(Edith) Maud MacBRIDE nee GONNE (1866-1953)

Surrey In the Great War Jenny Mukerji

(Edith) Maud MacBRIDE nee GONNE (1866-1953)

Born in Tongham, Surrey and imprisoned in May 1918 for her supposed involvement in a Pro-German Plot.

Known as Maud, Edith Maud GONNE was born in Tongham, Surrey on 21 December 1866, the elder daughter of Lt Col Thomas GONNE (1835-1886) of the 17th Lancers and his wife Edith Frith, nee COOK (c1844-1871). Her sister was Kathleen Mary (born in Ireland in about 1868) who married the future Major-General Thomas David PILCHER (c1858-1928) of the British Army at St Mary’s Graham Street, London on 18 December 1889 when he was a captain in the 5th Fusiliers. He went on to serve in West Africa, in the South African Wars (Boer Wars) and during the Great War as Colonel of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment.

Maud’s mother, who was born in East Peckham, came from a wealthy merchant family that manufactured silk, linen, woollen and cotton goods. She died of tuberculosis when Maud was still a child. The girls were then raised with the help of a French nanny. In the 1871 Census (2 April) their mother was still alive and she was living with Maud and Kathleen in Paddington at the home of Mrs Gonne’s aunt, Augusta TARLTON. However, once her mother died, Maud began to live a very cosmopolitan lifestyle and often acted as a hostess when her father entertained.

In the 1881 Census she was living in Torquay with her sister as a pupil at Miss Margaret WILSON’s school. After her father’s death at the Royal Barracks, Dublin on 30 November 1886, Maud inherited wealth and was able to enjoy an independent lifestyle. She was interested in the theatre and became an actress on the Irish stage. Being beautiful and flamboyant (and rich) she was never short of suitors. One of the most famous, yet unsuccessful (despite four proposals), was the Irish poet W.B. YEATS (1865-1939) whom she met in 1889 through the theatre. She was his muse for the heroine of his play Cathleen Ni Houlihan (1892).

Maud travelled widely and when in Paris in 1887 and recovering from an illness she met and fell in love with the married, right-wing nationalist, Lucien MILLEVOYE (1850-1918). The couple had two children: Georges (1889-1891) and daughter, Iseult (1894-1954). It was the death of Georges, aged two, that rekindled her interest in spiritualism. The BBC Website https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-31064648 expands on her interest in this subject. Yet it was her father’s native Ireland that won her heart. She had spent time there as a child and after watching an unpleasant eviction in the 1880s, she had great sympathy for the poor and downtrodden. She became a speaker for the Land League and in 1900 she founded the nationalist group Daughters of Ireland to promote and preserve Irish culture.

During the South African Wars (Boer Wars) Maud helped to organise the Irish brigades that fought against the British army in South Africa. It was during a fund raising tour of the United States of America that she met the Irish revolutionary Major John MacBRIDE (1868-1916) who had fought against the British in South Africa (and against Maud’s brother-in-law, Major-General PILCHER). Maud married John MacBRIDE in Paris in 1903. The couple’s son Sean was born in Paris on 26 January 1904. He remained in Paris after his father’s execution for his part in the Easter 1916 Rising and later became an important Irish politician. He was the Irish minister for External Affairs from 1948 to 1951 and involved himself in Human Rights issues. He died in Ireland in 1988.

However, Maud and John MacBRIDE’s marriage was a stormy one and the couple separated in 1906. Because of his involvement in the Easter 1916 Rising in Dublin, John MacBRIDE was executed by the British on 5 May 1916 in Killmainham Goal, Dublin. Nevertheless, Maud continued to support the revolutionary cause and she was arrested in May 1918 in Dublin for revolutionary activities when it was assumed that she was involved in a Pro-German plot. She was never tried and having been imprisoned in England for six months, she was released due to her poor health. There was, however, a condition placed on her release: she was not to return to Ireland! Immediately she returned to Ireland and began to campaign on behalf of political prisoners in an effort to improve their conditions in gaol.

Maud not only continued to campaign for a Republic of Ireland, but also for women’s rights and universal suffrage. Her objections to the Treaty which divided the island of Ireland into the Republic and (the six counties that formed) Northern Ireland saw her in trouble again, this time in 1923 when she was imprisoned for 20 days by the Irish Free State forces for seditious activities.

Maud died on 27 April 1953 in Dublin and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. Her son, Sean and his wife, Catalina Bulfin MacBRIDE (1901-1976) were later buried in the same grave.

Here is a story with a very different perspective on Surrey in the Great War. Much has been written about Maud; some parts of it are contradictory. However, where Surrey, the place of her birth, is concerned, she appears to have been almost forgotten.

Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean

Charles was born in Australia 18/11/1879; his father moved the family to England in 1889. There, Charles attended Brentwood School, Essex and latterly Clifton College, gaining a scholarship to read Classics at Hertford College, Oxford. He received his degree in 1902 and studied for the Bachelor of Civil law degree which he obtained in 1904, the year he both returned to Australia and qualified for the bar.

He was not a Surrey resident, but is of interest because of an article he wrote on the Gallipoli campaign 1915 which was produced in the Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser at the beginning of January 1916. He was writing as the campaign was drawing to a close and the last of the Commonwealth and Imperial forces were being evacuated from the peninsula. His detailed description of scouting operations by both the ANZACS and the Ottoman army suggests a more fluid form of warfare, in contrast to the more static trench systems which characterised the war on the Western Front (he was the only correspondent to stay on in Gallipoli between April-December and therefore was present for the duration of the campaign). He is also of interest as later, Charles was to become the author of the official history of the ANZAC during the First World War (The Story of ANZAC [Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1924]).


Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser 1/1/1916: Epic of Anzac

Australian Dictionary of biography, volume 7 (MUP) 1979, entry by K.S. Inglis;


Epic of Anzac

‘To the Glory of the Lord’: Claude Quayle Lewis Penrose MC

Researched and written by Phil Badham

Claude Penrose was born in De Soto County, Florida, USA, on 10 August 1893 to Irish parents from Kinsale, Ireland. His father Henry (‘Harry’) was a civil engineer and his mother Mary was a writer. In 1895 the family travelled to Ireland, landing at Queenstown on 5 April that year. Family sources state that in March 1897 the Penrose family moved from Ireland to Vine House, Frimley Green, Surrey, and in September 1900 to a house named Nadrid in Frimley Green (the family named the house themselves, because it was named after one in which Harry Penrose’s maternal grandfather, Henry Davies O’Callaghan, had lived at East Muskerry, County Cork, Ireland). The 1901 census shows the family still living in Frimley. Claude’s education befitted him for military life. He was admitted to the United Services College, Windsor, in 1905 and later boarded there before moving on to the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, London, in 1911. At school he wrote poetry and won a prize for painting. According to the 1911 census, his parents were then living at Deepcut Bungalow, Guildford Road, Frimley Green. Claude was gazetted to the Royal Garrison Artillery in 1913. In November 1914, he was sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force. He quickly rose through the ranks and apart from occasional home leave remained in France until he was killed in 1918. In March 1915 he was involved in the Battle of Neuve Chapelle and was subsequently mentioned in despatches. The following year, he fought in the Battle of the Somme and wrote his impression of the early hours of 1 July 1916, the opening day of the battle, in a poem called ‘On The Somme’ (see below). In September 1916, after the attack on Combles, he was awarded the Military Cross. In 1917, he was promoted to Acting Captain and then to Acting Major and given command of the 245th Siege Battery. Claude kept a pocket diary between 1 and 30 July 1918. In recognition of his actions during the British retreat of 21-24 March 1918, he was awarded a Bar to his Military Cross. Claude was due to have home leave on 3 August 1918, but on 31 July, his command post near St Omer was hit by an 8-inch shell. After freeing himself from the debris, Claude rescued his subaltern, but had been seriously injured himself. Four hours later he collapsed and was taken to the 2nd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station. On 1 August 1918, he died from his injuries.

After the war had ended, Claude’s mother organised the publication of a book of his poems and art work. Entitled Poems, with a biographical preface, it was published by Harrison & Sons in 1919. In the preface of the book, she stated:

‘When he passed out of the world, as a result of wounds from a German shell, he was attended by a Canadian doctor at a Canadian Casualty Clearing Station; when he entered it, he was attended by a Canadian doctor who had gone down to Florida for the sake of its wonderful climate, and cared for during the first days of his life by a German woman, who was the only nurse the Avon Park settlement afforded’.

Record and citation of Claude Penrose’s MC
(TNA, WO 389/19 and WO 389/7)


Claude’s reflection on the beginning of the Somme campaign:

‘On The Somme’ by Claude Quayle Lewis Penrose MC

Who heard the thunder of the great guns firing?

Who watched the line where the great shells roared?

Who drove the foemen back, and followed his retiring

When we threw him out of Pommiers, to the glory of the Lord?


Englishmen and Scotsmen, in the grey fog of morning

Watched the dim, black clouds that reeked, and strove to break the gloom;

And Irishmen that stood with them, impatient for the warning,

When the thundering around them would cease and give them room


Room to move forward as the grey mist lifted,

Quietly and swiftly – the white steel bare;

Happy, swift and quiet, as the fog still drifted,

They moved along the tortured slope and met the foemen there.


Stalwart men and wonderful, brave beyond believing –

Little time to mourn for friends that dropped without a word!

(Wait until the work is done, and then give way to grieving) –

So they hummed the latest rag-time to the glory of the Lord.


All across the No Man’s Land, and through the ruined wiring,

Each officer that led them, with a walking-cane for sword,

Cared not a button though the foeman went on firing

While they dribbled over footballs to the glory of the Lord.


And when they brought their captives back, hungry and downhearted,

They called him “Fritz” and slapped their backs, and, all with one accord

They shared with them what food they’d left from when the long day started

And gave them smokes and bully to the glory of the Lord.

Claude may have inherited his skill with words from his mother, Mary Elizabeth Penrose (nee Lewis), a novelist. She was born in Kinsale, Ireland in 1860 and was educated at Rochelle School, Cork, and Trinity College, Dublin, where she read German and English literature. She contributed fiction to magazines such as ‘Temple Bar’ and ‘The Windsor Magazine’ and also wrote novels (as Mrs H.H. Penrose), including Denis Trench (1911), Charles the Great: A Very Light Comedy (1912), The Brat: A Trifle (1913), Burnt Flax (1914) and Something Impossible (1914).

Claude Penrose’s watercolour of Knoll Farm, Zillebeke, October 1917
(from Mary Penrose, ‘Poems’)

With thanks to Lee Thomas and Jo Killmister.

