Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Freston and Markland - War Poets

A bond forged in 1916


 I discovered the poems of Rex Freston by accident after sorting through junk in an old suitcase found under the stairs which turned up two handwritten diaries, 1919 and 1922, written by my late father-in-law,
Russell Markland. With their fading ink they were hard to decipher but references to letters from a Mr and Mrs Freston aroused my curiosity - the following text is the result. But that is not the end of it !
The trail led my fingers through estates in Cumbria, even to Australia and back, to the founding of a brewery: to Dr Charles Henry Poole LL.D, FW Orde Ward, Emile Cammaerts, Henri M Leon (aka Abdullah Quilliam):on  to heroes of WW2 and still the threads unravel. More clues to this trail can be found cannonballcommonblog.blogspot com  My machete remains sharp.

H Rex Freston - WW1 War Poet
H Rex Freston ranks among WW1 poets such as Owen, Brooke and Sassoon, but because he perished early in the war, before fulfilling his literacy promise, he remains for the most part unsung. He interrupted his studies at Oxford University to enlist in The Royal Berkshire Regiment and his death meant that he never completed his degree. My research has discovered him to be remembered on the Role of Honour at both his College and in St Andrews church, Clewer in the Diocese of Oxford. Elsewhere there is a paucity of information about him and I was pleased to make more intimate details of Rex Freston known to both of the afore-mentioned bodies and to Windsor Information bureau. Exeter College, Oxford responded as follows : -

Dear David Coleman
Thank you for these interesting details about H Rex Freston. We will add them to our files of biographical information for Exeter College alumni.
Hugh Reginald Freston is listed in the Exeter College register and we have matriculation information (he entered the College Oct 1912) in the Exeter College Archives. He is recorded in our Roll of Honour, which includes his poem The March,
with best wishes

Penelope Baker
Exeter College
Oxford, OX1 3D

In creating this text I hope to introduce him and his works to a wider public and hope that what follows will serve as a tribute to him and to all our armed forces, past and present-day who gave so much for our country and who contributed so much to our heritage.
Rather than compile a list of books and catalogue references, I simply copy here the eulogy composed by his fellow contemporary poet, Russell Markland, who was compiling an anthology of Freston's works when he heard of his death. I would welcome comment and contribution and can be contacted 
I should remind the reader that the late Mr Markland was my father-in-law and hence I am fortunate to be privy to some unpublished family comments from the past.  (more details of Russell Markland and his poems can be found below)

An Appreciation of H. Rex Freston by Russell Markland, Phil.B, the poet "Ingersley", written on hearing of his death in 1916, whilst editing Freston's "The quest of Truth"
THE POETRY OF H. REX FRESTON. (Sec. Lieut. : 6th Royal Berkshire Regiment). 
Born: 1891. Killed in action, France Jan 24th, 1916. 
One more poetic " inheritor of unfulfilled renown" has been claimed as a victim of  the Great War - Second-Lieut. Hugh Reginald Freston, killed in France on January 24th, 1916. As H. Rex Freston  he  drew attention to his poetry by his book " The Quest of Beauty and other Poems," published by Mr. Blackwell in 1915, and by a sonnet, "April, 1915," in The Times. He had also contributed to " Oxford Poetry" 1914 and 1915"  For Consolation," edited by Dr. Tuting, and many, other journals. 
Before touching on his work it may he as well to mention a few incidents in the brief career of one who was truly a poet, a patriot and a gentleman. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Reginald Freston, of Clewer, Windsor, a family devoted to poetry, and was born at Tulse Hill on July 25th, 1891. He was educated at Dulwich College, and in 1912 proceeded to Exeter College, Oxford, where he joined the O. T. C. some little time before the outbreak of war, and has left in his writings and letters ample proof of his great love for the University. He threw up what promised to be a brilliant career there, resigning his dreams and everything that meant so much to him, to serve his country, and joined the 3rd Royal Berkshire Regiment, obtaining a commission and being gazetted April 22nd,1915.  At the beginning of December he went out to  France, attached to the 6th Royal Berkshires, and though the whole war appeared very vividly in all its sadness to such a temperament, yet he wrote most courageously, glad that bis actions might be of use in the world and bravely declaring that beyond leaving parents and friends it meant no sacrifice to him. But when the appointed time came he paid unflinchingly the greatest sacrifice that can be demanded, and at the commencement of a life that was moulded for good he laid all down for England. 

While at the front his thoughts often turned towards Oxford, and in a letter to a literary friend, written on January 5th, he wrote :-" To-day has been fine and sunny, and I have just yearned for Oxford all day long! Oxford in the summer term; the long glorious twilights on the river; with the spires all showing black against the sunset; the fields all grey with evening; the wistful stream; and the far off murmur of the bells ... " How Oxford weaves her magic spells around her sons! " 
Rex Freston's poetry often catches the atmosphere of the old place, as in his published poems" Near Oxford" and " Midnight at Oxford," but in some unpublished verses, "Two Nights," shines that spirit of prophecy which he seems of late to have felt, when he writes :- 

"I listened to the bugles, and I hearkened to the bells 
In old Oxford city, a night long, long ago: 
0, the bells were full of music like the sound of fountain wells,
 But the others played a music I never thought to know. 
There's a lilt of martial music and a cry of fountain wells
 In the barrack square to-night beneath the lonely tree: 
And I laugh to hear the bugles, but I weep to hear the bells, 
For I know the bells of Oxford will ring no more for me." 

Notwithstanding these moods of sadness he seems to have found his place in the stirring events of these days, and, while realising the sorrow attendant on war, actually found enjoyment in its thrills, for they spoke to him of " romance." 

In one of his letters he wrote :-" Ideas are in a way so much more real and vivid than realities," and though he longed to travel and looked forward to being sent to Egypt, yet he admitted a longing at certain times for what he deemed the " imaginary" England of his dreams, and then he would feel the inevitable awfulness of war close in upon him, seeing it in its true light. Life was contradictory to him, yet he founded a philosophy on that very fact, for he wrote: "All the world, if you live by this system of ' ideas' rather than , realities' is delightful: it is one sheer dream of romance." He was really fighting for the ideal he valued. The key-note of his moods was that he was doing the thing he loathed for the thing he loved. 
A fine character can be traced in many of his writings, and in " The Quest of Beauty" is found a staunch soul, realising the world around him, but seeing beyond it the everlasting spirit of Goodness, and standing true to that vision. In "Challenge" is a clarion call akin to W.E. Henley's " Invictus " :- 

" Tempestuous hours, you shall not crush 
My soul to silence ere I will! 
Your heavy sadness shall not chill 
Within my breast the ardent flush 
Of hope and love, and all things pure
From high ambition, lofty rage: 
Nor weaken my proud heritage - 
To dream, to do, and to endure! " 

In the sonnet, "Romance," he declares in lovely language, and with truth, his conviction that" to those who dare Romance is never dead." Deep thought is seen in many of his poems, as in that commencing" I sat alone and thought on life and death," yet he could touch a light note. One poem of only four lines runs as follows :-"
 "Not only what you are 
But all that you might be, 
Shall be my guiding star, 
Throughout eternity." 
How simple these lines seem at first, hardly worth noticing, but think upon them and they 'will be found to contain the subject and feeling of a thousand poems. In another place his love for " The Poets" of old time is evinced, especially of those who wrote because they must. The title- poem, "The Quest of Beauty," is typical of his verse and life :- 

"Rode a youth out, young and splendid, underneath the April skies; 
With an easy grace of carriage and adventure in his eyes; 
And he heeded not the foolish, and he heeded not the wise." 

When he returned, his quest justified, "not one could see a white rose lay unfading in his hand." 

The world failed to see beauty, and the thought therein is similar to that contained in " The Youth of Beauty" by Mr. Cecil Roberts, one of the foremost among the younger school of poets to which Rex Freston belonged, and to whom we must look in the future to keep the flame of poetry burning with a true brilliancy and with no murky glare, who while being courageous in their progress have little use for the extravagant and bizarre, and do not ignore the old paths. In" The Youth of Beauty" Mr. Roberts voices the same spirit that breathes in " The Quest Of Beauty" when he cries :- 
"The dreams endure for ever, the facts of men are weak! " 
It is a coincidence, and a hopeful sign, that these two poems appeared about the same period-and at such a period! 
Rex Freston's poems contain one or two pieces translated from the Persian, and a translation of a poem by President Poincare, " In Old Lorraine." 
Turning to his unpublished poems there is found a strengthening of his firm faith, but with an undercurrent that shows how he realised there were such things as doubt and despair, but these he conquers :- 

"Ah! we who seek the hidden light
 How often shall our eyes mistake 
The evil for the good-and feel 
The cords of safety bend and break." 

