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Pete Hill

Notable Persons who served in WW1-Part 1-Art, Music & Literature

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Pete Hill

Part 2

Art, Music & Literature

Robert Graves (UK) - Writer & poet, author of many works, the most famous being the Roman Historical epic I, Claudius & its sequel Claudius the God.

Joining up in 1914, he served in the British Infantry as an officer in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers and saw active service on the Western front 1915-16. Badly wounded at the Somme, he spent the rest of the war assigned to duties in Britain. He later wrote his famous war memoirs Goodbye to All That.

J R R Tolkien (UK) - Writer & author of classic works of Fantasy, the most famous being The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

In WW1, he served in the British Infantry on the Western Front as a Second Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers. He took part in the battle at Thiepval Ridge on the Somme, 1916. Contracting Trench Fever, he was invalided out of the army in November of that year.

C S Lewis (Ireland) - Writer & author of the classic children’s books- the Chronicles of Narnia.

In the Great War, he served in the British Infantry on the Western Front as a Lieutenant in the Somerset Light Infantry. Arriving at the front in November 1916, he fought at Arras the following year and was wounded. He spent the remainder of the war assigned to duties in Britain.

W E Johns (UK) - Magazine editor and author of the famous Biggles series of adventure novels for younger readers.

When WW1 began, 21-year-old William Earl Johns had already been in the Territorial British Army for over a year and he fought at Gallipoli in 1915 as a private in the King’s Own Royal Regiment (Norfolk Yeomanry). He survived the disastrous campaign un-scathed and his unit was evacuated in December. The following year he transferred to the Machine-Gun-Corps and was stationed on the Macedonian Front in Greece where he contracted Malaria and had to be hospitalised. He joined the RFC in September 1917 and completed his pilot-training at Reading before being posted to No 25 Flying Training School in Norfolk where he worked as a flying instructor to cadets operating Farman MF-11 Shorthorns. Accidental crashes were frequent and Johns wrote off three Shorthorns himself in three successive days, crashing into the sea, onto a beach and then into the back-door of a fellow pilot’s house. On another flight, he became lost in thick fog and nearly flew into a cliff. He had a further two brushes with death whilst practice-firing with live ammunition in flight when the synchronisation-gear on his forward-facing machine-guns failed, causing him to shoot off his own propeller on two separate occasions. Somehow, he survived through all this un-scathed and he was transferred to the Western Front for combat duty in August 1918. He flew DH4s on bombing sorties over German Territory for six weeks before his plane was shot down on September 16th by a Fokker DVII. His observer, Lieutenant A.E Amey, was killed but Johns survived to become a POW which he remained so until the end of the war. He stayed in the RAF until 1927.

A.A Milne (UK)- Writer, Playwright, Poet and Novelist, best remembered for his classic Childrens Books-Winnie the Pooh.

In WW1, Alan Alexander Milne served with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment on the Western Front but a serious illness forced him into the evidently less strenuous Royal Signals Corps.

E.H Shepard (UK)- Artist and Book Illustrator, best-known for his illustrations for the original editions of Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows.

In WW1, Shepard served as an officer in the Royal Artillery in 1915 and then worked in Army Intelligence for the remainder of the war, his duties including making sketches of enemy territory. He was awarded the Military Cross in 1918.

Hugh Lofting (UK)- Civil Engineer, Writer & Author of Children’s Books, famous for writing the popular Children’s series of novels- Dr Doolittle.

During WW1, Lofting served in the Irish Guards and fought on the Western Front. During one action, he was wounded by a grenade explosion.

J.B Priestley (UK)- Novelist, Playwright and BBC Broadcaster, was author of numerous works, the best-known of which is arguably the 1946 play When an Inspector Calls.

In WW1, he served in the 10th Battalion of the Duke of Wellingtons on the Western Front. He was wounded by mortar fire on the Somme in 1916.

Henry Williamson (UK)- Novelist & Essayist, best-remembered for his acclaimed 1927 novel Tarka the Otter, for his works based on his wartime experiences such as The Patriots Progress (1930) and for the epic 15-part series A Chronicle of Ancient Sunlight (1951-69). He became a member of the British Union of Fascists (BUF) in 1937 and was an admirer of Hitler during the 1930s.

Williamson joined the British Army eight months before the war began in 1914 and he was sent to France as a private in the London Rifle Brigade. He was a participant in the famous Christmas Truce of 1914 and the experience left him with a profound contempt for the war and a determination that England and Germany should never go to war again. He later became a Lieutenant in the Machine-Gun Corps and was attached to the Bedfordshire Regiment from 1917 until the Armistice.

R.C Sherriff (UK) –Playwright, Novelist and Screenplay writer, best-known for his WW1 play ‘Journeys End’ (1928) which he later turned into a novel. He also wrote the screenplays for numerous films including “Goodbye Mr Chips’ (1933), ‘The Four Feathers’ (1935) and ‘The Dambusters’ (1955).

In WW1, 19-year-old Robert Sherriff joined the 9th East Surrey Regiment with the rank of Captain. He fought on the Western Front from 1915-1917, seeing action at the Battles of Vimy and Loos and finally at Passchendaele, Ypres in 1917 where he was severely wounded.

Somerset Maugham (UK)- Playwright, Novelist & Writer of Short Stories. He is best-remembered for his novels Of Human Bondage (1915) & The Painted Veil (1925) and his play The Letter (1927).

Maugham was already an established writer in 1914 and, at 40 years of age, he was considered too old to be suitable for frontline service. Instead, he became an Ambulance driver for the Red Cross on the Western Front and also worked for British Intelligence. During his quiet spells, he continued to work on his novels.

John Masefield (UK)- Poet, Writer & Author of Children’s books, best-remembered for his 1902 poem Sea Fever and his novel for junior readers The Midnight Folk (1927).

Rejected for military service, Masefield served as a Medical Orderly in Army Hospitals during WW1.

Hugh Walpole (UK)- Prolific Novelist & Playwright of the 1920s and 30s. Highly popular in his time, his work receives little attention today.

