Wilfred Edward Salter Owen MC – Centenary

Cover image courtesy British Libray

Wilfred Owen enlisted in the Artist’s Rifles and received his commission in the 5th Battalion Manchester Regiment.  Wilfred was attached to 2nd Battalion and was awarded a Military Cross for bravery.

Wilfred Owen wrote extensively and produced some incredible war poems that still resonate to school children and adults on the anniversary of his death.  The poems provide an insight into life and death on the Western Front and the realities for an infantry soldiers.

BIOGRAPHY

DEATH AT SAMBRE ORS CANAL “His friend 2nd Lt. Foulkes, who was wounded in the attack, said that Owen was last seen trying to cross the canal on a raft under very heavy gunfire.” Wilfred Owen Association

CONTEXT OF FINAL BATTLE “This was an enormous clash of arms involving thirteen British divisions fighting on a 20-mile front – a battle to match the scale of the ill-fated opening attack during Battle of the Somme on 1 July 1916.” Peter Hart

Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime …
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, –
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

BBC

Also see BRITISH LIBRARY and WILFRED OWEN ASSOCIATION “From August 1914 from Mons and Le Cateau to the end of hostilities, the [2nd] battalion had lost 44 officers and 1121 Other Ranks dead, more than any of the other 26 battalions of the Regiment which served overseas in the Great War. Wilfred Owen was one of them.”

I realise Wilfred Owen was not connected with 17th Bttn, but wanted to share The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est, in recognition of the impression it provides to me for all men who lived and died in France and Belgium.  World leaders should continue to read this.”

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