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This year marks the 100th anniversary since the battle at Gallipoli and the New Zealanders’ Chunuk Bair offensive, considered to be one of the defining moments in New Zealand history and national identity.

The Gallipoli offensive at Anzac Cove in Turkey is well documented by military historians. ANZAC bravery won wide praise for reaching Chunuk Bair’s summit which they briefly held, but it grew into an unsuccessful campaign, the remaining soldiers withdrawn and eventually evacuated at nightfall from the peninsula. Over two thousand New Zealand soldiers died there, and many more were wounded.

PANZA would like to offer a tribute to New Zealand’s fallen in the form of verse authentic to the country at the time of World War One.

The anonymous poem, ‘On the Death of Col. Malone’, found by PANZA Archivist Mark Pirie, appeared in the Stratford Evening Post, Taranaki, in 1915. He also came across a second poem tribute “Love is Mightier Than Death” mentioning Col. Malone in Papers Past, the National Library of New Zealand’s website.

The subject of the poem Col. Malone (1859-1915), of the Wellington Battalion, was one of New Zealand’s prominent figures at Gallipoli, and successfully reached Chunuk Bair’s summit.

malone

Lieutenant Colonel William George Malone. McAllister, James, 1869-1952: Negatives of Stratford and Taranaki district. Ref: 1/1-012824-G. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22789124

Some details can be found in Papers Past (Taranaki Daily News, 26 October 1915):

The “Stratford Post” publishes a letter from Chaplain-Captain Father McMenamin, who is at Gallipoli, to Father Maples, in the course of which the reverend gentleman says, concerning the great fight on August 7th: “Our boys fought nobly, and I can say without boasting that there are no troops to excel them. No matter how severe the assault, they never broke or wavered for an instant. I cannot tell you of our losses, but the casualty lists will tell their own tale. The greatest loss that our Infantry Brigade suffered was in the death of Col. Malone. His work over here has been magnificent, and he has proved himself to be every inch a soldier. In this last great fight he rose to the occasion and made fame for himself and the battalion he commanded. On Sunday, August 7, his men had the foremost position, and from daylight till dark they fought like tigers. Colonel Malone, who did not know what fear was, remained all day in the thick of the battle; encouraging his brave men by his own example. About 6 p.m., he was struck down by a burst of shrapnel, and died without a word.”

Another report (Star, 10 January 1916) notes:

In the attack on Chunuk Bair [Malone’s] resolute leadership was an inspiration to his men. He was ever in the van, scorning all danger. Early in the day a rifle that he carried was pierced by a Turkish bullet. This interested him, and he said he would keep it as a memento of the fight. Whenever he moved forward or along the trench he picked up the battered rifle again and carried it with him. Finally he was shot through the head by a bullet from a shrapnel shell that burst over the trench. He sank back into the arms of one of his officers [Captain Hastings] and died painlessly on the highest point on the Peninsula attained by our arms.

In 1982, Maurice Shadbolt’s play, Once on Chunuk Bair, considered that Col. Malone was killed by ‘friendly fire’ from a British fleet ship firing shrapnel shells over their trench but historians didn’t support this version of events (Shadbolt took it from Robert Rhodes James, Gallipoli, 1965, that includes Captain Hastings’ report).

An article in the Evening Post tends to support Shadbolt’s and others’ version of events:

HIT BY BRITISH NAVAL SHRAPNEL.

Malone was close up to the fighting line, on foot, encouraging his men when he was struck. He was hit by shrapnel from a shell fired by one of our own ships. Four or five bullets struck him. The ships were doing their best to support the troops, firing over their heads from the sea. The Turks were so close, and the position occupied by the battalion was so difficult, that a good many casualties on our side were caused the same way. However, my informant seemed to regard this loss as inevitable, and not to be set against the value of the support given at the time by the ships’ guns.

He said that Col. Malone was exceedingly popular with his men; that he was a fine officer, and had done great service, which had been appreciated by his brigadier. The man also drew a picture of Malone’s energy and care for his men, and personal example to them. He said that each morning the colonel might be seen having a hard run to keep himself fit and in good condition; that often he had seen him with open shirt and sleeves rolled up, handling a shovel or axe or pick-axe, and showing how some piece of work should be done.