Thomas Hendra

Surrey in the Great War                                                                                                                                                  Jenny Mukerji

Thomas HENDRA (1889-1972)

Soldier and Woking Photographer

Thomas was born in Truro, Cornwall on 4 November 1889, the son of Henry HENDRA (1863-1894) and his wife Elizabeth, nee CLEMENS. He was the youngest of their four children. Henry HENDRA was a watchmaker and jeweller and after his death, aged 31, his widow married Philip Henry TONKIN in 1899. Philip TONKIN was a game dealer and seed merchant and he helped Elizabeth to raise her four sons at their home in Union Place, Truro.

Thomas’s disembarkation papers dated 20 November 1910 when he arrived at Ellis Island (United States) off the SS Carmania (out of Liverpool), tells us quite a number of things about him. He was 20 years old and a store man. He could read and write and was English speaking. His contact in England was his mother Mrs P H TONKIN of 11 Truro View Terrace, Truro. He was 5ft 8 inches tall and of a fresh complexion, dark hair and brown eyes. In 1908 he had visited the US before, this time going to Baltimore. In 1910 he was to visit a friend Miss E ELLERY* of 320 19th, Sacramento, California. However, giving his occupation as store man, he was wealthy enough to buy his own ticket and to hold the required $50 (to cover any costs so that he would not be a burden on the State).

Henry does not appear to have returned to England in time to be included in the 1911 Census but the next time he is found is when he enlisted in the 7th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry (Prince Albert’s) on 18 November 1914. This was a battalion of volunteers in the Second (Kitchener’s) New Army and had been formed in Taunton on 13 September 1914. They then moved to Woking as part of the 61st Brigade of the 20th Division. They then moved to Witley, near Godalming. In March 1915 they moved to Amesbury and then to Larkhill, near Salisbury. Henry was definitely with them when they were mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne on 24 July 1915. The battalion was given trench familiarization and training in the Fleurbaix area before engaging with the enemy at the Battle of Sorrel (Hill 62) at the beginning of June. Henry may have been with the battalion at the start of the Battle of the Somme (1 July 1916), fighting in the area of Delville Wood. As he was discharged from the Army and awarded his Silver War Badge on 7 September 1916 due to sickness, the extent of his participation in the battalion’s later action is not clear; nor is it known why he should be considered unfit for further military service.

It may have been during his original time in Woking in 1914 or as a possible patient in a Woking Military Hospital, that he met the Woking photographer Marguerite REED (1884-1969). She was, as Margaret Emma REED, the youngest of the three daughters of postal worker Thomas REED (1855-1924) and his wife Elizabeth, nee WILSON (c1856-1929) of Stone House, 2 Sandy Lane, Maybury, Woking. Marguerite had taken over the Studio, formerly run by Alfred WILDMAN (1867-1916) at 88 Maybury Road, Woking in April 1917. On Saturday 2 June 1917 Thomas and Marguerite were married at the Guildford Registry Office. Their professions were given as Army Pensioner and Photographer respectively. Both gave their age as 28.

Marguerite had left the 88 Maybury Road studio by 1924 when Sidney FRANCIS took it over. The 1939 Register lists Thomas and Marguerite living at Stone House and both of them are photographers. Thomas was also an ARP Warden. Marguerite continued her business at Stone House and died in 1969. Thomas was still at Stone House when he died on 9 March 1972.

* Further research has uncovered the ELLERY family with whom Thomas planned to stay. William ELLERY (1848-1936) was a ship’s carpenter in 1871 and he was the son of James ELLERY. He married Mary Jane LLOYD, daughter of John LLOYD of Birmingham in May 1880 in England. William had already been to the United States in 1878 and in all the couple had five children of whom only 2 were still alive in 1910. They were 28 years-old Mary Elsie Ellery (born in England) and 14 years-old Lloyd (born in California – in 1930 he was an accountant at the Customs House). The two Marys had arrived in the US in 1884. William, his wife Mary and daughter Mary had all become Americans in 1888. In 1910 William and his family were living at 320 Sacramento, California and he was now a house carpenter, owning his own home. In 1930 William, Mary and Lloyd were living in Oakland City, Alameda County, California. William and Mary Jane ELLERY are buried together in Sacramento. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/99363123. Children Winifred and Cyril are in the same plot. Winifred Selwyn ELLERY was born in Truro in 1881 and died 13 July 1885. Cyril William, born 1887 and died on 26 January 1891. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/99348403

Major William Henry Wreford-Brown

Surrey in the Great War Jenny Mukerji

Major William Henry WREFORD-BROWN (1865-1941)

Major William Henry WREFORD-BROWN was the eldest child of William Wreford and Clara Jane WREFORD-BROWN’s eleven children and he was born at Caledonia Place, Clifton, near Bristol on 10 September 1865. He was educated at Charterhouse School and was commissioned as Lieutenant in the Essex Regiment on 30 January 1886. William served as Adjutant between 1891 and 1895 and was subsequently promoted to Captain on 14 August 1897. Part of his army career was spent in India, with the “Tirah Expeditionary Force” and the Khyber Forces from 1897 to 1898 on attachment to the 1st Battalion, Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. He also served in South Africa with the 2nd Battalion, Essex Regiment. On 22 November 1902 he was appointed Adjutant of the 4th Battalion and on 16 May 1906, he was promoted to Major. He later transferred to the Reserve of officers on 8 January 1908.