Rejected by the Army due to his poor eyesight, the 30-year-old Walpole joined the Red Cross as a Volunteer Aid Worker and he served in Russia. He was awarded the Georgian Medal for bravery for rescuing a wounded Russian soldier whilst under enemy fire.

H H ‘Saki’ Munroe (UK)- Author, Writer of Short Stories, Playwright & Journalist. A popular and critically-praised writer of the pre-WW1 period, Saki (his pen-name), wrote popular short stories such as Toys of Peace & The Interlopers and novels such as When William Came (1913) which depicted an imaginary German invasion of Britain. His works are still widely-read today and they influenced famous writers such as Graham Greene and Noel Coward.

Munroe was 43 years-old when WW1 began but he enlisted immediately and became a private in the Royal Fusiliers (refusing an offer of a commission). He took part in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and in November near Beaumont, he was crouching in a shell-crater when he raised himself up and shouted “Put that bloody cigarette out!” to one of his nearby comrades. Those were his last words as the very next moment Munroe was shot dead by a German sniper.

Geoffrey Moss (UK)- Novelist of the 1920s-30s whose best-known works included the novel Sweet Pepper (1923) and the collection of short stories Defeat (1924) which was a sympathetic portrayal of post-war Germany. This latter work was credited with influencing the pro-German feelings of numerous intellectuals and writers in Britain prior to WW2. Although highly popular in their day, with author Graham Greene and film director D W Griffith amongst their admirers, his books are largely forgotten today.

Moss joined the British Army in 1905 and served in the Grenadier Guards. By the outbreak of WW1, he was an officer and he fought on the Western Front, reaching the rank of Major by the Armistice.

Martin Armstrong (UK)- Writer & Poet of the 1920s-40s whose best-remembered works include the novels Stepson (1927) and The Sleeping Fury (1929).

During WW1, Armstrong was a private in the Artists Rifles and he transferred to the Middlesex Regiment the following year. By 1916, he had risen to the rank of Lieutenant and he served on the Western Front throughout the war.

A.P Herbert (UK)- Novelist, Humorist, Playwright and Politician. Best-known for his satirical articles on British Law- The Misleading Cases-which were published in Punch Magazine in the 1930s, as well as his novel The Secret Battle and his play The Tantivy Towers. As a Member of Parliament, he also introduced the Matrimonial Causes Act 1937 which meant that married couples in the UK no longer needed proof of adultery before being allowed to divorce.

During WW1, Herbert served in the British Royal Navy and he participated in the ill-fated Gallipoli Campaign in 1915 where he was mentioned in despatches.

Simon Evans (UK)- Postman & Novelist who wrote five best-selling novels during the 1930s including Round the Crooked Steeple and Applegarth.

During WW1, Evans served as an Infantryman in the 16th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment and he fought on the Western Front. He was twice wounded in action, the first from a gas attack, the second time by shrapnel in both legs, injuries which left him with severe respiratory problems and a permanent limp. Evans suffered considerable mental trauma from his wartime experiences which he refused to talk about. A pious man before the war, Evans was disillusioned with what he perceived to be the war-mongering stance of the church and he abandoned his faith. His lung problems continued to impair his health, eventually causing his death in 1940 at the age of 44.

Dennis Wheatley (UK)- Popular author of adventure, thriller and occult/horror novels, who wrote over 75 books between 1933 and 1980. At the peak of his success in the 1960s, his novels were selling over a million copies a year. Today, his best-remembered work is the 1934 occult novel The Devil Rides Out which was made into a film in 1968.

In WW1, Wheatley joined the Royal Field Artillery and reached the rank of Second-Lieutenant. He saw action at Flanders, Ypres, Cambrai, St Quentin and finally at Passchendaele in 1917 where he was injured by Chlorine gas and was invalided out of the army.

Edmund Knox (UK)- Editor of Punch Magazine 1932-1949.

In WW1, he served in the Lincolnshire Regiment and was wounded in 1917.

Lance Sieveking (UK)- Writer & BBC Radio & TV Producer in the 1920s-1950s, credited with devising a number of innovative ideas in broadcasting.

In WW1, after serving in the Artists Rifles Regiment where he earned a commission, Sieveking transferred to the RNAS. He served as a pilot on the Western Front and earned the DFC. He was shot down in 1917 and spent the remainder of the war as a POW.

Ralph Vaughan Williams (UK)- Composer of symphonies, opera & chamber music, choral pieces & hymns from the early 1900s through to the 1950s. His most famous works include ‘Pastoral Symphony No 3’ (1921) and ‘Fantasia on Greensleeves’ (1934).

Williams was 41 years-old when WW1 began but he enlisted as a private in the British Army Medical Corps and served extensively as a stretcher-bearer on the Western Front. He then transferred to the Royal Garrison Artillery. During one action, despite being too ill to stand-up, he continued to direct his battery whilst lying on the ground. Prolonged exposure to the noise from the shell-fire permanently damaged his hearing and resulted in a steady decline in his auditory senses until he was virtually deaf in his old age. Being appointed director of music for the 1st Army in 1918 greatly relieved the trauma of his wartime experiences and helped him re-adjust to civilian (and musical) life.

Geoffrey Toye (UK)- Composer, Conductor & Producer of Operas. He was Music Director of the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company 1919-1924 (Carte himself served in the Royal Navy during WW1) and is best-remembered for his ballet The Haunted Ballroom (1934) and his new overture to Gilbert & Sullivan’s Ruddigore which is still played as the standard overture today.

During WW1, Toye enlisted in the British Army and served on the Western Front as a private in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. Later, he transferred to the RFC and served as a photographic specialist, ending the war with the rank of Major.

John Coates (UK)- Tenor who sang Opera & Oratorio from the 1890s until the 1930s, considered by many to be one of England’s greatest classical singers of all time.

In the Great War, Coates served as a Captain in the Yorkshire Regiment on the Western Front 1916-18 and he remained in the unit until the following year.

Gustav Holst (UK)- Composer and Music-Teacher who wrote & composed nearly 200 pieces of music, the most famous of which is his Orchestral Suite The Planets (1916).

