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May 1945 – The Canadian Scottish Regiment

Posted By on May 2, 2018

Aurich, Germany  May 1945. Canadian Scottish mess dinner (Image courtesy of the Canadian Scottish Regiment)

Aurich, Germany May 1945. Canadian Scottish mess dinner
(Image courtesy of the Canadian Scottish Regiment)

Fallen Comrades and Common Dangers

With the dawn of May 1945 news from the BBC announced Adolph Hitler was dead. Two days later Berlin had fallen.

The Canadian Scottish remained vigilant, ready for the continuing fray preparing itself for an assault on Aurich, Germany to commence 4 May, 1945. However, news that day brought word…tremendous news over the BBC that Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery had met, at Lüneberg Heath, Germany,  with high-ranking German officers – Admiral Hans-Georg von Friedeberg, Rear Admiral Gerhard Wagner General Eberhard Kinzel and Colonel Fritz Poleck.

Hostilities were in decline…German resistance had come to a conclusion and a ceasefire would be effected at 0800 HRS, 5 May 1945. Victory in Europe (V-E Day) would be celebrated, 8 May 1945.

Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery’s Ultimatum to the German Forces

You must understand three things: Firstly, you must surrender to me unconditionally all the German forces in Holland, Friesen and the Frisian Islands and Heligoland and all other islands in Schleswig-Holstein and in Denmark. Secondly, when you have done that, I am prepared to discuss with you the implications of your surrender: how we will dispose of those surrendered troops, how we will occupy the surrendered territory, how we will deal with the civilians, and so forth. And my third point: If you do not agree to Point 1, the surrender, then I will go on with the war and I will be delighted to do so……….All your soldiers and civilians may be killed”.

Within the Canadian Scottish, there was no wild celebration within the battalion that evening or on the following days….talk centered on mostly fallen comrades and common dangers…

The German surrender to the Canadian Army occurred in the small town of Wageningen, Netherlands, 5 May 1945.

The German surrender to the Canadian Army occurred in the small town of Wageningen, Netherlands, 5 May 1945, in the Hotel De Wereld.
(P. Ferguson image September 2009)

Carry On Cobber…Carry On

Posted By on April 25, 2018

Trooper H. ANZAC of Gallipoli. "Carry on Cobber"

Trooper H. Rush…one ANZAC of Gallipoli. Carry on Cobber…Carry On…
(P. Ferguson image, June 2012)

One ANZAC of Gallipoli

Today, 25 April, is ANZAC Day, a day when those especially connected to Australia and New Zealand remember those that went before. This before being, the veterans of Gallipoli, a ground this writer visited some while ago and whose heat, landscape, life, and reminders of war remain within.

Trooper Rush of the 10th Australian Light Horse is one of many cobbers [“mates” or “friends”] who remain within the earth of that far off Peninsula. Here we visit and sometimes encounter reminders of lives once lived – “HIS LAST WORDS / GOODBYE COBBER / GOD BLESS YOU”.

Harold Rush was killed Saturday 7 August 1915, age 23 and is buried at Walker’s Ridge, ANZAC, Gallipoli. 75 others are buried near to him.

The red poppies of Gallipoli. Constant reminders of the before.

The red poppies of Gallipoli. Constant reminders of the before.
(P. Ferguson image, June 2012)

The Zeebrugge Bell

Posted By on April 23, 2018

Dover's Great War bell, the Zeebrugge Bell. (P. Ferguson image, September 2005)

Dover’s Great War bell, the Zeebrugge Bell. (P. Ferguson image, September 2005)

St. George’s Day – Zeebrugge Day

A hundred years ago this day…on St. George’s Day (sometimes known as Zeebrugge Day)…23 April 1918, 1,700 British sailors and marines took part in the raid on the port of Zeebrugge, Belgium. Of the 75 vessels used in the attack some are better known than others including HMS Vindictive held against the infamous mile-long Zeebrugge mole by the SS Daffodil, one of two Mersey ferries requisitioned for the raid. Both Daffodil and Iris returned to their traditional roles on the Mersey afterwards but were renamed Royal Daffodil and Royal Iris in honour of their much celebrated participation. All three vessels carried boarding parties.

Another reminder of the raid is located on the Maison Dieu (formerly the Town Hall) High Street, Dover, England where at noon on the anniversary of the Zeebrugge raid a bell, witness to the actions at Zeebrugee, is rung by the town’s Mayor at noon. During the war the bell was taken by German forces from the Belgians and mounted on the mole at Zeebrugge to be rung in the event of an Allied naval or air attack. The Zeebrugee bell was presented, prior to the end of the Great War, by the King of the Belgians to the people of Dover. Initially installed at St. Mary’s Church the bell was re-situated in its present position in 1923. The bell has recently been restored.

