could evacuate the balloon ship if needed.  These were being used by the balloonists long before the aircraft pilots received them. 
There are lots of stories and personal experiences detailed on the internet, I have only wiped the surface but hopefully you will be able to explore and find out even more.  I believe that this is a subject that may be revisited in the future, if only because of the inventions that came about because of the assistance of the balloons.


11 June 2021          WFRA NEWSLETTER          Volume 12 Issue 27


My name is Matthew Allen and I believe my late grandfather Ronald Allen served with the Sherwood Foresters in the 1950's.  He enlisted in 1938 with the Northamptonshire Regiment and served with the Army Commando's during WWII.  After the war he somehow ended up with the Sherwood Foresters.

I’m not sure if it might help or be of interest, but I have attached a picture of my grandad with some of his comrades. I believe they are wearing the Sherwood Foresters cap badge? I believe it was taken in Thetford forest and definitely in the early to mid 50’s. 
If anyone has any information about Ronald please contact Matthew Allen   allen_matt@icloud.com



Phishing remains the most successful attack vector for cyber criminals targeting individuals and businesses. 

Cyber criminals love phishing. Unfortunately, this is not a harmless riverbank pursuit. When criminals go phishing, you are the fish and the bait is usually contained in a scam email or text message. The criminal’s goal is to convince you to click on the links within their scam email or text message, or to give away sensitive information (such as bank details). These messages may look like the real thing but are malicious. Once clicked, you may be sent to a dodgy website which could download viruses onto your computer, or steal your passwords.

As of 30 April 2021, over 5.8 million emails were reported to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS). The tool, which was launched by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the City of London Police last April, allows the public to forward suspicious emails to an automated system that scans it for malicious links. Since its launch, over 43,000 scams and 84,000 malicious websites have been removed.

What are the most common phishing scams?
The most commonly spoofed organisation reported in phishing emails was TV Licensing, with victims of these emails reporting losses totalling £5.3m. The majority of losses occurred as a result of victims following malicious links in the emails and inputting their personal information into what they thought was the legitimate TV Licensing website. Shortly after, they would receive a call from criminals impersonating bank staff who was able to convince them that their bank accounts were compromised and persuaded them to transfer all of their money to a new ‘safe’ account. Some of the other most commonly impersonated organisations included HMRC and DVLA. We also received more than 40,000 suspicious email reports relating to COVID-19.

How you can protect yourself from phishing messages.
Fake emails and text messages can sometimes be difficult to spot and criminals are constantly getting better at finding ways to make them seem more authentic. Email address spoofing, for example, is just one of the tactics criminals will use to try and make their fake emails look real. Here are some tips you should follow to protect yourself, and others, from scam emails and text messages:

Be cautious of messages asking for your personal information. Official organisations, such as your bank, should never ask you for personal or financial information via email or text message. If you receive a message and you want to check that it’s legitimate, you can call the organisation directly using a known number, such as the one on a bank statement or utility bill.

Report suspicious emails. If you receive an email you’re not quite sure about, you should report it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) by forwarding the email to: report@phishing.gov.uk. Your reports will help government and law enforcement agencies to remove malicious emails and websites.
Report suspicious text messages. If you receive a suspicious text message, you can report it by forwarding the message to 7726. It’s free of charge and enables your mobile network provider to investigate the origin of the text and take action, if found to be malicious.
Report fraud. If you’ve lost money or provided personal information as a result of a phishing scam, notify your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud.
For more information on how to protect yourself from fraud and cyber crime, please visit: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/cybercrime

003 WORLD WAR ONE POETS by Katherine Dack

Ivor Bertie Gurney
28th August 1890 – 26th December 1937


Ivor Bertie Gurney was born at 3 Queen Street in Gloucester on the 28th August 1890.  He was the second of four surviving children.  He decided not to follow his father, David, and seamstress mother, Florence, into the family tailoring profession but through the guidance of his godfather, the Rev. Alfred Hunter Cheesman, who encouraged him to explore his artistic and creative thoughts and ideas. 

Ivor loved his music and was being taught at the King’s School, part of Gloucester Cathedral, from 1900 to 1906. He spent his time learning to play the organ and he also sang in the choir.  Through Alfred’s library he read a vast number of books and this, in part, helped Ivor to win a scholarship to the Royal College of Music in 1911.  Where he was under the guidance of Sir Charles Stanford. Ivor was a maverick personality but throughout his life he was troubled by black days and terrible mood swings.  He suffered his first breakdown in 1913, this was caused by his college work in a manic circle.  The College allowed Ivor the time to rest and he appeared to recover and returned to his colleagues. 

The outbreak of the Great War threw a spanner in his education and although, initially he was turned down by the Army due to his poor eyesight, but their need for more men meant that Ivor was able to join the 2nd/5th Gloucester's, as a private. on the 8th February 1917, and after training he travelled to serve in France. 