During WW1, Holst attempted to enlist but was rejected for military service due to poor vision, poor lung capacity and frequent indigestion. However he managed to contribute to the war effort when he was offered a post through the YMCA work educational programme as a music director. In 1918, he spent a period of time in Greece & Constantinople teaching music to British troops. During the war, he was forced to drop the ‘von’ from his surname due to anti-German hysteria that swept Britain. This was rather ironic as Holst’s parents were in fact both Swedish descended from Russia.

George Butterworth (UK)- Composer best-known for his tune The Banks of Green Willow & his musical settings for the poems of A.E Housman.

In WW1, the 29-year-old Butterworth joined the British Army and served as a Lieutenant in the 13th Battalion of the Durham Light Infantry. Many of the men were former miners and Butterworth wrote admiringly of them in letters home. His Battalion was attached to the 23rd Division which participated in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Butterworth and his platoon successfully captured a series of German trenches near the village of Contalmaison and he was recommended for the Military Cross. On August 4th, 1916, with the Somme Battle entering its most intense phase, Butterworth’s men were tasked with the capture of a German communications-trench known as ‘Munsters Alley’. Attacking that night, they seized the trench but soon came under heavy counter-attacks from the Germans. Butterworth was shot in the head by a sniper and died instantly. His distraught men buried him in the side of the trench which later caved in during a heavy bombardment and after the war, a body that could be positively identified as Butterworth’s was never found. His name is on the list of missing on the nearby Thiepval Memorial on the Somme and his tune The Banks of Green Willow is often played there during ceremonies.

Herbert Read (UK) - Art critic, Writer & Poet who was an early champion of Modern art in Britain and a highly influential critic and collector.

At the outbreak of WW1, he joined the Green Howards Regiment and served on the Western front, receiving the Military Cross and a DSO for bravery and reached the rank of Captain.

Henry Moore -(UK)- Famous British modernist Sculptor of the 20th Century.

He turned 18 in 1917 and was called up into the Infantry and he served on the Western Front in the Prince-of-Wales Civil Service Rifles. During the Battle of Cambrai, he was injured in a Gas attack. Following his recovery in hospital, he served out the remainder of the war as a PT instructor. Moore later said that he suffered no real mental trauma as a result of his war experiences, saying that "the war passed in a romantic haze of trying to be a hero."

Wyndham Lewis (UK)- Painter, Novelist, Critic & Writer who co-developed his own artistic movement ‘Vorticism’ in England both before the Great War and was active from 1909 until the 1950s. His most famous works include the novel Tarr and the painting A Battery Shelled.

He served in the British Royal Artillery on the Western Front in early 1917 as a Second-Lieutenant. He commanded a 6-inch Howitzer crew at Vimy Ridge during the Third Battle of Ypres. Afterwards he was appointed to be an Official War Artist.

Charles S Jagger (UK)- Sculptor who produced a number of public works during the 1920s. His most famous public commission was the Royal Artillery Memorial which stands today at Hyde Park Corner in London.

In the Great War, Jagger served in the Artists Rifles, a Regiment initially comprised of people who were primarily employed in the arts, literature & design in civilian life. The unit also became a training Regiment for commissioned officers who were then sent to other units. Jagger was then transferred to the Worcestershire Regiment and took part in the Gallipoli Campaign and later fought on the Western Front. He was wounded in action three times and won the MC. The lingering effects of his injuries contributed to his premature death in 1934.

William Lamb (Scotland)- Painter, Sculptor & Printmaker of the 1920s-1950s. He is best-known for his commissioned portraits of the Duchess of York and her two daughters in 1932.

During WW1, Lamb served in the Queen’s Own Cameron Highlanders on the Western Front. He was twice wounded in action, including a serious injury to his right hand therefore he later taught himself to paint and draw with his left.

Alfred Leete (UK)- Illustrator & Graphic Designer whose most famous work by far was the Recruiting Poster he designed in 1914 which featured the iconic image of Lord Kitchener.

Leete served in the Artists Rifles Regiment on the Western Front.

Walter David Jones (UK)- Poet, Artist, Book-Illustrator and Essayist who is best-remembered for his long poem The Anathemata and his wood-engravings used to illustrate editions of famous books such as Gulliver’s Travels.

In WW1, Jones, a Welshman, enlisted in the Royal Welch Fusiliers and served on the Western Front until the end of the war in 1918. He fought in the bloody battle at Mametz Wood during the Somme Campaign in 1916, an experience which profoundly influenced his later poetry and art.

E M Forster (UK) - British writer of the Edwardian period who is best-known for his novels 'A Passage to India', 'A Room with a View' & 'Howard’s End'.

Although a conscientious objector, Forster worked as a volunteer orderly in Red Cross military hospitals in Egypt 1916-17.

Arthur Bliss (UK)- British Composer who had a long and prolific career from the 1920s through to the 1970s. His most well-known pieces include A Colour Symphony, Morning Heroes, the score for the ballet Checkmate and the soundtrack for the film The Shape of Things to Come. He was also Director of Music for the BBC during WW2 and was Master of the Queen’s Music 1953-75.

During WW1, Bliss served in the Grenadier Guards as an officer on the Western Front.

Ernest Farrar (UK)- Composer and Music Teacher of the pre-WW1 period. A prolific composer, his works include Celtic Suite and The Blessed Damozel but today he is best-known for being the teacher of future acclaimed composer Gerald Finzi.

In WW1, Farrar enlisted in 1915 as an infantryman in the British Grenadier Guards and served on the Western Front. By 1918, he was a Second-Lieutenant and was commanding a Platoon in the 3rd Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment. In October 1918, with only weeks to go before the Armistice, he was killed during the Battle of Epehy Ronssoy near Le Cateau. His distraught pupil Finzi composed a musical tribute to his respected teacher.

Vera Brittain (UK)- Writer and an active & vocal supporter of Feminism and Pacifism. Best-remembered for her 1933 book Testament of Youth.

During WW1, Brittain interrupted an Oxford Degree to work as a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) Nurse in 1915 and remained so for most of the war. By the end of the war, both her fiancé Roland Leighton and her brother Edward had been killed, a loss that had a major influence on her staunch pacifism in the following decades.