Shortly before his death Col. Malone had gone down to an English battalion (one of Kitchener’s new ones) which had lost most of its officers, and was under a murderous fire, and had helped to get it into order again. As a proof of his popularity, this man said that he was affectionately known among his men as “Mollie Malone.”

(Evening Post, Volume XC, Issue 117, 13 November 1915, Page 13)

A large number of tributes and obituaries for Col. Malone are in Papers Past searches near the time of his death. He was certainly a popular, well-known man in Taranaki and elsewhere who led by example.

The New Zealand public had remembered him also in verse.

Poem by “Hei-konei-ra”

ON THE DEATH OF COL. MALONE

The roll is called, and deathless names
Are written where the Book of Life
Tells of the lurid battle flames,
Of shot and steel, high hopes and aims,
Brave deeds amid a world of strife.
Such pages are for those alone,
Who heard the call that echoes through
The far-thrown aisles of Britain’s fame,
For in her hour of need they drew
Their swords, and at her call, they came.

On sunlit plain and dark defile
They carved their names, their thoughts and creeds,
And there Death’s Angel paused a while
And entered each – the rank and file –
And made a record of their deeds,
The silent witness of the dead
Perhaps alone, who watched them go,
Whose icy fingers slowly turned
The storied pages, moving slow,
When youth’s high courage fiercely burned.

And here is one, whose shield appears
Through Britain’s early years of stress,
Whose motto through the marching years
Was ever this – “That Justice hears
The weak one’s call and gives redress.”
It mattered not that his great creed
Might ask from him great sacrifice.
He only knew that for a space
He clothed a soul that never dies, –
A soul that asks no resting place.

Through the storm-tossed mantle falling –
Snows of ages – on the scroll
Of Britain’s fame a voice is calling
Gathering where the war drums roll:
“Brave one, thou has answered smiling,
Courage lights the stormy way
Of our noble children filing
Through valhalla’s halls to-day.”

(Stratford Evening Post, 26 August 1915)

A second poem tribute that is also related to Malone’s death appears in Papers Past by a woman poet of Kapuni, written whilst milking her cows:

LOVE IS MIGHTIER THAN DEATH.”
[In forwarding these lines, the writer —a woman—says that the thoughts are her own, and that she put them into verse one evening whilst she was milking her cows. She says, further, that if love for our brothers, our little children, our aged, the freedom of our Empire and consideration for those who are suffering at the hands of our enemies, are roused within us, there will be no need for conscription.]

Let us take for an example
Brave Malone, and many more,
Who have given their lives for others
On that distant battle shore.
Their high service shows us plainly,
We must serve, too, one and all,
If we wish to save our Empire,
From a low and shameful fall.

How arousing, how appalling
Are the things we hear each day –
Think of all our comrades falling,
Who have gone and led the way:
Deck their memories with laurel,
Sing their praise in every clime;
Their great deeds will ring for ages,
Through the corridors of time.

While we speak thus of the fallen,
Let us think of those in pain,
Who will bear the scars of battle,
When they come to us again:
When their stories stir the feeling,
Till our hearts are caught for breath,
We will feel the truth revealing –
“Love is mightier than death.”

Let us now be truly brothers,
Prove our manhood ere too late,
Let us go to help the others
Save our land from evil fate.
We must join our strength together,
Fight and fight while we have breath,
And so prove to all the ages –
“Love is mightier than death.”

Kapuni. —J.M.L.

(Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume LXIX, 5 November 1915, Page 3)

Many more poems about the Great War have been written, both from World War One and from contemporary writers looking back on the war. A newly published Australian anthology When ANZAC Day Comes Around: 100 Years From Gallipoli Poetry Project, compiled by Graeme Lindsay, features 200 New Zealand and Australian poets remembering war and dates back to the 1840s. The Printing Museum in New Zealand is working on several World War One poetry projects, including collections by two World War One New Zealand poets: Alfred Clark and Don H Lea.

PANZA has featured some World War One verse in previous issues of Poetry Notes (including Don H Lea) and is always on the look out for New Zealand war verse. This small tribute in verse is but one of numerous mediums being used for this year’s remembrance.

Jessie Pope (1868-1941), born in Leicester, a ‘versatile London writer’, was a prolific female humorist, journalist and children’s author with masculine interests: ‘She is a very much outdoor young lady. She rides, swims, walks…and beagles’ (Colonist article, 1914). She wrote ‘simple rhymes to suit the times’ covering popular subjects, including men’s sports such as rugby football.

