Sunday, March 11, 2012

Artistry & authenticity in the war sonnets of John Allan Wyeth

On the afternoon of September 14, 1918, after several days of overcast and rain, the skies over Fromereville on the Western Front opened up and the overcast gave way to brilliant blue broken by billowing white cumuli.

First to comprehend that trouble was on the way, in the form of a solitary German fighter, was probably S/Lt Henri Bovet, balloon observer with the French 31e Compagnie. (1)  Bovet’s green Caquot balloon, tethered 300 yards outside of Fromereville, (2) was part of a three-balloon observation line set up from Verdun to Clermont by the French II Armee. (3)  25e Cie operated a balloon about seven kilometers east of Fromereville, on the trench Pied de Gravier four kilometers north of Verdun, (4) while 30e Cie manned a balloon at Camp Fourgoas near Auzeville, four kilometers south of Parois. (5)  From his central position at Fromereville, S/Lt Bovet would have been able to see both flanking balloons, to east and west, and it is a safe bet he would have very quickly noticed when at 1630 hours (6), the balloon north of Verdun went up in flames. (7)  A few seconds later Bovet would have had no doubt as to the intention of the German pilot. The fighter, a Fokker D VII with a white cowling, was coming straight at him!

Unteroffizier Marwede
The pilot, Unteroffizier Hans Heinrich Marwede of Jasta 67 (situated at Marville, 40 kilometers north of Verdun) was a young man determined to make his mark. Brought up as part of the late-war expansion of German air units in response to the growing American threat, Uffz Marwede was eager to take his place among Germany’s celebrated aces. On August 1 he had brought down his first kill, a DeHavilland 4, but since then nothing. Until that afternoon, that is. Now, with one French balloon in flames, he raced low over the front lines, his sights set on the two remaining balloons to the west. (8)


Fromereville in 1916

Meanwhile, in the village of Fromereville, near where the balloon was tethered, American doughboys of units in support of Headquarters 33rd Division, from office clerks & staff officers to military police & mounted troopers, were enjoying a relaxing day. Though warned not to congregate in the open in groups greater than three, due to the proximity of German observation balloons, (9) the Yanks felt sufficiently at ease to do some washing up in the warm sun. Field Clerk William Judy was heating water by the roadside, laundering his uniform, underwear, socks and puttees, and laying them across the shrubbery to dry. (10) Nearby, a number of troopers, including 2Lt John A. Wyeth, set up a shower for themselves and were loudly horseplaying and shouting gibes at one another.

At the shout of “Air raid!”, the troopers ran out of the showers, still naked and soapy, and into the village square to watch the unfolding drama overhead. Judy stopped his laundering to watch, and probably most of the other doughboys stopped whatever they were doing to observe the aerial encounter.

Before the Fokker was within firing range, S/Lt Bovet leapt from his basket. His chute opened immediately and he began drifting slowly to earth. Uffz. Marwede flamed the balloon on the first steep dive, the huge canvas sausage falling past the parachutist and burning entirely to ashes before reaching the ground. The Fokker pulled out of its plunge, nearly grazing the roof of Divisional headquarters. (11)  The time was 1635. (12)

What happened next is uncertain because Judy’s own account exists in two conflicting versions. According to the dated entry in his diary, the Fokker, after grazing the roof, flew straight off to the next balloon and flamed it. But the illustration of the attack shows a biplane diving on the parachuting observer, with the following caption: “The gas burst into flame and in an instant the large balloon disappeared into a wisp of smoke in the air while the observer, slowly descending, was encircled by the German aviator, whose machine gun sent its bullets at him incessantly.”  (13)

Whether or not Marwede made a second pass and opened his guns on Bovet, he ended by flying directly off to the third balloon at Camp Fourgoas some 12 kilometers to the west. A few minutes later, at 1640, it too went down in flames. (14)

The other written account of the balloon attack at Fromereville was by 2Lt Wyeth, and he confirms that the Fokker opened fire on the parachutist after flaming the balloon. Wyeth’s account was recorded not in a diary or letter or field report but in, of all things, in a 700-year-old poetic form passed down from the Renaissance, a sonnet!



FROMEREVILLE:  War in Heaven

A reek of steam—the bath-house rang with cries.
“Come across with the soap.”
                                                 “Like hell, what makes you think
it’s yours?”
                     “Don’t turn off the water, that ain’t fair,
I’m all covered with soap.”
                                             “Hurry up, get out of the way.”
“Thank God you’re takin’ a bath.”
                                                         “He wants to surprise
us.”
         “Oh is that so, well anyway I don’t stink
like you.”

