(Notes by Mary Hamer)
Queen Alexandra, accompanied by Princess Victoria, was present at yesterday's Empire matinée. organised by Lady Paget, in aid of the Iriah Guards' War Fund. The chief novelty was the recital by Mr Henry Ainley of the following poem, entitled "The Irish Guards", specially written for the occasion by Mr Rudyard Kipling.The poem appeared in separate American and English copyright editions in 1918, and is collected in:
‘And there were, too, many, almost children of whom no record remains. They came out from Warley [the training barracks] with the constantly renewed drafts, lived the span of a second lieutenant’s life and were spent.Kipling’s feelings about Ireland had always been somewhat mixed and he was violently opposed to the Irish republican movement as a treacherous attack on the Empire. Nevertheless, once linked with these young Irish soldiers through the memory of his dead son, Kipling was able to make a shot at identifying with them, allowing them a dignified history and a voice.
Their intimates might preserve, perhaps, memories of a promise cut short, a chance seen act of bravery or of kindness . . .In most instances the compiler has left the mere fact suffice since to his mind it did not see fit to heap words on the doom.’
‘The Irish Guards: This Regiment traces its descent with more or less accuracy, from the Irish Brigades who fought for France against England in Louis XIV’s time: and at Fontenoy very nearly broke up the attacks of the Grenadier Guards. The recruits who fled out of Ireland to join these corps were generally known as the Wild Geese. The great stand of the Irish Brigade at Fontenoy was made at Barry Wood, and Gouzeaucourt (1917) was one of the many great battles during this War in which the Irish Guards took a leading part.’
[Thomas Pinney (Ed.) Letters IV]