Arthur Graeme West is known for one book The Diary of a Dead Officer (1919) which contains just 10 poems alongside letters and diaries covering the period from his enlistment in the army in 1915 to his death. He was born in Norfolk and educated at Blundell’s School and Balliol College, Oxford where he joined the Officer Training Corps. After he was rejected for a commission on the grounds of poor eyesight he enlisted as a private with the Public Schools Battalion in January 1915. He was sent to France in November 1915 and was repeatedly in action. In April 1916 he was accepted for an officer training course in Scotland:

There, as the Diary vividly describes, three or four months of being ordered about by bullying, stupid NCOs did more to turn him against war than the trenches had done. Dominic Hibberd, War Poets Association

It was probably while on leave in August 1916 that he wrote his best-known poem ‘God! How I hate you, you young cheerful men!’ which scourged the patriotism and religious sentiment typical of the memorial volumes of soldier versifiers. Tim Kendall, Poetry of the First World War: an Anthology (Oxford University Press, 2013) p. 145

In August 1916 he became a second lieutenant in the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and returned to France. He was killed by a sniper near Bapaume on 3 April 1917.

Arthur Graeme West’s Poems:

The Diary of a Dead Officer can be accessed digitally at