WWW Poetry of First World War




N e w s ~~ f r o m ~~ t h e ~~ F r o n t ~~ & ~~ E l s e w h e r e




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(26 Jan 1915): French poet & composer Lucien Mieille disappears at Bois Foulon.

(4 Feb 1915): German poet Hans Schmidt-Kestner killed in air crash on first flight at Doberitz.

(7 Feb 1915): Capt Maurice Faure, Commander of 1st Hussars & French portrait painter in watercolors, dies of exhaustion at Villiers-sur-Mer.

Ivor Gurney (9 Feb 1915): In England, poet Ivor Gurney drafted into British Army and joins the 2nd 5th Gloucesters.

(14 Feb 1915): German expressionist writer & contributor to Die Aktion, Dugen Fischer, dies of wounds at Iazaret, Carpathia.

(14 Feb 1915): Russian painter Anatole Michaeiloff, with the 1st Regt Etranger, killed by shell blast at Prunay, Marne.

(16 Feb 1915): French sculptor Paul Ponsard killed in action at Vaquois, Argonnes.

(17 Feb 1915): French writer Maurice Desclers (pseud: Paul Bail), of 106th Infantry Regiment, killed in action at Eparges. Posthumously awarded Croix de Guerre & Legion d’honneur. One of his lyrics, ‘Jardins sous la Pluie’, had been set to music by Debussy.

(17 Feb 1915): Provence poet Jean-Baptiste Begarie killed in action.

(21 Feb 1915): French painter Jean Boinvilliers, Captain with Reserve 66th Regiment, killed in action.

(22 Feb 1915): French writer Jean du Breuil de Saint-Germain killed in action.

(23 Feb 1915): Poet Lieutenant Bernard Charles de Boismaison White, after his first month in the trenches with the 20th (1st Tyneside Scottish) Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers, writes to his brother: “War is the most horrible, inconceivable, inhuman sacrifice it is possible to imagine. The homesteads in ruins, the quiet country lanes turned into pandemonium, the high roads broken up by shell-holes and swilled with the grey, slushy mud, the crosses dotted here, there and everywhere over the countryside, the thick clusters of them in the trenches themselves, and lastly the huddled forms of dead men that lie unretrieved between the two lines of trenches. These are all signs and tokens of the great, appealing cry that goes up dumbly: ‘How long, O Lord, how long?...’”

(27 Feb 1915): In Paris, the Moulin Rouge burns down.

(27 Feb 1915): French playwright & poet Lionel des Rieux killed in action at Malancourt

(28 Feb 1915): In France, English poet Ronald W. Wilson, with the Army Medical Corps, dies of meningitis.

(sometime during Mar 1915): French painter & lithographer, Georges-Ambroise Canioni, dies of wounds received at Chelles, Oise, in Aug 14.

(sometime during Mar 1915): On the North French Front, French artist Henri Doucet killed in action.

(sometime during Mar 1915): English poet Leslie Yorath Sanders killed at Pommier.

(sometime during Mar 1915): Swiss painter (Jean) Guido Sigriste, 1st Regt Etranger, dies of frostbite at Pau.

(1 Mar 1915): Wilfred Owen rejoins his Battalion near Fresnoy-les-Roye.

(3 Mar 1915): In the Argonne, at Boureuilles, French impressionist painter Henri (Alexandre) Georget killed in action.

(4 Mar 1915): At Perthes-les-Hurlus, French poet Camille Violand killed in action at Cote 196.

(4 Mar 1915): At Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, French sculptor Camille (Henri) Crenier, 3rd Bttn, Chasseurs a Pied, killed in action.

(7 Mar 1915): In the Argonne, French architect Marcel Camuzat, 95th Inf Regt, killed in action.

(7 Mar 1915): At Vitry-le-Francois, French artist Georges Rameau killed by bullet wound to the head.

(7 Mar 1915): Somewhere in France, German landscape painter Nikolaus Schmid-Dietenheim, Landwehr Regiment, killed in action.

(10 Mar 1915): At Ypres, French poet, novelist & playwright Guy Lassausaie killed in action at St. Julien.

(10 Mar 1915): Poet Maj Claude Penrose, with the 245th Siege Battery Royal Garrison Art, takes part in attack at Neuve Chapelle. He renders assistance to a badly shelled battery of the 118th, while still under heavy shell-fire, for which action he will be mentioned in despatches.

(11 Mar 1915): Poet Major Claude Quale Lewis Penrose participates in Battle of Neuve Chapelle, & is subsequently mentioned in despatches.

(11 Mar 1915): French poet of Gascony, Louis Sailhan killed in action at Perthes-les-Hurlus.

(26 Mar 1915): In England, Virginia Woolf suffers a nervous breakdown following publication of her first novel, The Voyage Out.

(27 Mar 1915): French writer Andre Cambon killed in action.

(27 Mar 1915): Poet Rupert Brooke arrives at Said.

French literary journal (27 Mar 1915): In Paris, the editors of Le Mot (founded Nov 1914 by Jean Cocteau & Paul Iribe), urge a middle course regarding current appeals to a “pure French tradition” and repudiation of all things Germanic.

(28 Mar 1915): In the Argonne, French poet Charles Jean Ajalbert dies of wounds.

(30 Mar 1915): In France, in an article in L’Excelsior, “Munich Arts and Its Apostles”, critic Frederic Masson characterizes the art of Munich as “...a style in which everthing is violent, shocking, burning, in which the tones explode one against another, the crudest and most intense that one could imagine. That’s the Munich style. And one sees greens whose acidity turns the stomach, crossed with lilac stripes that accompany a blood-red line; and what yellows! And what pinks! The goal pursued ~ and attained ~ is to knock you flat, to hit the retina with a thoroughly Germanic blow of brutality: the ‘boche’ blow!”