Zeebrugge Bell commemorative plaque, Dover, England. (P. Ferguson image, September 2005)

Zeebrugge Bell commemorative plaque, Dover, England. (P. Ferguson image, September 2005)

The British forces that landed at Zeebrugge suffered many casualties 227 fatalities and 356 wounded. Many awards were granted for gallantry and of the eight Victoria Crosses awarded to service personnel three Victoria Crosses were awarded by ballot; the last occasion on which the Victoria Cross was selected in this fashion. The recipients of the Victoria Cross are as follows:

Major Edward Bamford VC DSO
Royal Marine Light Infantry
Selected by Ballot

For most conspicuous gallantry. This officer landed on the mole from ” Vindictive” with numbers 5, 7 and 8 platoons of the marine storming force, in the face of great difficulties. When on the mole and under heavy fire, he displayed the greatest initiative in the command of his company, and ‘by his total disregard of danger showed a magnificent example to his men. He first established a strong point on the right of the disembarkation, and, when satisfied that that was safe, led an assault on a battery to the left with the utmost coolness and valour. Captain Bamford was selected by the officers of the R.M.A. and R.M.L.I. detachments to receive the Victoria Cross under Rule 13 of the Royal Warrant, dated the 29th January, 1856.

Lieutenant-Commander George Nicholson Bradford VC
HMS Iris II, Royal Navy
Posthumous Award

For most conspicuous gallantry at Zeehrugge on the night of the 22nd-23rd April, 1918. . This officer was in command of the Naval Storming Parties embarked in ” Iris II.” When ” Iris II.” proceeded alongside the Mole great difficulty was experienced in placing the parapet anchors owing to the motion of the ship. An attempt was made to land by the scaling ladders before the ship was secured. Lieutenant Claude E. K. Hawkings (late “Erin “) managed to get one ladder in position and actually reached the parapet, the ladder being crashed t0 pieces just as he stepped off it. This very gallant young officer was last seen defending himself with his revolver. He was killed on the parapet.  Though securing the ship was not part of his duties, Lieut.-Commander Bradford climbed up the derrick, which carried a large parapet anchor and was rigged out over the port side; during this climb the ship was surging up and down and the derrick crashing on the Mole; waiting his opportunity he jumped with the parapet anchor on to the Mole and placed it in position. Immediately after hooking on the parapet anchor Lieut.-Commander Bradford was riddled with bullets from machine guns and fell into the sea between the Mole and the ship. Attempts to recover his body failed. Lieut.-Commander Bradford’s action was one of absolute self-sacrifice; without a moment’s hesitation he went to certain death, recognizing that in such action lay the only possible chance of securing “Iris II” and enabling her storming parties to land.

Captain Alfred Francis Blakeney Carpenter VC
HMS Vindictive, Royal Navy
Selected by Ballot

For most conspicuous gallantry. This officer was in command of ” Vindictive.” He set a magnificent example to all those under his command by his calm composure when navigating mined waters, bringing his ship alongside the mole in darkness. When ” Vindictive ” was within a few yards of the mole the enemy started and maintained a heavy fire from batteries, machine guns and rifles on to the bridge. He showed most conspicuous bravery, and did much to encourage similar behaviour on the part of the crew, supervising the landing from the ” Vindictive” on to the mole, and walking round the decks directing operations and encouraging the men in the most dangerous and exposed positions. By his encouragement to those under him, his power of command and personal bearing, he undoubtedly contributed greatly to the success of the operation. Capt. Carpenter was selected by the officers of the “Vindictive,” “Iris II.,” and “Daffodil,” and of the naval assaulting force to receive the Victoria Cross under Rule 13 of the Royal Warrant, dated the 29th January, 1866.

Lieutenant-Commander Percy Thompson Dean VC
HM Motor Launch 282, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

For most conspicuous gallantry. Lieutenant Dean handled his boat in a most magnificent and heroic manner when embarking the officers and men from the blockships at Zeebrugge. He followed the blockships in and closed “Intrepid” and ” Iphigenia ” under a constant and deadly fire from machine and heavy guns at point blank range, embarking over 100 officers and men. This completed, he was proceeding out of the canal, when he heard that an officer was in the water. He returned, rescued him, and then proceeded, handling his boat throughout as calmly as if engaged in a practice manoeuvre. Three men were shot down at his side whilst he conned his ship. On clearing the entrance to the canal the steering, gear broke down. He manoeuvred his boat by the engines, and avoided complete destruction by steering so close in under the mole that the guns in the batteries could not depress sufficiently to fire on the boat. The whole of this operation was carried out under a constant machine-gun fire at a few yards range.. It was solely due to this officer’s courage and daring that M.L.282 succeeded in saving so many valuable lives.

