November 25, 2014

For the Fallen, and Other Poems

Robert Laurence Binyon (1869–1943) was a poet and art historian who spent his entire career at the British Museum, where he wrote studies of Dutch, British, and Asian art. He published his first poem at the age of 16 and continued to write poetry throughout his life. On September 21, 1914, shortly after the outbreak of World War I, Binyon published, in The Times of London, what would become his most famous poem, the elegy “For the Fallen.” Prophetic of the enormous losses that Great Britain would sustain over the next four years of war, the poem was later set to music by Sir Edward Elgar in his choral work The Spirit of England (1916–17). After the war, passages from “For the Fallen” were carved on numerous tombstones and cenotaphs, and it was frequently recited at Remembrance Day services commemorating Britain’s losses during the war, a practice that continues to the present. Presented here is For the Fallen and Other Poems, a small volume published in 1917 containing three of Binyon’s wartime poems, “For the Fallen,” “The Fourth of August,” and “To Women,” with accompanying plates. The book is a noteworthy example of a World War I poetry collection. All three poems had previously appeared in a longer work, The Winnowing Fan: Poems on the Great War, which was published in late 1914.

Swollen-headed William: Painful Stories and Funny Pictures after the German!

At the time of the First World War, the children’s book Struwwelpeter (Shock-headed Peter) was a familiar nursery classic in both Germany and Britain. In this British wartime parody, the original cautionary tales of naughty children and their fates are all turned against Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany. The “shock-headed Peter” of the title poem becomes “swollen-headed William,” while “fidgety Phil,” whose dinnertime antics knock over the table and ruin the food, becomes “fidgety Will,” who destroys his country’s prosperity. The last poem departs more from the original tale of “flying Robert,” who is carried away by a storm, but it uses the same picture-frame format to show the kaiser assembling a gallery of “lethal aviation” with pictures of Zeppelin raids on Belgian cities.

Map Showing Wet Areas on Passchendaele Front

Overprinted in color in the field, this World War I map shows the Allied front line at the Ypres Salient on December 2, 1917. The notorious Battle of Passchendaele (also seen as Passendale) began in July 1917 and culminated in the capture by British and Canadian forces of the village of Passchendaele (West Flanders, Belgium) on November 6. Even though the battle had ended some weeks earlier, an action took place on the night of December 1−2 in the areas to the north and east of Passchendaele village shown on the map. Apart from the German defenses (in red), the most notable features of the map are the blue-shaded areas. They mark the extensive wet and waterlogged areas facing the front. Exacerbated by poor weather and the devastation of the ground by the intense artillery bombardment, these conditions had hampered the Allied advance. The confused and fluid nature of the terrain was such that the strong blue line marking the front is only an approximation. No further British advances would take place at Passchendaele, and the gains made would be lost to German advances in the following spring.

British Battles During 1918 (8th August to 11th November 1918)

This colorful map was produced by the Geographical Section of the General Staff of the UK War Office, printed by Waterlow & Sons, and made available for public sale shortly after the end of World War I. It provides a summary of the Hundred Days offensive by British, American, and British Empire troops that led to the German surrender on November 11, 1918. It shows the Allied advance as distinctly ordered phases, colored first yellow, then green, red, and blue. Diagonal stripes in these same colors show German withdrawals. The numbers of prisoners and guns (artillery pieces) captured by Allied forces in the different phases of the offensive also are supplied. The language of the map suggests an inevitability to German defeat, in which even withdrawals (such as to the Hindenburg line in February 1917) are depicted as part of the Allied plan. The map contributed to the public’s evaluation of the war and was part of the official justification of the costs of the four-year conflict.

The Bad Child's Book of A.D.C's

The Bad Child’s Book of A.D.C’s is a short manuscript book of ink drawings and verse, probably produced by a British officer working at the General Head Quarters of the British Army in Montreuil Sur Mer, France, in 1917, during World War I. The subjects of the poems and drawings are the aides de camp working at the Allied General Staff. An aide de camp is a military officer who works as personal assistant or secretary to senior army or naval personnel. Among those caricatured was Colonel Alan Fletcher, senior aide de camp to Field Marshall Douglas Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force. The author of this satirical work clearly wished to remain anonymous. The back cover of the book features what is ostensibly a view of the author, in uniform, from the rear, with the caption “Back view of the author of this regrettable publication.” It can easily be imagined that this book was passed round to a number of the officers at headquarters and that the author did not want it to fall into the wrong hands or to have his identity discovered.

Chronicles of Cliveden, Volume 1, Issue 1

Chronicles of Cliveden was a journal produced during World War I by the patients at the Duchess of Connaught Canadian Military Hospital in the United Kingdom. The hospital was located at Cliveden, a grand country estate that was the home of Waldorf Astor, the second Viscount Astor, and his wife Nancy. When the war broke out, the Astors offered part of the estate to the Canadian Red Cross, which established the hospital to treat injured Allied soldiers. In the foreword to the first issue of the journal, Colonel W. Langmuir Wait, commandant of the hospital, stated: “Let contributions – in metre or prose,…in snap-shots or black and white, in praise or criticism – pour in as freely as the sunshine does into the Johnny Walker Ward….” The first issue also included a brief letter of welcome by Nancy Astor. The paper published poems, short stories, “Ward Notes” with information about patients and staff, drawings and cartoons, and the schedule of church services and other information. Much of the content was humorous. Businesses, mainly from the nearby town of Maidenhead, ran advertisements that appeared at the beginning and end of the journal. Presented here is the first issue of the journal, dated June 30, 1917, and subtitled Stand Easy. This copy has an embroidered cover, made by patient John Spence during his recovery at the hospital. The journal and the cover were donated to the British Library by descendants of the patient as part of the Europeana 1914−1918 project.