Max Beckmann, 'Self-portrait as a Nurse' (30 Mar 1915): German artist Max Beckmann, in a field hospital at Courtray in Flanders, records in a letter his conscious decision “...to paint what is around me...”, meaning the horrors of war. His will succeed in this goal perhaps more than any other artist of the war.

(5 Apr 1915): At Bois de Mortmare, French writer & playwright of verse drama Lt. Georges Chaigne, with the 367th Infantry Regiment, killed in action.

(6 Apr 1915): At Eparges, French painter & graphic artist Eugene-Emmanuel Lemercier killed in action.

(7 Apr 1915): At Flirey, French poet of Provence, Emile Arne, killed in action (collaborated with Octave de Vitrolles on periodical Quatre Dauphins, 1913).

(8 Apr 1915): At Marcheville, in Lorraine, French novelist & short story writer (chiefly about animals) Louis Pergaud killed in action at Marcheville by own artillery while lying wounded in German lines. He is 33. (Winner ‘Prix Goncourt’, 1910).

(12 Apr 1915): On the Meuse, at Marcheville, French poet Rene Lancon killed in action (Les Fleurs qui s’ouvrent, Sansot, Paris, 1912).

(14 Apr 1915): In the United States, A Dog’s Life, Charlie Chaplin’s latest film, is released.

(15 Apr 1915): In Paris, the first issue of L’Elan, the second French avant garde art journal of the war years, appears, edited by Amedee Ozenfant.

(18 Apr 1915): Poet Lt. Robert William Sterling leaves the hospital at Ypres and rejoins the 1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers which is engaged in the 2nd Battle of Ypres. On this same day, he writes to a friend: “...I’ve been longing for some link with the normal universe detached from the storm. It is funny how trivial instances sometimes are seized as symbols by the memory: but I did find such a link about three weeks ago. We were in trenches in woody country (just S.E. of Ypres). The Germans were about eighty yards away, and between the trenches lay pitiful heaps of dead friends and foes. Such trees as were left standing were little more than stumps, both behind our lines and the enemy’s. The enemy had just been shelling our reserve trenches, and a Belgian Battery behind us had been replying, when there fell a few minutes’ silence; and I, still crouching expentantly in the trench, suddenly saw a pair of thrushes building a nest in ‘a bare ruined choir’ of a tree, only about five yards behind our line. At the same time a lark began to sing in the sky above the German trenches. It seemed almost incredible at the time, but now, whenever I think of those nest-builders and that all but ‘sightless song’, they seem to represent in some degree the very essence of the Normal and Unchangeable Universe carrying on unhindered and careless amid the corpses and the bullets and the madness...”

(22 Apr 1915): Poet Lt John Brown, with the 9th Battalion Royal Scots, describes his activities on this date in a letter home: “On the afternoon of the 22nd April some of us were in Vlamertinghe shopping, buying wine, tins of fruit, and some chops. The Canadian Artillery passed through going up to Ypres. It was a fine sight. We had just come back when suddenly a terrific bombardment began. There is nothing more depressing than the boom of a bombardment when you are waiting to go into it. We stood to. 'D' Company were up on a fatigue. Then at 9.30 we got the word to fall in. We knew we were in for something and abandoned most of our parcels in the dark huts, for all lights were put out. We took the railway. All along it we met old women with bundles flying from Ypres. In front was the glare of the burning city and the thunder of the guns. Then we came on to the main road between Vlamertinghe and Ypres. It was full of troops moving up. There were some cavalry beside us who called out to us: 'Give them hell'. We wondered vaguely how we would do it. Down a side road we went, and lay down in some fields. After an hour or two we moved to Ypres, passing through at a weary double, now and then turning to look at the Cathedral and Cloth Hall. A few weeks ago the shops were open, the square crowded with the bright uniforms of the French; now it was deserted, and sought only by shells, and the quarter where we were blleted was in flames...”

(23 Apr 1915): -- At Bois-le-Pretre, American painter Andre Cheronet Champollion killed in action (letters published in ‘Harvard Alumni Bulletin, 7 & 28 April 1915).

(23 Apr 1915): -- Poet 2dLt Robert William Sterling of the 1st Battalion Royal Scots Fusiliers, somewhere along the line from northeast of Zonnebeke to the Polygon Wood, is killed after holding a length of trench all day with 15 men. He is 22.

Rupert Brooke

(23 Apr 1915): -- In the Aegean, on Shakespeare’s birthday, poet SubLt Rupert Brook dies of blood-poisoning aboard hospital ship at Skyros. He is 27. In the days following the news of his death, he will be eulogized by admirers throughout England, including Winston Churchill, DH Lawrence & Henry James.

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

(24 Apr 1915): -- In Flanders, German philosophy student and poet Heinrich Broichsitter (b.1884) killed in action (published in Lyric, Costenoble, Jena, 1920).

(24 Apr 1915): -- At Les Eparges, French poet Marius Touron killed in action (‘Glanes et Copeaux’, Revue Picarde et Normande, Caen, 1917; winner, Prix Capuran, Academy francais).

(24 Apr 1915): -- Poet Lt Roland Aubrey Leighton, of the 1st/7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment, in the trenches near Armentieres, discovers the body of a dead British soldier, which he describes in a letter: “...found the body of a dead British soldier hidden in the undergrowth a few yards from the path. He must have been shot there during the wood-fighting in the early part of the War. The body had sunk down into the marshy ground so that only the tops of the boots stuck up above the soil. His cap and equipment beside him were half-buried & rotting away. Roland ordered a mound of earth to be thrown over him, to make one grave more among the many in the wood....” The following day, Leighton will write the following villanelle:

Violets from Plug Street Wood ~
Sweet, I send you oversea.
(It is strange they should be blue,
Blue when his soaked blood was red;
For they grew around his head.
It is strange they should be blue.)