Sergeant Norman Augustus Finch VC MSM
HMS Vindictive, Royal Marine Light Infantry
Selected by Ballot

For most conspicuous gallantry. Sergeant Finch was second in command of the pompoms and Lewis guns in the foretop of ” Vindictive,” under Lieutenant Charles N. B. Rigby, R.M.A. At one period the “Vindictive” was being hit every few seconds, chiefly in the upper works, from which splinters caused many casualties. It was difficult to locate the guns which were doing the most damage, but Lieutenant Rigby, Sergeant Finch and the Marines in the foretop, kept up a continuous fire with pompoms and Lewis guns, changing rapidly from one target to another, and thus keeping the enemy’s fire down to some considerable extent. Unfortunately two heavy shells made direct hits on the foretop, which was completely exposed to enemy concentration of fire. All in the top were killed or disabled except Sergeant Finch, who was, however, severely wounded; nevertheless he showed consummate bravery, remaining in his battered and exposed position. He once more got a Lewis gun into action, and kept up a continuous fire, harassing the enemy on the mole, until the foretop received another direct hit, the remainder of the armament being then completely put out of action. Before the top was destroyed Sergeant Finch had done invaluable work, and by his bravery undoubtedly saved many lives. This very gallant Sergeant of the Royal Marine Artillery was selected by the 4th Battalion of Royal Marines, who were mostly Royal Marine Light Infantry, to receive the Victoria Cross under Rule 13 of the Royal Warrant dated 29th January, 1856.

Lieutenant-Commander Arthur Leyland Harrison VC
HMS Vindictive, Royal Navy
Posthumous Award

For most conspicuous gallantry at Zeebrugge on the night of the 22nd-23rd April, 19181 This officer was in immediate command of the Naval Storming Parties embarked in ” Vindictive.” Immediately before coming alongside the Mole Lieut.-Commander Harrison was struck on the head by a fragment of a shell which broke his jaw and knocked him senseless. Recovering consciousness he proceeded on to the Mole and took over command of his party, who were attacking the seaward end of the Mole. The silencing of the guns on the Mole head was of the first importance, and though in a position fully exposed to the enemy’s machine-gun fire Lieut.-Commander Harrison gathered his men together and led them to the attack. He was killed at the head of his men, all of whom were either killed or wounded. Lieut.-Commander Harrison, though already severely wounded and undoubtedly in great pain, displayed indomitable resolution and courage of the highest order in pressing his attack, knowing as he did that any delay in silencing the guns might jeopardize the main object of the expedition, i.e., the blocking of the Zeebrugge-Bruges Canal.

Able Seaman Albert Edward McKenzie VC
HMS Vindictive, Royal Navy
Award Selected by Ballot

For most conspicuous gallantry. This rating belonged to B Company of seaman storming pan;y. On the night of the operation he landed on the mole with his machine-gun in the face of great difficulties and did very good work, using his gun to the utmost advantage.’ He advanced down the mole with Lieutenant-Commander Harrison, who with most of [his party was killed, and accounted for several of the enemy running from a shelter to la destroyer alongside the mole. This very gallant seaman was severely wounded whilst working his gun in an exposed position. Able Seaman McKenzie was selected by the men of the ” Vindictive,” “Iris II,” and ” Daffodil'” and of the naval assaulting force to receive the Victoria Cross under Rule 13 of the Royal Warrant dated the 29th January 1856.

Lieutenant Richard Douglas Sandford VC
HM Submarine C3, Royal Navy

For most conspicuous gallantry. This officer was in command of Submarine C.3, and most skillfully placed that vessel in between the piles of the viaduct before lighting his fuse and abandoning her. He eagerly undertook this hazardous enterprise, although, well aware (as were all his crew) that if the means of rescue failed and he or any of his crew were in the water at the moment of the explosion, they would be killed outright by the force of such explosion. Yet Lieutenant Sandford disdained to use the gyro steering, which would have enabled him and his crew to abandon the submarine at a safe distance, and preferred to make sure, as far as was humanly possible, of the accomplishment of his duty.