This restlessness is very evident in "The Quest of Truth" and a poem he regarded with especial favour, " October 31st, 1915," but which scarcely seems in his happiest vein, though possessing a certain power. In these unpublished poems there is a strong and recurring note of sadness, and the poet seems to be fully aware of the end of his earthly ambitions; yet this is lightened for us by his absolute confidence in a future life, and he rejoiced, notwithstanding the sorrow of the times, that he could see the larger issues and had lived in what he terms" these epic days." 
There is a phrase here and there that recalls a Tennysonian echo, and one or two sonnets would have done no discredit to Rupert Brooke-" the poet I like best just now," as Rex Freston wrote early this year. The following sonnet throws a light on the poet's outlook: 

"Not always do I find myself complain 
Against this harsh new order of the day, 
Where ye must put the old loved things away
 And rise up to embrace new toil and pain. 
For amongst much of loss there lies much gain: 
We have learned new strength from learning to obey
 Necessity; and hearts that used to stray 
Often too selfish are kind again, 
Yet oftentimes to me there cometh one  
With sorrow in his eyes  whom half I know, 
Who loved to paint the flowers and the sun 
In gentle language, musically slow : 
Who grieves to leave his life-work scarce begun, 
Who hoped so much but now must turn and go." 

There is enough  poetry in these two phases of Rex Freston's verse, the published and the unpublished volumes, to prove that had it been granted that he should write a third book after the war, when sorrow and  the shadow on his heart bad been dispelled leaving experience mellowed by the influence of a New Peace, he would have given to the world an even greater poetic gift of more settle strength  tenderness and confidence in eternal goodness. His wish seemed to cry with the voice of Keats :- 

"0, for ten years, that I may overwhelm
 Myself in poesy; so I may do the deed
 That my own soul has to itself decreed," 

But the voice of duty was louder than aught else, and he answered the call. We can but guess what we have lost, but it was ordained that he should follow in the footsteps of Rupert Brooke, Julian Grenfell, Charles Hamilton Sorley and all those fine souls who seemed destined to enrich our poetry, but who fell on the field of battle like their immortal prototype, Sir Philip Sidney, and went into the Great Silence with much of their song unsung-. 
One who knew Rex Freston intimately records that his unsclfishness was hardly human and that " his real friends 
were legion . .. He had the faith and heart of a little child and he loved all young children. .. With faith and perfect trust he could leave this world for the next almost as carelessly as one might walk into the next room." 

Officers and men of his battalion are among those who have lent their tribute of affection to his character. 
Though he shrunk from being thought what is usually called" good" and at times made himself out the reverse (as in the following lines from" October 31st, 1915 "), yet he passed, in the words of Tennyson, "wearing the white flower of a blameless life." 

"After I am dead, 
And have become part of the soil of France, 
This much remember of me : 
I was a great sinner, a great lover, and life puzzled me very much. 
Ah, love !-1 would have died for love! 
Love can do so much, both rightly and wrongly.  
 It remembers mothers and little children, 
And lots of other things.     
O men unborn, I go now my work unfinished! 
I pass on the problem to you; the world will hate you: be brave! " 

Think also of him in the words of Rupert Brooke's fine sonnet, "The Soldier," commencing :-    
" If I should die, think only this of me : 
That there's some corner of a foreign field 
That is for ever England."

It is tempting to quote much of his verse to throw further light on his character, but this must wait until his second book, "The Quest of Truth," appears.* These unpublished manuscripts were in my hands on that fatal 24th of January, lent me by a friend to whom the poet's mother had sent them for perusal at her son's request, and so the news came with a greater shock and a greater realisation of the personality that was gone and of the sweet singer whose voice was mute-that voice that was a power for good. But the things he wrote shall live after him, and be an inspiration for others to seek beauty even as he sought it. He stand" high among the soldier-poets of this age, in a special  niche of his own in that" House of Fame" where the names of all true poets are enshrined for ever. 
                  by Russell Markland, Phil.B, the poet "Ingersley"
* blogauthors note:
The "Quest of Truth" was published posthumously, Freston  never saw the reviews.

To add to these thoughts, as valedictory, I quote "Death", Freston's premonition of his own 
" Suddenly a great noise shall fill my ears,
Like angry waters or the roar of men;
I shall be dizzy,faint,with many fears;
Blindly my hands shall clutch the air - and then

I shall be walking 'neath the quiet skies,
In the familiar land of former years,
Among familiar faces. I shall arise
In that dear land where there are no more tears."

and an extract from a letter from the Officer Commanding, B Coy, Royal Berkshire Regiment ( Princess Charlotte of Wales's ) to Rex Freston's parents

"Your son was killed at about 2.50p.m. on Monday, 24th January. He had gone to inspect a "dug out" which had been shelled. It was just beside the stretcher bearers', "dug out" and he had been talking to them. Several shells came over,one of which struck him. From that moment he was dead, although he breathed a few times - no suffering."

In another life, Rex Freston's heartening grasp of what he feels really counts is clear in a poem "To my mother" found on a leaf torn from his College notebook, written before he went to war.

"To you, all times the same and never old,
I give this book, in hopes that you may find
Some pleasing song to treasure in your mind,
Some tender thought within your heart to fold

And though among these pages there may be
Strange dreams of mine, that now shall make you sad,
'Here he was troubled when I deemed him glad,'
'Here is a sorrow which he kept from me;'

Yet grieve not, dearest, for your little son:
New loves might change, but yours was always true;
When all men failed him he returned to you,
And there found all, for you are all in one.

Attached to this poem was a hasty note to his mother
Dearest Mother,         
I am afraid I wrote this in the middle of doing my logic for tomorrow. Never mind. Don't show it to anybody, for heavens sake, but I shall put it in the front of my first book of verse, and may get it printed alone in some paper first, perhaps in the Pall Mall Gazette, or the Athenaeum,
Now goodbye, dear,
( back to the grindstone),
Best love as ever. from Rex.

The story of a soldier, sourced much from "The Quest of Truth" when the trials of trench warfare obviously pressed heavily upon Freston. Having said this, the lightness of his character continues to come across.  To find more of this true lightness and his joy for life I direct the reader to his earlier poems in "The Quest of Beauty"  

And now, a word or two about my father-in-law 


RUSSELL MARKLAND, PhiI.B., F.S.P., literary nom-de-plume "R. M. Ingersley," was born at Wilmslow, in 1892

When a young adult, on account of ill-health, he received a home education in preparation for admission to the University of Oxford. A recurrence of ill health prevented this, and, consequently, he was ordered off to the South of France to recuperate. During his stay there his literary activities flourished and he published "The Amethyst Scarab"-a volume of 40 pages which received an enthusiastic welcome from the Press.

This was followed by the "Lay of the Stone Table "- a yuletide poem set as an Arthurian legend.

Further to this he compiled and contributed thirteen biographies for Dr C H Poole's series "Poets of The Shires" and was later joint author with Dr Poole of "Staffordshire Poets" in this series. This entailed much day to day correspondence with living poets and or with their descendants, details noted in his own handwritten personal diaries.

After a severe examination he was awarded the diploma Phi1.B. and also the F.S.B. of La Societe Internationale de Philologie, Sciences,et Beaux Arts.

His next work was "The Glory of Belgium" , an anthology,tribute and chronicle containing much then unpublished war poetry, including poems by his close associates F.W.Orde Ward, Emile Cammaerts,Henri Leon and, of course, himself using his nom de plume, "Ingersley". The poem The Taking of the guns at Mons, by Henri Leon, given that the battle was the catalyst for trench warfare is particularly apposite now.

Russell Markland donated the proceeds of the book to the Belgian repatriation Fund.

In 1916 he published, in booklet form a presentation on "The Poetry of H. Rex Freston "- an unsung hero soldier-poet, killed in action in France, January 24th, 1916. Freston's romantic poems can be compared with justice to those of Wordsworth and Keats, and his war poems to those of Brooke, Owen, and Sassoon. Markland's admiration for Freston, he later corresponded over the years with Freston's parents, is evident in his requiem to the poet, read by him to the Societe International on the 7th March 1916.

Our ways have never crossed, and yet,
Though now our hands may never meet,
I feel the sorrow of regret,
Lie darkly on the written sheet.

For I a privilege have known

That granted to few has been -
The things that from your verse have grown,

Your last rare thoughts my eyes have seen.

And I have read the splendid line, 

And understood the dauntless soul, 

That sought and held all things Divine
And wrought them to a perfect whole,

Silent your song, yet while you sung 

You voiced your heart as one inspired 

And dared to cry with fearless tongue 

The faith that all your being fired.

With conquered doubt and courage high, 

With prophet eyes you faced the sun, 

Armed from within could death defy! 

You fought, and fighting fell - and won!

I will not ask why you should go,

Or whence this sudden grief and pain 

But this undying truth I know -
You have not lived or died in vain.

From out the shadow of your doom

You raise a lamp with steadfast flame,

That burns with light transcending gloom 

To lead us on to your fair fame!