                  “Air raid!”

                                         We ran out into the square,
naked and cold like souls on Judgment Day.
Over us, white clouds blazoned on blue skies,
and a green balloon on fire—we watched it shrink
into flame and a fall of smoke. Around us, brute
guns belching puffs of shrapnel in the air,
where one plane swooping like a bird of prey
spat fire into a dangling parachute. (15)

There are many compelling aspects of John Allan Wyeth’s sonnets of the First World War, but what I wish to concentrate on in this essay is Wyeth’s remarkable fidelity to historical fact and what effect that exacting factuality had on Wyeth’s artistry. I hope to demonstrate that questions of historical accuracy and of aesthetic integrity are inextricably related.

A remarkable fidelity to fact

I have spent over a decade meticulously comparing Wyeth’s fifty-two sonnets to a whole range of historical documents and have discovered literally hundreds of descriptive details in his poems which are verifiably accurate. In the sonnet just quoted, “War in Heaven” Wyeth’s passing references to the weather, the proximity of the French balloon, the attack by the German plane--- each of these details can be documented and expanded upon, even to the precise time of the attack, the identity of both the German pilot and the French balloon observer and their respective units — all can be corroborated. I am not able to confirm that the men of Headquarters Troop were in fact showering when the attack took place, but as Judy’s diary reveals that he was similarly occupied in doing his laundry at the time, it is likely that a good many men of 33rd Division in Fromereville on September 14th were taking advantage of the first sunny weather in several days to clean up. Even the detail of how the balloon burned, “a green balloon on fire--- we watched it shrink / into flame and a fall of smoke” ( In other words, it burnt up completely before reaching the earth). Even this detail can be confirmed by comparison to the description in Judy’s diary: “ . . . a burst of flame shot from the top of the bag, a cloud of smoke followed, the observer was still high in air under his parachute, the bag, basket and rigging dropt by him into nothing, so that only a thin column of bluish gray smoke came to earth.”  (16)

Wyeth’s sonnet sequence, This Man’s Army: A War in Fifty-odd Sonnets, is laid out like a travelogue, or any of the hundreds of soldier memoirs which appeared during and just after the war. Memoirs invite comparison with official records and with other accounts of the same events. Was this soldier a reliable witness? Does he add anything of significance to the historical record? Or did he fudge the facts?

Sonnets accurate as field reports

By presenting his sequence as a personal memoir, Wyeth invites comparable scrutiny. And insofar as the documents reveal, Wyeth seems to have been reliable indeed. This Man’s Army is a faithfully kept record of closely observed vignettes, written with the same scrupulous regard for historical veracity as a field report, down to the smallest detail.

Still, it verges on the outlandish that a collection of poems, of all things, should be seriously considered a reliable factual document. Ordinarily the question of a poem’s factuality would never even arise. Does anyone, for instance, ever inquire as to the literal identity of the dead German soldier in Wilfred Owen’s “Strange Meeting” ? And even if that dead soldier were based on a flesh-and-blood individual, and his identity established, would it make any difference to the poem? What common ground is there, finally, between the truth of art and the truth of history?

But is accuracy an aesthetic quality?

I remember, in a telephone conversation with Dana Gioia, when I first drew his attention to Wyeth’s strict adherence to historical fact, that he was reluctant to have a point made of Wyeth’s factuality, for fear it might distract from the purely aesthetic qualities of the poetry. In other words, Gioia did not regard Wyeth’s fidelity to fact (which permeates the sonnets), as a genuinely aesthetic attribute, or as a feature meriting consideration when weighing his artistic accomplishment. In his essay, Gioia describes Wyeth’s factuality as an interesting, but not an aesthetic, aspect of the sonnets. As he puts it:
[Wyeth’s] poems are remarkably distinguished for specifically literary reasons, but they have the additional historical virtue of documentary exactitude. They chronicle the poet’s journey through the war with a fidelity to circumstances more typical of nonfiction prose than lyric verse. Though no literary reader need note their accuracy (emphasis mine), a military historian can rely on each sonnet to render the time, place, situation, even the weather. Likewise a literary critic or biographer can use them to illuminate the poet’s military career.  (17)
 By the end of his essay, Gioia has come to a more critical assessment of Wyeth’s fidelity to fact, that it constrained and finally crippled the sonnet sequence as a whole.
However accurate in factual terms, Wyeth’s ending is abrupt and unsatisfactory in narrative terms. There could be fewer duller ways to end a war poem. . . . overall the concluding sections of the poem feel inconclusive and anticlimactic. Wyeth’s fidelity to . . . personal experience . . . prevents the book from achieving a broader resonance . . . . The reader may long for an impersonal, even epic conclusion, but the author refuses to move beyond autobiography. This Man’s Army is a strongly written, authentically detailed, and imaginatively engaging book that fails to reach its full poetic, historical, or cultural potential. Even as one savors the various qualities of this unique volume, one cannot help imagining the stronger book it might have been had Wyeth decided, like Hemingway, to fictionalize his personal material. (18)
A telling criticism and, by his premises, an accurate one, but it is Gioia’s central premise on this issue that I wish to question, namely that Wyeth’s fidelity to fact is extraneous to the aesthetic dimension of his sonnets.