The Overseas Expeditions by the French Against the Turks and Other Saracens and Moors Overseas

Les Passages faiz oultre mer par les François contre les Turcqs et autres Sarrazins et Mores oultre marins (The overseas expeditions by the French against the Turks and other Saracens and Moors overseas), commonly known as Passages d'outremer (The expeditions to outremer), is an illuminated manuscript made in France around 1472−75. It includes 66 miniatures, most likely painted by Jean Colombe (active 1463−98), an illuminator from Bourges. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Pope Pius II pleaded for the liberation of the Christian holy places in the Middle East. The pope’s project never came to fruition, but it revived a certain interest in the Crusades undertaken centuries earlier by the Europeans. In 1472, Louis de Laval, governor of Champagne and advisor to King Louis XI, asked his chaplain and secretary, Sébastien Mamerot, to write a chronicle of the Crusades. The work is a compilation of various stories from the legendary conquest of Jerusalem by Charlemagne to the battle of Nicopolis in 1396 and the siege of Constantinople in 1394−1402. One piece of text was added at a later date to the beginning of the manuscript: the French translation of a letter written by Sultan Bajazed II (circa 1447−1512) to King Charles VIII (1470−98), sent from Constantinople on July 4, 1488 (folio 3 verso), followed by a copy in Latin and Italian (folio 4 recto). The manuscript was owned successively by Diane de Poitiers (1499−1566), Charles-Henri de Clermont-Tonnerre (1571−1640), and, according to the bookplates found in the manuscript, by Cardinal Mazarin (1602−61) before it became a part of the royal library in 1668.

Book of Hours: Images of the Life of Christ and the Saints

This manuscript, a book of hours from the late 13th century, is comprised of 87 full-page illuminations illustrating scenes from the life of Christ and the lives of saints. The book is a Cistercian church calendar in Latin. The other text to be found in the work is a short caption under each image. When it was first created, the codex included 90 illuminations. A masterpiece of gothic illumination, the manuscript shows how important religious images were for the devotions of its owner. This most likely was a wealthy lay woman, probably Marie de Rethel, lady of Enghien (circa 1231−1315), who lived in Mons, in the county of Hainaut and diocese of Cambrai. Another possible owner could have been Marie of Gavre, a Cistercian from Wauthier-Braine near Nivelles, also in the diocese of Cambrai. The paintings are by two artists: Master Henri and an anonymous painter who was, however, more involved in the work and who painted the most beautiful illustrations. The style of the illuminations shows influences from the artistic traditions of France, England, and the Holy Roman Empire. The presence of local saints such as Gertrude of Nivelles (626−59), Waudru (died circa 688), Lambert, and others links the manuscript to the diocese of Cambrai.

The Dome Hospital

This is a photograph of the interior of the Dome Hospital in Brighton, on the south coast of Britain. Several buildings in Brighton were converted into hospitals during the First World War to treat the thousands of Indian soldiers who were wounded while fighting in France. The most spectacular of these was the converted Royal Pavilion in Brighton, originally built in the “oriental” style for King George IV in the early 1800s. There were over 680 beds for wounded Indian soldiers in this hospital, and it was “fitted with every modern convenience.” This series of several hundred photographs recording the contribution of Indian soldiers to the Allied war effort was produced in 1915 by the Canadian-born photographer Charles Hilton DeWitt Girdwood (1878−1964). As a professional photographer, Girdwood had an early connection with India, where he photographed the Delhi Durbar of 1903, the royal tour of 1905−6, and the Delhi Durbar of 1911. In 1908 he set up a photographic agency called Realistic Travels, specializing in stereoscopic photography. With the outbreak of war in 1914, Girdwood returned from India and in April 1915 was given permission by the India Office to photograph the work of the Indian military hospitals in Bournemouth and Brighton. From July to September 1915 he worked in France as an official photographer to record Indian, and later British, troops in the field. In the later part of his time in France he also made ciné film of the campaign, which appeared under the title With the Empire’s Fighters.

Garvin Papers. Bound Notebook

In April 1915 Second Lieutenant Roland Gerard Garvin of the British Army enrolled in a course of instruction at Staff College in Camberley, Surrey, England. There he attended lectures on tactical instruction, topography, field engineering, administration, organization, military law, and hygiene. One of his lecturers was Major Hubert Conway Rees, who had commanded a battalion during the retreat from Mons in 1914. These notes and drawings by Garvin are from a tour of field works that he made as part of the course and that was led by Major Rees. The notes indicate that Garvin learned how to create a loophole in a nine-inch (22.86-centimeter) and in a 14-inch (35.56-centimeter) wall, how to conceal an abattis or field fortification, and the measurements for an effective overhead cover. Major Rees stressed the need to use this knowledge along with common sense, as “trenching” was not an exact science. The DSO after Rees’s name is an abbreviation for Distinguished Service Order, a British military honor.