In 1916 Russell Markland published a further volume of poems under the title of "Ultimate Light," dedicated to the memory of his friend and cousin, Captain Alan Hodgkinson, of the Warwickshire Regiment; the 52 pages of this book, containing 36 poems, lengthy and short, many of them perfect gems of thought and literary expression, fulfil the promise of his earlier work and cemented his reputation. 


How can a thing so perfect die
When the rapture lingers yet
As the Love of youth and its faith and truth?
How can a heart forget?

Never shall fade the joy divine
When lips and true hearts met.
This will I keep till the last long sleep,
And beyond - I will not forget.

But O to forget how a glance could change,
How the sun of love could set!
And the nameless pain of a sweet thing slain
Oh God ! to forget ! to forget !

Equally moving is Markland's text "In Memorium of F.W.Orde Ward" which prefaces the latter's Shelley Centenary 1922 presentation.


Russell Markland's passing was recorded by the vicar of Jesus Church, Troutbeck, Windermere, Rev J.S.Aynesley, B.A. in May 1973 in the following words "In the early hours of the last Sunday in April came the peaceful passing of Russell Markland. Although he had to bear increasingly failing health in recent months, yet he maintained the remarkable buoyancy of spirit. With his going his wife, his friends and the "church" lose a man of culture, of genuine charm and a deep and abiding faith."

  The following extracts from his handwritten personal diaries, 1919 and 1922 are to hand, give a fine insight to these times.

The Diaries of Russell Markland (poet RM Ingersley)

Extracts from The Diaries of Russell Markland (poet RM Ingersley) Jan 1919

His days at his beloved Club - The Royal Lytham and St Anne’s Golf Club.
his literary colleagues, his garden, his family, his humour, his card playing, his horse racing, his bridge and snooker.

Russell MarklandIngersley”, Links Gate, St Annes-on-Sea,Lancs

1 Jan 1919 Wednesday
‘Peace year’ The last day of the old year my cousin Osborn Groves ( Capt R A F) who had been a prisoner of war in Germany for 3 years 9 days turned up. He let in the New Year in the absence of Tuxford Silveira, whose custom it is to do this. We welcomed the new year with hot punch.
As usual a teeming wet day. We talked for the greater part of the morning, played a few records on the gramaphone, Capt Percy Hargreaves & young Frank Duxbury called to wish us a happy new year, & then we went to the Club.
Dr Poole turned up late for mid-day dinner(goose) - very glad he was able to be with us as usual. Osborn & I went to the club about 3.00 & played bridge with Jones & Duxbury, & later a man named Leach. I was square but stood tea. We left about 6.00 & had a talk with the Dr before supper. Dr Poole left about 8.30 & we played bridge until bed-time - my father, mother, Osborn & self. I lost 3/- to Osborn! Bed 11.45
Among papers brought by Dr Poole was Dent’s re-written sketch of Alfred Moss for ‘ Staffs Poets’
Received letters from; - F R Fellows(re John Comfield) Miss Hammond(Staffs Poets) Uncle Willie, sending Chambers Journal with Cecil Tiseley’s poem in, Allen Clarke, sending his tobacco poem, Leonard Smith’s “Notes & Queries” came containing my Staffs Poets query.
2 January Thursday
My mother in bed for breakfast, Went to the station to see Osborn off to town on the 9.57 train - Capt Reed in same carriage.

Called round at our old national service office 6a Park rd, found all papers covered up & and preparations made for decorators. Took what papers I required, bills etc. Called at the bank & paid in cheque from Uncle Willie £10 and brought back my passbook. Returned home about 11.0. Mrs Silveira & Joyce called to wish us a happy new year.
After lunch I settled down to literary work, but ( not to neglect details in this diary, though goodness only knows how long it will last!) I pulled my automatic petrol lighters to bits & mended them, when Percy turned up & scattered my good intentions re work! I first of all fed the poultry for TWM & then went across to the Club where I played snooker(volunteer) - Mr Alfred Brown & I versus Percy & Frank Duxbury; lost by 72, won by 61, played Frank 50 up, gave him 10 each way, made a break of 21 & lost by 6 !
“Rhymes of the Red Triangle” came by post; read it & sent it on to Leonard Smith & wrote to him.
In the evening read ‘N & Q’ & played 4 handed patience - TWM & I versus mother & Miss Coleby 1 down. Read in bed - ‘When a man’s Single’ by J M Barrie. Letter from ; Joseph Whittaker, returning Clark’s ‘life’ of him for “Staffs Poets” rabbit calendar - referring to a long anecdote! Times Literary Supplement came.
3 January Friday
Mother in bed for breakfast. Nasty day, sleet and wet at times. I helped TWM to look after the poultry etc outside for the first time for some days. Wrote to TR Fellows re John Comfield for “Staffs. Looked in to the Club for a few minutes before lunch.
I had a good afternoon’s work on Staffs etc with a break for tea. Wrote to 1. Joseph Whittaker, sending him Staffs card etc
2. Miss Emily Hamond, fixing up for sketch
3. Mrs Burleigh Walker asking for her books
4. Cecil Tildesley re his poem Cannock Chase & sketch
5, P.C, to Dr Poole
6. P.C. to Allen Clarke acknowledging “Raleigh” poem etc
In the evening played a few records on gramaphone. Afterwards played 4 handed patience; 2 up (my last deal)
Letter from Mrs Burleigh Walker, Wolverhampton re Staffs
4 Jan Saturday
The anniversary of my brother Willie’s death, 1905
Snowing when the blinds were drawn back - steadily but lying rather slushily on the ground. Mother down for breakfast. This is the first snow here this winter.
Did a little typing - Cecil Tildesley’s poem Cannock Chase; Dr Poole’s article on Bishop Hurd for Staffs.
It stopped snowing about 3.0 Spent the afternoon & until supper looking up Staffs notes and wrote a sonnet ‘The Old Windmill, Lytham, (burnt on the night of Jan 1/2) I can remember the old mill as long as I can remember anything. It stood on the green at Lytham, near the sea - the only one so placed according to Allen Clarke in his book ‘ Windmill Land’ In the evening we played patience -2 up (TWM last deal). Went to bed.
5 Jan Sunday
TWM stayed in bed for a rest, so I spent most of the morning attending to the hens. There were 2 eggs, proving that the hens are coming on again after a winter’s rest, Typed some selection of verses of Frank Parks Fellows.
6 Jan Monday
Letter from George Milton Whitehouse.
Settled down to my paper on English

Author’s note; from here on the diaries are in snippet form, for I fear that my typing is too slow for me to complete my task.

From 7 Jan 1919 onwards, George Milton Whitehouse of Cannock, English poetical centennials of 1918, Dr leon, Societe International de philogie, My poem in Poetry Vol 11 no 1, ‘ the shadows and the bird’ and letter re Rex Freston, letter from Herbert Thring - Author’s Society being sued for libel by Erskine MacDonald - “a clever but unprincipled man”, who settled with Russell Markland over his case re The Glory of Belgium.
Poetry Review - really excellent - “what a pity that such a scamp as McD should be so closely connected to it” Letter from auntie Jeannie Rea, Cecil Tiddesley, F R Fellows, F R Bartlett, very nice letter from my uncle Willie Groves about my Windmill sonnet.

“We talked until midnight. Chatterton arguing with Mrs Silveira, full of brilliant and sound theories on life and social problems and politics (although his bridge is not sound, yet good) and interesting things about his work in slums - a curious character, yet does occasional things he must know to be bad form”

Chatterton read me his lecture notes on Tariff Reform v Free Trade, Freedom of the seas, League of Nations etc
Mrs Burleigh Walker wrote and sent for me to read, a play (Phyllis the Flapper) and a drama,(Arabella Stuart)
Dipped into m/s drama ‘Arabella Stuart’ - better than I expected.
Mrs Dodge came - she was Grandma Groves’ companion, backed Stephen the Great and Tangiers in the 2000 Guineas - The Panther won and we lost
Drove up to the Gatehouse, Eskdale with auntie Jeannie Rea to stay from 13 May to 2 June - hunting, shooting and fishing.
June Had a flutter on the Royal Hunt Cup - backed the winner ’Irish Elegance’
6 June Ultimate Light published
28 June Peace signed
July 1 to 12 July arrived London, Rea’s City offices, the shows, the stores,
12 July to Rea’s estate,Bignor Park, 21 July to Bradshaigh until 26 July
3 Sept back to the gatehouse and Banklands until 2 Oct
28 Oct my cousin Osborn Groves does flying stunts over Manchester airport.
1 Jan 1922
Auntie Jeannie Rea staying with us in Lytham.
Letter from Mrs Russell Rea, letter from Mr Freston father of Rex Freston, my cousin Noel Hodgkinson getting married in London
“this was an idle day but devoted to friends and friendly intercourses”
3 Jan “poetry over a pint better than Society meetings
16 Jan Tuckie off to Brazil
26 Jan his defence of Shakespeare’s contemporaries
29 Jan Dr Poole, far from well, prepares to move his house to rooms
7 Feb Dr Poole’s new rooms
13 March
Invite to Philip Russell Rea’s wedding
29 April, Callender called round with a beautiful AC racing car
24 August, invests in Frank Burn-Callander’s new motor cycle scheme - “The Matador Motor Cycle Co Ltd”
15 Sep, up to Gatehouse, the Countess of Carlisle came to tea
23 Sep Up to Boot to see uncle Jim’s grave
27 Sep to tea at Lady Carlisle’s with Mrs L’Estrange, Lady Ankeret,and Lady Elizabeth Howard.
31 Oct, Tuckie’s son, my godson, born
3 Dec, a wonderful day, Bunn , formerly of Exeter College, Oxford came