Wherever you strike, it rings true

As a general observation, consider the difference between a plein air landscape, and one which is composed in a studio, working from a photograph. Or, speaking of photographs, consider the difference between an extemporaneous photograph, and another of the same event, only staged. Never mind the question of authenticity. Just consider which example in each case is more vibrant, more alive. I refer to an intrinsic quality in the art object which, even if difficult to describe, is nonetheless readily apparent. It has a transformative effect on the whole object. I would suggest that the consistent and pervasive adherence to fact in Wyeth’s sonnets colors the fabric of the whole sequence, instilling it with an indefinable but unmistakable vibrancy. Wherever you strike, it rings true. Gioia may be correct that the sequence as a whole falls flat at the end (though this has been disputed by another critic) (19), but I would suggest that if Wyeth had departed from historical truth to bring the sequence to a satisfyingly dramatic conclusion, however skillfully, his sequence would have sounded a very different note at that point, a note which may well have rung a bit hollow, and compromised the aesthetic integrity of the whole sequence.

Autonomy / openness

But there is a further way in which Wyeth’s factuality may be seen as intrinsic to his aesthetic. By confining himself to actual events chronologically presented, Wyeth surrenders a degree of control over his content. He is still free to choose subjects from among a range of actual events in a given period, but what those events are is a matter of chance, and beyond his control. Which means that chance itself, or randomness, is intrinsic to Wyeth's compositional method.

Whether such a reliance on chance results in a humbler, more honest art, or an art which is weak and unrealized, is a separate question--- a question which pits the aesthetics of autonomy against those of openness— the aesthetics of Hulme & Eliot against those of Duchamp & the Dadaists. But setting this question aside, the point to be made here regarding Wyeth’s poetry is that the vibrancy already noted in his sonnets, their freshness and immediacy, may well be related to the accidental nature of their subject matter.

Actual events or invented props?

This, of course, raises the question of whether such details truly are based on actual, accidental events, or are merely invented props arranged for effect.  The question can probably never be settled conclusively, since nothing is known of how Wyeth actually composed his cycle, but, as I have attested, the sheer quantity of demonstrably accurate detail in each of Wyeth's sonnets suggests that observation, rather than invention, was his modus operandi.  Such an approach to one's subject is essentially passive, and more typical of a painter than a poet--- treating the sonnet as an empty canvas to filled, not by a omniscient act of will, but by an intuitive alertness to whatever the world might present.

A mud pit gaping at the moon

One image in particular comes to mind as an instance of Wyeth employing a random occurence as the crux of a poem.  The sonnet "Molliens-au-Bois: Air Raid" describes the experience of undergoing an aerial bombardment on the night of June 26-27, 1918..  The final, rather mundane image of the poem, after the palpable terror of the crescendoing explosions, seems anticlimactic.


Arms crossed, fists clenched against my throat gone hard,
my body straining at the engine's roar,
at every blast a thing like joy . . . and soon
a lifted spell, and life somehow the same,
dragging me out to join the others near
the pond--- a mud pit gaping at the moon!
(20)


They are looking, of course, at a crater blasted out by one of the bombs, which was apparently immediately filled with mud and water.  Is this, then, a chance event that Wyeth has chosen to describe because it actually occured, or has he simply invented it?  Whether or not it constitutes an effective ending to the poem, in an aesthetic sense, is a separate consideration.  What caught my attention on first reading was that it seemed both unexpected and a bit mundane, as actual phenomena frequently are. 

