John Masefield was thirty six at the onset of the Great War. He had just moved to Lollingdon Farm which is situated on the edge of the Berkshire Downs in the Parish of Chosley, Oxfordshire.
View of the Berkshire Downs from Lollingdon Hill
June/July: He moves to Lollingdon Farm in Berkshire with his wife and children.
September: He writes his poem “August 1914" and it is published in The English Review.
Autumn: He tries to enlist for Active Service but is rejected on medical grounds and accepted into the reserves.
October: The family have to leave Lollingdon as the farm is requisitioned as a cavalry billet.
December: He successfully enlists with the Royal Army Medical Corps and starts training and drilling at Hampstead Heath.
DecemberBy now he has become a Corporal.
January: The family are back at Lollingdon.
February: During this time he writes Lollingdon Downs, with Sonnets.
February/March: He is asked to go to France with the Red Cross and leaves on the 1st March.
March/April: He serves as a hospital orderly at a British Red Cross hospital, the Chateau d’ Arc-en-Barrois near Haute Marne where he helps the wounded and works in the operation theatre. Other duties included carrying and serving meals for the wounded. Henry Tonks was working there with him at the same time as a volunteer doctor.
May: After six weeks out there he returns to England and Lollingdon and throws himself into efforts to implement a plan to provide better facilities for the French wounded. This idea centres on a new kind of convalescent centre. He sets about estimating funding and writing letters to friends and associates asking for support.
July: Masefield is summoned to make a tour of military hospitals in the south and west of France. This lasts about two weeks. The French decided not to accept any foreign units so he was asked to divert his attention to Gallipoli. He applied his funds to organising a motorboat ambulance service. He was placed in charge of the whole operation. He bought a motor boat and two smaller launches as well as a barge.
August 13th: Masefield sets off for Gallipoli.
September 4th: He reaches Malta.
Mid September: He finally arrives in Gallipoli via Gibraltar.
Mid October: He returns to England.
November: The War Propaganda Bureau announces Masefield’s first America Tour, ‘the Sailor Poet in Lectures of Literally Interest
January: Masefield sets off to America ,in his words, ‘on a mission’.
January 12th/March 18th: He tours America from the East Coast to the South, taking in the Mid-West on route. He visits over thirty towns and cities during this time.
End of March: He is back in England with his family.
He is back in England with his family.
April: He starts writing his book Gallipoli and is told by the Government that it needs to be done quickly.
19th June: He finishes Gallipoli.
August/November The War Propaganda Bureau decides to send Masefield into the American Red Cross hospitals as an orderly so that he can write up his experiences for the American Press. He heads back to Verdun in France for two weeks and then he stays in Paris.
September: Gallipoli is publishing in the UK and America.
October: His book is heralded as a great success in the UK. Masefield writes two articles on the American Ambulance Service.
End of October: Masefield tours the battlefields of The Somme and has lunch with Sir Douglas Haig.
November: He returns to England.
26th February/June: He is invited back to tour The Somme again as an honorary Second Lieutenant. It was hoped that Masefield would write an official history of The Battle of the Somme.
April: While Masefield is in France, Constance and the children leave Lollingdon for the last time and move to Boars Hill near Oxford.
June: Masefield returns to England and settles into his new house at Boars Hill with his family.
His book, The Old Front Line, is published which is a study of the landscape around the battlefields.
He is summoned on a second American lecture Tour for four months, organised by the J.B. Pond Lyceum Bureau.
June: He is awarded honorary Doctorates by Yale and Harvard.
August: He is back in the Uk and working for the Department of Hospitality under the Ministry of Information where he continues to give talks and lectures to American soldiers.
9th November: Siegfried Sassoon visited Masefield for the first time.
11th November: Masefield was in London when the Armistice was signed.
It is over now……so now we have peace, and some prospect of unwinding the accursed chain to some purpose.John Masefield, writing to Florence Lamont