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Leicester's Warrior Poet
12-08-2013

With next year marking the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, it is likely that much attention will be focussed on the writings of Britain's war poets such as Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon.Arthur Choyce

 

Interesting therefore to reflect that our very own Leicestershire Regiment, The Tigers, actually appointed their own official war poet and that not surprisingly he was a Leicestershire man.

 

Arthur Newberry Choyce, the son of a local miner, was born at Hugglescote in 1893. In his early twenties he joined the Leicestershire Regiment becoming a Second Lieutenant in the 9th Battalion. He saw active service in France and was badly wounded at the Battle of Arras in 1917, the same battle, incidentally, in which another war poet, Edward Thomas, lost his life.

 

Choyce was chosen by his Regiment as its official war poet and one of his best known collections of poetry was 'Crimson Stains' published under the subtitle 'Poems of War and Love'. He also wrote under the pseudonym of Thurce Crayne, in which guise he wrote a book of Love Poems.

 

Altogether Choyce was to publish seven volumes of poetry and one novel, the latter being entitled 'Lips at the Brim'.

 

In 1918 Choyce was sent to tour America in his capacity as soldier poet of the Leicestershire Regiment and lectured to huge audiences, garnering great critical approval. This tour obviously made a considerable impact on the poet, who was to go on to compose the epitaph sent by the mothers of the British Empire to America's unknown warrior.

 

His last volume of poetry entitled 'These Slender Larches' appeared in 1924. He became Headmaster of Snibston School and died in 1937 at the age of 43. It is almost certain that complications arising from his war wounds contributed to his early death.

 

Copies of a number of his works are in the Newarke Houses Museum which also displays, in the regimental section, a pictureshort biography of our county's soldier poet.
 

Roger Blackmore

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