During the Great War he was given a special appointment as General Staff Officer from 31 August 1914. By 1916 he was working at the Press Bureau in Whitehall.

He was awarded the India General Service Medal Pair (Indian Tirah & Punjab) along with the South African 1902 – Orange Free State and Cape Colony Medal, being one of only six officers from the Essex Regiment to receive them. They came up for sale in 2018 priced at £1,125.

In 1892 he married Louisa Knight SENIOR (1860-1952), daughter of Rev James SENIOR (1814-1897) who changed his name to HUSEY-HUNT in 1894 for reasons of inheritance. In the 1901 Census Returns William and Louisa were living in London. Their only child, Kathleen (1894-1976) married Brigadier Rintoul George Edward CAROLIN (1896-1976). At the time of this marriage at Holy Trinity Church, Sloane Street, London in 1920, William and his wife Louisa were living at Elstowe, Jenner Road, Guildford, Surrey.

William died on 28 November 1941 at Rookwood, Ganghill, Guildford and his funeral took place in Brookwood Cemetery on 2 December 1941 at 12 noon. His widow Louisa died on 6 April 1952 at Brentwood District Hospital, Brentwood. Her home had been at Chithams Lodge, Ramsden Heath, Billericay, Essex and her funeral was a private one.

William’s siblings included Charles WREFORD-BROWN (1866-1951) the famous footballer and cricketer. Charles was a solicitor by profession and a lieutenant in the Grenadier Guards during the Great War. Two of their brothers, both serving in the Northumberland Fusiliers, died in the Great War: Captain Claude WREFORD-BROWN DSO (1876-1915) who is commemorated on the Menin Gate at Ypres; and Captain Oswald Eric WREFORD-BROWN (1877-1916) who died of his wounds and is buried in Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension, France. Another brother was Rev Gerald WREFORD-BROWN (1874-1956) who served in the Army Chaplains’ Department during the Great War (WO339/114182) and is also buried in Brookwood Cemetery.

Cranleigh in March 1918

Research and text by Joy Horn (as published in the Cranleigh Magazine)

In March 1918, a new family moved into ‘The Copse’ at the corner of Horsham Road and Grove Road. This was the artist and cartoonist, William Heath Robinson, his wife and four children. A gifted artist and book illustrator, he is now remembered principally for the complicated and ingenious machines he designed and drew, often involving lots of pulleys. The phrase ‘a Heath Robinson contraption’ was already in use in 1918, as a result of the cartoons he had drawn of unlikely and preposterous secret weapons for use in the war.

The Robinsons’ daughter, Joan, started at St Catherine’s school in Bramley; their eldest son, Oliver, at Cranleigh School; and Alan and Quentin at Hesketh School in Bridge Road, a private school for boys aged 5 to 8 run by Miss Kathleen Tapp, a colonel’s daughter.  (The school closed in the 1960s, and Hesketh Close has now replaced it.)

Heath Robinson had a studio built in the garden and he worked there on his Humours of Golf (published in 1923). He also designed the banner that the Cranleigh Women’s Institute embroidered – you can see it on the left-hand wall of the Village Hall. ‘Spring-cleaning the Ark’ (1925) was one of the famous pictures painted in his garden studio.

The Women’s Institute banner, designed by Heath Robinson and now hanging in the Village Hall

Title: The Women’s Institute banner, designed by Heath Robinson and now hanging in the Village Hall
Description: Courtesy of Joy Horn by-nc

Heath Robinson hired two German prisoners of war to help with the gardening. Although under the Defence of the Realm Act (nicknamed ‘Dora’) it was strictly forbidden to give or sell food or clothing to [Prisoners of War], Heath Robinson was a humane man and left two mugs of cocoa and some bread and cheese in the garden shed. Not only did these disappear, but he was amused to find that his hens laid fewer eggs on the days when the Germans came!

In the same month, Rennie Crick, a Cranleigh man serving in the Royal Army Medical Corps, was allowed home on leave. Since January he had been stationed at Béthune, 45 miles South East of Calais, described by him as ‘a big town, like Guildford’, where he had ‘a lovely office, over an egg and chip shop’. His landlady was kind, and he spent many evenings in her kitchen, reading or playing cards. The crossing from Boulogne to Folkestone was rough, but, he wrote, ‘It is grand to be home again once more!’

Rationing brought a new requirement, so Rennie ‘trained to Guildford and got my ration cards, also visited Picture Palace’. Otherwise, he ‘went round to see a few people’, had his photo taken, ‘cycled round the country’, went up Pitch Hill for a walk, and had a musical evening at the Balls family’s home in Elmbridge Road. On Sunday, ‘had some Canadian soldiers to tea, and they took the church service later’. After ten days, he confided to his diary, ‘Felt homesick, now my leave is nearly finished.’

On the journey back to his unit (the 34th Field Ambulance), Rennie stayed one night at a rest camp outside Boulogne. While he was there, ‘Fritz bombed Boulogne at night for two hours, and nearly hit our camp. Wind up!’

Much worse followed. On  March 21st, the Germans launched the Great Spring Offensive, or Operation Michael. With the injection of forces from the Russian Front, the Germans now out-numbered the Allies on the Western Front, and wanted to finish the war before the American forces arrived.