She published her poems and stories widely in Punch, The Daily Mail, The Evening Standard, The Westminster Gazette, Nash’s Magazine, Vanity Fair, The Novel Magazine, Pall Mall Gazette, The Daily Express, The New Magazine, The Windsor Magazine etc. and in Christmas annuals and First World War publications. She was one of the foremost Edwardian humorists and children’s writers in Britain pre-World War I.

Her reputation extended to New Zealand. After her first New Zealandmention in the Colonist, 23 September 1903, she received mentions regularly in New Zealand newspaper reviews and advertisements of overseas publications for more than a decade. Along with her mentions in the Colonist, prominent Wellington writer/journalist A F T Chorlton’s Bookman column in The Evening Post noted her work.

During these years (1903-23), she was a very popular Edwardian and Georgian comic writer with New Zealanders (notably read by The Spike group of writers at Victoria College) and her verse and stories were widely published in New Zealand newspapers, including The Evening Post, The New Zealand Free Lance, the Feilding Star and Poverty Bay Herald. Our Edwardian Suffragettes and Georgian women writers would’ve read her, from Jessie Mackay to Robin Hyde.

During World War I, Pope became the ‘war girl’ in verse and used for recruitment purposes. However, she is one of the few English war poets to recognise ANZAC feats of bravery and their ‘imperishable renown’ in poems such as ‘An Anzac Poem’, ‘Anzac’, and ‘Cobbers’. Kiwi soldiers enclosed some of her poems in letters sent home in New Zealandsoldiers’ parcels. Family members then sent the poems in to local newspapers that republished them. She achieved a reputation with her war verse comparable to Tennyson’s ‘Charge of the Light Brigade’ in some parts of New Zealand.

Jessie Pope’s War Poems (London: Grant Richards Ltd, 1915)

Pope’s ‘An Anzac Poem’ was recited by Shayle Gardiner, Director of Entertainments for NZEF, at the Albert Hall ANZAC Concert,London,6 May 1920.

Jessie Pope’s war poetry and reputation fell into obscurity after World War One when she became despised by returning English soldiers and condemned for her pro-war verses considered to be propaganda; however, her poetry and role as a woman writer during the time of the Suffragettes is currently undergoing reappraisal. There is also reappraisal of her war reputation in comparison with the First World War male poets.

Wilfred Owen ironically directed his early draft of the poem ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ at Pope, then removed her name, addressed it ‘To a Certain Poetess’ and finally referenced her in the poem as a ‘friend’. In relation to Owen’s poem, New Zealand poet, academic and biographer Harry Ricketts mentions her in Strange Meetings: The Poets of the Great War (2010): ‘“Dulce et Decorum Est” was originally dedicated to the popular children’s writer and author of patriotic verses, Jessie Pope’. Ricketts then notes the intended irony in the dedication. A good article covering Pope and Owen’s ‘friendship’ and Owen’s drafts of ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ is by W G Bebbington in Ariel: A Review of International English Literature, 3/4 (1972), 82–93.

I have not found further mentions of Pope in either the Oxford History of New Zealand Literature in English (2nd ed. 1998) or the Oxford Companion to New Zealand Literature (1998). There may be references to her in New Zealand soldiers’ accounts and publications of the First World War that I have not looked into in detail. The Hocken Library in Dunedin has a number of these war and soldier publications and archival papers. I suspect New Zealanders’ views (and the soldiers’ views) of Pope would’ve changed over the years particularly in light of the events at Gallipoli, although she does retain a certain social significance to New Zealand and Australia for her ANZAC poems.

A search of the Australian Trove archive turns up well over 100 search results for Pope’s name, including numerous republications of her poems, especially Pope’s ‘Anzac’ poem. One newspaper [Northern Territory Times and Gazette, Darwin,25 November 1915] prefaced it: ‘The following [Anzac] poem recently appeared in an English paper. Its reference to the Australian soldiers at theDardanelles must be most gratifying to those whose relatives took part in that historic landing.’ Her war poems are included in the Australian War Memorial indicating her ongoing significance to Australian ANZAC memories. Her popularity inAustralia would’ve been comparable to her status in New Zealand during the First World War. Her war poems are not inNew Zealand libraries, however, which now show only holdings at the National Library of New Zealand for a selection of her children’s books.

