Francis Ledwidge (1887-1917)

Death: 31st July 1917
Artillery Wood CWGC Cemetery, Boezinge, West-Vlaanderen, Belgium Plot: II Row B Grave 5
Cause of death: Killed in Action
Photo taken by:  Wernervc
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Irish war poet. Sometimes known as the "poet of the blackbirds", he was killed in action at the Battle of Passchendaele during World War I.
Ledwidge had poetry published in his local newspaper when he was aged fourteen. He won the patronage of the writer Lord Dunsany after writing to him in 1912. Dunsany promoted him in Dublin and introduced him to W.B. Yeats with whom he became acquainted. Dunsany supported Ledwidge with money and literary advice for some years, providing him with access to and a workspace in Dunsany Castle's Library where he met the Irish writer Katharine Tynan, with whom he corresponded with regularly. After the outbreak of World War I Ledwidge enlisted; this was against the urgings of Dunsany who opposed his enlistment and had offered him a stipend to support him if he stayed away from the war.
On 31 July 1917, a group from Ledwidge's battalion were road-laying in preparation for an assault during the Third Battle of Ypres, near the village of Boezinge, northwest of Ypres. While Ledwidge was drinking tea in a mud hole with his comrades, a shell exploded alongside, killing the poet and five others. A chaplain who knew him, Father Devas, arrived soon after, and recorded "Ledwidge killed, blown to bits." He was buried at Artillery Wood Military Cemetery, Boezinge, where the Welsh poet Hedd Wyn, killed on the same day, is also buried.
The only work published in book form during Ledwidge's lifetime was Songs of the Fields (1915), which was very well received. A second volume, Songs of Peace was in preparation when Ledwidge died. Dunsany arranged for more of Ledwidge's work to be published, first in a third and final new volume, Last Songs, and then later in an anthology in 1919.