The Seaforths: Immediate Awards for Sicily

Posted By on March 27, 2018

Second World War Seaforth Highlanders of Canada cap badge.

Second World War Seaforth Highlanders of Canada cap badge with glengarry.

Burrasca furiusa prestu passa.
A furious storm passes quickly.
(Sicilian expression)

The following Immediate Awards were presented to members of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada for their actions during operations on Sicily. The regiment landed 10 July 1943 and by 18 August 1943 Sicily was held by the Allies.

The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada were granted the following battle honours for Sicily; Landing in Sicily, AGIRA, Adrano, Troina Valley, SICILY, 1943. The two titles in bold capitals are emblazoned on the Regiment’s colours.

The awards recorded below are shown in date order of action. They include the Distinguished Service Order [DSO], Military Cross [MC], Distinguished Conduct Medal [DCM] and the Military Medal [MM].

William Kenneth MacDonald MC. (Canadian Virtual War Memorial of Canada).

William Kenneth MacDonald MC. (Canadian Virtual War Memorial).

Captain William Kenneth MacDonald MC
Canadian Army Medical Corps attached Seaforth Highlanders of Canada

On 19 July 1943, “A” Company, advance guard to the Battalion [Seaforth Highlanders of Canada], were pinned on the forward slope of a hill near Caltagirone* by heavy and continuous machine gun and mortar fire.

Captain MacDonald, with a complete disregard for enemy fire, moved from platoon to platoon rendering first aid. As the action continued and for several days thereafter, without sleep day and night, this [medical] officer succoured and evacuated wounded. He constantly exposed himself to enemy fire and refused rest until every wounded man had been cared for.

He set an example worthy of his Corps.

William Kenneth MacDonald was killed by a sniper 5 August 1943 when attending a wounded soldier. He is buried at Agira Canadian War Cemetery, Sicily.

Private Jack Greig McBride MM

On 19 July 43, A Coy, the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, while advance guard to the battalion, came under heavy machine gun and mortar fire, and were pinned on the forward slope of a hill near Caltagirone*.

Pte McBride, a medical orderly in A Coy, although wounded in three places early in the action, moved from one position to another under fire, giving first aid to the wounded without thought for his own personal safety or his injuries.

His conduct was an inspiration to all ranks.

Rupert Rhoades Story MM. (Canadian Virtual War Memorial).

Rupert Rhoades Story MM. (Canadian Virtual War Memorial).

Lance Corporal Rupert Rhoades Story MM

On 19 July 43, A Coy, advance guard to the battalion came under very heavy machine gun and mortar fire, and were pinned on the forward slope of a hill near Caltagirone* offering no cover.

L/Cpl Story, although badly burned by an incendiary bomb, moved from section to section, disregarding enemy fire, to render first aid to the wounded. Although constantly under fire and in extreme pain, he refused to be evacuated and discharged his duties until all wounded had been cared for.

Rupert Rhoades Story was killed by a sniper 29 July 1943 when attending a wounded soldier. He is buried at Agira Canadian War Cemetery, Sicily.

Private (Acting Corporal) Frederic William Terry MM

On the 27th July 43, during the assault of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada on AGIRA, “A” Company; Seaforth of C. was ordered to gain the high ground dominating the town on the right.

Cpl. Terry of “A” Coy, found his section faced with a steep ascent under direct fire from an enemy machine gun as well as indirect fire from machine guns on the flanks. By superb leadership, Cpl. Terry worked his section up the slope without a casualty. He then led a charge which silenced the machine gun post and turned the gun on the enemy. His conduct and that of the section he he [sic]led was a major factor in gaining a foothold on the feature.

Frederic William Terry was killed 28 July 1943. He is buried at Agira Canadian War Cemetery, Sicily.

Bertram Meryl Hoffmeister DSO wearing the black beret of a Canadian Armoured unit. (Wikipedia).

Major General Bertram Meryl Hoffmeister DSO as commander of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division, ca. 1944-45. (Wikipedia).

Lieutenant Colonel Bertram Meryl Hoffmeister DSO

In the two days fighting to capture Agira on 27/28 Jul 43, the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada bore the brunt of the fighting.

Under the inspired leadership of Lieut.-Col. Hoffmeister the Battalion fought its way forward against very heavy opposition.

The Battalion objective was to capture some high ground completely dominating the town. During the final battle for this objective, communications were difficult. Lieut.-Col. Hoffmeister, with complete disregard for his own safety, made his way from Company to Company and though under very heavy fire, personally directed the attack on the enemy position.