There follows a list of the contemporaries or their descendents who feature in these diaries, interviewed and corresponded with by Russell Markland as he and Dr Poole compiled ‘Poets of the Shires - Staffordshire’

Walter Colman, Robert Wolseley, William Mountfort, Isaac Hawkins Browne, George Butt, Stephen Chatterton, William Fernyhough, William Vernon, Thomas Cotterill, Henry Salt, Charles Bowker Ash, Isaac Keeling, Ricard Badnall, John Davenport, Frederick Price, Rowland Muckelston, James Richard Alsop, George Wakefield, William Challenor, Frank Perks Fellows, Richard Thursfield, Charles Simon Coldwell, George Heath, Thomas F Bissell, Francis Grenville Cholmondely, Condelant Price, Cecil Tildesley, G Philip R Alsop, Eric Roland Day, Mary Knowles, Priscilla Pointon, Rosa Ayscoughe Hayden, Harriet Nokes, Julia Barrington, Marjorie Crosbie, Emily Eldridge, Margery Lawrence

Russell Markland archive index

Russell Markland 1892-1973

Astonishing Anatomy - by Tingle aka SE Whitnall
2. Annual Story book from uncle Willie Christmas 1900
3. Selected poems FW Orde Ward - by his daughter Cicely with memorial by RM
Collected poems H Rex Freston kia 24 Jan 1916, foreword by Dr Poole p59 and RM poem p128
5. Photo album
Poets of the shires - Staffs Dr Poole and Russell Markland
and Warwickshire
8. Lancashire authors - John Randall Swann, RM p154
9. The Glory of Belgium x3
The lay of the Stone Table x5
Ultimate Light with dedication to “ my friend and cousin, Alan Hodgkinson killed in action 1 July 1916
The Amethyst Scarab x2
11. Pteraplegia
12. The study of Anatomy - SE Whitnall RM’s cousin
Jokings Apart - SE Whitnall plus the authors last letter to his “dear cousin” RM
Gathered Leaves - Edward F Herdman Whose murder features in the diaries
15. Some Records of Troutbeck plus numerous press cuttings and a review of Dr Pooles A treasury of Bird Poems
Wine, Water and Song - GK Chesterton ex libris RM
The authors and Writers Who’s Who 1934 RM p385
A treasury of Bird poems - Dr Poole presented Christmas 1911 to the Markland family
19. The Kennel - see p370 - the Schipperke club
20. The Kennel and The Millgate Monthly p120 Nov 1915
Holehird Gardens x2
22. RM’s last letter to his daughter
Papers for the Societe International de Philogie, Sciences et Beaux Arts 1916 on H Rex Freston, Centenery of Percy Bisshe Shelley, Henri M leon.
The Philomath magazine May 1916 with RM’, elegy for H Rex Freston
RM’s Diary 1919
RM’s Diary 1922
The History of a Brewery - Groves and Whitnall
A Family History - James Grimble Groves
DVD of RM in his last years with his family and grandchildren

Family Groves in the forces WW1

Russell Markland's cousins - the family Groves - the relationship of the armed forces, society and the sentiments expressed in the poetry of Freston and Markland

What follows has been mined from a family history compiled by Keith Grimble Groves, in the prologue of which he thanks his cousins, Leigh Groves, O.B,E, J.P., "the present head of the family," and his cousin Russell Markland for their help in making available family documents and photographs, (all three gentlemen now deceased). 
I will not include the history of the family - that deserves a volume in itself - I include only very brief extracts as they relate to what has preceded.
William Peer Groves 
1914 enlisted Royal Naval Air Service after the war, Assistant British Air Attache, League of Nations.
Robert Marsland Groves
1894 entered Royal Navy, Dartmouth, and served with D Halahan and became torpedo specialist. Later a pilot he became Deputy Chief of Air Staff. C.O., R.A F Egypt and Middle East, crashed his Bristol fighter and died 1920.
James Douglas Groves 
1914 joined Derbyshire Yeomanry. As a Company Commander in France he was severely wounded at the battle of Lens, and mentioned in Dispatches.
Eric Marsland Groves 
One of the first submariners serving on Holland class boats. Invalided out of active service with the Royal Navy after bravely rescuing the entire crew of A9, before falling unconscious. When he died in 1949 his ashes were taken by submarine and buried at sea off Spithead.
Eva Muriel Groves 
Married brother Bob's best friend, Frederick Crosby Halahan, always known as "0", Gunnery Lieutenant In the battleship Dreadnought. Their eldest son Michael, a fighter pilot was killed just after the Battle of Britain 
Leslie Gordon Grimble Groves 
Took part in the battle of Jutland in WW1 aboard a light cruiser, and in WW2 was liaison officer in New Zealand for NZ Navy and USNavy
Eileen Norah Grimble Groves
Married Howard Cumming, infantryman who served in Flanders and Gallipoli. Her son Robert, a Lancaster bomber pilot was killed with his crew when they were shot down in a night sortie over Germany in 1942
As aforementioned, the author of the family history which is my source was Keith Grimble Groves a scholar, gentleman, businessman, what you will. A Manxman by choice. He served with the 2/17th London Regiment in 1916 in France and after six months in the trenches at Vimy ridge went to Salonika and subsequently Palestine being mentioned in Dispatches for gallant and distinguished services in the field.
His son Louise who joined the RAF in 1940 was killed in 1945 when returning from a sortie over the Bay of Biscay, his Halifax hit the top of a hill in Cornwall.
Do not let the sombre tone of this selection mislead you. If you can find and read the family history in full you will be delighted by the joyful background it reveals, The family was not military by tradition. History and a sense of duty conspired to include them all in the annals of WW1

Vera Brittain, feminist, poetess and war poet

Russell’s comment in his diary that Erskine Macdonald was “a clever but unprincipled man” attracted my attention and piqued my interest, for Macdonald was of course the publisher of “The Glory of Belgium” He also records that Macdonald had settled his claim and that the Poetry Society was now seeking his assistance with regard to similar claims of their own, which led me to thinking “hello. hello, what was all this then”?

My research discovered that Erskine Macdonald on occasion used an alias, Galloway Kyle, and was considered by contemporaries to be a mountebank, often withholding royalties from authors. At this time, a young feminist poetess, Vera Brittain got wind of this and withdrew from a contract with him. Brittain’s subsequent career is legendary, I discovered. Her daughter, Shirley Williams, inherited so much of this mantle, I feel.

Her literary talent apart, she is linked to Russell Markland by family marriages and this kinship can be traced further through my listing of the Groves family that follows later. My wife, our children and their children share these genes. Your scribe’s are more prosaic – see Ducking and Diving in the index of

What has turned up in my research, which I find intriguing, is that Vera Brittain of whom I shamefully confess to have had scant prior knowledge, died within a mile of where I have lived for the past 50 years. Research shows that she died 29th March 1970 in a nursing home, 15 Oakwood Rd, Wimbledon, recorded as West Wimbledon.

I know of no Oakwood Rd Wimbledon, SW19. but I do know Oakwood Rd SW20. Hyacinth Buckets and estate agents. might call it West Wimbledon but oldies , the train station, and I hazard the Vera Brittains, still call it Raynes Park, so there.

Brittain and Freston both responded to what they felt was a deeply held call of duty, The former to return to Oxford University, the latter to perish in France.

Both are recorded in their College archives, one Somerville the other Exeter.

There has been some stunning response since I put this text on-line.  The easiest way for me to tell readers of this is by way of pasting some email strings. The downside is that one needs to read each from the bottom upwards in order to follow the trend ! But here goes :-
In response to email from Chris Gardner, Cantique Chamber Choir
 Thanks for this - you have certainly been affected by what Russell as a contemporary editing Freston's works at the time felt, and I may add by what I feel now. I suspect you have already googled " The poetry of H. Rex Freston - a paper by Russell Markland, read before the Society Internationale in 1916 etc etc "  I've had some entertaining correspondence with a couple of Canadian universities about this, as well as Oxford, of course.