Brian Calkin – St Paul’s chorister and ‘splendid type of young manhood’

Brian Calkin, an ex-St Paul’s chorister and Repton schoolboy, left school to work with his father in the City (Messrs Henry Head &Company Ltd) at the outbreak of war.  He joined the Inns of Court OTC  in June 1915 from where he was discharged to a commission in the 3rd Queen’s Royal West Surrey’s on 20th August 1915. His attestation papers show that he was 6ft 3/4inch tall with a 37 1/2 inch chest.  His application form for a commission was signed by his mother as he was under the age of 21.  He served in France from age 18. His medical reports show that he was gassed twice, once in June 1917 and then at Ypres in September 1917.

Brian Calkin St Paul's chorister

Title: Brian Calkin St Paul's chorister
Description: Photograph courtesy of Paul Calkin and family by-nc

The Kitchener Military Hospital reported ‘He has completely recovered from the effects of shell gas poisoning of the mustard variety’.

After each of these episodes, he returned to France. Whilst on embarkation leave in early 1918, he fell ill with German Measles and was hospitalised in the London Fever Hospital. He was declared fit for service on 19th March 1918. He returned to France for a third time and was killed in action at Loos on 10th July 1918.

Repton School Memorial B Calkin 1 (453x640)

Title: Repton School Memorial B Calkin 1 (453x640)
Description: Photograph courtesy of Paul Stevens, Repton School Archive by-nc

He is remembered in St Paul’s Cathedral, Hampstead, where he was brought up, Repton School and Windlesham where his parents had a country house. The Rev A.J. Hutton provided an entry in the Windlesham Roll of Honour for all men on the Windlesham War Memorial and that for Brian Calkin is reproduced below.

‘Lieutnt Brian P.B. Calkin was in his 21st year* when he joined up.

His parents then had a small country house at Windlesham, Brian Calkin had had five years of his earliest education at St Paul’s Cathedral choir School and had taken part in King George’s & Queen Mary’s Coronation Service in Westminster Abbey. Passing on to Repton, his public school days were cut short by the war & he entered his father’s office at 16 years of age &  insisted then on doing special constable’s work at night . In the Spring of the following year & six month’s under military age, he joined the Inns of Court O.T.C.  and obtained a Commission in August in the 3rd Queen’s RW Surreys. At Sittingbourne, being very keen on physical development, he specialised in & became master of physical training & bayonet fighting to his battalion. His love of music & his interest in his men was such that he gave all his spare time to giving concerts for them. His Orders first took him to France in August 1916, where with the exception of trench fever all went well with him until the following July 1917 when he was gassed. Having recovered from this, he had only rejoined his Regiment a few weeks when he was badly gassed again and invalided to Hospital at Brighton, where he remained some months unfit for service abroad. At Sittingbourne after leaving hospital, he took up his old work of physical training until on April 20th 1918 he left for France for the last time. Here was attached to the 8th Queen’s and was 2nd in command of his company; he was, in fact, temporarily commanding it when on the morning of July 10th 1918 he was struck down & killed by a trench mortar bomb. Later his body was recovered & laid to rest in the military cemetery outside Bethune. His Colonel writes of him: ‘He was more than usually competent for his years, and was completely confident that things would run all right when he was in charge’. The Sittingbourne Gazette writing of him after his death says ‘He was of a bright, cheery nature, a splendid type of young manhood, and the news of his death has quite a gloom over the battalion for he was a favourite with officers & men alike.’’

St Paul's Choristers memorial - B Calkin

Title: St Paul's Choristers memorial - B Calkin
Description: Photograph permission of Hannah Woolley, St Paul's Cathedral. by-nc

*Rev Hutton appears to have incorrectly described Brian as 21 when he joined up. He was probably just over 17.




Hutton A.J., date unknown, Windlesham Roll of Honour SHC Ref: Z_682_1 12A; Z_682_1 12B

National Archive WO339/39183

De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour 1914-1924



Brian Calkin, Chorister: courtesy of Paul Calkin and family

Brian Calkin, office: courtesy of Paul Stevens, Repton School Archives

Repton School Memorial: courtesy  of Paul Stevens, Repton School Archives

St Paul’s Choristers Memorial: with permission of Hannah Woolley, St Paul’s Cathedral


The ‘Zep’ Zapper: Horatio Bottomley in Surbiton and Guildford

Written by Dr Steven Woodbridge, Senior Lecturer in History at Kingston University, with additions by Michael Page

One Monday evening in December, 1917, Surbiton in Surrey received a visit from Mr Horatio Bottomley, a figure the wartime Daily Mirror newspaper had called ‘London’s Answer to the Zeps’ because of his powerful oratory at public meetings.

With London now under attack from the air by ‘Zeps’ (German Zeppelins), together with growing food and fuel shortages across the nation (as the fourth Christmas of the relentlessly grinding conflict rapidly approached), and mounting public concerns about what was really happening on the Western Front in France, Bottomley – who edited a patriotic magazine called John Bull – had made himself a leading propagandist in favour of the British war effort. He regularly urged Britons to fight on and ‘never weaken’. He also appears to have enjoyed his image as a ‘bullish’ man who could weaponize information and ‘zap’ the enemy via effective speech-making.

John Bull

His visit to Surbiton in late 1917 saw him give a lecture at Surbiton Assembly Rooms, where he again sought to inspire and rouse his audience, and also employed a mixture of humour and passion to deliver what was billed as a ‘vivid description’ of scenes on the Western Front. According to the local Surrey Comet, this talk was entitled ‘What I saw in the Trenches’, and his lecture ‘proved to be a remarkable attraction, the building being filled in every part’. In fact, this was fairly typical of the enthusiasm Bottomley often generated at his lectures and public meetings during the course of the Great War.