Basil Liddell-Hart (UK)- Writer, Journalist and Historian who was author of many best-selling works on Military History. Aroused controversy by his claim (since debunked) that he had been the first person to devise the ideas of military tactics used by the Germans in the so-called Blitzkrieg and that it was he who had influenced the Whermacht before WW2 to use them. Liddell-Hart also created the still-prevalent myth that the ‘Blitzkrieg’ was a carefully-prepared operational design whereas in reality the Germans were as surprised by the rapidity of their advance as the defending Allies were and many of their tactics were improvised in the field.

In WW1, Liddell-Hart joined the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry as an officer in 1914 and saw action on the Western Front. According to records, his time in the trenches totalled only seven weeks spread over a period of 2 years. He was then ‘downgraded’ to light duties due to an injury from a gas attack and also from what the army politely termed ‘constitutional in-adequacy’. He eventually became Inspector General of Training for the British Army in France and then transferred to the Army Educational Corps after the war. He became a full-time writer in 1927 after having to retire from the Army due to the lingering effects of his gassing injury. His former Army colleagues were angered by Liddell-Hart’s habit of prefixing his name with ‘Major’ throughout his writing career even though he was now a civilian.

Hugh MacDiarmid (Scotland)- Pen-Name of Writer, Left-wing Politician, Poet & Journalist who wrote works in both English and Scottish Gaelic. Best-known for his long-poem- A Drunk Man looks at his Thistle (1926). He was also a Communist and staunch Scots-Nationalist who once listed ‘Anglophobe’ as one of his hobbies!

During WW1, MacDiarmid (whose real name was Christopher Grieve) served in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Archibald J Cronin (Scotland)- Doctor, Novelist, Playwright and Social Commentator. A practising Doctor who also wrote, he is best-remembered for his novels The Stars Look Down (1935), The Green Years (1944), The Spanish Gardener (1950) & The Judas Tree (1961). He was a strong critic of the British Medical system and his ideas on a more equitable system were a major influence on the formation of the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK after WW2.

During the Great War, Cronin worked as a Surgeon in the Royal Navy.

Arthur Upfield (UK/Australia)- English-born Writer who emigrated to Australia in 1910 and who wrote a number of best-selling detective novels from the 1930s to the 1960s. The most-popular of his books were the stories featuring the half-caste Aboriginal Detective Bonaparte or ‘Bony’, which became a successful Australian TV-series during the 1970s. His novels in-advertently inspired the real-life killer Snowy Rowles who murdered three people in Outback Australia in 1929 and used ideas from Upfield’s books to dispose of the bodies.

During WW1, Upfield served as a driver with the 5th Company ASC (supply-train) of the 1st Light Horse Brigade of the AIF. He fought at Gallipoli in 1915 and later on the Western Front 1916-18.

Tom Roberts (UK/Australia)- English-born Painter of the late-19th century Heidelberg School of Realist-Impressionist Art in Australia. His large 1890 oil The Shearing of the Rams is one of the most famous and popular paintings in Australia.

Roberts was living in the UK when WW1 began and he worked as a volunteer orderly in a military hospital.

Ernst Hemingway (USA) – Journalist who covered the Spanish Civil War & Writer of acclaimed novels such as A Farewell to Arms and For Whom the Bell Tolls. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954.

In WW1 he was rejected by the US Army due to poor vision. Making his way to Europe, he served in the Red Cross Ambulance Corps on the Italian Front where, in July 1918, he was badly wounded in the legs by both shrapnel and machine-gun fire. He staunched the bleeding from his knee by stuffing cigarette butts and rolling papers into the wound. Despite his injuries, he managed to drag a wounded Italian soldier to safety for which the Italian government awarded him the Silver Medal of Military Valour. Hemingway recovered in a Milan hospital where he had a short-lived romance with an American Red Cross Nurse named Agnes Von Kurowsky, an experience he fictionalised in his novel A Farewell to Arms.

Raymond Chandler (USA)- Popular writer of crime/thriller novels of the 1940s-50s including The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye.

In WW1, Chandler enlisted in the Canadian Army in 1917 and fought on the Western Front with the Gordon Highlanders. In 1918, he joined the RFC and was undergoing his pilot training when the war ended.

James M Cain (USA)-Journalist & Popular writer of crime/thriller novels from the 1930s until the early 1980s. He is best-known for his novels The Postman Always Rings Twice (1934) & Double Indemnity (1943).

During WW1, Cain enlisted in the US Army and was stationed in France in 1918, assigned as a writer for a morale-boosting Army Magazine.

Dashiell Hammett (USA)- Author of best-selling Detective Novels during the 1930s including ‘The Maltese Falcon’, ‘Red Harvest’ and ‘The Thin Man’. He was also a left-wing activist and member of the American Communist Party before WW2 and consequently was black-listed by Senator McCarthy in 1953.

In WW1, Hammett served in the US Army Motor Ambulance Corps but he became ill with Spanish Flu in 1918 and he later contracted Tuberculosis. He was told by doctors that he should not live with his family for fear of infecting his wife and two children and, as a consequence, his marriage became an indirect casualty of the war.

Charles Nordhoff (UK/USA)- Writer & Author of the 1920s-1940s who was born in England but whose family emigrated to the USA when he was a child. He is best-known for his historical novels such The Bounty trilogy, including the best-selling Mutiny on the Bounty, adventure novels such as The Hurricane and books about the air-war of WW1 such as Falcons of France which described his own experiences. Many of his books were co-authored with fellow American James Norman Hall (see below).

In WW1, Nordhoff served in the Ambulance Corps before joining the famous Lafayette Escadrille which was a flying unit in the French air-force but comprised of American expatriate pilots who were serving in the war before the USA officially entered the conflict. After the US did enter the war in 1917, Nordhoff joined the US Army Air-Service with the rank of Lieutenant.

James Norman Hall (USA)- Writer, Journalist, Traveller & Author from the WW1-years through to the 1950s. He co-authored many of his works with Nordhoff (see above), including The Bounty trilogy. His solo-efforts comprised a number of books about his own experiences as a soldier, pilot and Pacific-traveller such as Kitcheners Mob (1916) and My Island Home (1952).

