Dark clouds are smouldering into red
While down the craters morning burns.
The dying soldier shifts his head
To watch the glory that returns;
He lifts his fingers toward the skies
Where holy brightness breaks in flame;
Radiance reflected in his eyes,
And on his lips a whispered name
think, to hear some people talk,
That lads go West with sobs and curses,
And sullen faces white as chalk,
Hankering for wreaths and tombs and hearses.
But they've been taught the way to do it
Like Christian soldiers; not with haste
And shuddering groans; but passing through it
With due regard for decent taste.
by Siegfried Sassoon
Note: The officers at Litherland Army Camp were made honorary members of the Formby Golf Club. On one visit to Formby, Sassoon threw his Military Cross into the Mersey in protest of the war.
TO ALL THAT
The camp was only separated by the bombing-field
from Brotherton's (Lanstar site)
where a specially sensitive explosive for detonators was made. The
munition makers had permanently yellow faces and hands and drew
appropriately high wages. Attwater used to argue at mess sometimes
what would happen if Brotherton's blew up. Most of us held that
the shock would immediately kill all the three thousand men of the
camp besides destroying Litherland and a large part of Bootle. He
maintained that the very closeness of the camp would save it; that
the vibrations would go over and strike a big munition camp about
a mile away and set that off. One Sunday afternoon Attwater limped
out of the mess and suddenly saw smoke rising from Brotherton's.
Part of the factory was on fire. The camp fire-brigade was immediately
bugled for and managed to put the fire out before it reached a vital
spot. So the argument was never decided.
The president of the Osborne medical board had
been right: I should not have been back on duty. The training at
the Third Battalion camp was intensive, and being given command
of a trained-men company I did not get enough rest. I realised how
bad my nerves were when one day, marching through the streets of
Litherland on a battalion route-march, I saw three workmen in gas-masks
beside an open man-hole, bending over a corpse which had just been
hauled up from a sewer. His clothes were sodden and stinking; face
and hands, yellow. Waste chemicals from the munitions factory had
got into the sewage system and gassed him when he went down to inspect.
My company did not pause in its march, and I had only a glimpse
of the group; but it reminded me so strongly of France that, but
for the band-music, I should have fainted. (Graves
was gassed and wounded in France)
Note: The incident above happened in July 1917 in Bridge Road
with two men being killed, the council surveyor Arthur Carter and
Hedd Wyn, born Ellis Humphrey Evans, was a
sheep farmer turned poet-soldier who was killed during the First
Evans - who chose Hedd Wyn ('white peace') as his pen name - was
born in Penlan, Trawsfynydd the eldest of eleven children, and
lived for much of his life at Yr Ysgwrn, a hill farm east of Trawsfynydd.
He began writing Welsh-language poetry at an early age; when aged
24 he was awarded a chair at Bala; others followed at Llanuwchllyn,
Pwllheli and Pontardawe (the latter in 1915 with the First World
Wynn sat out the war for three years as a sheep farmer until he
was called up for military service in 1917. Following a spell
of training in Litherland Private Evans was despatched for active
service in Flanders and found himself stationed with his regiment
at the notorious Pilckem Ridge immediately prior to the opening
of the Passchendaele offensive (3rd Ypres).
It was at Pilckem Ridge that Wyn was killed during fighting in
August 1917. Buried initially on the battlefield, his body was
subsequently moved to Artillery Wood cemetery following the armistice.
September that year brought a posthumous award of the chair at
the National Eisteddfod of Wales for his verse poem Yr Arwr ('The
Hero'). Wyn had written the poem while serving in Flanders and
completed it shortly before his death under the nom-de-plume of
'fleur-de-lis'. The chair itself was draped in black in memorial
of Wyn following the announcement of his win and revelation of
the author's actual identity.
Wyn is buried in Artillery Wood Cemetery, Ieper, West-Vlaanderen,
Killed in Action 4th August 1917