Violets from Plug Street Wood ~
Think what they have meant to me!
Life and Hope and Love and You.
(And you did not see them grow
Where his mangled body lay.
Hiding horror from the day.
Sweetest, it was better so.)

Violets from oversea,
To your dear, far, forgetting land:
These I send in memory,
Knowing you will understand.

(25 Apr 1915): -- At Les Eparges, French watercolorist Marcel Ferdinand Cardet disappears, presumed killed in action (known especially for studies of old Paris & Bruges).

(26 Apr 1915): -- At Saint-Maurice, on the Meuse, French poet Henri Cocardas dies of wounds (‘La bonne Auberge’, Nouvelle Revue, 15 Mar 1914).

(26 Apr 1915): -- At St Clement, French sculptor Gery Dechin dies of wounds received on 12 April (student of Injalbert).

(26 Apr 1915): -- At Les Eparges, French poet, novelist, art historian, numismatic aesthete & winner of Croix de Guerre Jean de Foville, killed in action (novel Bethsabee, 1913).

(26 Apr 1915): -- At Lizerne, French essayist, playwright, ballet librettist, translator of Kipling & Wedekind, Robert d’Humieres (Vicomte Aymeric Eugene) of the 4th Zouaves, killed in action (plays: Coeur, Les Ailes closes, Comme des Dieux; ballet: La Tragedie de Salome [to music by Florent Schmitt, 1912]).

(26 Apr 1915): -- Tribute to Rupert Brooke by Winston Churchill appears in the Times: "…The thoughts to which he gave expression in the very few incomparable war sonnets which he has left behind will be shared by many thousands of young men movng resolutely and blithely forward into this, the hardest, the cruellest and the least rewarded of all the wars that men have fought. They are a whole history and revelation of Rupert Brooke himself. Joyous, fearless, versatile, deeply instructed, with classic symmetry of mind and body, he was all that one would wish England's noblest sons to be in days when no sacrifice but the most precious is acceptable, and the most precious is that which is most freely proffered."

(29 Apr 1915): -- At Vauquois, French poet Michel Della Torre killed in action (Le Bouquet de Floreal).

(29 Apr 1915): -- Capt Julian Grenfell, with the 1st Battalion Royal Dragoons near Watou, writes poem "Into Battle".

The naked earth is warm with spring,
And with green grass and bursting trees
Leans to the sun's gaze glorying,
And quivers in the sunny breeze;

And life is colour and warmth and light,
And a striving evermore for these;
And he is dead who will not fight;
And who dies fighting has increase.

The fighting man shall from the sun
Take warmth, and life from the glowing earth;
Speed with the light-foot winds to run,
And with the trees to newer birth;

And find, when fighting shall be done,
Great rest, and fullness after dearth.
All the bright company of Heaven
Hold him in their high comradeship,
The Dog-Star, and the Sisters Seven,
Orion's Belt and sworded hip.

The woodland trees that stand together,
They stand to him each one a friend;
They gently speak in the windy weather;
They guide to valley and ridge's end.

The kestrel hovering by day,
And the little owls that call by night,
Bid him be swift and keen as they,
As keen of ear, as swift of sight.

The blackbird sings to him, "Brother, brother,
If this be the last song you shall sing,
Sing well, for you may not sing another;
Brother, sing."

In dreary, doubtful, waiting hours,
Before the brazen frenzy starts,
The horses show him nobler powers;
O patient eyes, courageous hearts!

And when the burning moment breaks,
And all things else are out of mind,
And only joy of battle takes
Him by the throat, and makes him blind,

Through joy and blindness he shall know,
Not caring much to know, that still
Nor lead nor steel shall reach him, so
That it be not the Destined Will.

The thundering line of battle stands,
And in the air death moans and sings;
But Day shall clasp him with strong hands,
And Night shall fold him in soft wings.

(30 Apr 1915): -- In the Argonne, French pianist & composer Emile Debert killed in action.

(30 Apr 1915): -- After fighting at Bois le Pretre, French sculptor & medalist Julien August Philibert Lorieux, of the 394th Infantry Regiment, dies of wounds.

(30 Apr 1915): -- At Savonnieres, German animal sculptor from the Alsace, Hans Gsell, killed in action (Mainly birds & cats. Kunstchronik, new series, 1915).

(30 Apr 1915): -- At Toul, French war poet Antoine Dujardin dies of wounds.

(1 May 1915): -- At Bois le Pretre, French painter August-Henri Lenoir killed in action (Faunesse, 1914).

(1 May 1915): -- French artist Albert Gleizes, serving in the trenches, writes, in Le Mot: "...the writers and artists with whom you will some day claim the honour of belonging to the same race are almost all in the line of fire. Nonetheless, nothing blinds their conscience and their love. The past is finished. It was great. Let us have the wisdom not to make it seem odious as we leave it behind. We remain faithful to it in going, with courage, as far as we can..."

(2 May 1915): -- In Galicia, German composer Walter Asch killed in action at Tarnov (pupil of Pfizner, composed a variety of small scale works, which he requested not to be published after his death).

(5 May 1915): -- In Artois, French poet Andre d'Harmenon killed in action (co-founder of literary periodical Mail).

(5 May 1915): -- In Bordeaux, French author Andre Lafon dies of scarlet fever contracted in Saint Ciers sur Gironde, auxiliary forces (associated with Jean de La Ville de Mirmont (q.v.). Author of L'Eleve Gilles [Hotel de Ville, Blaye, 1987; Prix National de Litterature, 1912] and La Maison sur la rive [Perrin, Paris, 1914]).

(5 May 1915): -- English poet Capt George Upton Robins, 3rd Battalion, East Yorks Regiment, killed in action at Hill 60 (Lays of the Hertfordshire Hunt, Humphreys, London, 1912).

