Monday, 18 September 2017

Barbara Garnons Williams - British

Frances Mary Barbara Garnons Williams was born in 1889.  Her father was British Army Officer and Welsh Rugby Union Player Richard Davies Garnons Williams, a landowner, and her mother was Alice Jessie Garnons Williams, nee Bircham.  In 1911, the family lived in Waundererwen Hay, Hay Urban, Breconshire, Wales,


Barbara Garnons Williams was educated at Godolphin School, Salisbury, Wiltshire, In Kensington in 1916, Barbara married Roderick Buckley Hume, a solicitor and director of Buckley’s Breweries in Llanelly, Wales.


Barbara was serving in France when her husband, a Captain in the Welsh Guards, who had been invalided home from Gallipoli and served in Egypt and on the Western Front, where he was wounded at the Battle of Ypres, was killed at Cambrai on 1st December 1917.  Her father, a Lieutenant-Colonel, although retired from the Army, served again in WW1 and was killed in 1915 at the Battle of Loos.


Barbara’s Uncle, Aylmer Herbert Garnons Williams, was in command of the Lancashire Navy League Sea Training Home in Liscard.


The following poem written by Barbara was published in the Godolphin School Magazine “The Godolphin Gazette” in the Summer Term 1915:





“Greater love hath no man than this: that a man lay down his life for his friends.”


Forth! Though the din of battle sounds but faintly

            O’er English woods and lanes.

Forth! For it thunders loud and still more loudly

            On French and Belgian plains.


Forth! And though many hundreds fall beside them,

            Though cannon thunder loud,

Yet they stand fast, unbroken and undaunted,

            Awe-stricken, yet uncowed!


Forth! For from blood-drenched earth, in purple trenches

            Their comrades call them home;

“Fresh are the laurels, bright the crowns immortal,

            Therefore, our brethren, come!”


Forth! Across yards hail-swept with shrapnel,

            While great shells burst above,

They meet the death their brothers found before them

            And know the “greater love.”


Forth! And though heads are bowed and eyes are weary,

            Only one thing they see:

That flag which sets their brains and pulses bounding

            To set their England free!


Forth! And they come from many lands and islands,

            Yet all are one in death.

And for one end and for one great tradition

            They give their latest breath.


Forth! They are heroes, and their lives are precious,

            And some of great renown.

Yet each one finds a larger life and fuller

            In laying this life down.


Oh, God of Battles! Grant them rest from striving,

            Make all their warfare cease!

Give that, which passes all our understanding,

            Thine own eternal Peace.



With grateful thanks to Lucy Beney, herself a former Godolphin School pupil, for searching through the WW1 copies of "Godolphine Gazette" and sending me some fantastic poems written by female poets, including the poem written by Barbara Garnons Williams.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Poem by a woman munitions worker in WW1 Bedfordshire

Well in time for our Christmas Wish Lists, here is news of a WW1-related book to be published on 2nd October 2017 by The History Press - “Sand, Planes and Submarines: How Leighton Buzzard shortened the War” by Paul Brown and Delia Gleave.   To pre-order a copy please see the following link:

I am reliably informed there will be some WW1 poems written by women munitions workers (see photo from the Bedfordshire and Luton Archives) and a chapter about local nurses.  Definitely a must buy.

With thanks to Elise Ward who posted mention of the poems on Debbie Cameron's Facebook Page Remembering Women on the Home Front WW1.