Personally, as an even younger 18 year old, four decades later I was posted to the Far East as a squaddie and like all far from home in alien surroundings had similar feelings and memories then, but obviously lacked the poetic genes to express them. I'm sure that it's the same with regard to Afghanistan today and maybe there is someone around able to record these emotions for the future.

I have looked up your Cantique Chamber Choir and Alton Fringe which leads me to mention the Hammig String Quartet. which we visit occasionally when they play at the local Merton Mills venue. Their website includes an obituary for my son in law, Paul Collen. By way of relevance I now paste in a short note from my daughter Rebecca, Paul's wife :-

"Ah ha, I remember playing a piece by John Gardner in Stoneleigh Youth Orchestra. It must have been quite early on, when I was about 15 and I think he came to the concert. I also remember Emily Gardner, (i.e Chris Gardner's sister) she will be a little bit older than me and she used to sit sideways on her chair to play the violin (!). She was a good violinist, trendy haircut, ! I vaguely remember having this conversation with Paul...Chris will be the same age as Paul, and there's also a Hampshire and RCM connection. I wonder if they knew each other. I think Paul knew of him. It's a small world.

At the time  my sole contribution was general dogsbody chauffeur for rehearsals to talented Merton youngsters. 

In the past with the Centenary of WW1 looming I tried to bring such local history connections, music, poetry and WW1, to the attention of our Council but it seems it is not the meat for local culture or history as, with the exception of my local councillor, I received no response.Thankfully, The Sunday Telegraph printed some.

 I would dearly love to know what it would cost me in terms of money and time/ organisation to pull together perhaps Cantique and Hammig  for a WW1 tribute locally incorporating the substance that we have to hand. My inner feeling is that it is too late and I am too old and everyone else is too busily booked up !

Does your search for descendants continue. I wonder? Chris, I feel that you must be incredibly busy so please do not reply to this unless you feel there is any detail that I can offer. I am content to await your further publicity as it becomes available.

Best wishes, David

On 6 May 2014, at 22:26, Chris Gardner wrote:
Our performance will be at 6:30pm on Sunday 12th October at St Lawrence Church, Alton in the context of a performance of words and music with a WW1/Remembrance connection. Parry's Songs of Farewell, popular songs of the day and my four Freston settings. They are for unaccompanied choir and last about 12 minutes. I may do a talk about the piece with musical examples so that people have a better chance of getting the most out of hearing it. I found the words just took over and sections of the piece just seemed to compose themselves. Freston's journey from the crowded Cafe to being literally speechless, punctuated with "flashbacks" to life at home with his mother, and the imagined "far off place"  to which the river was flowing, was short but made a powerful impression on me.  His was a voice that was silenced far too soon. 

The performers on the evening will be Cantique Chamber Choir and Alton Fringe Theatre. I don't expect there will be any publicity for a few months yet, but I will keep you informed.


On 4 May 2014, at 12:08, Dave Coleman <> wrote:

Chris -

 I hope you received my reply. Consequently members of my family and friends have expressed a real interest in your project so could you please send me more details of the programme and its venue in Alton ?

In a similar vein I see today in our local Wimbledon paper details of the musical, Bullets and Daffodils, concerning Wilfred Owen , to be performed at New Wimbledon Theatre on June the 9th and 10th. 

With best wishes, David Coleman.

Gilli Lewis Lavender of Merton Council wrote:

Absolutely fascinating. I particularly like the poem he wrote to his Mother. There are quite a few people in Pavilion club who are interested in geneology. Also Sarah Gould is Merton"s heritage officer. Do you think she might be able to help 
I wouldn't mind hearing the musical adaptation of the poems
Best wishes

Subject: Re: Rex Freston

Dear Chris

Thank you for your email - I'm glad you enjoyed my blog Russell Markland would have certainly been enthralled by your project, as will be one of my daughters who plays in a Baroque string quartet up and down the country.  Another daughter is a choir member in Clitheroe.

"Somewhere in France" comprises four poems I believe.

With regard to tracing any descendants of Rex Freston, I do not think I can help as the genealogy bit always loses me  but I will copy in a couple of contacts who also responded to my blog who may be able to suggest something ?

You may be aware that Lord Ashcroft is sponsoring First World Way supplements with the Sunday Telegraph. Their author, Zoe Dare Hall, featured correspondence from me arising from the blog in the Post Box section of the 6th April edition and reproduced "Two Nights"

Elsewhere, Exeter College, Oxford prefaces their Roll of Honour with Freston's "The March" and Clewer Village War Dead memorial lists him and appear to have a dedicated archivist who might have access to parish registers for the family See

I feel that if you have not already done so you should let Oxford city and Windsor Councils know of your project perhaps citing the blog as to their connections and its relevance to you approaching them.

With regards, Dave C in London.

On 28 Apr 2014, at 22:50, Chris Gardner wrote:


I was fascinated to find your blog about your Father in Law and Rex Freston. I discovered Freston's poems a couple of years ago, and more recently I have set the "Somewhere in France...." collection to music, for unaccompanied choir. We are giving the first performance in my home town of Alton, Hampshire, on 17th November this year.  I am particularly keen to discover whether there are any living relatives, as all avenues of research I have been able to follow have drawn a blank. He had a sister, which is the only possibility that there could be some great nephews and nieces.

Chris Gardner

 In response to Lucy London of Female War Poets,

My thanks are due to Dean Johnson for forwarding my original email to you.

A bit of background now. I am a Londoner, born and bred in Camberwell but my wife's family are Lancastrians. Although it does not automatically link from my Freston blog as it should, you will find provides,  within a section "Ducking and Diving" our CVs. My tongue in cheek joust at the local council may also amuse - it begged a musical satirical cartoonist application for full effect. Something way beyond my ability. Elsewhere on this site are more details of Russell Markland's diaries.

I cannot be sure of the range of Ged's "Inside Out" but I am happy for him to filter any relevant stuff from my blogs. I don't know if he has read the   The legacy of the Groves family in particular resounded throughout the North West. The surviving diaries that I have of Russell Markland are a cryptic history of the poets of the time, including references to correspondence with several female poets. The "off duty" snippets of the social members is pure Downton Abbey - captivating facts not fiction. Poets, Lords and Ladies, sailing ships to Australia, founding a brewery, war heroes, Cheshire Homes and Outward Bound  -  don't I wish I could tie it all together.

We live in London, but a strange thing - your email address and the front cover of one of your books shouts out Clitheroe, where one of our daughters and her three children live. 

David, with regards.
On 8 May 2014, at 09:36, Lucy London wrote:
Dear Dave, 

Thank you so much - how fascinating.  I had not heard of those particular poets - thank you for the link to your wonderful weblog.  I find this subject so interesting it is hard to tear myself away.

Vera Brittain was a favourite of mine from the moment I began reading her Testaments when I went to work in Luxembourg in the 1980s.

Through my research for the Wilfred Owen Story museum in Birkenhead, I've been asked to help a freelancer working with the BBC for a programme in the north west of the UK called "Inside Out". He is hoping to talk to relatives of poets born in the North West.  His name is Ged Clarke and his  e-mail address is  <> if you would like to chat to him.

Best Regards


On 7 May 2014, at 22:13, Dave Coleman <> wrote:
Hi Lucy

I do not write poetry. Please read my blog for an explanation of my interest in WW1 poets. Incidentally, towards the end of this blog I do refer to a family related poetess of that era, namely Vera Brittain.

With best wishes Dave C
On 7 May 2014, at 19:20, Lucy London wrote:
Dear Sir,

I have been sent a copy of a series of e-mails regarding WW1 poetry, forwarded via Dean Johnson the Liverpool singer/songwriter who wrote the musical drama about Wilfred Owen - "Bullets and Daffodils" which is to be performed in Wimbledon on 9th and 10th June at the Wimbledon Theatre.  Dean also runs The Wilfred Owen Story dedicated to the poet in Argyle Street, Birkenhead, Wirral.

I was interested to read that you write poetry and wondered if you'd be interested in entering the Pendle War Poetry Competition.  Full details are on

Kind Regards

Lucy London

My email to Sue Garwood who has responded saying she will be in touch

I was googling for info about a small painting "pansies" by D.Goring which we bought whilst on holiday more than 40 years ago in Ilfracombe Art Gallery and your reference to Belgium caught my attention. Please see my blog for an explanation.

Also the following paste-in to another of my contacts may add grist to the mill.

With regards, David C


Open the link to California that I have embedded below, key in the query box "The Glory of Belgium Russell Markland" and the book will appear. In the left hand margin click 'read on line' and then on the right you can click and read page by page. Magic.

A return favour ? Would you please let your Belgium and worldwide contacts know of this repatriation fund book - it was a very big thing at the time - Russell had the ear of Emile Cammaerts.