(5 May 1915): -- In Italy, poet D'Annunzio's pro war entry speech delivered to 150,000 in Genoa; later repeated in Rome.

(7 May 1915): -- On the Belgian Front, French enamellist & sculptor Armand Roussel gassed (Exhibition Soc. Nationale).

(7 May 1915): -- In the Irish Sea, unescorted unarmed British Cunard liner LUSITANIA SUNK in 20 minutes, torpedoed from 765 yards without warning off Old Head of Kinsale by U20: 1198 lost, including 124 Americans.

(7 May 1915): -- Irish composer T. O'Brien Butler lost with the Lusitania (composer of first opera to be writtin to a libretto in Gaelic, Murigheis, performed in Dublin, 7 Dec 1903).

(7 May 1915): -- American novelist & playwright Justus Miles Foreman lost with the Lusitania (The Garden of Lies, 1902; The Hyphen, 1915 [a melodrama which deals with hyphenated political allegiance of the German American in the war]).

(7 May 1915): -- American theatre producer Charles Frohman lost with the Lusitania.

(7 May 1915): -- American playwright Charles Klein lost with the Lusitania.

(7 May 1915): -- American artist Reginald Purse lost with the Lusitania.

(7 May 1915): -- At Gallipoli, French adventurer & novelist Leo Bryam (pseud. of Capitaine Eugene Drevet) killed in action (professional soldier who fought against pirates in China; Petit Zap deviendra grand, Berger Levrault, Paris 1908; Mon Ami Fou Than, Almann Levy, Paris, 1910; Les Amis de mon Ami Fou Than, Plon Nourrit, Paris, 1913).

(8 May 1915): -- English war poet Staff-Capt Walter Scott Stuart Lyon, of the Lothian Brigade, 9th Battalion Royal Scots, killed in heavy bombardment near Potijze Wood, south of the Menin Road. (Easter at Ypres, Maclehose, Glasgow, 1916).

"... I stole up softly where he stayed
With head hung down all slack,
And on his shoulders laid my hands
And drew him gently back.

And then, as I had guessed, I saw
His head, and how the crown....
I saw then why he crouched so still,
And why his head hung down."


(8 May 1915): -- At Sedul Bahr, Gallipoli, French journalist, story writer & poet Leopold Laurens (Marius Jean Baptiste), killed in action (stories published in 'Le Radical'; 'Le Republicain du Garde', 'Le Journal du Midi').

(9 May 1915): -- At Ouvrages Blancs, Arras, French Colombian poet, playwright & essayist Hernan de Bengoechea, 1st Regiment Etranger, winner of Croix de Guerre, killed in action ('Les Crepuscules du Matin', Les Tablettes, 1921; 'Le Vol du Soir', Les Tablettes, 1922; 'Le Sourire de I'Ile de France, Les Tablettes, 1924).

(9 May 1915): -- At Ouvrages Blancs, Arras, French engraver Francis Moll, with the Polish & Czech Volunteers, killed in action.

(9 May 1915): -- At Loos, in Artois, French painter Roger de Blives, of the 2nd Artillery Regiment, killed in action (founder of Society des Peintres de Paris).

(9 May 1915): -- At Neuville Saint Vaast, French playwright Audre Puget killed in action (La nuit blanche [in verse]; Iphigenie [in prose].

(9 May 1915): -- At Neuville Saint Vaast, French writer Roger Vincent killed in action (contributor to avant garde periodicals: Chimeres, Poems, Double Bouquet; Les Facettes).

(9 May 1915): -- At Souchez, French poet Cpl Joseph Bourgeois, with 97th Infantry Regiment, killed in action (Les Boeufs; Chanson triste).

(10 May 1915): -- Near Ypres, at Fromelles, German poet & impressionist painter Albert Weisgerber killed in action (president of New Munich Secession).

(11 May 1915): -- Poet Captain Julian Grenfell, with the 1st Battalion Royal Dragoons, billeted in wooden huts along the Brielen road at Vlamertinghe, notes in his diary: "Moved off 7.30 to support trenches 27th Division wood next railway E of H in Halte, next field where we lost horses shelled. Walked through outskirts of Ypres blazing in summer night; stink, rotting horses and men. Drew rations on road and got into trench 11.30 p.m. Detachments of Argyll and S's and Royal Fusiliers, dead beat, in our trench."

(11 May 1915): -- In Frevin-Capelle, French painter Louis Cartier-Bresson, 153rd Infantry Regt, dies of wounds received at La Targette. (Prix Troyon, 1907; Prix de Rome, 1910; exhibition at Gallery Richard in London).

(11 May 1915): -- In Germany, artist Georg Grosz released as unfit for Army before ever going to the front.

(12 May 1915): -- Poet Captain Colwyn Philipps, of the Royal Horse Guards, returns with his unit from resting on a farm between L'Abeele and Steenvoorde, to front line trenches between the Ypres Zonnebeke road and the Ypres Menin road.

Julian Grenfell

(13 May 1915): -- Poet Captain Julian Grenfell, with the 1st Battalion Royal Dragoons, in the second line of trenches between Hooge Lake and a railway line half a mile to the north, undergoes a heavy German bombardment which begins in the early morning. One of their targets is a small rise known as Railway Hill, and Grenfell, climbing it to make an observation of the enemy, is knocked down by a shell which tears his coat. He returns with the news that the Germans are outflanking the Royals. Grenfell volunteers to take the information to the Somerset Yeomanry in the front line trenches, which he does. One of the SY Commanders later records that Grenfell walked up to him under heavy shell fire with the comment, "...you once gave me a very good mount with the Belvoir Hounds." Grenfell then returns with further messages and again climbs Railway Hill with the Brigade General, where both are hit with shrapnel from an exploding shell. Grenfell, a piece of shrapnel in his head, is transported to No.10 Casualty Clearing Station where he writes to his mother on blood stained paper: "Isn't it wonderful and glorious that at last after long waiting the Cavalry have put it across the Boches on their flat feet, and have pulled the frying pan out of the fire for the second time? Good old 'iron ration'. We are practically wiped out; but we charged and took the Hun trenches yeserday. I stopped a Jack Johnson with my head, and my skull is slightly cracked. But I'm getting on splendidly..." Captain Colwyn Philipps

(13 May 1915): -- Poet Captain Colwyn Philipps, of the Royal Horse Guards, having returned the previous day with his unit to front line trenches between the Ypres Zonnebeke road and the Ypres Menin road, is killed during an intense, day long bombardment.