His coolness, determination, and personal bravery under fire were an inspiration to all ranks under his command.

Henry Pybus Bell-Irving as the 23rd Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. (Wikipedia).

Henry Pybus Bell-Irving as the 23rd Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. (Wikipedia).

Major Henry Pybus Bell-Irving DSO

In the attack of the Seaforth of C of AGIRA, 28 Jul 43, Major Bell-Irving, Officer Commanding “A” Company, was ordered to gin [sic] and hold the sharp ridge on the right which was held by the enemy in strength. This operation entailed a most difficult ascent of a precipitous feature under direct fire from enemy machine guns. During the approach to the feature “A” Company came under heavy fire from two hidden enemy tanks. Major Bell-Irving, despite the heavy enemy fire and the resultant casualties, attacked and routed the tanks. He continued the advance, positioning himself in the forefront at all times and under his bold leadership, “A” Company stormed the hill, gained a foothold, and held the feature in spite of repeated counter attacks and heavy enemy machine gun fire. The courage and determination with which this officer pressed forward completely disregarding his own safety was in [sic] inspiration and contributed to the success of the battalion attack.

Acting Lance Corporal Denis Meade MM

During the afternoon of 28 July 43, the Seaforth of C were attacking AGIRA. Cpl. Meade, NCO i/c control wireless set was experiencing great difficulty in communicating with the attacking companies. With complete disregard for his own safety and in the face of heavy enemy mortar and small arms fire, Cpl Meade made his way forward to a position from which he was able to re-establish communications. The action of this NCO contributed materially to the success of the Battalion’s attack.

Private Malcolm Rae MM

During the attack of the PPCLI [Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry] on AGIRA, 28 July 43, it became necessary to move the unit anti-tank guns well forward. The only route to the new gun positions lay along a half mile stretch of road exposed to observed and accurate mortar fire which caused a number of casualties.

Pte. Rae, a regimental despatch rider [Seaforth Highlanders of Canada], was detailed to bring up their guns. On his first trip forward at 1500 hours, he was wounded in the chest by a burst from close range.

Pte Rae, despite the enemy fire and his wounds, led the guns into the new position. Then, showing devotion to duty of a high order, this soldier made four additional journeys to and fro, under the same intense fire, only ceasing at 2100 hours when he was ordered to go to the RAP [Regimental Aid Post].

Private Frederick Webster MM

During the afternoon of 28 July 43, the Seaforth of C attacked AGIRA. “A” Coy was ordered to attack and capture a ridge dominating the town from the right. In the course of the attack on the ridge, 8 platoon was held up by fire from an enemy machine gun post. Pte Webster, a Bren Gunner, with complete disregard for his own safety, and in the face of heavy machine gun fire, made his way forward to a position from which he could provide covering fire for his section. So accurate and effective was Pte Webster’s fire that his section was enabled to wipe out the machine gun post and his platoon was able to continue its advance.

Private (Acting Corporal) Robert John Donohue MM

During the daylight attack on the 600 foot dominating ridge West of ADERNO**, on 5 Aug 43, by “A” Coy, Seaforth of Canada, Corporal Donohue’s section, having been pinned down by enemy machine gun, was ordered to give covering fire to enable the rest of the Coy. to get on.

Unable to give accurate covering fire from this position owing to the nature of the terrain, Cpl. Donohue, seeing Cpl. McParlon, an N.C.O. [Non-commissioned officer] from another section, advancing alone toward the enemy post that was holding up the advance, turned his section over to a senior soldier, took a Bren Gun and pouches, and went forward to assist Cpl. McParlon.

Together they crawled 500 yards under enemy fire towards the enemy position; then firing skilfully and boldly from point blank range Cpl. Donohue and Cpl. McParlon cleared the post, enabling the advance to continue.

Private (Acting Corporal) George Lynn McParlon MM

During the daylight attack on the 600 foot dominating ridge west of ADERNO**, on 5 Aug. 43, by “A” Coy of the Seaforths of Canada, Cpl. McParlon was ordered to lead his section around the right flank to act as a cut off.

The section had only advanced some 300 yards when it was held up by observed fire from an enemy machine gun post, and Cpl. McParlon was wounded in the leg and back.

Despite his wounds and enemy action, this NCO displaying gallantry and devotion to duty of a high order, continued to advance.

