Photo of Dawson circa 1916 – 1917 taken in Newark, New Jersey, USA by Walters
Lieutenant Coningsby Dawson (born: February 26, 1883 High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England – died: August 10, 1959) was a 1905 University of Oxford graduate who dropped out of his post-graduate theological studies and travelled to the United States to attempt becoming a writer. In fair measure successful Dawson focused on writing about Canadian subjects for the British press. When the war broke out he traveled to Ottawa and after a long training course at the Royal Military College, Kingston, Ontario he was commissioned in 1916 as a Lieutenant into the Canadian Field Artillery. Serving overseas he was wounded a couple of times and during latter 1917 – 1918 toured the United States to foster recruiting and Allied war support. He published several books during the war about his war experiences and while his prose work is known he did write several poems. From his book “The Glory Of The Trenches” 1918 he published the following war poems,viz.:
p. 5 “To You At Home”
p. 18 “In Hospital”
p. 52 “The Lads Away”
p. 104 “The Glory Of The Trenches”
“To You At Home
Each night we panted till the runners came, Bearing your letters through the battle-smoke. Their path lay up Death Valley spouting flame, Across the ridge where the Hun’s anger spoke In bursting shells and cataracts of pain; Then down the road where no one goes by day, And so into the tortured, pockmarked plain Where dead men clasp their wounds and point the way. Here gas lurks treacherously and the wire Of old defences tangles up the feet; Faces and hands strain upward through the wire, Speaking the anguish of the Hun’s retreat. Sometimes no letters came; the evening hate Dragged on till dawn. The ridge in flying spray Of hissing shrapnel told the runner’s fate; We knew we should not hear from you that day — From you, who from the trenches of the mind Hurl back despair, smiling with sobbing breath, Writing your souls on paper to be kind, That you for us may take the sting from Death.”
Hushed and happy whiteness, Miles on miles of cots, The glad contented brightness Where sunlight falls in spots.
Sisters swift and saintly Seem to tread on grass; Like flowers stirring faintly, Heads turn to watch them pass.
Beauty, blood and sorrow, Blending in a trance — Eternity’s to-morrow In this half-way house of France.
Sounds of whispered talking, Laboured indrawn breath; Then like a young girl walking The dear familiar Death.”
“The Lads Away
All the lads have gone out to play At being soldiers, far away; They won’t be back for many a day, And some won’t be back any morning.
All the lassies who laughing were When hearts were light and lads were here, Go sad-eyed, wandering hither and there — They pray and they watch for the morning.
Every house has its vacant bed And every night, when sounds are dead, Some woman years for the pillowed head Of him who marched out in the morning.
Of all the lads who’ve gone out to play There’s some’ll return and some who’ll stay; There’s some will be back ‘most any day — But some won’t wake up in the morning.”
“The Glory Of The Trenches
We were too proud to live for years When our poor death could dry the tears Of little children yet unborn. It scarcely mattered that at morn, When manhood’s hope was at its height, We stopped a bullet in mid-flight. It did not trouble us to lie Forgotten ‘neath the forgetting sky. So long Sleep was our only cure That when Death piped of rest made sure, We cast our fleshly crutches down, Laughing like boys in Hamelin Town. And this we did while loving life, Yet loving more than home or wife The kindness of a world set free For countless children yet to be.”