A big problem with Bottomley, though, is that he often exaggerated his stories and peppered his talks with some serious untruths. Indeed, Horatio Bottomley (1860-1933) was quite a colourful and controversial gentleman in many ways. At various stages in his career he was a financier, a newspaper proprietor, a journalist, a magazine editor, a propagandist, a conspiracy theorist, and a Member of Parliament (twice). In 1922, while serving as Independent MP for Hackney South, he was found guilty of financial fraud at an Old Bailey trial and was given a seven-year prison sentence. Towards the end of his life, after his release from gaol, Bottomley led a poverty-stricken existence, reduced to trying to earn a living by entertaining people in Music Halls.

Bottomley had first entered Parliament in 1906 as the Liberal MP for Hackney South. He also founded the magazine John Bull in the same year, a popular and very pro-Empire publication, which carried a combination of news on current affairs, social gossip and sensationalist scandal, and which often pedalled blatant scare-stories and conspiracy theories. Bottomley also used the magazine to very much push his own (often outspoken) personal views of politics and world events and the secret ‘forces’ supposedly at work behind the scenes. However, in 1912, he was forced to resign his seat in Parliament after he was declared bankrupt.

He was not finished, though. The outbreak of war in 1914, in a sense, was good news for Bottomley. The Great War helped restore his career and he became a well-known pro-war propagandist, constantly urging everybody to put their full weight behind the fight against Imperial Germany and the ‘uncivilized Hun’. He especially loathed pacifists and those he perceived as ‘treasonable’. At one point in the war, he publicly accused the Labour Party leaders Ramsay MacDonald and James Keir Hardie of being the leaders of a ‘pro-German Campaign’, and he demanded that MacDonald be tried as a traitor. Bottomley also used his magazine John Bull to claim that there was a ‘Hidden Hand’ secretly at work within the nation, a subversive group of conspirators who were out to undermine the British war effort.

The magazine saw high circulation during the war. But it was his stirring and hyper-patriotic oratory at public meetings that appeared to have the most impact. It is estimated that he addressed over 300 public meetings during the course of the war, including a very large one in Trafalgar Square. The meeting at Surbiton was also a good example, which he used to drive home his message about the ‘Hun’.

In the account of this meeting published in the Surrey Comet, Bottomley was noted for what the paper called his ‘many gifts of oratory’, and apparently ‘riveted the keen attention of the large audience for nearly an hour and a half’. Prefacing his talk with a reminder that the Surrey Volunteer Regiment was ‘in great need of recruits’, Bottomley told the Assembly Rooms gathering that he was ‘one of the band of people who, some years before the war broke out, went about the country proclaiming the fact that Germany meant mischief’. He said they were preaching ‘the doctrine that ever since the Kaiser had come to the throne he and his advisers had been engaged in an unbroken conspiracy to throw dust in the eyes of the whole world and, above all, of Great Britain’.

For that warning, Bottomley said, he and his friends had been called ‘all sorts of names, but that did not distress them’. Since the war had broken out, he had been ‘going about all over the country’, first to obtain recruits for the Colours and then ‘to hearten and inspirit the mind and conscience of the people’. He said that the British Empire was ‘not done with yet’, and he wanted to ‘arouse them to a true sense of the fact that, despite all shame and frauds, there was no Power on God’s earth… capable of bringing that old Empire down to the ground’.

Bottomley visits a concert hall on the Western Front, 13 September 1917 (© IWM Q 2810)

After further reflections on the nature of the conflict, Bottomley revealed that he had been ‘filled with a keen desire to go and see that grim thing for himself’.  He said he had been out to France more than once, which had included a visit to the Western frontline. Moreover, he claimed that, when he had been invited to be a guest at the headquarters of Sir Douglas Haig, he had refused, as he wanted to be ‘free from every restriction’, including military censorship.  He had ‘no use for the censor’.

Instead, he had spent time with the soldiers in their rest camps and in the military hospitals, and had also made a ‘pilgrimage amongst the ruins of Arras’, which had at one time been one of the most beautiful cities in France, but was ‘now without one complete building’. He had also visited the trenches, where he was given a tin-hat and a gas-mask. He had also personally witnessed, he said, some aerial combat.

Bottomley also gave some details to the Assembly Rooms audience of his visits to Vimy Ridge, Beaumont Hamel, and the Somme area. As the Surrey Comet observed, Bottomley ‘drew a vivid word picture’ and, at the close of his lecture, ‘a number of photographs of the places visited by Mr. Bottomley were projected on the screen’.

The Surbiton Assembly Rooms talk by Bottomley must have been quite a revelation to the people who attended that evening. The public were thirsty for reliable news during the later stages of the Great War, and there is evidence that some people were becoming increasingly cynical and distrustful about what they were reading in the national and local press. Bottomley was able to skilfully create the impression (rightly or wrongly) that he had somehow defied the censors, and was giving his audience a unique and direct eye-witness account of conditions at the Front. It is difficult to discern what was accurate and what was less reliable in his talks, but the Assembly Rooms meeting still provides the historian with an important insight into what was happening at local level in wartime Surbiton, and some useful evidence on the impact a well-known ‘national’ personality could exert.

