Julian Grenfell

Julian Grenfell

Julian Grenfell, the son of Lord Desborough, was born in 1888. Educated at Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, he joined the Royal Dragoons in 1910. During the next four years Grenfell served as a cavalry officer in India and South Africa.

On the outbreak of the First World War, Grenfell was sent to France. He soon obtained a reputation for bravery by stalking German snipers and then shooting them from close range. He was twice mentioned in dispatches and was awarded the Distinguished Service Order (DSO).

Grenfell was badly wounded when he was hit by shrapnel during action near Ypres. Julian Grenfell was taken to a hospital in Boulogne but died on 26th May 1915.

A few days later his poem, Into Battle, was published in The Times. It later became one of the most popular poems of the First World War.

Primary Sources

(1) Julian Grenfell, Into Battle (April, 1915)

The naked earth is warm with Spring,

And with green grass and bursting trees

Leans to the sun's gaze glorying,

And quivers in the sunny breeze;

And life is colour and warmth and light,

And a striving evermore for these;

And he is dead who will not fight;

And who dies fighting has increase.

The fighting man shall from the sun

Take warmth, and life from the glowing earth;

Speed with the light-foot winds to run,

And with the trees to newer birth;

And find, when fighting shall be done,

Great rest, and fullness after dearth.