Family uncovers secret First World War poem

Reporter:

Phil Robinson

A POIGNANT poem written by a young Wrexham soldier during the First World War has been discovered by his family.

Entitled An Eastern Dawn, it was written in the trenches of Gallipoli in October, 1915 by James William Squire, who was serving with the 8th Battalion of the Royal Welch Fusiliers.

Mr Squire survived the war but never showed the poem to anyone and for nearly 100 years it lay hidden, tucked inside a book, and has just been found by his granddaughter.

Mr Squire’s grandson is now considering offering copies to military museums.

Mr Squire was born in Manley Road, Wrexham, in 1884 and trained as an accountant.

He enlisted in the fusiliers soon after the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 and sailed with the regiment to the Dardenelles where it took part in the ill-fated Gallipoli campaign against the Turks, which despite the bravery of British and Empire troops ended in a humiliating withdrawal after months of bloody fighting.

Mr Squire was wounded during the campaign and was sent back to hospital in Britain. When he recovered he was posted to the Western Front and fought against the Germans and was wounded again.

After the war, he returned to North Wales where he lived in Rhyl with his wife Amy, who he had married in 1916.

Following a brief spell living in Canada, the couple returned to Rhyl where they raised their five children, going on to have many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

During the Second World War, Mr Squire was employed by the Ministry of Works and moved with the job to London.

One of his tasks was to help with the maintenance of the famous clock at the Houses of Parliament, known as Big Ben.

Following his death in 1955, the book in which he kept his poem was passed through various members of the family, eventually ending up with his granddaughter, who found it and passed it on to her brother, 57-year-old Carl Clayton, a librarian who lives in Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

Mr Clayton said: “My grandfather kept the poem for many years and never even showed it to members of the family.

“He never claimed to be a poet but he was obviously very competent at writing verse.

“The poem was very much influenced by the work of Persian poet Omar Khayyam and was suggested by a dream following a discussion of his Rubaiyat.

“Since it was found in the book we have copied the poem and showed it around the family.

“I also intend to offer copies of it to the Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum and the Imperial War Museum.”

See full story in the Leader

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