Bottomley enjoying trench cuisine near Oppy Wood, September 1917 (© IWM Q 2807)

Bottomley’s lecture at Surbiton also included some comments that reflected his wider patriotic and characteristic message: at one point he referred to ‘the Huns’ as ‘a race of barbarians’, who were capable of ‘hideous’ atrocities. Questioned about the probable end of the war, Bottomley said it ‘began on the Western Front, and it would end there’. In hindsight, the last comment was arguably one of the only truly reliable things Bottomley ever really said.

Michael Page adds: Horation Bottomley also visited Surrey in 1915, addressing a meeting in Guildford on 24 September.  He was introduced as ‘England’s War Orator’ and gave a very upbeat and remarkably inaccurate assessment of the situation at that time, confidently stating that ‘as far as the theatre of war was concerned on the western front we have the Germans absolutely at our mercy’.  He ended his speech, by stating that it was his belief that the war was part of God’s masterplan for the Anglo-Saxon peoples, who, once they had been proved to be worthy, would lead mankind into a future Golden age.

Bottomley’s conclusion to his speech at Guildford on 24 September 1915 (Surrey Advertiser, 27 September 1915)

Listening to the Guns – ‘Picnic: July 1917’ by Rose Macaulay

Written by Carole Garrard

Such was their thunderous noise, the rumble of the guns and the blast of detonating shells on the Western Front were audible in southern England on a still day or if the wind was in the right direction.  Rose Macaulay’s poem, ‘Picnic: July 1917’, evokes the experience of hearing the (by then) familiar sound amidst the wild beauty of the Surrey hills.

We lay and ate the sweet hurt-berries
In the bracken of Hurt Wood.
Like a quire of singers singing low
The dark pines stood.

Behind us climbed the Surrey Hills,
Wild, wild in greenery;
At our feet the downs of Sussex broke
To an unseen sea.

And life was bound in a still ring,
Drowsy, and quiet and sweet….
When heavily up the south-east wind
The great guns beat.

We did not wince, we did not weep,
We did not curse or pray;
We drowsily heard, and someone said,
‘They sound clear today’.

We did not shake with pity and pain,
Or sicken and blanch white.
We said, ‘If the wind’s from over there
There’ll be rain tonight’.

Once pity we knew, and rage we knew,
And pain we knew, too well,
As we stared and peered dizzily
Through the gates of hell.

But now hell’s gates are an old tale;
Remote the anguish seems;
The guns are muffled and far away.
Dreams within dreams.

And far and far are Flanders mud,
And the pain of Picardy;
And the blood that runs there runs beyond
The wide waste sea.

We are shut about by guarding walls;
(We have built them lest we run
Mad from dreaming of naked fear
And of black things done).

We are ringed all round by guarding walls,
So high, they shut the view.
Not all the guns that shatter the world
Can quite break through.

Oh guns of France, oh guns of France,
Be still, you crash in vain….
Heavily up the south wind throb
Dull dreams of pain…..

Be still, be still, south wind, lest your
Blowing should bring the rain……
We’ll lie very quiet on Hurt Hill,
And sleep once again.

Oh we’ll lie quite still, not listen nor look,
While the earth’s bounds reel and shake,
Lest, battered too long, our walls and we
Should break…….should break……….


Rose Macaulay (1881-1958), is better known as a novelist than a poet, although the quality of this poignant and elegiac poem The Picnic suggests it should be otherwise. Macaulay’s first novel, Abbots Verney, was written in 1906 and her final and most famous work The Towers of Trebizond, was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize in 1956. She was created a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1958, the year of her death. After her death it was revealed through private letters and diaries that in 1918 she had fallen in love with a married man, Gerald O’Donovan, a former Jesuit priest, and that, despite her religious convictions and moral scruples, they were lovers until his death in 1942.

Rose Macaulay was born in Rugby, Warwickshire in 1881, the second of the seven children of G.C. Macaulay, an acclaimed classics scholar and teacher at Rugby School, and his wife Grace Mary Conybeare. Her early childhood was spent in Italy near Genoa and after the family’s return to England she attended Oxford High School for Girls and later entered Somerville College, Oxford, where she read Modern History. After her graduation in 1903 she lived briefly in Aberystwyth where her father was working at the university but in 1905 the family again moved, this time to Great Shelford in Cambridgeshire. Rose’s father had been invited to join the English department at Cambridge University, where he became a lecturer and founded the Modern English Review. Her circle of acquaintances included many of her father’s friends at the department and past pupils including Rupert Brooke with whom Rose had a close friendship and with whom she corresponded and shared her early poetry.

In these years before the outbreak of war Rose was writing novels and publishing poetry in the Westminster Gazette. Her first novel Abbots Verney appeared in 1906, followed by another six before 1914, including The Lee Shore, for which she won a Hodder & Stoughton competition. With the prize money and with help from an uncle she was able to move to London, breaking away from what had become an increasingly stifling and restricted existence dominated by her father, and bought a flat in Southampton Buildings, off Chancery Lane. With introductions by Brooke she was soon moving in the top literary circles of London, including the Bloomsbury set of Virginia Woolf, E.M. Forster and Lytton Strachey. It was also in 1914 that she published her first book of poetry, The Two Blind Countries.

