News - Wilfred Owen in action, April 1917

Posted: 03/04/2017 14:21 | News Home

Wilfred soon started to recover from his fall. After a week he sent his youngest brother Colin a sonnet dedicated to him called “With an Identity Disc”, which ends:

    “But let my death be memoried on this disc.
    Wear it, sweet friend. Inscribe no date nor deed.
    But let thy heart-beat kiss it night and day,
    Until the name grow vague and wear away.”

These lines are inscribed upon the Western Front Association’s memorial plaque on the bridge over the canal at Ors.

Wilfred enjoyed relaxing beside the Somme river and canal, which lay alongside the Gailly hospital encampment. He hitched into Corbie to replace the watch he had lost in his fall, and when he left, 30th March, to Amiens, to replace his revolver, before hitching and walking east to find his regiment, along roads blocked by the retreating Germans, who had laid waste to the countryside. The highlight of his journey was his last night, spent with the Lemaire family, who all took him to their hearts, treated him like a hero and greatly revived his spirits.

Arriving 3rd April, he learnt that he had just missed the battalion’s victorious attack on Savy, capturing a quarry, hill (dubbed Manchester Hill) and 6 German heavy field guns.

He was at once sent to fortify the new front line with trenches and wire, expecting a German counter-attack. He described this tour to his mother:

“…We stuck to our line 4 days (and 4 nights) without relief, in the open, and in the snow. Not an hour passed without a shell amongst us. I never went off to sleep for those days, because the others were far more fagged after several days of fighting than I fresh from bed. We lay in wet snow. I kept alive on brandy, the fear of death, and the glorious prospect of the cathedral Town (St.Quentin) just below us, glittering with the morning…"

On Easter Day, 10 April, he returned to camp at Beauval for 4 days rest and witnessed the shooting down of a German plane.

Category: General