Memorials to Wilfred Owen
Wilfred Owen's headstone in the British corner of the French communal cemetery in Ors bears the inscription:
W.E.S. Owen MC
4th November 1918 age 25
The families of the soldiers could also, for a cost per letter, have a personal inscription. Susan Owen chose words from his poem The End; “Shall life renew these bodies? Of a truth all death will he annul”. Susan, with her strong Christian belief, changed the sense of his poem by leaving the question mark out and omitting part of the line.
Previous to the headstone, Wilfred’s grave was marked with a wooden cross. Owen’s name is just discernable in this photograph.
Symmetry in the grounds of Shrewsbury Abbey was designed by Paul de Monchaux and commissioned in 1993. It is sculptured from granite. In Strange Meeting (the source of the quotation engraved on the sculpture "I am the enemy you killed, my friend") he imagines the experience of one soldier confronting another. The chiselled granite echoes the scooped tunnel in the poem, down which the dead soldier escapes on his last journey to this meeting. The sculpture also expresses the significance of the poet as a bridge builder and communicator. The stark shape reflects the structure of the trenches lined with duckboards, it also reflects the Sambre canal and the pontoon bridge which Owen’s unit was struggling to construct when he was killed on the 4th November 1918. The symmetries of the design match the symmetries in Strange Meeting. The ground itself marks the boundary between the living world above and its cold reflection below. The sculpture’s duel function as a bench is deliberate in this context, another way of spanning the uncertain ground, a safe heaven.
In neighbouring Oswestry, Wilfred’s birthplace, there is a simple but striking stone bench. This is situated against a wall alongside St Oswalds Church where Tom and Susan Owen were married. Above the bench engraved on steel you can read his poems Anthem for Doomed Youth and Futility.
At the top of the stairs in the Wilfred Owen Memorial Library in Birkenhead there is a poignant and moving stained glass window with blind and gassed soldiers following each other hands on shoulders.
In France, by the canal at Sailly Laurette, and within walking distance of the 13th Casualty Clearing Station, at Gailly where Wilfred was sent, is a stone plinth surmounted by the dove of peace. This was sculpted by Titus Reinarz and inscribed with Wilfred Owen’s name.
Edinburgh Napier University established a small special collection in 1988, relating to the life and works of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. The War Poets Collection now houses more than 850 books and artefacts relating to the history of Craiglockhart Campus, now home to the University’s Business School. Details of the Collection and its permanent exhibition can be found at https://www.napier.ac.uk/warpoets. The Wilfred Room is one of three function rooms comprising the Rivers Suite.
On the Merchants of Edinburgh Golf Course, immediately overlooking Craiglockhart a plaque has extracts from Anthem for Doomed Youth and Sassoon’s poem Dreamers both composed at Craighlockhart.
There are a number of plaques in memory of Wilfred Owen
There is a Wilfred Owen Way in Birkenhead and a Close in Shrewsbury.
In France at Ors the Wilfred Owen Mediatheque, or library, is part of the infant school. It pays homage, as Ors does, every year on the 4th November to Wilfred Owen.
Peter Owen, Wilfred Owen's nephew and President of the Wilfred Owen Association