In this case, as it happens, there was a second witness to the event, the aforementioned Field Clerk Will Judy.  He was in the village during the same air raid, and left the following record.
"A few minutes after eleven last night an enemy plane dropt three bombs in counting time--- one, two, three, in the center of the village about three hundred yards from us.  the ground shook as with pain.  This morning I saw that one of them had landed on the side of the street and directly in front of the Cafe of the North, tearing a hole about sixteen feet deep; the spot was a water hole and so did little else than throw mud upon half the village."  (21)
So, as Judy's diary confirms, the final image in this sonnet describes the end effect of an actual event: the blasting out of a crater, resulting in "a mud pit gaping at the moon".  An effective ending to the poem?  Debatable. A richly-laden metaphor essential to the meaning of the poem?  Possibly.  But definitely a detail of the poet's actual experience, and--- though perhaps the key image and crux of the poem--- one which came to him neither through calculation nor intuition, but through sheer happenstance.

Whatever chance throws in his way

Like a post-modernist installation artist, Wyeth builds a sonnet around whatever accidental events or objects come his way, resulting in a mélange of apparently unrelated phenomena such as tin signs, clanking gates, overheard snatches of conversation, the play of light on a wall, etc. Such chance phenomena are present in nearly every sonnet, and in some cases comprise the fabric of the entire poem, effectively painting a vivid scene, but presenting no significant action or obvious theme:

OISEMONT: Place de la Mairie

The shadows slant along the dusty square
that tilts haphazard past the blank Mairie.
Grey timid little houses hand in hand
step gingerly downhill. A yellow wall,
branded Hôtel du Soleil d’Or--- down there
the zinc and tinware sign Quincaillerie.
Up from the rest camp swings a Highland band
and people swarm and clutter . . . children call.
The pipers drone a shrill nostalgic air
below my window in the Mercerie,
kilts flapping while the drumsticks thump and fly,
The gaunt old belfry tolls a reprimand,
and as the drums stop and the bagpipes squall
a long slow dingy funeral crawls by.

Often what chance throws in his way is a smattering of overheard gibes, taunts, exclamations, etc, and these, with minimal context or commentary, will fill out whole passages, or even entire poems:

LEMPIRE: Headquarters Troop Barracks
“Aw Sunny France--- ain’t this a hell of a day,
nothin’ but rain and rain---“
                                                  “Jest mark mah word,
they’ll have us out there diggin’ a new latrine.”
“It must be swell to be on the General’s staff
and just have bright ideas!”

                                            --- “Say keep away
from that girl at Landrecourt, from what I heard---“

---“This outfit’s got the best you ever seen---
you don’t know a thing about horses and that ain’t the half--“
“The hell I don’t”
                                 “Aw run along and play---
why you can’t tell a horse from a cockeyed bird---“

“Roll them bones---“
                                     “Come on now--- couple of twos---“
“Come on there, box cars---“
                                                   “Crap there--- give us that
mean
seven
--- Hot damn--- honest I have to laugh.”
“Come on you snake eyes--- Baby wants a new pair o' shoes.”


Whatever such sonnets may lack in the way of narrative line, dramatic tension, metaphor, character or any of the other expected attributes of a traditional poem, they undeniably make an immediate vivid impression. The reader is placed right in the midst of a particular situation and flooded with sensory impressions. Wyeth’s sonnets might most fruitfully be compared to quick, on-the-spot sketches, struck down on paper with no immediate objective beyond capturing the fleeting essence of the moment. (I refer to the received effect of the finished poems, not to how they might actually have been composed, about which we know nothing).

Minutely observed, exactly presented

Such a heavy reliance on pure description can only work if the language employed is unfailingly fresh and precise. Relaxing into generalities or tired phrasing would turn the poem from an immediate impression into a worn-out literary exercise. Fortunately Wyeth holds to a consistently high standard of fresh, original phraseology throughout his cycle.