He detailed his section to give him covering fire; then, joined by Cpl. Donahue from another section, attacked the machine gun post. Together they advanced 500 yards in full view of the enemy and then, skilfully and courageously firing his TSMG [Tommy sub-machine gun] at point blank range, he and Cpl. Donahue cleared out the post and enabled the advance to continue.

Disregarding his wounds, and in spite of the pain he was suffering, Cpl. McParlon assisted in the evacuation of casualties. Only after the position had been consolidated and all casualties evacuated, did he accept treatment.

George Lynn McParlon was killed 23 December 1943. He is buried at Moro River Canadian War Cemetery, Italy.

Private (Acting Corporal) Daniel Hadden DCM

On the morning, 6 Aug 43, “D” Coy. was ordered to attack and capture a 600 foot high rocky ridge overlooking the main road west of ADERNO**.

The ridge was well defended, little cover was available, and the section commanded by Cpl. Hadden soon came under heavy fire from a German machine gun post, suffering two casualties. This soldier then dispersed his section to give him covering fire and coolly crawled forward himself to take on the enemy post.

During the 700 yard advance on the post, he inflicted sufficient casualties with his Bren to keep the enemy heads down and then brought his section still further forward. Continuing on alone, still under the same heavy fire, he reached grenade range, threw five grenades at the position, with his section assaulted at the point of bayonet and routed the enemy.

Cpl. Hadden’s leadership and personal bravery were in the highest traditions of the service.

Alternative Place Name Spellings


The March Hare

Posted By on March 14, 2018

The March Hare from Lewis Carrol's, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland". Illustration by John Tenniel.

The March Hare from Lewis Carroll’s, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Illustration by John Tenniel.

Far from the Perfect Circle of the Sky

The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. “Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?” he asked. “Begin at the beginning,” the King said gravely, ”and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” (L. Carroll)

The March hare has risen amidst the March thaw in search of spring. Soon the bounty of nature will be upon us as new growth and blossoms speak to us of new beginnings. So too the landscape of the Great War, upon the fields, towns, villages and cities will feature the cyclical joys of nature offering solace and colour to the weary eye turned grey to years of war. The hare will hop from burrow to burrow, hedgerow to hedgerow, garden to garden as men continue to feel the rasp of fragments hot burst from their barrels or shredded fragments that pierce the blue and smoke-filled ‘scape. The hare may be mad in his search for amour, une jeune fille but for soldiers there can only be thoughts of love, no new beginnings at this time. There is more war to come in the Spring of 1918.

On 21 March 1918 the Kaiser’s Battle…the German Spring Offensive on the Western Front commenced. With the addition of 500,000 troops newly released from the Russian Front, the German command was confident of victory. Still there would be nearly eight more months of war. And in that time a generation of hares would have its leverets, its youth, adolescence and maturity. The hare would continue to hop amidst the minds of men whose lives, like the sword of Damocles, hung “far from the perfect circle of the sky.”

The March Thaw
Edwin Curran – March 1918

On – turgid, bellowing – tramp the freshet rills
Heaped up with yellow wine, the winter’s brew.
Out-thrown, they choke and tumble from the hills,
And lash their tawny bodies, whipping through.
With flattened bells comes scudding purple rain;
The cold sky breaks and drenches out the snow.
Far from the perfect circle of the sky
The heavy winds lick off the boughs they blow;
And fields are cleansed for plows to slice again,
For April shall laugh downward by and by.

With purifying blasts the wind stalks out
And sweeps the carrion of winter on;
It prods the dank mists, stamps with jest about,
And sows the first blooms on the greening lawn.
Far up the planks of sky the winter’s dross
Goes driven to the north; her rank smells wave
In unseen humors to the icy pole.
The charwomen of the sky, with brushes, lave
And wash the fields for green , and rocks for moss,
And busily polish up the earth’s dull soul.

Did You Know?

Alice Liddell (1852 – 1934) was a young acquaintance of author Lewis Carroll (1832 – 1898) and may have been the inspiration for Carroll’s character Alice in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865). Alice married Reginald Hargreaves and the couple had three sons, Alan Knyveton Hargreaves, Leopold Reginald Hargreaves and Caryl Liddell Hargreaves.

Captain Alan Hargreaves DSO, age 33, was killed with the 2nd Battalion, Rifle Brigade 9 May 1915 and is buried at Le Trou Aid Post Cemetery, Fleurbaix, France.

Captain Leopold Hargreaves MC, age 33, was killed serving with the Irish Guards, 25 September 1916 and is buried at Guillemont Road Cemetery, Guillemont, France.