Sivori Levey

(1879-1924) – Songwriter and amputee

Sivori Levey, like other officers, took a gramophone to war and composed amusing ditties for his men to march to. He lost a leg at the Battle of Passchendaele and came to convalesce in Fowey’s Red Cross hospital (formerly St Catherine's Hotel). Here he wrote the poetry book 'From Flanders to Fowey'.

Credit: Fowey Museum

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Born in London to a musical family, Sivori was a pianist, composer, poet and arranger of musical recitals and dramatic plays. He became a 2nd Lieutenant in the 11th Prince of Wales’ Own West Yorkshire Regiment and took a gramophone to the front.  To cheer up his troops, and raise morale, he played them the latest music hall hits, especially on the eve of major battles.  He also wrote amusing ditties for the men to march to, like Rugeley, about their British training camp.  According to Lyn Macdonald, Levey marched out in front ‘his huge frame towering above them all … on legs like tree-trunks’.

He lost his right leg on Hill 60 on the Messines Ridge at the Battle of Passchendaele (the third Battle of Ypres) in 1917 and was eventually sent to convalesce at a Red Cross hospital for officers which had been set up in St Catherine's Hotel, Fowey. During his time in Fowey he wrote and published many poems and stories about the area, including From Flanders to Fowey. Suffering complications from his injures he was transferred to London for further surgery and the amputation of his other leg which, sadly, he did not survive.

Key words: trenches

Credit: Fowey Museum and photo with permission of Lyn Macdonald