Consider the following passages, distributed over three sonnets, portraying American officers enduring a long ride in a French troop train. On May 25th, 1918, just one day after landing and disembarking at the French port of Brest, 2dLt Wyeth boarded a troop train with his fellow officers in the late afternoon and began a long, slow, uncomfortable journey to the east, as evening settled over the French countryside:
A haze of dusk behind low roofs of thatch
and sloping moors and barren gouty trees---
dim roads and earth-walled fields--- the steady flight
of blinking poles and the rhythmic sweep of wires.
Darkness outside---
In the heat and overcrowding and jarring of the train, sleep is hard to come by:
                      ---“Somebody turn off the light.
I want to sleep.”
                        “Hell---with these frog flat tires?”
A stifling blackness--- sweat, and the jiggling scratch
of cloth on your neck and tickling under the knees,
and the clank of iron beating a rackety tune---
Sometime after midnight they pass a few kilometers south of Chartres:
…waking to see the black cathedral spires
of Chartres against a low-hung lazy moon.
Then falling off asleep again until shortly before dawn:
Light enough now to watch the trees go by---
a sleep like sickness in the rattling train.
Men’s bodies joggle on the opposite seat
and tired greasy faces half awake
stir restlessly and breathe a stagnant sigh.
The stale air thickens on the grimy pane,
reeking of musty smoke and woolly feet.
They pass within sight of Versailles, then pull into Paris at 4:30 a.m. on the 26th, unloading at the Gare Monparnasse. Wyeth is intercepted by a British officer with orders for him to take a detachment of men by subway to the Gare du Nord and catch another train to the east. Eighty-five kilometers later, around midday, they pull into Beauvais:
 A halt at a junction---
                             “Get back--- Stay where you are!”
“All out!”       
                  “My God I’m shaving---“  
                                               “Get out of the way---“
“Jump damn you---“
                           “Throw the bags out---“
                                                      A breathless mass
crushing and scrambling in the moving train,
and men and packs plunge out of every car.
They immediately load onto another train, and head north, seventy kilometers to Oisemont:
Another train, through slow green hills all day---
American troops that wave and shout as we pass
“What outfit--- Hey---“           
                               Long salvage trains. We shunt
along and stall.
This is descriptive writing of a high order: condensed, concise, evocative. Minutely observed, exactly presented, not a syllable wasted. Adjectives are used sparingly, and only where essential. Verbs are even scarcer, with many sentences reduced to single images with no verb at all. What verbs are used are remarkable: the single most perfect word in each case, for which no other word would be as perfect. These are verbs which capture the telling nuance: “Men’s bodies joggle on the opposite seat”--- “the stale air thickens on the grimy pane”--- “we scuffle down the corridor”--- “Long salvage trains. We shunt along and stall.” (emphasis mine). And then that final arresting image, embodying every man’s unspoken premonition of the cataclysm that awaits them:
                              And like a pumping vein,
our eardrums jump and catch from very far
the muffled pulse of guns along the front. ---
 
(24)
suggesting the muffled pulse and pumping veins of wounded bodies bleeding out.

The least rhetorical of the war poets

More than any other English-language poet of the war, Wyeth’s language is stripped clean of 19th-century tonalities and devices. In this, as in his honed conciseness, concentrated imagery, use of sentence fragments, everyday diction and unrestricted subject matter, Wyeth is very close to Imagist doctrine at its most stringent. Moreover, as it happens, during the years immediately prior to the publication of This Man’s Army, when he was most likely to have been engaged in the composition of his sonnets, Wyeth was living among the American colony in Rapallo, Italy, and was known to have been friends with Ezra Pound, (25)  who was a key figure in the articulation and dissemination of Imagist principles. ---Though of course, all this is undercut by Wyeth’s use of the sonnet, which, for any true-blue Imagist would have been unthinkable. That Wyeth could adhere to the strictest Imagist principles, within the equally strict confines of the sonnet form, is testament to his technical virtuosity.

In summary: undeniable vibrancy

In summary, Wyeth’s fifty-two sonnets of the First World War are characterized by a remarkable fidelity to actual events. This exacting factuality, while it might be expected to burden and constrict the sonnets to a crippling extent-- instead, given the unpredictable and random nature of actual events, constitutes a crucial factor in the sonnets’ undeniable vibrancy.

There is much yet to be covered in a thorough discussion of Wyeth’s war poetry: his consistently neutral tonality, so distant from the compressed rage of Sassoon, or the devastating ironies of Owen; his pervasive use of landscape, both pastoral and mutilated, which reveals a primary affinity with the Georgian war poets; his understated treatment of the war, which permeates the sonnets, and which, though often operating by implication alone, is effective and evocative; his precise, objective descriptions of personal emotion, particularly empathy and fear. These, and other related subjects, are an indication of how much fundamental weighing and analyzing remains to be done before the position of John Allan Wyeth among the major poets of the First World War can be adequately assessed.