 A combined war poets reading set to choir and music was my dream too but it needs heavyweights and I accept that we can only observe from the fringes and rely on Dean Johnson, Bullets and Daffodils, (from whom I have heard) and Chris Gardner, Cantique Chamber Choir, with their local productions at our level. The large scale celebrity junkets organised by the wannabe seen to be caring celebs are already underway as done deeds.

Begin forwarded message:
From: Dave Coleman <>
Date: 9 May 2014 11:52:16 GMT+01:00
To: Dave Coleman <>

ttfn Dave

On the 13th May 2014, Chris Gardner wrote

"Interesting to see mention of Ilfracombe Arts. My grandfather, Dr Alfred Linton Gardner was from Ilfracombe. He was killed in 1918. I don't know if he served in Belgium - I think only France. I am hoping our concert will include some of his songs with piano........ One of my sisters has his war diary. I have his musical manuscripts. There are a few photos. Would they be interested I wonder?  My father, born 1917, grew up in Ilfracombe. When we visited in 1967 on the last steam train to go there from London we hailed a cab and the cabbie remembered Dad as a boy there before the War........."
I replied
I am sure that Ilfracombe Arts and The Imperial War Museum would be delighted to hear from you. Surely you tease me?

Yesterday I joined the new Imperial War Museum website - it's a bit of a dog's dinner and only works spasmodically for me- it's early days -  but it did give me your grandfather's rank and regiment. I subsequently googled these facts and what a cornucopia, what a man. Ilfracombe is proud of your family's history and records it in great detail. See also the RAMC roll of honour.

It is amazing the threads that have grown from my letter to The Daily Telegraph about Lord Ashcroft"s WWI supplements. My mailbox has become a veritable Canterbury Tales.

I copied in Sue Garwood in Ilfracombe, Devon, who responded

David thank you so much for copying this email to me.  Alfred Linton Gardner is one of the Fallen soldiers being represented in the Commemoration Parade here in Ilfracombe August 2nd. 

Chris.  I have your grandfather on my 'adoption' list, unless you are likely to be coming to Ilfracombe and would like to represent him yourself?  Any information that you are prepared to share with me would be gratefully received and I can include it in the pack.

Please check out the facebook page dedicated to the WW1 Commemoration weekend in Ilfracombe August 2/3rd.  Come back to me if there is any further information I can provide.

24 May 2014 my latest with reference to Les Voix Perdues, which is well worth viewing on YouTube


How are things ?

I would like to refer back to a comment you made in one of your earlier emails to me
Have you heard about the Belgian acapella group "Les Voix Perdues"?  They would love to come and sing in England.   It would be wonderful to find someone who would sponsor a gathering of all the people like Chris O'Hara,  Chris Gardner and yourself, and have a really big event - spanning a few days like other WW1 Commemorative Festivals and Conferences that are planned - but with music, poetry readings and so on.

To a large extent I feel that this is already being done by people who have far more clout than we do and thus the ear of rich sponsors. However their efforts seem over- focused on the anniversary of the commencement of the war and once this has passed interest could wane so there could still be neglected times coinciding with anniversaries of specific battles, Somme, Passchendaele etc., which would provide relevant opportunities, in which I would love to participate.

Wimbledon would of course provide an ideal venue with its theatre, travel links, hotels and proximity to London. There is a danger that the bare bones sound  "arty", perhaps, God forbid,  elitist and personally I feel that the overriding ethos should encompass heritage and social cohesion at times of stress. For my generation the link is through our long departed grandfathers but there are younger still- living grandfathers out there whose offspring would relate more to WW2 so perhaps any fabric should be extended a little to give more intimacy. Weave in the International factor and the mind boggles. I'm exhausted.

Your text indicates that you might have a connection to Les Voix Perdues. As a starter, can you tell me what one could expect to pay them for their attendance ? I have watched their performances on, and was deeply moved but I do not think our  Ministry of Defence would pay any attention to a request from ex L/Cpl Coleman 23118666 for a guard of honour and bugler or a locality as atmospheric as the Menin Gate but our kitchen table is gratis and as cluttered as the one in other of their performances.

Your blog, is so attractive and you kindly give me a credit about "The Glory of Belgium" The illustration you use is of a modern reprint I note. I have three originals, one of which is signed to Russell's "dear love", his wife. With regard to this book I see that your blog refers to Mrs Vandervelde the wife of the then  Belgium Secretary of State. I am sure your research  here would be of relevance to Sue Garwood in Ilfracombe and to her project.
best wishes Dave,

On the 23rd July 2014, composer and conductor Chris Gardner the following update

Hello Dave.

Hope you are well and enjoying the weather.

Here is the poster for the concert which will include "Somewhere in France"...... Please feel free to post it or forward it as you wish.

We (my sister Emily and I) are going to Ilfracombe where we will take part in the commissioning of a new memorial. We will be representing two Gardner antecedents who died in the War.



Begin forwarded message:

From: Chris Gardner <>
Date: 23 July 2014 18:52:21 BST
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: "For the Fallen" St Lawrence Church Alton, Sunday 12th October, 6:30om

Dear friends and relations who live in or near Alton and friends and relations who live further way but may be prepared to travel a bit further afield, I would be delighted and thrilled if you would come to this event in Alton.

My choir, Cantique, and Alton Fringe Theatre are collaborating in an evening of music and words to commemorate the Centenary of World War 1. There will be many such events this year the length and breadth of the country I am sure. This one is however, at least for me, a bit special. The centrepiece is one of my recent pieces, Somewhere in France - Four poems by H Rex Freston (who was killed in action in 1916) and four songs by my Grandfather, Alfred Linton Gardner, who was killed in 1918. My piece is a substantial unaccompanied choral work, and more or less the first piece of mine which is something more than just "playing to the gallery". The programme will also contain some Parry, Elgar, and popular songs of the War arranged by members of the choir.

I don't think the ticket-selling apparatus printed on the poster is in place yet, but after the holidays it will. If you put it in your diary now and keep the jpeg which is attached you won't forget!

I don't usually promote my own events, but this performance (I hesitate to call it a concert as it will be fully-scripted entertainment) promise to be thought provoking and entertaining in suitable proportions, with the added excitement of some music and poetry which you will never have heard before.

The proceeds from the concert will be going to local charities.

With best wishes


An update added 26 Aug 2014
Russell Markland's diaries mention his cousin Captain Alan Hodgkinson killed on the first day of the Somme offensive, 1st July 1916 and I have attempted to obtain more details of his death but with little success. I have seen a reference to "mentioned in despatches"but it is hard to pin down. In an attempt to find more details I have mailed the National Archives as follows :-
 To National Archives
Thank you for this response which I was pleased to receive as I had given up trying to navigate your website, after fruitlessly trying to find how Lieutenant, acting Captain (?) Alan Hodgkinson of the Royal Warwickshire Regt died at Mametz on the1st (?) July 1916, or to source any locations where a tribute might be posted.

He was my Father-in-Law's cousin. The latter, Mr Russell Markland,  was a poet, nom de plume R M Ingersley, who published a collection of poems "Ultimate Light" in Hodgkinson's memory. One I list below as with the Centenary anniversary  in mind I am trying to find an appropriate place to record it alongside any record of his demise.

To Forget, by Russell Markland in memory of his cousin Alan Hodgkinson
How can a thing so perfect die
When the rapture lingers yet
As the Love of youth and its faith and truth?
How can a heart forget?

Never shall fade the joy divine
When lips and true hearts met.
This will I keep till the last long sleep,
And beyond - I will not forget.

But O to forget how a glance could change,
How the sun of love could set!
And the nameless pain of a sweet thing slain
Oh God ! to forget ! to forget !

I would be pleased to receive any help that you feel able to offer and in an attempt to add more substance to my request you might care to access my blog where you will find a tribute to H Rex Freston, another war casualty with family connections..

With many thanks, David Coleman

My request had little effect so I mailed Farnham Newspapers and Civic centre and got a response from Lucy London in Liverpool, who was on my cc list asking if Russell Makland had any connection with Lytham St Anne's . I told her he certainly had and forwarded one of his poems :-

 My blog which I have mentioned is basically about H Rex Freston, contains a trail to the events which led to my researches ending with a reference to Chris Gardner's evening of Music to the Fallen in Alton , due in October later this autumn..

Within the blog  is reference to Russell's handwritten diaries, which I possess, and significantly with regard to Farnham and Hodgkinson, Russell recalls on 21 July 1919 on arrival in Farnham  "a taxi waiting which took us up to" Bradshaigh" - Uncle Alex and Auntie Lillie, were waiting for us (Dr and Mrs Hodgkinson) - we had tea and saw "Queenie" playing tennis with a Captain Bobbie Travers,".
After walking around the garden, Russell comments  " great improvement since I was there Dec 1915, when dear old Alan was alive - the place seems full of his personality. "

I have since traced Alan's grave in Mametz and found pictures on the Web of Farnham's  memorial stone. 