Hall was holidaying in Britain when the Great War broke out in August 1914 and he enlisted in the British Army by pretending to be Canadian. He served as a machine-gunner in the Royal Fusiliers and fought at the Battle of Loos in 1915. Army authorities then discovered his true nationality and he was discharged. Undeterred, Hall enlisted as a pilot in the famous Lafayette Escadrille of the French/US Flying Corps and saw considerable action whilst serving with them over the Western Front. When the USA officially entered WW1 in 1917, he transferred to the US Army Air-Service and achieved the rank of Captain before the war ended. He was shot down in 1918 and captured by the Germans, spending the last months of the war in a POW camp. Hall received numerous decorations including the US DSC and a French Croix Le Guerre and Legion d’Honneur.

Kent Curtis (USA)- Writer, Book-illustrator & Teacher. He wrote the popular trilogy of Boys-Own Adventure Novels- Cruises in the Sun- during the 1920s and also a novel based on WW1 air-combat The Tired Captains (1928).

During WW1, Curtis enlisted in the US Army reserve in 1917 but later transferred to England and entered the RFC for pilot training. He completed his training successfully and was commissioned as a Lieutenant in May 1918. He was assigned to the American 148th Aero Squadron which operated Sopwith Camels and commenced operational flying in July. His final of only three combat missions came on August 24th 1918 when he took off to deliver a low-level attack on German positions at Bapaume. Curtis did not return from this sortie. He was reported dead and his family were officially notified that he had been killed in action. Curtis had been shot down by anti-aircraft fire but, unbeknown to the Allies, he had survived the crash and had been taken prisoner. Although the war officially ended on November 11th, Curtis was kept in a German POW camp until December 1st before he was finally released and his family informed of the good news.

Arthur Guy Empey (USA)- Actor, Screenwriter and Author. Best-known for his prolific output of war/adventure/science-fiction short stories published in various ‘Pulp’ Magazines during the 1920s-1950s, most of them centred around the popular character Terence X O’Leary (“The X stands for Xcillint!”)

Following the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in May 1915 which outraged many Americans, Empey travelled to England and joined the British Army. He served in the 1st Machine-Gun Company of the London Regiment of the Royal Fusiliers attached to the 56th Infantry Division. He fought at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and was badly wounded and medically discharged. Returning to the USA, he attempted to enlist in the US Army in 1917 but was rejected due to his previous injuries. He gave several patriotic speeches urging fellow Americans to enlist (President Wilson attended one of them) but they were controversial as Empey, whilst full of praise for US volunteers, poured scorn on those who had to be drafted. This may have caused his Captain’s Commission in the US Army Adjutant-General Department to be cancelled after only a few days.

Gertrude Stein (USA)- Writer, poet, playwright and essayist. She is now generally remembered less for her own work but rather for her patronage, encouragement and associations with a number of important artists and writers of the early Modernist movement in France such as Picasso, Braque, Juan Gris and Hemingway.

In WW1, Stein and her partner Alice B Toklas were at first inclined to sit out the war in Spain but correspondence with a friend living in Paris inspired her to return. Stein purchased a Ford truck and she and Toklas worked as volunteer drivers, carrying medical supplies to French Army Hospitals.

F Scott Fitzgerald (USA)- Writer of the ‘Jazz Age’ between the two world wars and one of the so-called Lost Generation of US writers & intellectuals during the 1920s. His most famous works include the novels The Great Gatsby, The Last Tycoon and Tender is the Night.

In 1918, Fitzgerald left Princeton University to enlist in the US Army but the Armistice arrived before he completed his military training.

Alfred Joyce Kilmer (USA)- Poet of the pre-WW1 era, best-known for his poems Summer of Love (1911) and Trees (1914), the latter easily one of the most famous American poems ever written.

When the USA entered the war in 1917, Kilmer was married with young children and therefore he was technically exempt from the Draft but he volunteered anyway. He enlisted as a private in the 7th New York National Guard Regiment but later managed to secure a transfer to the famous ‘Fighting 69th Regiment of Irish-Americans, thanks largely to the influence of his friend, the well-known Father Duffy. He became a Sergeant after reaching the Western Front in France and served as an observer on the Regimental Intelligence Staff and therefore was not obliged to perform any frontline duties. But when the Divisional Adjutant was killed on July 29th 1918, Kilmer volunteered to take his place. On the following day (July 30th), Kilmer led a Scouting Party towards the village of Seringes during the Second Battle of the Marne. He crawled forward on his own to investigate the enemy positions and his men later found him lying face-down across the top of a small rise. He had been shot in the head by a sniper and 31-year-old Kilmer had died instantly. Kilmer’s brother Albert was also killed during the war.

Edmund Wilson (USA)- Writer, Editor & Literary Critic of the 1920s-1970s. Served as Editor for Vanity Fair and New Republic magazines and is best-remembered for his work as literary reviewer for The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. He wrote numerous books, the best-known of which are Axel’s Castle (1931) which was a study of Symbolism in literature and Finland Station (1940) which charted the rise of European Socialism.

During WW1, Wilson served in the US Army.

John Dos Passos (USA)- Novelist & Artist who is best-remembered for his novels Three Soldiers (1921), Manhattan Transfer (1925) and the best-selling USA Trilogy (1930-36).

In WW1, Passos served as a driver in the Norton-Harjes SSU-60 Ambulance Corps on the Western Front.

E E Cummings (USA)- Poet, Essayist, Playwright & Painter who is best-remembered for his novel The Enormous Room (1922) and his collection of poetry Tulips & Chimney (1923).

In WW1, Cummings served in the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Corps on the Western Front. Whilst in Paris on a visit, he was falsely arrested for espionage by the French authorities.

William Faulkner (USA)- Novelist & Poet who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949 and his most-acclaimed novels include Sound and the Fury (1929) and Absalom, Absalom (1936).

In WW1, Faulkner went to Canada and joined the RFC/RAF. There is some disagreement as to how far he got with his training with some writers doubting if he even enlisted at all. Faulkner allegedly later exaggerated the extent of his wartime service. What is certain is that he never saw any action nor did he reach France.

Harvey Dunn (USA)- Artist & Illustrator, best-remembered for his popular painting The Prairie is My Garden.