 BJ Omanson
~ 24 Feb 2012
   (substantially revised 25 Mar)



~~~~~
Notes

(1): Bailey, Frank W. and Christophe Cony, The French Air Service War Chronology, 1914-1918: Day-to-Day Claims and Losses by French Fighter, Bomber and Two-seat Pilots on the Western Front (London: Grub Street, 2001), p. 300.  Bailey and Cony identify the three observers whose balloons were flamed by Uffz. Marwede on September 14 as S/Lt Boret of 25cie, Adj. Andre Lurcat of 30cie and Cpl Guilbert of 31cie.  However, an examination of the Carnets de Comptabilite en Campagne (a sort of account book listing the pay of squadron members) for each squadron, reveals that while Lurcat was indeed with 30cie, Boret was in fact with 31cie and Guilbert with 25cie.  --The specific source showing S/Lt Boret as a member of 31cie is Carnets de Comptabilite en Campagne, 31e Compagnie d’Aérostiers, 3e trimestre 1918, page 8.

 (2):  This same source identifies 31cie as the balloon squadron at Fromereville. “. . . canton à Fromereville . . .”  -- Carnets de Comptabilite en Campagne, 31cie Compagnie d’Aérostiers, 3e trimestre 1918, page 4.

 (3):   . . . par contre les allemands ont abattu en flammes nos trois ballons de Parois, de Fromereville et du Pied de Gravier (observateurs indemnes)   ["But germans flamed our three balloons at Parois, Fromereville and Pied de Gravier (observers safe)”]. --  Journal des Marches et des Opérations of the French 2eme Armee, page 78.

 (4):  This source indicates 25cie as the balloon squadron at Ravin du Pied du Gravier north of Verdun.    . . . la compagnie bivouaque au Ravin du Pied du Gravier (nord de Verdun) . . .    -- Carnets de Comptabilite en Campagne, 25e Compagnie d’Aérostiers, 3e trimestre 1918, page 4.

 (5):  This source indicates 30cie as the balloon squadron at Camp Fourgoas near Auzeville.   . . . la cie canton au camp Fourgous pres d’Auzéville (Meuse) . . .” --  Carnets de Comptabilite en Campagne, 30e Compagnie d’Aérostiers, 3e trimestre 1918, page 4.  (I am greatly indebted to Bruno Couplez of The Aerodrome Forum for his assistance in locating and translating these French military records from 1918).

(6): Franks, Norman, Frank Bailey and Rick Duiven, The Jasta War Chronology: A Complete Listing of Claims and Losses, August 1916 - November 1918 (London: Grub Street, 1998, p. ?.

(7):  Guttman, Jon.  Balloon-busting Aces of World War I (Osprey Publishing, 2005), pp. 32-33.  (My particular thanks to Greg VanWyngarden of The Aerodrome Forum for bringing this source to my attention, for providing the photograph of  Unteroffizier Marwede, and for providing information regarding the markings on Marwede's Fokker DVII).

(8):  Judy, Captain Will, A Soldier's Diary: A Day-to-Day Record in the World War  (Chicago: Judy Publishing Company, 1930), p. 131.

(9): Judy, A Soldier's Diary, p. 133.

(10):  Judy, A Soldier's Diary, p.

(11):  Judy, A Soldier's Diary, p.

(12):  Franks, Bailey & Duiven, The Jasta War Chronology, p. ?.

(13):  Judy, A Soldier's Diary, p.

(14):  Franks, Bailey & Duiven, The Jasta War Chronology, p. ?.

(15):  Wyeth, John Allan, This Man's Army: A War in Fifty-Odd Sonnets (London, New York, Toronto: Longman's Green & Co, 1929), p. 49.

(16):  Judy, A Soldier's Diary, p.

(17):  Gioia, Dana"The Unknown Soldier: The Poetry of John Allan Wyeth".  The Hudson Review, Vol LXI, No 2 (Summer 2008). pp 255-6.  This article appeared again as the introductory essay in the 2008 University of South Carolina Press republication of This Man's Army.

(18):  Gioia, "The Unknown Soldier", p 268.

(19)  Kendall, Tim, "Long-Lost Poet of the Great War" in Tim Kendall's War Poetry blog, 26 May 2009.

(20):  Wyeth, This Man's Army, p. 21.

(21):  Judy, A Soldier's Diary, p.

(22):  Wyeth, This Man's Army, p. 10.

(23):  Wyeth, This Man's Army, p. 52.

(24):  Wyeth, This Man's Army, pp. 7-9.  The three poems describing the train journey from Brest to the British front are "The Train from Brest", "On to Paris" and "The British Front".

(25):  Gioia, "The Unknown Soldier", pp 256-7.

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