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Brian Pohanka
Comments:
- Ceux de 14 Excerpt
- Gravesite of Joyce
   Kilmer

- In Honor of Veterans
- Saki Remembered at
   Thiepval

- The Somme:
   Beaumont Hamel

- Serre Road
   Cemetery No. 2

- A Tribute to Alan
   Seeger

- Powers Album Photos

The Western Front:
- Belloy-en-Santerre
- Flaucourt, Bray, Albert
- Y-Sap, Lochnager
   Craters

- Memorials, Thiepval
- Ulster Tower,
   Beaumont

- The Somme
- The Fallen Soldier
- Mametz Wood
- Delville Wood, High
   Wood

- Newfoundland Park
- Hawthorne Crater
- Arras
- Proyart, Chevauchee
- Mort Homme, Fort
   Vaux

- Verdun

 

Site Dedication

Brian Pohanka in 1999
Photo by DLO
Brian Pohanka outside his home in Alexandria, Virginia in September 1999.
This Web site is dedicated to Brian Pohanka, without whom the site and most of its content would not exist. It is with great sadness I write that Brian passed away on June 15, 2005.

While known as a respected Civil War historian, writer, battlefield preservationist, and historical consultant for a number of Civil War-related films such as "Glory" and "Cold Mountain," Brian also studied the Great War and had visited battlefields at the Western Front on several occasions.

Through my friendship with Brian as a student of the Civil War, he generously shared his knowledge on other studies he pursued, such as WWI and soldiers who fought in it. As a result of our email exchanges, Brian introduced me to several of the poets whose works are represented at this site, and inspired me to create this Web site to honor the soldier poets who gave their lives in sacrifice for their country and their cause.

poppy by DLO

If I may digress, I would like to give an example of Brian's graciousness and encouragement as a teacher, mentor and friend, and his sensitivity towards humanity and living things -- in particular, his ability to empathize with those who suffered the cruelties of war.

In the summer of the Year 2000, when I mentioned to Brian that I was going to create a Web site dedicated to him and to honor the Great War poets I most admire, Brian commented in email messages on Tuesday, July 25, 2000:

Excellent idea. There are so many fine "war poems" -- that will be an excellent addition, if a bit of work.

...While perhaps somewhat embarrassed by any dedication, I also appreciate it. I will see if I can find some photos that might be useable in some way....

Always willing to assist, Brian suggested an idea for the front page illustration:

Perhaps in designing it [the front page] you can do some artwork that shows red poppies (In Flanders Fields...) and barbed wire with grass -- sort of the cruelty and the natural beauty that most of them [the soldiers] could not fail to notice above the hell below, etc.

We exchanged subsequent emails on the topic of the proposed artwork for the front page. On Saturday, July 29, 2000, Brian wrote:

One idea, if you draw it, would be barbed wire and a helmet -- maybe with a bullet hole in it -- and poppies growing -- sort of implying the healing power of Nature, and of the human spirit -- the wire and helmet beginning to rust, as Nature reclaims what has been ravaged by man, etc.

I began researching the types of helmets worn by soldiers in WWI and asked Brian for his assistance, to which he replied on Sunday, July 30, 2000:

The Brodie Helmet is essentially the World War Two style of the World War One helmet. The WWII helmet was smooth and greenish in color -- the WWI helmet was essentially the same shape, but with a rougher exterior, and of a sort of brownish hue.... I would recommend not doing the sketch in color except for the poppies -- the juxtaposition of the b/w or sort of sepia/bw with the color -- the dark with the red -- death with life, etc -- would work well.

I then asked Brian for his suggestion on the type of medium in which to render the proposed sketch, and he wrote on Monday, July 31, 2000:

I don't have a specific medium in mind -- I think that something somewhat muted, but with the poppies showing up would work -- that is, juxtaposition of the drab and the horrible -- mud, etc. -- with sinister wire, the suggestion of death of the punctured helmet -- but then the beauty of the poppies -- and recall the poem ["In Flanders Fields" by John McCrae] mentions "the larks still bravely singing fly / scarce heard amidst the guns below" -- or something like that anyhow -- And Owen's ["Spring Offensive"] how the buttercups "blessed with gold our slow boots coming up" -- the poets saw the Natural beauty even amidst the carnage.

After seeing an image of the composite prototype sketch that was rendered in pencils of various kinds, Brian commented on Sunday, August 6, 2000:

I like the artwork -- that is much as I imagined it.... I might suggest adding a few more poppies, and, perhaps, developing the ground a bit -- some grass, untended as if the fields have begun to reclaim the churned mud of the battlefield... just a thought. But the helmet is exactly what I was thinking of, and the wire is good too.

Brian's vision of the sketch was fulfilled in the final execution of the artwork shown on the front page and in the site banner.

poppy by DLO

I miss Brian: His loyalty, friendship, lyrical prose, and noble spirit that quietly endured even in the face of adversity. He was idealistic and dedicated to his causes to the finish, ever-vigilant about preserving the memory of those soldiers he so admired and the grounds upon which they fought -- a great and neverending fight against real estate development on the East Coast in the United States.

In his heart, Brian was akin to his heroes, and I shall always remember him with deep admiration and affection. He was a sterling example of a friend, to the very end.

- 1st Dragoon
June 21, 2005


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