At the outbreak of war Rose worked as a nurse and briefly as a land girl, returning to London to work as a civil servant, first at the British Propaganda Department, and later at the War Office, with responsibility for exemptions from service and conscientious objectors. One of her closest friends was Naomi Royde-Smith, who worked at the Saturday Westminster Gazette as literary editor, the first time a woman had held this position. Royde-Smithe published the early work of, among others, Rupert Brooke, D. H. Lawrence, and Graham Greene. The two women were renowned for their well-attended literary parties at Naomi’s flat in Kensington which attracted writers, politicians and academics including Hugh Walpole, William Beveridge, Middleton Murry, Katherine Mansfield and Naomi’s lover Walter de la Mare. The two women also liked to spend time out of London at Naomi’s cottage in Holmbury St Mary, near Dorking, where the married De la Mare could visit more privately. It is from this cottage that they would have taken walks through the Surrey Hills including Hurt Hill where the poem is set. In one of her letters to De la Mare Naomi described Hurt Wood as ‘the peacefullest and silentest and sweetest-smelling place anywhere’.

In a literary analysis of the poem Kate McLoughlin suggests that the poem is an early depiction of ‘compassion fatigue’. She argues that in the same way that modern viewers’ compassion can be dulled by too much exposure to horrific events graphically portrayed by modern TV and media so the picnickers of the poem long to ignore the harsh reality and pain, the ‘hurt berries’, of the war that intrudes even whilst they try to enjoy a simple outing in the countryside. Their attempts to disregard the faraway sounds of the guns, to forget, if only for an afternoon, the destruction of their friends across the Channel, are shattered by the associated memories and realities of what those distant sounds of the great guns on the battlefields of Flanders embody. The final stanza reveals the poet’s deep understanding of the psychological stress all of them are enduring even though they are not physically on the battlefield, and how close they are to breaking under the strain.


Wikipedia article

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

McLoughlin, Kate.Rose Macaulay, Hurt-Berries and Compassion Fatigue (http://ww1centenary.oucs.ox.ac.uk/?p=2279) licensed as Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/)

Poem is © The Society of Authors as the Literary Representative of the Estate of Rose Macaulay.  The poem is protected by copyright and may not be used for commercial purposes without permission from the copyright holder

Photographing the Fallen

Ivan Bawtree was my great-great-uncle. He was born in 1894 and grew up in Sutton, living most of his life at Clapham Lodge off the Banstead Road South. When war broke out in 1914 Ivan was working at Kodak and helping to run a company of the Boys’ Life Brigade. In March 1915 the Graves Registration Commission had come into being under the leadership of Fabian Ware, with the mission to record the positions of graves of fallen soldiers and to ensure that they were, as far as the military situation permitted, adequately marked and cared for. By May it was decided that the Commission should seek the services of three professional photographers to meet growing demand from bereaved relatives for photos of graves. Ivan volunteered for the task and within a week was in France.

He wrote:

‘In France at first we travelled in an officer’s car to various cemeteries: Bailleul, Bethune, Ypres, Kemmel etc. but as more and more work came in we went for several weeks and stayed at a Graves Registration Section. There we had a number of these: Bailleul, Poperinghe, Estaires, Amiens, Arras, Dunkirk, Dickebusch etc. From those sections we got a lift in a car when possible but otherwise carried our equipment on our backs and rode a push bike. The more formal cemeteries were reached first by car and then on foot through communication trenches etc. Quite an adventure and a certain amount of shelling as we worked close by some of our batteries. It was not always funny.’

The cemeteries tended to spring up either in close proximity to the front line or next to field hospitals and casualty clearing stations. Ivan was therefore often moving around near the front line and was prone to shellfire. On numerous occasions he had to run for cover or change routes: ‘If shelling got too heavy the officer would withdraw us. One day he very nearly got hit and was bowled over while we hid behind a tree to dodge the shell splinters.’ He was mentioned in despatches in December 1917 for his willingness to obtain requested photos under circumstances considered ‘too lively for photography’.

Grave of Sgt Harry Daniels, Royal Engineers

Title: Grave of Sgt Harry Daniels, Royal Engineers
Description: Sgt Daniels was killed in action on 15 January 1915 near Ploegsteert, and is buried at the London Rifle Brigade Cemetery. He was actively involved with Ivan in the Boys' Life Brigade in Sutton. Image courtesy and copyright of Jeremy Gordon-Smith by-nc

By the time he was discharged from service in October 1919, Ivan had taken more than 28,000 photographs of war graves. More than 600 photographs survive, the majority of which were donated to the Imperial War Museum in 1975. While many of the photos depict war graves, Ivan photographed a great many other things too – many which starkly show the loss and devastation of war. His photos also show some of the early operations of the Imperial War Graves Commission that was established in May 1917 (the successor to the Graves Registration Unit). The collection can be viewed on the IWM website.

Ruins of the Cloth Hall, Ypres

Title: Ruins of the Cloth Hall, Ypres
Description: Ivan took numerous photographs around Ypres after the armistice. The iconic ruins of the Cloth Hall feature in many of them. Image courtesy & copyright of Jeremy Gordon-Smith by-nc

As well as numerous photographs, several of Ivan’s diaries, letters, memoirs and other documents have survived, allowing me to put together a book about his unusual war service. His writings and photographs have given me a personal window to engage with the enormous scale of loss, sacrifice and devastation of the Great War, as well as the opportunity to follow in his footsteps around the Western Front.

All quotations in this piece are from Ivan Bawtree’s memoirs, the handwritten pages of which are in the author’s private collection but which are reproduced in full in his book about Ivan Photographing the Fallen (see hyperlink in preceding paragraph).