(14 May 1915): -- At St Mihiel, German poet Georg Hecht killed in action. (Published in Die Aktion: “Moseh’, Leichnam’. Friend of Hugo Ball. Published essays, poems, translations together with Eugen Mondt).

(14 May 1915): -- Poet Captain Julian Grenfell, of the 1st Battalion Royal Dragoons, is moved from No.10 Casualty Clearing Station near Ypres, to a hospital at Boulogne.

(15 May 1915): -- Poet Captain Julian Grenfell, of the 1st Battalion Royal Dragoons, suffering from a head wound in a hospital at Boulogne, undergoes the first of two operations.

(15 May 1915): -- French engraver of Paris scenes, Charles Heyman of the 226th Infantry Regt, dies in Ablain-Saint-Nazaire.

(20 May 1915): -- At Maison Blance, Bois d'Ailly, French graecophile poet Leon Guillot killed in action (Les Chevres de Pan).

(20 May 1915): -- At Aleppo, Armenian short-story writer and nationalist Grigor Zohrab murdered while under arrest during Armenian massacres.

(22 May 1915): -- At Moroeuil, French sculptor Julien Menant of the 146th Infantry Regt, dies of wounds received from a shell blast at Neuville-Saint-Vaast on the 21st (2nd Grand Prix de Rome, 1909).

(23 May 1915): -- At Malembois, on the Meuse, French playwright & story writer Emmanuel Gallian (pseud: Noel Gaulois) killed in action (Leroy s'amuse, 1893; La Bete noire de Baptistin, Ballaudot, Paris; Le Secret de la Mariniere [in Les Veillees des Chaumieres]).

(24 May 1915): -- Poet Alan Seeger, American volunteer with the 2nd Regiment, French Foreign Legion, writes in his diary: "Left Cuiry-les-Chaudardes after almost seven months on the Aisne. Were replaced by the 34eme that came over from Beaurieux. Marched out at midnight. Stopped at dawn on the roadside on the plateau of Merval and had breakfast. Waited there for the autobuses. They arrived by hundreds about noon and, embarking, we came back over about the same route we traversed in October. Got out and had supper in a spot that looked out over the plains of champagne, a wonderful picture, with Reims and the Cathedral in the distance. Marched from there by night to Ludes, where we passed the night in the stables of a Mumm etablissement. Leave tonight for the trenches."

(25 May 1915): -- Poet Captain Julian Grenfell, in a hospital at Boulogne, having received his second operation two days before to remove shrapnel from his skull, tells his mother, who is at his side, "...Hold my hand till I go..."

(26 May 1915): -- In Flanders, in Boulogne hospital, English poet Capt Julian Grenfell dies of wounds received on Railway Hill, Ypres. He is 27.

(26 May 1915): -- At Noulette, French poet, short story writer & educationalist Albert Thierry killed in action.

(28 May 1915): -- At Beausejour/Mesnil-les-Hurlus, French composer of chamber music in the style of Franck, killed (shot) in action.

(28 May 1915): -- Poet Julian Grenfell buried in the cemetery on the hill above Boulogne, looking across to the battlefields. His parents, sister, and a few friends are present, but none wear mourning. His mother later writes: "His grave was lined and filled with the wildflowers from the forest and the green oak-leaves which had just come out... It was a very windy day, he had always loved the wind..." On the same day the announcement of his death and his poem "Into Battle" were published in the Times.

(31 May 1915): -- At Mont Saucon, French poet & composer Lucien Marie killed in action by trench mortar explosion (poems published in Nouvelle Revue Francaise on 1 Sept 1910 & 1 Mar 1912).

(1 June 1915): -- Poet Captain Charles Sorley, with “D” Company, 7th Battalion Suffolk Regiment, first arrives at the front, near Acquin. He writes: “...I have never felt more restful. We arrived at dawn: white dawn across the plane trees and coming through the fields of rye. After two hours in an oily ship and ten in a grimy train, the ‘war area’ was a haven of relief...”

(4 June 1915): -- At Krithia, Gallipoli, English, English composer (mainly of songs) William Denis Browne, Hood Battalion, RND, killed in action (Hugh Taylor, The Life and Work of W. Denis Browne, dissertation, Cambridge, 1973).

(4 June 1915): -- At Krithia, Gallipoli, English linguist & playwright George Calderon, 9th Battalion, Oxfordshire & Bucks Light Infantry, killed in action (The Fountain, Gowans & Gray, London, 1911; P. Lubbock, George Calderon: a sketch from memory, Grant Richards, London, 1921; Eight One-Act Plays, Grant Richards, London, 1922).

(5 June 1915): -- At Neuville-Saint-Vaast, French-born modernist sculptor & graphic artist Henri Gaudier-Brzeska killed in action (friend & associate of Ezra Pound, TE Hulme, Wyndham Lewis & Jacob Epstein; Ezra Pound, Gaudier-Brzeska: a memoir, 1916; Horace Brodzky, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, 1933; Jeremy Lewison, Catalogue: Henri Gaudier Brzeska, sculptor, 1891-1915, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, 1983).

