Counter-Wave: Poetry of Rescue in the First World War

Counter-Wave: Poetry of Rescue in the First World War

An Anthology edited by Paul O’Prey


This major new anthology of war poetry brings together for the first time the work of poets who saw active service on the Western Front, but not with a gun in their hand. Their role was to save life, not to take it.
Ernest Hemingway, E.E.Cummings and John Masefield drove ambulances. Mary Borden and Vera Brittain were nurses. All of them volunteered their services to help those caught up in the war, often at great personal risk to themselves.
Finding themselves amid scenes of unimaginable horror, each one experienced the realities of the war first-hand and wrote about what they saw and did with great honesty and compassion.

This new anthology expands and challenges our view of war poetry as having only been written by soldiers.


Poets featured:

  • Ernest Hemingway drove an ambulance in Italy and was badly wounded while providing canteen services to front line troops
  • Carola Oman was as a nurse in France
  • May Cannan served in a busy canteen for soldiers in transit in northern France, then as a secretary at the British Mission in Paris
  • E.E. Cummings drove an ambulance in France
  • Vera Brittain was a nurse in Malta and France
  • Mary Borden ran a field hospital for French soldiers on the Somme
  • Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy was an army chaplain who also served as a stretcher bearer and won the Military Cross for bravery
  • John Masefield served first as a medical orderly in France then as an ambulance boat commander at Gallipoli
  • Robert Service drove an ambulance in France
  • Laurence Binyon served as a medical orderly at a military hospital near Verdun