12th January 1917 - Wilfred Owen went into action for the first time, leading two sections of his platoon of the 2nd Manchesters, at Serre (France). He occupied a captured German dug-out in the middle of No Man’s Land for 48 hours, during which he had to crawl across to check on another platoon. One of his sentries was blown down the stairs by a German shell, and blinded. This event is related in a letter to his mother and vividly reproduced in his poem, “The Sentry”:
“…….. There we herded from the blast
Of whizz-bangs; but one found our door at last, -
Buffeting eyes and breath, snuffing the candles,
And thud! flump! thud! down the steep steps came thumping
And sploshing in the flood, deluging muck,
The sentry’s body; then his rifle, handles
Of old Boche bombs, and mud in ruck on ruck.
We dredged it up for dead, until he whined,
‘O sir - my eyes, - I’m blind, - I’m blind, - I’m blind.’
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