During WW1, Dunn enlisted in the US Army but was chosen to be one of a group of eight US painters assigned to be official war artists with the task of documenting the experience of the AEF in France. He produced numerous works in the form of sketches which depicted the grim reality of the war. Dunn planned to turn these sketches into major paintings or even large murals but he was demobilised too soon after the Armistice. Many of his battlefield sketches are owned by the Smithsonian Museum of American History.

Ludwig Bemmelmans (Austria/USA)- Writer, Book-Illustrator and Children’s Book Author who is best-remembered for his hugely popular ‘Madeline’ series of books for junior readers.

During WW1, he enlisted in the US Army in 1917. Because of his German heritage, he was not allowed to go to France but he served in the army until the end of the war. He became a US citizen in 1918.

Georges Braque (France) - Modernist Painter and co-invented the Cubist Abstract style of painting with his friend Picasso in the decade prior to the war.

He joined up in 1914 and served in the French army on the Western Front, sustaining a severe head-wound early in the war.

Fernand Leger (France)- Modernist Painter & Sculptor who was involved with the Cubist Movement and who painted Cubist and geometrically-Abstract works from the 1900s through to a gentler Figurative style after WW2.

In WW1, Leger was mobilised for service in 1914 and served as an Infantryman in the French Army on the Western Front throughout the war. He produced numerous sketches and drawings whilst in the trenches. He was injured by Mustard gas during the Battle of Verdun in September 1916 and had a period of convalescence in Villepinte. He later wrote that he was greatly affected by “…the crudeness, variety, humour and downright perfection of certain men around me…” during his time at the Front and that it did not take him long to “forget the abstract art of 1912-13”. For a time after the war, his paintings took on a hard-edged, more mechanical style.

Henri Gaudier-Brzeska (France)- Modernist Sculptor & Painter of the pre-WW1 era who moved to London in 1910 and became involved with the Vorticist Movement of British artists. He produced work heavily influenced by both the Cubist Movement and Primitive Ethnic Art.

When WW1 began, Gaudier-Brzeska travelled back to his native France and enlisted in its Army. Serving in the French Infantry, he fought on the Western Front and was decorated for bravery. During fighting at Neuville-St-Vaast on the 5th June 1915, he was killed in action.

Raymond Duchamp-Villon (France)- Sculptor who produced and exhibited work in Paris in 1902-1916, producing semi-abstract sculptures influenced by the Cubist Movement. His most famous work is the 1914 bronze- ‘The Large Horse’.

In WW1, Villon served in the French Army Medical Corps. Whilst stationed in a barracks in Champagne in late 1916, he contracted Typhoid-fever. He was transferred to an Army Hospital at Cannes where he had a long battle with his illness before he died in October 1918.

Maurice Ravel (France)- Pianist & Composer of numerous well-known pieces of chamber, piano, vocal & orchestral music 1895-1933, the most famous of which is the ballet-score ‘Bolero’ along with the piano series ‘Miroirs’ and orchestra piece ‘Spanish Rhapsody’.

In WW1, Ravel, with his slim & short build, considered himself as ideal for pilot-training and he attempted to enlist in the French air-force. However due to his weak health and age (he was 39 when the war began), he was rejected. He became a truck driver and served on the Western Front in the Verdun sector. During the war, a National League for the Defence of French Music was formed and Ravel was invited to join. He declined, stating that he felt that his country’s music would degenerate if it isolated itself from the work of foreign composers.

Guillaume Apollinaire (France)- Writer, poet & critic who was heavily involved with the Cubist and Abstract Movements of art in Paris 1907-1916. Coined the term Surrealism through his art criticism & was a close friend of Picasso.

Apollinaire fought in the French Army Infantry in WW1 and he was badly injured in the head by shrapnel in 1916. He initially recovered from his wounds but his weakened state left him vulnerable to infection and he died of Spanish Flu in 1918.

Joseph Kessel (France)- Writer, Novelist and Journalist of the 1920s to the 1970s. His best-known works include the controversial novel about prostitution-Belle de Jour (1928)-which became an equally controversial film in 1967-along with The Passerby (1938), the war novel Sky Battalion (1946) and the popular young readers novel The Lion (1958) which was made into a Hollywood film in 1962.

In WW1 Kessel, who was 16 years-old when the war began, enlisted in the French air-force and served on the Western Front as an observer/gunner in Escadrille N39.

Jean Cocteau (France)- Writer, Poet, Film-Director, Playwright, Theatrical Designer and Critic who was associated with the Surrealist Movement from pre-WW1 until the 1960s. Best-known for his play Les Enfants Terribles (1929) and his film Orpheus (1949).

During WW1, Cocteau served in the Red-Cross as an Ambulance Driver.

Otto Dix (Germany) – Painter of the German Expressionist Movement who achieved great success during the 1920s through to the 1960s. He produced powerful works that commented on the war and life in modern Germany. His large canvas ‘Trench Warfare’ which gruesomely depicted the horrors of the Great War was burned by the Nazis shortly before WW2. By the 1950s, his work mellowed in its emotional impact and the final part of his career was devoted to painting romantic landscapes.

The 23-year-old Dix joined up in 1914 and first served in the Field Artillery and was then assigned to a Machine-Gun unit, taking part in the Battle of the Somme in 1916 where he was seriously wounded. He also served on the Eastern Front in 1917 until the Russian surrender and then returned to the West where he took part in the March Offensive in 1918. Dix earned the Iron cross and reached the rank of vice-Sgt Major.

Max Beckmann (Germany)- Expressionist Painter of the 1920s and 1930s.

In 1914, he volunteered as a Medical orderly and served in Field hospitals and Forward Aid posts until he suffered shell-shock and a nervous breakdown in 1915 and was discharged.

Max Ernst (Germany)- Surrealist Painter, Printmaker, Sculptor & Poet, active during the 1920s-1930s in Europe and moved to the USA shortly before WW2.

Ernst served in the German Army during WW1. His experiences in the trenches profoundly changed him and he later wrote in his autobiography- “Max Ernst died on 1st August, 1914”.

