A medical orderly found the last words of Leslie Coulson carefully folded inside the dead soldier’s tunic.

They were stained in the poet’s blood and described the horror of life in the trenches during World War One.

Coulson, born the son of a warehouseman in north London, is not as well known as some of the major war poets like Wilfred Own, Rupert Brooke and Siegfried Sassoon.

But his poems continue to haunt readers several generations later.

The Times described him as ‘the most brilliant of our younger writers’ and his most famous work, Who Made the Law? and But a Short Time to Live, rank among the finest war poems written.

Coulson’s two great passions were Nature and writing, and the dreamy youngster often spent his weekends wandering the countryside surrounding London penning verse.

His ambitions as a writer led him to Fleet Street where he became an assistant editor of the Morning Post before enlisting at the outbreak of ware in 1914.

Coulson turned down the opportunity of being an officer and set sail in a troopship bound for Malta on Christmas Eve.

He would never see home again.

The 25 year-old private’s short military career got off to an inglorious start when he went down with mumps and wrote his first war poem, A Soldier in Hospital, followed by The Ebb.

A year later Coulson went into action on the beaches of Gallipoli

It was a bloody introduction to the reality of war and thousands of soldiers were slaughtered before retreating in disarray.

Coulson was wounded but promoted and then sent to France. There he found it hard to reconcile his love of Nature with the carnage of the Western Front

The landscape had become a featureless mass of mud and crater holes. Few trees were left in a countryside pounded by incessant shellfire.

The slaughter of millions of soldiers on both sides inspired Coulson to pen Who Made the Law? and But a Short Time to Live in the claustrophobic confines of the trenches.

He managed to survive nearly a year including the Battle of the Somme were some 60,000 soldiers were injured or killed on the first day.

But time was already running out.

Weeks later he was among the first wave of soldiers advancing on a fortified German position Called De-Drop Trench.

He was hit by machine gun fire and dragged back to a casualty clearing station where he died the next day.

His grief stricken father later honoured his memory by publishing a posthumous collection of his son’s poetry called From an Outpost.

Nowadays, his poetry rarely appears but the Londoner’s words continue to echo the futility of war more than 90 years after his death.

Who Made the Law? (extract)

Who spake the word that blood should splash in the lanes?

Who gave it forth that gardens should be boneyards?

Who spread the hills with flesh, and blood and brains?
Who made the law?

Who made the Law that death should stalk the village?

Who spake the word to kill among the sheaves?

Who gave it forth that death should lurk in the hedgerows?

Who flung the dead among the fallen leaves
Who made the law?

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