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 and Wilfred christened. 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.
Craiglockhart has a Wilfred Owen refectory and small library of war poets.
On the Merchants of Edinburgh Golf Course, immediately overlooking Craiglockhart a plaque has extracts from Anthem for Doomed Youth and Sassoon’s poem Dream both composed at Craighlockhart.
There are a number of plaques in memory of Wilfred Owen
• Plas Wilmot – Wilfred Owen born here 18 March 1893
• No 7 Elm Grove – Birkenhead. The family moved here from Oswestry.
• Mahim – no 69 (was 71) Monkmoor Road Shrewsbury where Wilfred lived from 1910 – 1918.
• St Julian Church – Shrewsbury. On the roll of Honour
• All Saints Church – Dunsden – Oxfordshire. Tom and Susan are buried here as well as Mary Owen.
• The Clarence Hotel – Scarborough. Now called the Clifton Hotel
• No 24 Borage Lane, Ripon – in an upstairs room, a quiet retreat, where Wilfred wrote some of his poems.
• At Joncourt in France where he captured a machine gun post and was awarded the Military Cross. It is on the wall of the Marie with the words ‘ En Homage A Wilfred Owen et aux – 2nd Manchester 15th et 16th Lancashire 1st Octobre 1918 – 4th Octobre 1998.
• Manchester Cathedral – Manchester Regiment roll of Honour.
• Westminster Abbey – in Poets Corner with other poets of the Great War.
• The Western Front Association placed a plaque on the bridge of Ors. This pays homage to all the casualties as well as Wilfred Owen. His poem "With An Identity Disc” is inscribed on the plaque.
• The Wilfred Owen School in Shrewsbury is for 4-11 year old children and opened in September 2007. On the front wall at the school entrance is a stunning and magnificent plaque. This was made from tiles designed and decorated by the pupils. Each is individual and hand crafted.
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