August Macke (Germany)- Painter of the Expressionist Movement and The Blue Horseman group of artists active in Germany and France 1907-1914.

In WW1, Macke joined the German Army and served on the Western Front. He was killed during fighting at Champagne on 26th September 1914.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (Germany)- Painter & Printmaker of the German Expressionist Movement of the 1920s and 30s. His work was declared to be Degenerate Art in 1937 by the Nazis who sold or destroyed many of his paintings. He took his own life the following year.

Kirchner volunteered for military service at the outbreak of WW1 in 1914 and he fought on the Western Front as an infantryman in the German army. He suffered shell-shock and a nervous breakdown in 1915, was discharged from the military and he spent two years in sanatoriums in Switzerland.

Franz Marc (Germany) - Modernist (Expressionist) Painter and was one of the pioneers of that new style of painting in the decade before the war.

Mobilised in 1914, Marc served in the German Infantry. In 1916, his name was one on a list of notable German artists & writers who were deemed eligible to be withdrawn from Military service on the grounds they were too important to their nation's culture to be lost. Before the discharge orders reached the front, Marc was killed by shrapnel from an exploding artillery shell during the Battle of Verdun in 1916.

Paul Klee (Germany/Switzerland)- Painter associated with the Expressionist, Surrealist and Bauhaus Movements. He moved to Switzerland in 1933 shortly after the Nazis came to power in his native Germany.

Thanks to his father’s influence, Klee was spared frontline service during WW1 and instead was employed as a painter of camouflage on German aircraft behind the lines. The work he did actually influenced the abstract elements of his own work during the following decades. Klee was close friends with August Macke and Franz Marc (see above) and was deeply affected by their deaths.

Carl Orff (Germany) – Composer best-known for his famous composition ‘Carmina Burana’ (1937) and for his Pedagogical work in the techniques of teaching music to young children.

Orff served in the German Army in WW1 as an Infantryman on the Western Front.

Bertolt Brecht (Germany)- Poet, Playwright & Theatre Director who wrote many plays, the best-known of which include Drums in the Night (1918), The Threepenny Opera (1928) & The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (1930).

In WW1, Brecht was 16 years-old when the war began and he was initially keen to enlist but this soon changed as he saw his school-friends killed or maimed at the Front at an alarming rate. His father advised him to enrol in a Medical course at Munich University as a way of avoiding Military Service. He was finally drafted in late 1918 and spent a month as a medical orderly at a military VD clinic before the war ended.

Walter Gropius (Germany)- Architect & Founder of the famous Bauhaus Movement of Art & Design during the 1920s.

During WW1, Gropius was a Sergeant-Major in the German Infantry and fought on the Western Front. He was badly wounded in action and nearly died of his injuries.

Fritz Kreisler (Austria/USA)- Concert Violinist and Composer who worked from the turn of the century until the 1960s. He was regarded as the best violinist of his day and one of the best Austria has ever produced. His best-remembered works include Apple Blossoms (1919) and Sissy (1932) and, due to his work openly displaying its influences, many of his pieces were often falsely attributed to other composers such as Vivaldi. He became a US citizen in 1943. Kreisler’s Cadenza for the Beethoven Concerto is still widely performed today.

During WW1, Kreisler was an Officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army and he fought on the Eastern Front. Whilst fighting off an attack by Russian Cossacks, he was wounded in the shoulder and thigh and he collapsed un-conscious. His unit left him behind but an orderly returned and found him still alive, carrying him to a Field-Hospital. Kreisler eventually recovered from his injuries but was deemed unfit for further military service and was honourably discharged. Later he wrote the book Four Weeks in the Trenches about his wartime experiences.

Paul Wittgenstein (Austria/USA)- Acclaimed Concert-Pianist & Music-Teacher who achieved great success in the 1920s and 30s despite only having one arm which required innovative playing techniques. Being of largely Jewish descent, he fled to the USA in 1938 when Austria was annexed by Hitler’s Germany and he became a US citizen in 1946. Paul had four brothers, two of whom committed suicide prior to 1914 whilst a third took his own life whilst serving in the Army during WW1. The surviving brother, Ludwig, became a famous Philosopher (see Science & Medicine below).

In WW1, Wittgenstein who had already began playing Piano in concert prior to the war, enlisted in the Austro-Hungarian Army and he participated in the offensive into Poland. During a battle, he was shot in his right elbow and captured by Russian troops. He received medical care but the wound became infected and his right arm had to be amputated. Whilst being held in a POW camp in Siberia, he resolved to continue his music career by learning to play with only his left arm and he wrote to his old music teacher, asking him to arrange pieces that could be played one-handed.

Egon Schiele (Austria)- Painter of the early Expressionist Movement during the pre-WW1 period.

Three days after he got married, Schiele was called up for military duty in June 1915. Deemed to be un-suitable for frontline service, he served as a prison-camp guard for Russian POWs in 1916. In October 1918, Schiele died of Spanish Flu at the age of 28, only three days after the same disease had claimed his wife.

Oskar Kokoschka (Austria/UK)- Painter of the Expressionist Movement. His most-famous works include the 1913 painting The Bride of the Wind. He fled from Austria in 1938 to escape the Nazis and became a British citizen in 1946.

Kokoschka served in the Austro-Hungarian Army during WW1 and he was wounded in action. Doctors declared him mentally unstable and he was discharged from further service.

Umberto Boccioni (Italy)- Painter & Sculptor who exhibited works in his native country in 1907-1914 and who was one of the most important members of the so-called Futurist Movement which revolutionised the Visual Arts, Music, Architecture and Literature in Italy with a staunchly pro-modern, anti-traditionalist outlook.

In WW1, Boccioni was mobilised into the Italian Royal Army Cavalry. During a training exercise near Verona in August 1916, he was thrown from his horse and trampled. Severely injured, he died the following day.

Gabriele D’annunzio (Italy)- Novelist, Poet, Playwright & Journalist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He is best-remembered for his 1889 novel The Child of Pleasure and for his poem The Rain in the Pinewood. He was an early member of the Fascist Movement in Italy.

