In 1916 Ireland set three poems by Eric Thirkell Cooper: ‘Blind’, ‘The cost’, and ‘Lines to a garrison churchyard’. Details of the poet’s life are sketchy, but we know that he was a Major with the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). Like Ivor Gurney, he wrote many poems in the trenches, with two published collections. The first was his Soliloquies of a Subaltern somewhere in France (1915), the second Tommies of the lines (1918), which contains 52 poems. Ireland’s settings are all drawn from the latter part of the first book:
We know the Major survived the war as he went on to have at least two children, Erica and Rosemary, and in 1947 was living in Greatham – by a strange coincidence another Sussex village with historic connections, including a tiny twelfth-century church. Cyril Scott’s version of ‘Garrison churchyard’ appeared in the same year as that of Ireland.