Stacy’s Review:

5 ***** stars!

Simply a marvelous little book! Written by an English soldier serving in WWI as a stretcher bearer, this book of poetry, with a little bio of him (what little is known) and a handful of photos, encompasses a range of emotions– from sorrow and despair, exaltation in victory, some humor (which is remarkable, given what all he must have witnessed daily), anger and disappointment in humanity, and optimism for the future.
Even the story of how the book came into being is remarkable. It was recently discovered during a house renovation in an attic 100 years after being written and eventually returned to the family of the poet. After reading the manuscript, the family decided the world should be able to read it as well– and came to be published, and I think the world at large would be at a loss if it had not.
One of the many poignant poems that touched me:

(Headline in Daily Papers at the time: ‘Bells were rung in many churches in honour of the Cambrai victory’)

There’s a winding line of stretchers each with its shattered load
Coming slowly from the trenches along a shell marked road
Hear the groans & watch the blood flow, see the havoc of the shells
And this is called a victory for this they rung the bells

See the groups of walking wounded who progress as best they can
Limping, struggling slowly onward helped by the stronger man
With clothing torn & faces pained & blood their path to show
But let the bells ring loud & clear is victory you know

There are heaps of dead in the trenches & out in “no man’s” land
‘Tis not for them a flowered grave tended by loving hand
There’ll be vacant chairs in many homes in England’s hills & dells
But still this is a victory for they have rung the bells

See this comrade of mine who has fallen he stood by my side at dawn
I have sewn his cold clay in a blanket fit coffin for grim waifair’s storm
And I think of a wife who is waiting & a babe who its father will miss
Yet the bells were rung in our churches for such a victory as this

Oh Christ of a thousand churches God of a nation’s best
Look down & forgive the people & grant the fallen rest
Where flesh & blood now wrestle Oh grant the birds may sing
And peace be the greatest victory & then our bells shall ring

I do feel that this little book would be an invaluable addition to any poetry lover’s or history addict’s library. It was sent to us by the publisher, for which I am forever thankful!

Daisy’s review:

5 ***** stars!

This is a small book of poetry written by a stretcher bearer of the 3rd London Field Ambulance in the 56th Division. These poems were written from 1916 to 1919, spanning England’s involvement in WWI.

My favorite poems from this book were “Revenge”, “To a Sandbag”, “An Unknown British Soldier”, and “Real Greatness”.

The poetry is very good, and shows the inner thoughts and feelings of the average soldier of that war. It gives insight into a piece of dirty and ugly history, using a medium of especial beauty to do so. Containing 29 poems, a dozen photographs, and a short biography about the little that is known of the author, all bound into a nice-quality hardback (at least in my edition), this book is a must-have for WWI history buffs and poetry lovers alike. Five stars.