During WW1, D’annunzio flew as a fighter pilot in the Royal Italian air-force and he lost an eye in a flying accident. He led a bombing-raid on the Austrian-held harbour of Bakar which received much praise from the Italian public and the press. In August 1918, he led a nine-plane formation on a 700km-round trip to drop propaganda leaflets on Vienna and ended the war as a Squadron-Commander.

Giuseppe Ungaretti (Italy)- Poet associated with the Futurist, Symbolist and Dada (Anti-Art) Movements and who published volumes of prose between 1916 and 1969. He is best-remembered for his collection of poetry L’allegria (Joy). He was also associated with the Fascist Movement.

He served in the Royal Italian Army during WW1 and was stationed in Northern Italy on the French border. Whilst in the trenches, he wrote his first volume of poetry.

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Kate Wills

Arthur Bliss was first commissioned into 13th Royal Fusiliers. Morning Heroes was dedicated to his brother Kennard, an RFA officer who fell on the Somme in September. Arthur was wounded in the ankle in the early stages of that battle. The last movement is a depiction of the Somme offensive.

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D'Annuncio was an Italian patriot of poetic nature. At the end of the war, he was involved in the occupation of Trieste. The Italian Govt. agreed to hand the city over to the new Yugoslav government, to which he disagreed. He expressed his disapproval by flying over the Italian government buildings in Rome and dropping a chamber pot full of carrots. (I couldn't make this up!)


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Sassoon and Owen, of course. Both lost.

Studied some of Owens' poems at school many years ago, great work.



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Also Edward Home-Gall, prolific writer of boys stories in comics and books from 1930s-1960s. Served as an officer with the 32nd Royal Fusiliers and won the MC during 1917. His brother Willie was also a writer and an officer of the Royal Fusiliers.


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Re: Walter Gropius

Forumites may be interested in some of the Images and film included in Bauhaus 100 on BBC Four (Directed by Mat Whitecross) which commemorates Walter Gropius, architect and founder of the Bauhaus.


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On 28/06/2009 at 13:11, Pete Hill said:

Walter David Jones (UK)

Perhaps more accurately recorded as (Walter) David Michael Jones. He never used Walter as far as I know, but sometimes signed himself D.M. Jones.


Ivor Bertie Gurney (UK), poet and composer.

Edited by seaJane

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Sir Lewis Thomas Casson





Born in Birkenhead, he was educated at Ruthin School, Wales and studied chemistry at at St Marks College, Chelsea. He left after 12 months  and worked in his father’s business for four years before leaving to become a professional actor with the Royal Court Theatre in London. He left in 1908 and worked in various theatres including the Manchester Repertory.


In 1909 he married Sybil Thorndyke (later Dame) and the same year left to tour in the USA. On return he became a theatrical manager. In the years prior to WW1  Lewis and Sybil Casson became hugely popular and were the “it” couple of their time.


On the outbreak of war Casson enlisted in the ranks of the ASC (TF) reaching the rank of Sergeant. He was commissioned into  the Royal Engineers in 1916 (LG 27.2.16) joining the Special Brigade. He would eventually command both G and M Special Companies.


He was awarded the MC the citation of  which appeared in the London Gazette on 18 July 1917.


For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He, on three separate occasions has shown extreme courage and determination connection with gas operations. His personal supervision and remarkable coolness have enabled hime to carry through the most intricate operation with success.


Wounded on 5 July 1917 he was evacuated to England on 6.8.17 and did not return  to the Special Brigade until 6 August 1918. In October the same year he was posted to the British Gas Mission (Warfare) until he was demobilised.


His knighthood appeared in the London Gazette on 14.6.1945, which noted that he was  “lately Drama Director for the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts.”


Lewis Casson died on 20 May 1969 and was cremated at Golders Green Crematorium.  His ashes were buried in St Paul’s Churchyard (The Actors Church) Covent Garden. He and his wife are commemorated in the church along with many others from their profession.



Edited by Terry_Reeves

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edwin astill

And that well-known artist A Hitler.



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On 28/06/2009 at 13:11, Pete Hill said:

During the Great War, Cronin worked as a Surgeon in the Royal Navy

He joined as a Probationary Surgeon RNVR, to be precise.

Edited by seaJane

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Jerome K Jerome


As he was born in 1859, I had no idea that he had been an ambulance driver in WW1. 


He appears on the French Red Cross Victory/BWM medal roll as Klapka J Jerome, and is shown as serving abroad from September 1916 to March 1917. 


Image result for "jerome k jerome" "ambulance"



Some quotes;


“The French army didn’t quite know what to make of us. Young recruits, in the dark, assumed us to be Field Marshals.”


“The cross country roads in France are designed upon the same principle as the maze at Hampton Court”


“The cockroaches were having a bad time. They fell into the stews and no one took the trouble to pull them out.”


“Fuel [firewood] was our difficulty. The news that a shelled village had been evacuated by its inhabitants flew like wildfire. It was a question of who could get there first and drag out the timbers from the shattered houses. Green wood was no good but in the dug-outs it was the only thing to be had. They say there’s no smoke without fire. It is not true. You can have a dug-out so full of smoke you have to light a match to find the fire. If it’s only French matches you have, it may take a boxfull.”


“A pity the common soldiers could not have been left to make the peace. There might have been no need for Leagues of Nations.”


“During the actual fighting, Hague Conventions and Geneva Regulations get mislaid. The guns were eating up ammunition faster than the tramways could supply them, and the ambulances did not always go up empty. Doubtless the German Red Cross drivers had likewise their blind eye."


“Those who talk about war being a game ought to be made to go out and play it. They’d find their little book of rules not much use."


“The French cigarettes that one bought at the canteen were ten per cent poison and the rest dirt. The pain would go out of a wounded soldier’s face when you offered him an English cigarette”


“One had no brain for any but the very lightest literature. Small books printed on soft paper, the leaves of which could be torn out easily, were the most popular.”


“I came back cured of any sneaking regard I may have ever had for war…Compared with modern soldiering, a street scavenger’s job is an exhilarating occupation.”


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17 hours ago, IPT said:


“The cockroaches were having a bad time. They fell into the stews and no one took the trouble to pull them out.”


I had no idea. Aged 57. Good gracious.

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