Pope’s ‘pro-war poems’ like ‘Who’s for the Game?’ and ‘The Call’ are now often presented as counterpoints to the War Poets (Sassoon, Owen, etc) perhaps detracting from her pre-World War I reputation. A new e-book biography (available on the internet) by W Lawrance‘demonstrates that this [pro-war propagandist] reputation is not entirely deserved’. Lawrance also includes Pope and her poems ‘Socks’, ‘The Call’, ‘War Girls’, and ‘Who’s for the Game?’ in Great War Literature Study Guide on Female Poets of the First World War (2005).

There are now a number of internet articles, anthology inclusions, videos and listings available for Pope. An entry for her by J. Dowson appears in The Encyclopedia of British Women’s Writing, 1900–1950, ed. F. Hammill, E. Miskimmin, and A. Sponenberg (2006).

There is an online entry on her by Jane Potter at the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and at Wikipedia.  She also appears in an interview on YouTube along with filmed war segments or recitations for her poems predominantly for school groups. Pope is included on the War Poetry site http://warpoetry.co.uk and in war books and anthologies. Two of her war poems appear in David Robert’s Minds at War (1996), one in Roberts’ Out in the Dark (1998) and one in the collection The Return of the Soldier (2010) edited by West/Schweizer/Thorne. She also appears in Fiona Waters’ collection of illustrated First World War poetry, A Corner of a Foreign Field (2007). Lindesay Irvine’s 2008 Guardian blog article discusses Pope’s loss of reputation and considers her ‘harder to despise than one might expect’. George Simmer’s writes a blog article in similar vein in ‘Poor Jessie Pope’  War writer Tim Kendall responds to Simmer’s blog discussing Pope’s verse and quoting from Pope’s ‘War Girls’.  By contrast Roger McGough includes her as a children’s poet in a book of poems inspired by the fives senses, Sensational! (2005).

WorldCat lists 83 publications by Pope, mostly juvenile works of literature, archival material and reprints of adult books such as London Characters (1904), Paper Pellets (1907), Airy Nothings (1909), Jessie Pope’s War Poems (1915), More War Poems (1915), Simple Rhymes for Stirring Times (1916), Love – on Leave (1919), and Hits and Misses (1920).

Another connection to ANZAC soldiers is in Pope’s short fiction Love – on Leave, which contains a story about a love affair between a young Englishwoman and an ANZAC soldier. The theme of love between ANZACs and Englishwomen is similarly the subject of her poem ‘Coo-ee!’

Her later works moved away from the war theme and back into the field of children’s writing. Not much survives about her later life. She married a retired bank manager, Edward Babington Lenton on11 May 1929 at age 61 and moved from London to Great Yarmouth. Her death is given on14 December 1941 at Broom Hill House, Chagford, Devon. Her cremation took place at Plymouth.

Here are Jessie Pope’s ANZAC-related poems from Papers Past at the National Library of New Zealand:

ANZAC.

We know that you’re sportsmen, with reason,
  At footer and cricket you’re crack;
I haven’t forgotten the season
  When we curled up before the “All Blacks.”
In the matter of wielding the “willow,”
  We own, to our cost, that you’re it,
The “ashes” you’ve borne o’er the billow—
   Though they’re home again now, for a bit.

There are weightier matters to settle
  To-day, amid bullets and shells;
And the world stands amazed at the mettle
  You’ve shown in the farDardanelles.
The marvellous feat of your landing
  Your exploits by field and by deed,
Your charges that brooked no withstanding,
  Though you poured out the best of your blood.

You left your snug homesteads “down under”;
  The prosperous life of your land,
And staggered the Turks with your thunder,
  To give the Old Country a hand.
For dare-devil work we may book you,
  You’re ready and keen to get to it.
If a job is impossible, look you,
  The boys from “down under” will do it.

—Jessie Pope, in the Daily Express,London.
(“Feilding Star”, 16 November 1915)

“COBBERS.”

They were “cobbers,” that’s Anzac for chum.
  But it means rather more than we mean –  
A friendship that will not succumb,
  Though distance or death intervene.
Adventure, success, and mishap
  In boyhood they’d shared, so no wonder
They jumped at the chance of a scrap
  And booked with the crowd from ”down under.”