(8 June 1915): -- At a field hospital at Courtray i n Flanders, German artist Max Beckmann writes in a letter, describing his duties during the night watch, looking after “...two stomach wounds and a severe brain contusion with delirium. Wrestled all night with the unconscious man. The room dimly lit, by night-lights and sheet lightning, and reeking of decay...”

(10 June 1915): -- At Hebuterne, French poet Gabriel Eon killed in action (contributed to Poitiers Universitaire).

(14 June 1915): -- On the Western Front, in Artois, French novelist Jules Leroux disappears in action at Neuville St.Vaast. He is 34.

(14 June 1915): -- On the Eastern Front, in Galicia, English novelist Hugh Walpole helps tend 800 wounded in 12 hours; by the 30th he will develop dysentery.


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Hugh Freston (24 Jan 1916): English poet 2Lt Hugh Freston, of 3rd Royal Berkshire Regt, killed at La Boiselle.

(1 Feb 1916): Novelist Sir Haggard Rider Haggard sent to Dominions to arrange postwar settlement of ex servicemen.

(14 Feb 1916): British novelist Hugh Walpole returns to Petrograd to run Allied Propaganda Bureau.

(26 Feb 1916): In England, Sassoon’s first war poem, “To Victory”, published in the Saturday Review.

(27 Feb 1916): In England, Edward Thomas begins a ten-day stay in London, lodging over the Poetry Bookshop.

(28 Feb 1916): At Douaumont, near Verdun, French novelist & poet Lucien Rolmer (pseud of Luigi Roux) killed in action.

(28 Feb 1916): In England, at Rye, Sussex, American-born novelist & close friend of Edith Wharton, Henry James, dies.

(2 Mar 1916): In Paris, the first major salon since the start of the war, the Triennale, begins, held in the Jeu de Paume from 2 Mar-15 Apr. Matisse is among the exhibiters.

(3 Mar 1916): At Douamont, French poet & playwright Marcel Bource killed in action.

Franz Marc (4 Mar 1916): At Verdun, German Expressionist painter Franz Marc killed by French shell at Gussainville Castle.

(9 Mar 1916): German poet Gerhard Freiherr von Gayl, Commander of Feldfliegerabt, No.18, killed in air combat.

(9 Mar 1916): Poet Gullaume de Kostrowitzky, “Apollonaire”, serving in the French Army as an artilleryman since beginning of the war, becomes a naturalized French citizen.

(19 Mar 1916): Somewhere on the Western Front, German architect, interior designer & glass-painter Rudolf Linnemann dies in an accident.

(21 Mar 1916): At Verdun, French sculptor Emile Marcel Baudot dies of wounds.

In Paris, from the Hospital de Lycee Janson , Irish revolutionary Maud Gonne writes to poet W.B. Yeats: "...I am writing this from the hospital where I am on night duty taking care of some terribly mangled wrecks from the Verdun battle…”

(22 Mar 1916): French writer Henri Bertrand dies of wounds. Winner of Legion d’honneur.

(23 Mar 1916): French-Breton poet Alphonse-Georges Hamonno dies of illness contracted in the trenches.

(24 Mar 1916): Near Verdun, French landscape painter Sgt Jean Brulat, 38th Infantry Regiment, killed at Bois Bourrus.

(25 Mar 1916): At Verdun, French painter Jacques Jourdan killed in action.

(25 Mar 1916): At Bayeux, Calvados, French poet Marcel Libotte dies of pneumonia while in training.

(6 Apr 1916): French songwriter & poet Leon Israel killed in action

(8 Apr 1916): At Verdun, French composer (and son of singer Octave Pradels) Andre Pradels killed in action.

(15 Apr 1916): Sculpter architect Raymond Duchamp Villon (brother of the artist Marcel Duchamp), stationed somewhere along the front with the French army, writes to the American collector John Quinn: "I have to apologize for not having answered you since so long a time. You know how little we are ourselves for the present, and you cannot imagine the effort necessary to evade by the mind, even for a momenmt, the world of the war. In fact, it is a world, really, which is complete in itself, in its ways and in its ends. For what counts the thought of one man in this whirlwind, and above all, what is that thought able to do? We are as far away from Paris, where some friends are working now, as from New York. Any connection between intellectual life and us is broken, and for an undetermined time..."

(15 Apr 1916): In Paris, the first major salon since the start of the war, the Triennale, which had begun on the 2nd of March, ends. Matisse had been among the exhibiters. Critic Clement Janin, in the introduction to the exhibit’s catalogue, had written: “... the longer the war is prolonged, the longer the energy of the nation affirms itself.... Look at this astounding nation, ordinarily so changeable, today so calm in hope.... Life is beginning again everywhere, everyone contributes an evident good will, under pressure from officialdom, to establish, paralleling our offensive force, a moral force whose first source is the normal use of our faculties.... And so, let the arts and letters also be taken up again!”

(15 Apr 1916): Painter and critic Bissiere, in the magazine L’Opinion, writes (somewhat prematurely): “...I apologize for using the word ‘cubist’; it describes a school which was perhaps necessary at its moment, but whose usefulness has ceased to make itself felt, and whose disappearance seems almost a fait accompli...”


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(25 Jan 1917): In the Mediterranean, French transport Admiral Magon torpedoed & sunk en route to Salonika ~ among those drowned is Provencal poet Roger Brunel.

(4 Feb 1917): In England, Wilfred Owen arrives at Abbeville for a course on transport duties. During this month he will write “Exposure”.

(5 Feb 1917): Near Trieste, German writer (contributor to Die Aktion), Robert Zellermayer dies in air crash.

Gerald Caldwell Siordet

(9 Feb 1917): English poet & graphic artist Gerald Caldwell Siordet (Military Cross), with 6th King’s Own Royal Lancers Regt, killed in action at Kut.

(12 Feb 1917): French story writer & war poet Leon Berthon dies of illness contracted at front in Clermont, Oise.

