With National Poetry Day 2016 taking place tomorrow, and with us being in the middle of the centenary of the First World War, it seems only appropriate to bring the two together.
In this blog, I want to turn the focus away from obvious choices of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen – although both poets do have their merits and deserved place in history. And we do hold service records for both within our collections [WO 138/74 for Owen, and WO 339/51440 for Sassoon] as well as records which, for example, display their names on the registers for Craiglockhart Hospital [MH 106/1887], where they both convalesced.
Sassoon’s record is also particularly interesting, as it contains a copy of ‘The Nation’ – within which there is a poem by him, entitled, ‘I Stood With The Dead’.
Another place to highlight that one might be lucky enough to find some poetry relating to the war is within WO 95 war diaries. For example, hidden within the diaries for 1/5 Battalion South Staffordshire Regiment, it is possible to find a poem written by Private G Getley in 1917, entitled ‘Gommecourt Wood’ [WO 95/2686]. Finding a more personal touch such as this is nice, in and amongst something so uniform as a war diary.
I am going to use this blog to focus on three other – still well-known – poets who are closely associated with the First World War: Geoffrey Studdert-Kennedy, Charles Hamilton Sorley, and Edward Thomas. Unfortunately, none of these records contain any of the poetry which they wrote, but by looking at their service records, we can gain an interesting insight into their time during the war, and perhaps understand further what drove them to write such poetry. Continue reading »