‘Who stands if England fall, who dies if England live?’ Poignant poetry written by recovering soldiers who would later be killed in World War I is unearthed in nurse’s journal set to go up for auction
- Nurse Helen Dryerre kept a leather-bound album from her service during WWI
- She permitted recovering troops to leave sketches and poems in her notepad
- The historic book will be sold on January 19 by C&T Auctions on January 19
A nurse’s journal containing poignant poetry from fallen British soldiers has been unearthed 106 years on.
Helen Dryerre kept a black leather album which she gave to dozens of convalescing soldiers to sign, write and draw in during the First World War.
Some British troops penned poetry from their hospital beds, while others did patriotic illustrations and one made a charming sketch of her.
Tragically, three of the soldiers who wrote in the album were later killed on the same day during the Battle of the Loos on October 13, 1915.
Nurse Helen Dryerre kept a notepad during WWI which she allowed recuperating soldiers to leave notes, sketches and poems while away from the front line and receiving attention for their injuries
The amazing notepad, which had been lost for 106 years has been submitted for auction later this month
Some of the soldiers left sketches while others wrote poems or letters in the leather-bound book
Among those who wrote in the book was 2nd Lieutenant Thomas O’Callaghan who lost his life a short time later in teh Battle of Loos
Lieutenant O’Callaghan lost his life alongside 2nd Lieutenant Basil Mogridge, 19, of the Leicestershire Regiment
Some of the entries are from before WWI such as this poem written a decade before the conflict
They were 22-year-old 2nd Lieutenant Guy Russell, 21-year-old 2nd Lieutenant Thomas O’Callaghan and 2nd Lieutenant Basil Mogridge, 19, who served in the Leicestershire Regiment.
Ms Dryerre later wrote next to their entries the date they were killed.
Lt O’Callaghan had written a moving poem about ‘sacrifice’ and ‘giving your life’ for King and Country.
It read: ‘There is but one task for all, for each one life to give.
‘Who stands if England fall, who dies if England live?’
Lt Mogridge wrote about a ‘beautiful, awful summer’s day’, adding: ‘Life and death and late and hate, homes made happy or desolate.’
Another soldier who seemingly survived the war, Eric Pochin, drew a Union Jack flag and quoted Rudyard Kipling’s poem The Widow at Windsor in his entry.
He wrote: ‘You may hang on the wings in the morning, you can flop round the earth till you’re dead.
‘But you won’t get away from the tune that they play To the bloomin’ old rag overhead.’
Other pages show a cartoon clown, a Scotsman playing the bagpipes and a man and woman on a sofa with the suggestive caption ‘keep the home fires burning’.
The 50-page sketch book is expected to sell for £300 when it goes under the hammer at C&T Auctioneers in Ashford, Kent
Tim Harper, specialist at C&T Auctions, said: ‘There are dozens of entries from soldiers who would been treated by the nurse after being wounded in battle’
There is a sweet drawing dated 1916 of a sailor and a bonnet-clad lady hugging on the deck of a ship with the caption ‘we all love Lizzie… and they all love Jack’.
The album, which contains about 50 pages, has emerged from a deceased estate in south east England.
It is going under the hammer with C&T Auctions, of Ashford, Kent, and is tipped to fetch £300.
Tim Harper, specialist at C&T Auctions, said: ‘There are dozens of entries from soldiers who would been treated by the nurse after being wounded in battle.
‘Back then, poetry was popular so they wrote poems and rhymes, and did sketches, in her album while sitting in bed.
‘It is extremely poignant to read the entries of the three officers of the Leicestershire Regiment who were killed at Loos.
‘I have not seen an album like this before and it is a sad and unusual item.’
The sale takes place on January 19.
Eric Pochin, drew a Union Jack flag and quoted Rudyard Kipling’s poem The Widow at Windsor in his entry
This sketch from January 1916 features a clown who advises Nurse Dryerre not to ‘look down in the mouth’
The leather-bound book was found from the estate of a deceased person
Some of the sketches are remarkably good and have been kept in excellent condition despite being more than a century old
While some of the soldiers left sketches others wrote poems or left notes in the book
Mr Harper said: ‘It is extremely poignant to read the entries of the three officers of the Leicestershire Regiment who were killed at Loos. I have not seen an album like this before and it is a sad and unusual item’
The book will go under the hammer at C&T Auctioneers on January 19
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