2018 – Tony is undertaking a tour of his illustrated talk “The Great War: Pembrokeshire to Passchendaele and Perth”, which will weave stories about his family at war and some of the most notable writings and art of the conflict.

April 14th at Pen’rallt Bookshop, Machynlleth at 10.30 am

June 3rd Sunday 3pm- The Llansteffan Festival.

September 28th – Tenby Festival.

November 7th – Trinity St David’s University Carmarthen

November 14th National Library of Wales, Aberystwyth 1pm

November 21st for The Friends of the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff.

November 10th – Art Central, Barry. to accompany the Charles Burton exhibition of Great War drawings and paintings.

November 21st – Friends of the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff 11. am.




From Pembrokeshire to Passchendaele and Perth: my family in the Great War

Professor Tony Curtis

An illustrated talk.


2018 will be a special year of remembrance as the War to End All Wars is commemorated after one hundred years. Tony Curtis will be undertaking a schedule of Powerpoint illustrated talks and readings from his work and from the classic World War One poets and art.

He will trace some of the stories of the Curtis and Barrah families from Tallyho Farm in Llangwm to the Battle of Jutland, the Battle of Cambrai and a grave alongside those of Chinese labourers; to Perth, Australia and the ancient kingdoms in Mesopotamia. The remarkable narrative reaches as far as contemporary Hollywood. He will read from the work of amongst others Siegfried Sassoon, Kate Roberts, Hedd Wyn, David Jones, Wyn Griffiths, R.S.Thomas and Bertrand Russell. He will illustrate his talk with the art of Paul Nash, David Jones, E.H. Shepherd, Lucy Kemp-Welsh and Frank Brangwyn.

Tony has produced three books on the subject of war and is the only poet from Wales to have published a collection dedicated entirely to the subject.  War Voices (Seren 1995) brought together poems from the American Civil War, through the two world wars to the Balkans conflict and the nuclear threat. And his anthology After the First Death is a definitive collection of the Welsh experience of War. Seren published a companion volume of essays: Wales at War: Critical Essays on Literature and Art.


Tony has researched the Great War experiences of both his Pembrokeshire and Berkshire families. Every region and nation in Britain and its empire served in the war and suffered huge losses. Remarkably though, three of the most significant Great War writers served in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers: Robert Graves, David Jones and Siegfried Sassoon and there is a particular Wales contribution to the fighting and to those objectors of conscience. There will be readings from these writers and others from Tony’s Seren anthology After the First Death as well as his own poetry and recent research. The Barrahs from Pembrokeshire and the Curtises from Berkshire served and died in conflicts from South Africa and Mesopotamia through the Western Front to the North Sea. Tony will weave together untold, remarkable stories and some of the most memorable writing of the century in a tour that already takes in three festivals and National Museum of Wales and the National Library of Wales.

To book this talk, contact

Biog and publications at and on the Seren Books website.

The Front

He took a bullet

and fell.

I went down to him

ducked under their fire.


I have you.

It’s alright

I said.


Pulling his arms around my neck

I carried him back

to the safety of our line.

His face was wet against my neck.


They did not let up

the whole way.


Taking bullets all the while

he died against me

and I wore him like a pelt

my shield

my brother

my other skin.



James Charles Thomas, the writer’s Gran’s cousin who died Nov. 1917 in the Battle of Cambrai. In the twelfth century the Llangwm area was settled by Flemings brought over by Henry I; James by dying in Flanders was completing a circle.


Below are Fred and Jack Barrah in Australian Light Horse uniforms with their mother Sarah just before embarking for Europe and the war in 1915. They were descended from my family who emigrated as “Diggers” in 1856. Both men were wounded, but survived.