Ivor spent the following sixteen months at the front.  During time spent away from the front he began to concentrate on his poetry.  Ivor also would comment on the works of other poets.  Throughout the war he wrote regularly with his friend Marion Scott, who helped in getting his poems ready for printing.  Ivor had been writing poems when in April 1917 he was wounded in the shoulder.  He recovered and returned to the Front Line.  During 1917, Severn and Somme, was published, followed in 1919 with another collection titled War’s Embers.  His works portrayed his love of his native Gloucestershire landscape and his longing to return.  To the devastation he witnessed first-hand on the Western Front. He was injured whist in action during the spring of 1917, and later during the Battle of Passchendaele (Third Battle of Ypres) he was caught in a gas attack in September and was invalided home to recuperate in the Edinburgh War Hospital where he met Annie Drummond who was a VAD nurse.  He was heartbroken then the relationship broke down. In a letter that he wrote on the 17th September 1917 to Marion, “Being gassed (mildly) [his parenthesis] with the new gas is no worse than catarrh or a bad cold."  After being released from hospital, he was posted to Seaton Delaval, a mining village in Northumberland, where he found inspiration to write more poetry, including "Lying Awake in the Ward".  His black days returned and he contemplated suicide in 1918.  Ivor appears to have enjoyed the stability that the Army life had provided.  Ivor started to regained some of his emotional stability and in October was honourably discharged from the army. He received an unconventional diagnosis of nervous breakdown from "deferred" shell shock. 


After the war he returned to his studies at the Royal College of Music his tutor was Ralph Vaughn Williams, although Ivor left due to his erratic behaviour. Ivor sank into his mental state and he was institutionalised in 1921 as his condition had deteriorated to the point where his family had him declared insane.  He was diagnosed as suffering from "delusional insanity (systematised)."  He would remain in various hospitals for the remainder of his life.  His love of writing poetry and song lyrics did continue.  
Ivor died of Tuberculosis shortly before dawn on Boxing Day 1937 at the age of 47 and was laid to rest at St Matthew's Church, Twigworth. The service was led by his godfather, Rev. Alfred Cheesman.

Ivor Gurney wrote his poetry as a Tommy on the Front Line rather than from the elevated position of an officer.  He tells us the truth through his eye’s warts and all.  It reads as his opinion as an individual trying to survive the war rather than using the opportunity to explain away the horrors of the battle.  Ivor’s writings give us the values of receiving letters from loved ones, the bully beef and time spent with comrades all with a single purpose, that it to survive.  His love of his country, especially of the Gloucestershire countryside came directly from his core and this remained with him through the war and to the end of his life.  

On 11th November 1985, Ivor Gurney was among Sixteen Great War Poets commemorated on a slate stone unveiled in Westminster Abbey's Poet's Corner. The inscription on the stone was written by a fellow Great War poet, Wilfred Owen:
"My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity."

To England--A Note

I watched the boys of England where they went
Through mud and water to do appointed things.
See one a stake, and one wire-netting brings,
And one comes slowly under a burden bent
Of ammunition. Though the strength be spent
They "carry on" under the shadowing wings
Of Death the ever-present. And hark, one sings
Although no joy from the grey skies be lent.

Are these the heroes—these? have kept from you
The power of primal savagery so long?
Shall break the devil's legions? These they are
Who do in silence what they might boast to do;
In the height of battle tell the world in song
How they do hate and fear the face of War.

Strange Service

Little did I dream, England, that you bore me
Under the Cotswold Hills beside the water meadows,
To do you dreadful service, here, beyond your borders
And your enfolding seas.
I was a dreamer ever, and bound to your dear service
Meditating deep, I thought on your secret beauty.
As through a child’s face one may see the clear spirit
Miraculously shining.
Your hills not only hills, but friends of mine and kindly,
Your tiny orchard-knolls hidden beside the river
Muddy and strongly flowing, with sky and tiny streamlets
Safe in its bosom.
Now these are memories only, and yout skies and rushy sky-pools
Fragile mirrors easily broken by moving airs
But deep in my heart for ever goes on your daily being
And uses consecrate.
Think on me too, O Mother, who wrest my soul to serve you
In strange ways and fearful beyond your encircling waters
None but you can know my heart, its tears and sacrifice
None, but you, repay.


The following are available to support veterans and their families who may be experiencing mental health difficulties;

Forcesline Tel: 0800 731 4880 (between 9am and 5pm Monday-Friday)
Combat Stress (24 hours)
Veterans and their families; Tel: 0800 138 1619
Serving personnel and their families; Tel: 0800 323 4444
Samaritans (24 hours); Tel: 116 123

for Executive Committee



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