In a narrow Gallipoli trench
  They chanced upon glimpses of hell,
And a thirst there was nothing to quench
  But a deluging downpour of shell;
Perpetual ridges they took,
  They charged and they cursed and they shouted,
But nothing their recklessness shook
  Till one of the “cobbers” got “outed.”

The other one came back at night,
  Exhausted in body and brain,
And groped round the scene of the fight,
  But sought for his “cobber” in vain.
His spirit was heavy with grief,
  His outlook was sombre and blotted,
But his bayonet brought him relief
  Next, morning— and that’s when he “got it.”

Scene: Midday,Victoria street,
  An Anzac (in blue) on each side –
A coo-ee, wild, ringing, and sweet –
  The taxicabs swerve and divide.
For traffic they don’t care a toss,
  There, right in the middle, they’re meeting;
Stay, let’s draw a curtain across
  Where the two long-lost “cobbers” are greeting.

—Jessie Pope.
(Poverty Bay Herald”, 16 February 1916)

AN ANZAC CAP.

It hangs on the wall, a trifle battered,
The wire is warped and the lining tattered.
And the leather inside shows speakingly how
It’s been wet with the sweat of a soldier’s brow.

Month after month, through that fierce campaign—
The bitterest fight that was fought in vain—
It was jammed on an Anzac’s lean, brown poll,
As he pierced his way to a glimpse of goal.

Furlong by furlong, aye, inch by inch,
From the sniping shot to the cold-steel, clinch-
Fists, “rough-housing,” any old tools—
He got there each time by “Rafferty rules.”

Till a shell, with his name on, gave him a call—
And that is the tale of the cap on the wall,
But the sequel, though strange, is an equally true one—
Its owner, thank God, is now wearing a new one.

—Jessie Pope.
(“Poverty Bay Herald”, 7 March 1916)

COO-EE!

“Down under” boys on furlough are in town
  Discharged from hospital, repaired and braced,
Their faces still retain, their native brown,
  Their millinery captivates our taste.

They’ve proved themselves a terror to the Turk,
  Of cut and thrust they bear full many a token,
But though they’ve been through grim, heartbreaking work,
  The Anzac spirit never can be broken.

Their talk is picturesque, their manner frank,
  A little hasty, what they think— they say—
They’ve got a down on arrogance and swank,
  Passive submission doesn’t come their way.

Risk and adventure are their fondest joys,
  If there’s a fight around, well, they’ll be in it—
To tell the truth, they really are “some” boys—
  You get quite friendly with them in a minute.

Quite friendly, yes, no harm in being friends,
  They must not find their furlough dull and tame,
But, girls, see to it there the matter ends,
  And show thatLondongirls can play the game,

While of good comradeship you take your fill
  Don’t use your power to make their hearts your plunder,
But let them pause, and hear when nights are still
  The other girl who coo-ees from “down under.”

—Jessie Pope.
(“The Observer”, 29 September 1917)

[AN ANZAC POEM.]

Why do we cheer those brown-faced boys with pride,
Why do dense crowds press round on every side,
Why do we throw them flowers, our hearts aglow?
Well—turn a minute to three years ago.

A moonlit beach—a cliff of scrub and bush—
The creeping, crowded boats—a breathless hush—,
A cranch of keels —a leap, a shallow splash—
And then Inferno, thunder, blaze and crash.

“Straight as a bayonet”—riddled where they fell;
Hacking the wire, across that strip of Hell;
Those untried heroes—husky and blood-drenched—
Hurled back the Turkish outposts —and entrenched!

The thing that was impossible was done!
From the beginning thus have Britons won.
So, year by year, in words of fire and gold,
The Anzacs’ glorious landing shall be told.

—Jessie Pope
(quoted in an article ‘Imperishable Renown’ in the “Thames Star”, 24 April 1918)

Report for Poetry Archive of NZ Aotearoa © Mark Pirie

Photo of Jessie Pope by La Fayette, 1929

Article also published as the booklet, An Account of the War Poet Jessie Pope: A Popular Edwardian and Georgian writer in New Zealand (1903-23), by Mark Pirie, Cultural and Political Booklets, Wellington, New Zealand. Monograph of Aotearoa Literature No. 70. ISBN 978-1-927142-95-0.