(12 Feb 1917): English poet, 2ndLt George King, of 9th Suffolk Regt, killed in action.

(17 Feb 1917): In Mesopotamia, English poet Howard J. Stables, Lieutenant with Gurkha Rifles, dies of wounds at Kut.

(28 Feb 1917): French-Breton poet Yves (Le Rouge) de Guerdavid dies of wounds.

(28 Feb 1917): In Italy, English poet Edmund John, after discharge from Artists Rifles, dies of heart disease.

Francis Ledwidge (8 Mar 1917): Irish poet Lance Corporal Francis Ledwidge, with “B” Company, 1st Bttn Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, 29th Div, in billets at Le Neuville, writes poem “Spring”. It is to be his last Spring.

(11Mar 1917): On or near this date, poet Wilfred Owen falls at night into a cellar or shell-hole at Le Quesnoy-en-Santerre, suffering a concussion.

(13 Mar 1917): Somewhere in France, English poet Henry William Hutchinson killed in action.

(15 Mar 1917): Wilfred Owen evacuated to Military Hospital at Nesle.

(16 Mar 1917): 2ndLt Edward Thomas, with 244th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery positioned in an orchard by Faubourg d’Amiens at the southern edge of Arras, writes to his wife: ” They are ploughing now in the field adjoining the orchard with 2 pairs of greys & I hear the ploughman talking to them as they turn at the end of the furrow. It is a misty cold morning... The larks & the great tits are singing...”

Wilhelm de Kostrowitsky (pseudo: Guillaume APOLLONAIRE) (17 Mar 1917): French poet Apollonaire, serving as a lieutenant in the French 96th Infantry Regt, is struck in center of his forehead by shrapnel, at four in the afternoon, in trenches at Bois des Buttes, near Berry-au-Bac. The wound, while not fatal, will remove him from front-line duty and, after recovering, he will spend the rest of the war posted in Paris, only to die two and a half years later, on the morning of the Armistice, of influenza, complicated by lingering effects of his head-wound..

(17 Mar 1917): Poet 2dLt Walter Lightowler Wilkinson takes part in a large raid on German trenches near Roclincourt, four miles north of Arras on the Vimy road with his battalion, 1st/8th Battalion Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders. As a result of this experince, he writes “The Wayside Burial”.

Wilfred Owen

(17 Mar 1917): Wilfred Owen moved from Military Hospital at Nesle to 13 Casualty Clearing Station at Gailly. In the following fortnight writes “A Sunrise”.

(20 Mar 1917): In Salonika, French poet Pierre Corbin gravely wounded.

(25 Mar 1917): At Verdun, French sculptor & painter Sgt Leon-John Walsey, 13th Artillery Regiment, killed in action. 1917: French GZG moves north from Beauvais to Compiegne.

(3 Apr 1917): Poet Capt. Arthur Graeme West, manning an outpost line near Barastre with his unit, the 6th Battalion Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, is killed in the morning by a stray bullet.

(6 Apr 1917): At Reims, French painter Marie Baudet killed by shell explosion while attending the wounded (exhib. Independants & d'Automne).

(7 Apr 1917): At Messines, English poet Lt Gerald George Samuel, Royal West Kent Regiment, killed in action (Poems, 1917).

(8 Apr 1917): In billets in the village of Bray, on the eve of the Battle of Arras, Captain John Eugene Crombie writes his final poem: "Easter Day, 1917: The Eve of Battle".

Edward Thomas

(9 Apr 1917): Near Arras, 2dLt Edward Thomas of the 244th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, poet, reviewer, critic, writer of the English countryside, and American poet Robert Frost’s closest friend, is killed while standing at the Beaurains Observation Post at 7:30 a.m. by a German artillery shell.

(9 Apr 1917): At Vimy Ridge, English artist Henry Murray killed in action (painter of bird subjects, ‘Illustrated Sporting & Dramatic News’, 1912-15).

(9 Apr 1917): At Vimy Ridge, poet 2dLt Walter Lightowler Wilkinson, with the 1st/8th Battalion Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, in an attack on German trenches east of Roclincourt, near Arras, is killed.

Robert Ernest Vernede

(9 Apr 1917): Poet 2dLt Robert Ernest Vernede, of the 12th Battalion The Rifle Brigade, while on a night patrol in the Havrincourt Wood area, is shot in the stomach by German machine gun fire and dies several hours later while being transported to a Field Ambulance. The previous day, Easter Sunday, he had written to his wife: “...I think it will be summer soon, and perhaps the war will end this year and I shall see my Pretty One again...”

(9 Apr 1917): French engraver Jules-Joseph Tuaillon, 346th Infantry Regiment, dies of wounds received on 24 March 1915 at Bois-Lepretre.

(10 Apr 1917): At Arras, English poet SgtMaj W.H. Littlejohn, Middlesex Regiment, killed in action (he will appear in The Muse in Arms, John Murray, London).

(10 Apr 1917): Poet 2dLt Hamish Mann, a platoon commander with the 8th Battalion, The Black Watch, and who was wounded during the previous day’s assault during the opening of the Battle of Arras, dies of his wounds.

(10 Apr 1917): On the Western Front, Breton poet & playwright Jean-Pierre Calloc’h (pseud: ‘Bleimori) killed by shellfire while standing outside his dugout. The son of a sailor lost at sea, Calloc’h was described as terrifying in battle, wielding an antique sailor’s axe of the sort formerly used in boarding ships.

(15 Apr 1917): At Lombartzyde, on the Western Front, German war poet Gerhard Moerner killed in action (Aus dem Felde, Kugel, Hamburg, 1918).


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John McCrae (28 Jan 1918): Canadian war poet John McCrae dies of pneumonia & memingitis at Wimereux.


(4 Feb 1918): Maurice Esmein, medical auxiliary with the 72nd Infantry Regiment, French landscape painter, killed. His works will be shown in the Independants Exhibition of 1919.