Astoundingly on the 14 Nov 2015 I received the following email from one David Scott :-

"My Grandfather (Second Lieutenant Roy Etrick Beney Willis) was with
 the very brave Alan Hodgkinson when he was killed on 1/7/16. My
Grandfather's war diary describes this incident. If you would like a
scan of this diary excerpt please drop me a line."

Of course I replied immediately and was rewarded with excerpts of  what must be the most spine tingling booklet that I have ever read - part of which I paste in. 


It feels strange that my trail started from my wife's home in the north of England begins with Rex Freston's death in January 1916 should then proceed via Alan Hodgkinson's in July 1916 and end up so local to where we have lived for the past 50 years, as both Farnham, Hodkinson's home,  and Clewer, Freston' s home, are so close to where we now live. 

I feel a word about Russell Markland might be appropriate. A deeply sensitive young man, deemed not robust enough for military service, watching his contemporaries go off to war, he threw himself into organising the war effort locally in Wilmslow and Lytham. Through his poetry anthology , The Glory of Belgium, he supported the Belgium Repatriation Fund, which attempted to care for the needs of the 250,000 Belgian refugees that arrived here . To read the Glory of Belgium open it on Google or try to open the link to California that I have embedded, key in the query box "The Glory of Belgium Russell Markland" and the book will appear. In the left hand margin click 'read on line' and then on the riight you can click and read page by page. Magic, if it works for you .California Digital Library

More details can be found in my aforementioned blog, including his requiem to Freston.

A chilling Pathe news video -' the day that shook the world' -of the first day of the Somme is on UTube.

If anyone can add to my knowledge of Alan Hodgkinson, or perhaps know of surviving family I would be pleased to hear from them. I would particularly like to see any photos of him.

With regards, David Coleman. and also

Dear Lucy

Your latest response is appreciated - yes Cheshire and Lancs. Russell was born in Wilmslow ( see Lancashire authors by John Randall Swann) but lived most of his life in St Annes, Lytham, adjacent to, but mainly within, the golf club, which was the centre if his life where he met his wife to be some 40 years later. I have in front of me the club's centenary book and many of the oldsters referred to therein feature in Russell's diaries, often humorously.

Russell's father was an eminent Manchester solicitor and his mother was from the landed Groves family, who owned half the Lake District and included luminaries such as Lord Rea, hence the wide variety of cousins.

I see elsewhere on your blog something about the Church and you may be interested to know that Russell corresponded with F W Orde Ward and later Ward's daughter Cicely, to publish "Selected Poems of F W Orde Ward and provided the preface.

I will now paste in a poem that received wide local press acclaim at the time as the loss of the subject matter was deeply grieved in Lytham !

The Old Windmill, Lytham
(burnt in the dark hours, Jan1/2 1919)

This friend of man no more shall meet the light
With swinging sails that sang so many days
Of ancient skill and homely olden ways,
That for man's welfare, harnessed the wind's flight.

Caught unawares before the storm's might -
To learn, the wind that blest at last betrays -
Consuming in its heart awake the blaze
That roared of doom, a beacon in the night.

No more the mill shall dream beside the sea,
With ancient arms outstretched towards the sky
Of conquered storms, soft breezes long blown by,
Rich harvests, grist to grind with merry glee.

The elements are jealous of their kind,
And fire has slain this servant of the wind.

By Russell Markland
A note about your scribe and blog author may be belatedly appropriate in order to add some sense the these random ramblings -  by his own admission, he's not that clever
  David Coleman, BA(hons) Government, Constitutional Law , FCIS (Rtd), Corporation of Secretaries National Prizewinner.

Youngest of five children, his father was a mechanical engineer and his mother a shop assistant, he was born 1936 in Camberwell Green London to a family living in poor surroundings, in Peckham, - one cold water tap and outside loo. Evacuated on the first day of WW11 with his Mickey mouse gasmask to the bucolic surroundings of Sturminster Newton, Dorset, farm life was his daily bread. Returning to a bombed-out Peckham, the bombsites and redundant EWS reservoirs furnished great adventure and nature sites, where the Three Musketeers, convolvulus, colt’s foot, elderberry, rosebay willow herb, ragwort, dragonflies and caddis fly larvae flourished amongst the debris. Ever sociable he learned ballroom dancing, - quickstep, tango and all that jazz and became a mean three card brag player in his teens.

The 11 plus and entry to the local Grammar school, he is a proud Old Askean, led on to National Service, serving as a squaddie with BCFK in Korea, Japan, Singapore and Hong Kong. A WOSB deferred candidate, after two year’s service, he declined the chance of a commission in Hong Kong, wanting to get home, but the boat was delayed by war in the Suez..

After demob, grafting in Austria (courier), Australia(airport baggage loader), Canada (tobacco picker) and America (car delivery driver) meant that he did not apply to universities until he was a mature, 23 year old, when he entered Exeter University. Awarded an honours degree in-between spending most of the time playing rugby for the first XV and the UAU. Reading government, jurisprudence, legal theory and constitutional law added to his A level qualifications. Exposed to in-depth analysis of the Constitutions of America, Russia, France and Britain. His ease in German and French, passable Spanish and Japanese has ensured many ad hoc enjoyable exchanges with chance acquaintances.

A maths supply teacher at a tough secondary modern school in Peckham he spent the later decades running his own accountancy and company law secretarial business before retiring, age 66 in 2002. Clients included the most determinedly independent minds in London print, requiring loads of tlc with Management Accounts, Payroll, Credit Control, VAT, PAYE, Insolvency, Redundancy Law, SSP, ITB consultancy kept his brain keenly honed.
External auditor to the Bank of Nigeria. Lecturer in Constitutional Law and Legal Theory.

An avid supporter of the local community, a past Hercules Wimbledon Team Manager and trainer, he is currently campaigning against Merton Council’s culture of deference and its promotion of an angling club to fish the local small, grade one listed nature reserve waterfowl sanctuary ; although he is a fisherman himself.. “It’s wrong, I don’t believe in shooting fish in a barrel, on a reserve, while local children are compelled to dodge hooks whilst trying to feed the ducks and birds that are nesting”

His wife, a retired senior physiotherapist, is a staunch fund-raiser for the local Scouts. His son, a chartered accountant and three daughters, all professionally qualified, were all educated in the Borough’s local schools. Forever indebted and appreciative he is aghast at the arrogant, undemocratic stance displayed by present-day Councillors and Officers in Merton.
Eight grandchildren complete his family. Believes the best lesson he was given as a child was to master simple arithmetic and basic English speech , as the foundations to achieve success in whatever one chooses to be in life. As something that can be revisited and mastered at any stage in life, he believes it pays indisputable dividends.

Presently compiling an archive on the works of his father in law, the Edwardian poet Russell Markland - RM Ingersley (Lay of the stone table, The scarab beetle etc) and his cousin Professor S E Whitnall, author of Human Anatomy and Physiology, essential reading still for medics. Contemporary of Sir William Osler who entrusted Whitnall to deliver the his irreplaceable medical oeuvres from Oxford to McGill, Canada. Founder member along with Stephen Leacock of the now worldwide Osler Society. Archive includes unpublished works from 1915 and home movies featuring his family and grandchildren up to his death in 1973. The far-distant family kinship includes Lord Rea, Keith Groves of Manx, Grimble Groves - A Pattern of Islands, the family sponsorship of Cheshire homes (Holehird) and Outward Bound(Gatehouse).Russell’s handwritten diaries of life as a country gentlemen, and his correspondence with contemporary literati between the wars, and after, divulge a host of tremendous personalities, begging for a drama-doc production. He would welcome help with this project and others he has in mind

29 Sep 2015 Update

Quilliam, Leon,Poole and Markland

This blog has, remarkably, enjoyed worldwide attention and I intend later to consign to McMaster University the records I have assembled for them to add to their present Russell Markland archives.

A sudden resurgence of activity has occurred around the blog lately. Asif Basit and Qaasid Ahmad, members of the Morden mosque (“ the largest Ahmadi mosque in London “) chanced upon mention of the Philomath magazine of May 1916 therein, and visited me to discuss the publication. Two fine fellows.

The magazine in point was one of a series published by La Society Internationale de Philologie, Sciences et Beaux Arts, a learned institution, purportedly founded in 1875, (according to Henri Leon, q.v.).

The aforementioned Society’s Secretary was Henri M Leon who it was to transpire was no other than a former disgraced Liverpool solicitor, a Manxman, one H Quilliam.  I have no intention of adding to the brouhaha surrounding Quilliam/Leon, but anyone interested in this and its relevance to this update will find reams about him on the web. One or two suitable introductions might be Dr Jamie Gilham’s ‘Loyal Enemies’ or Ron Geaves  “Abdullah Quilliam: The Life and Times of a Victorian Muslim’ but there are others.

