Poppies at sunset taken by Shropshire and Beyond in a field in Shifnal, Shropshire, on the jacket of A. E. Housman's 'A Shropshire Lad'. A collection of 63 moving poems are published in this photographic edition, touching on the universal themes of loss, nostalgia and love. Since publication, the book has never once been out of print.
Housman's poems were popular among servicemen and women during the war when people far from home, perhaps empathetic to his feelings of nostalgia for the quiet and peace of the English countryside.
According to the poet Robert Nichols, by 1914 A Shropshire Lad was ‘in every pocket’, and there are many stories of young men – Siegfried Sassoon, Ivor Gurney and Patrick Shaw-Stewart among them – taking their copies of the book to war with them.
Most of the poems that Housman wrote were done so before the World Wars, so he may have been read by soldiers of earlier times, such as the King's Shropshire Light Infantry (KSLI).
The King’s Light Infantry (Shropshire Regiment)
In 1881/2 The King’s Light Infantry (Shropshire Regiment) was formed.
During WW1 the 1st Battalion deployed straight to the Western Front in September 1914, where it remained throughout the conflict. It was joined there by 2nd Battalion in December 1914.
During WW2 troops were evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940, its next actions were in North Africa (1943) and Italy (1943-44). They returned on D-Day (6 June 1944), before fighting its way through France, Holland and Germany until May 1945.
It remained active until 1968 when it was merged with other regiments.
We shall remember our 'Shropshire Lads'.