West, Victor

(1920-2002)
   Born in Lambeth, and brought up in Whitstable, Kent, his interest in battles was sparked by a lecture he heard at the age of 10 on the catastrophic Gallipoli campaign of the First World War. He received a sound education at Simon Langton Grammar School, Canterbury. He enlisted in the King's Royal Rifle Corps in 1939, was captured in Crete, and spent the years from 1941 to 1945 in German prisoner-of-war camps. There he forged passes and ration books for escapers, gave anti-fascist pep talks, and began to write poetry, sometimes while restrained in handcuffs. He got into his stride as a poet in the late 1960s. His best work up to then was collected in his one full-length volume, The Horses of Falaise (1975 Salamander Imprint). Post-war, he taught at Bedfont Junior School, 400 yards away from Heathrow Airport's runway one. Some of his poems: "1926-The General Strike," "Angk StOn the Run," "Easter at Howth-1939," "Joanna Southcott's Box," "Kossovo," "La Pneumonie," "Militancy," "Not Marked in History," "Noughts and Crosses," "Sign Here," "The Bateman Syndrome."
   Sources: Alan Brownjohn, Guardian Unlimited, Obituary. Monday March 25, 2002 (http://education.guardian.co.uk/obituary/story/0,12212,753444,00.html). Liddel Hart Centre for Military Archives, King's College, London University (http://www.kcl.ac.uk/lhcma/summary/we70001.shtml). Victor West on the Poetry Express (http://pages.britishlibrary.net/poetry.express/log/VW I.html).

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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