My interest is limited to understanding or rather interpreting the reactions of Russell Markland (the poet Ingersley) and Dr Charles Poole his mentor, who had decades of literary connection with Henri Leon and at first could not believe the outcome of an infamous garden party in the Isle of Man, reported by Bertha Baily.  Sheikh Quilliam and Professor Henri Leon were one and the same person . Good grief ! An entry in Russell Markland’s diary 20 July 1919 whilst he was staying at  Philip Rea’s  (Lord Rea)Bignor House explains how the denouement came about.

“Read a curious letter I received from Miss Bertha Baily, Isle of Man, telling me of an extraordinary incident that happened in the Isle of Man, at a garden party, where Dr Leon ( secretary of La Society etc etc) was accosted as W H Quilliam (Abdullah Quilliam) an ex-solicitor of Liverpool, who had been struck off the rolls , outlawed and went to Turkey.I read this to all the house party as Quilliam was a cousin of Mrs Russell Rea’s, and an arrant scoundrel –Mrs RR tells me he kidnapped her grandfather (Dr Burrows) and got him to alter his will! All the Leon facts fit Quilliam, except the apparent characters of the two. Leon admitted he was Q, according to Miss B’s letter! This took till lunchtime !”

Perplexed by events Dr Poole and Russell Markland none the less continued to hold immense respect for Leon although the apparent transmogrification from Quilliam to Leon was hard for anyone to understand or accept, particularly so on the Isle of Man.

 Acceptance by the House of Keys and others of the Isle of Man society was hard to achieve as a letter from William Ralph Hall Caine to Dr Poole shows.  Mind you there was a humorous side too for in the letter, the writer says that were he and the addressee, Dr Poole, together they would collapse in fits of laughter. “But I think even funnier still ... the vicar and the Town Clerk who knew both DR Leon and W H Quilliam receiving visits from each in the same week and never recognizing the slightest resemblance !’ and how anyone on the Isle of Man could miss the undeniable same intonation of the Liverpool accent of both Quilliam and Leone,   - “that most damnable dialect, the Liverpool Manxman’s , which you can cut with a knife. “

A confusion of recognition and identities still apparent today in print, where both pro and anti lobbies of Quilliam advocates exist, each side claiming their birthright as true adherents of their adopted patron’s teachings.  That Q was a visionary, creative and scholarly it seems ironic to think he would be at peace with any static historical labeling.

Even the Sunday Telegraph, 13 Sep 2015, saw fit to introduce a muddled past comment by Haras Rafiq, spokesman of one of the Quilliam think tanks which although intended to illuminate will no doubt cause more confusion.

Until now my knowledge of Dr Leon’s poetry was confined to the following poem which on first reading I had hazarded a guess was perhaps by Kipling and was not wholly convinced of its authorship until I read Leon’s letter to Russell Markland instructing him on how he wished it to be presented in The Glory of Belgium. I take just two verses from ‘The Glory of Belgium’ p64, where the full poem can be read.

The Taking of the Guns at Mons
(The charge of the 9th Lancers at the Battle of Mons, Sunday August 23, 1914.)
It is of the British Lancers,
The gallant “Ninth,” I sing
And to those sons of England brave,
My little tribute bring,
And in verse do tell the story,
How gallant Britain’s sons,
At Mons, the Teuton put to rout,
And silenced, there, the guns –

The gunners slain, the guns made dumb
(Not one was let remain)
‘Midst fire of rifle and of shel’
Rode they then back again ;-
That deed shall live in ages yet,
History’s page upon,
Recorded e’er, the story there,
Of that brave charge at Mons.

By Henri M. Leon

Sounds jingoistic perhaps, but viewing his work for La Societe I am left wondering, what was the catalyst, if indeed there were one, and if in fact anything does change, that turned the provocative speeches of Quilliam, the fierce international Muslim advocate, into the later rhetoric and persona of Leon the patriot?

How can one square the contradictory persona of Quilliam/ Leon ? Was it, or is it, all a continuing subterfuge or ploy to keep the waters muddied? Machiavellian, keep your friends close but,  or what …

Above all, what so motivates any group that a hundred years later the hubris of Q is resurrected and he becomes the adopted icon of, again, … what ?

Whatever the answer, is it beyond reason to suggest that the man graduating from the University of Life simply changed with the times as he got older (and wiser)?
In his early days, Quilliam welcomed change, and saw a clear dynamic – Judaism to western Christianity to Islam, so perhaps as times changed, maybe the advent of Communism, his template needed to change and would change again today.

For me, in the making of me as a loyal Briton, significant stepping stones or fingerposts might be,  Henry Viii – Elizabeth 1 – Cromwell – Churchill and the literature, arts and philosophy prevalent  during each of  these times. I consider none of the aforementioned a visionary, each a product of the times and should remain so, as in my opinion, should Quilliam/Leon. Modern young Britons, no matter their creed will mark out their own paths for what, hopefully, will be a younger, tolerant, more inclusive society.

 To attempt any forecast of what might be acceptable in achieving such a society in a future Britain, the debate surely requires some adherence to the philosophies promulgated by, say, Thomas Hobbes and John Stuart Mill; the creation of a new social contract? But one would do well not to look to any parliament or religious sect as foundation stones. Accessories by all means but the challenge, if one seeks harmony, is to prise apart the state and religion in everyday interactions. Belief in the rights of the individual and the concept of free speech is paramount . “Render unto Caesar … “

(I am minded here of a recent BBC report on the current problems in the Stormont. An eager reporter thrust his microphone in the face of a passing young man, earnestly querying “ what are your views? Do you think this will affect your future? The response from the youngster, religious beliefs unknown, for me was classic. A wry smile from the youngster, a disdainful look, gesturing over his shoulder followed by “ Do what, have you seen that lot up there?) Standing on Westminster Bridge I am tempted, sorely tempted.)

Whatever the case it makes Quilliam/Leon an unfortunate static choice as talisman for, dare I use it, today’s ‘Young Turks’ or their opponents.

Perhaps it is time to launch a Leon think tank for balance, applauding the man’s undoubted scholastic talent. It is a pity if the man’s legacy is to be tied simply as a rag marker on the rope of a political/religious tug of war.

 My literary Markland archives contain little of relevance to what in many respects has become a politico/religious debate and which seems destined to continue. But for any scholar who might be interested I list them below:-

  (i) a handwritten letter from Leon to RM, dated 2nd June 1931 about Societe matters, mentioning contracts in Hyderabad and Cairo. Its envelope includes a subscription request dated 1st June 1931, headed “Founded in 1875” and interestingly lists past presidents but only since 1916. (!?)
(2) A printed leaflet by Charles Pool read to the Fylde Branch of la Societe 25 Sep 1917 and dedicated to"Dr Henri M Leon as a mark of respect, admiration and friendship".
(3)A long letter, 8pp, from William Ralph Hall Caine, dtd 10 Jan 1920 explaining why he found the whole shemozzle highly entertaining and was prone to do Leon/Quilliam a good turn rather than a bad one. ( Bear in mind his colleague Bertha Baily had already let the cat out of the bag  - Russell's diary 20 July 1919).
 (4) Five postcards re meetings of La Society showing authors and subjects being presented between 1916 and 1929
(5) Russell Marklands membership card, the Lytham Branch of La Societe etc 1916.
(6) Newspaper clipping of meeting of provisional committee of Lytham branch to a meeting with Dr Leon delivering a lecture on Constantinople (illustrated)

(7) Fylde Branch  La Societe  etc etc folded membership card showing RM on the committee, and Dr Pool, Hon Secretary and Leon as a speaker on the subject “Queen Elizabeth’s Astrologer”.

(8) The Philomath May 1916

(9) R Markland’s handwritten diaries, 1919 and 1922
pertinent entries 20 July 1919 and 30 Oct 1922.

(10) A selection of relevant photocopies from McMaster University dated 1915, in one of which Leon commiserates Markland on failing his (M’s) call up medical , asserting “the pen is mightier than the sword” , a hackneyed phrase today but de rigueur at the time.

I would be happy to receive any comments on /

 Particularly, I would welcome any published evidence of the purported 1875 foundation and Constitution of La Societe Internationale de Philologie, Sciences et Beaux-Arts, also any clue to its abrogation. Certainly La Societe continued to attract the patronage of the greats up to Leon’s death for the President of the Society at that time was published as being His Excellency Aziz Izzet, Pasha, Minister Plenipotentiary of Egypt.

 Also useful would be confirmation of Q/Leon’s whereabouts and literary activities between 1908 and 1913.

Such items would round off nicely my biography of Russell Markland, the poet Ingersley – my holy grail.

More on extension of the saga may be found in my blog