(sometime during Mar 1918): At Val-de-Grace, French composer Andre Victor Louis Laporte dies of wounds.

(sometime during Mar 1918): German poet Wilhelm Runge killed at Arras.

(3 Mar 1918): R. Goring’s play Seeschlacht opens in Berlin.

(19 Mar 1918): Private Isaac Rosenberg, with the First Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment, moves to Arras for training.

(21 Mar 1918): Second Battle of the Somme and German Spring Offensive. British suffer 7500-8000 casualties. Among British poets involved are Rifleman Colin Mitchell with 3rd Bttn, Rifle Brigade, five miles north of St. Quentin; LtCol Charles Walter Blackall commanding 4th Battalion South Staffordshire Regt near Fremicourt; Pvt Isaac Rosenberg with the First Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regt near Arras; & Maj Claude Quale Lewis Penrose commanding 245th Siege Battery Royal Garrison Artillery south of the Somme. Major Quale’s battery covers the disorganized allied retreat so effectively that Quale is awarded a bar to his Military Cross for conspicuous gallantry & devotion to duty.

(21 Mar 1918): Somewhere on the Western Front, German poet Robert Jentsch killed in action.

(22 Mar 1918): Somewhere on the Western Front, German war poet Kurt Gustav Leverkuhn killed in action.

(22 Mar 1918): English portrait painter, Lt Harry Chamen Lintott, 5th Battalion, Royal Fusiliers, dies of wounds.

(22 Mar 1918): English poet Sgt Colin Mitchell, Rifle Brigade, killed in action.

(23 Mar 1918): French novelist Eugene Pic killed in action.

(23 Mar 1918): Poet Theodore Percival Cameron Wilson, Captain with the 10th Battalion Sherwood Foresters, is ordered with his battalion to evacuate Hermiies at 1 p.m. due to the German breakthrough. While passing along the Havrincourt-Bertincourt valley, they come under extremely heavy machine-gun fire and suffer numerous casualties. Captain Wilson is killed near Villers-au-Flos at about 4 p.m.

(23 Mar 1918): Somewhere in France, composer of popular songs, 2Lt Herbert Goldstein Matheson, 13th Kensington Battalion, London Regiment, killed in action.

(24 Mar 1918): Poet LtCol Charles Walter Blackall, commanding the 4th Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment, takes up position with his battalion in a trench west of the Bapaume-Arras road.

(24 Mar 1918): Somewhere in France, Irish poet Lt. R.B. Marriott-Watson, 2nd Royal Irish Rifles, killed in action.

(24 Mar 1918): On the Meuse, at Gondrecourt, French poet & writer Stephan Pad (pseud of Paul Alain Dutruel) killed in collision of troop transport train.

(25 Mar 1918): Debussy dies in Paris.

(27 Mar 1918): At Dancourt, French poet Jacques de Champfeu killed in action.

(28 Mar 1918): At Arras, English religious poet Innes d’Auvergne Stewart Stitt, Queens Westminster Rifles, reported missing, presumed dead.

(28 Mar 1918): At Artois, Fourth Battle of Arras. Issac Rosenberg, with his battalion in reserve at Blangy, faces a German breakthrough which causes their reserve position to become the new front line. The battalion loses 70 men on this date. Rosenberg & his comrades spend the next three days under heavy shell-fire & constant threat of attack.

(29 Mar 1918): Somewhere on the Western Front, German poet Ludwig Knapp killed in action.

(30 Mar 1918): Somewhere on the Western Front, English painter of landscapes & town scenes and architect H.W. Mann killed in action. Drew sketches of towns of the Western Front (‘Leaves from the Sketch-book of Lieut. H.W. Mann, RFA’, 1918).

(1 Apr 1918): Poet Lance Corporal Francis Ledwidge arrives with the 1st Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers at Arras.

Issac Rosenberg (1 Apr 1918): Poet & painter, Issac Rosenberg, after three days of being pinned down by artillery fire with his battalion at Blangy, is found among the dead, who outnumber the living in his company. He was 27. A few days later, Edward Marsh in London will receive Rosenberg’s last letter, dated March 28 and postmarked April 2. Rosenberg wrote: “... I wanted to write a battle song for the Judaens but can think of nothing strong and wonderful enough yet. Here’s just a slight thing...”




<i>Calligrammes</i> by Apollonaire

(1 Apr 1918): Apollonaire’s war poems, Calligrammes, published in a small edition.

(1 Apr 1918): On the Western Front, German composer of atmospheric songs & piano pieces, Anton Rabel, killed in action.

(2 Apr 1918): In Holland, Raemakers’ cartoon “The Last Throw” (Kaiser & Crown Prince dicing with death) appears in Amsterdam Telegraaf.

(2 Apr 1918): Wilfred Owen, discharged from the 13th Casualty Clearing Station at Gailly on the banks of the Somme Canal, rejoins his battalion at Selency, which has just returned from a successful but costly attack on Savy Wood. Owen writes to his mother: “...I shall no doubt be in time for the Counter-Attack. I have bought an automatic pistol in the town... By the time you get this we’ll be out of the line again... My long rest has shaken my nerve. But after all I hate old age and there is only one way to avoid it!...”

(7 Apr 1918): Poet Capt Calude Frank Lethbridge Templer, of 1st Battalion Gloucester Regiment, but a prisoner of the Germans since 22 December 1914, makes his first attempted escape from a prison-camp at Hanover-Munden, together with seven Russian officers. He is captured a week later near the Dutch border.

(11 Apr 1918): Poet Lt John Brown, with the 9th Battalion Seaforth Highlanders holding a trench against the German advance near Wytshaete, is killed by a sniper’s bullet.



Poets of the First World War:
Biographical Notes & Wartime Works




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Poets Killed on the First Day of the Somme





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