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Wilfred Owen in action at Savy Wood, April 14th 1917

April 14th 2017    Category: General

14 April 1917

After only two days at Beauval, Wilfred moved up to Savy Wood to prepare for another attack. 14th April, his battalion advanced north-east to assault trenches north of St.Quentin. Reaching exposed ground, their colonel took them on a detour via Selency to the village of Fayet, thence to Squash Valley where they rested prior to the attack. With Wilfred’s A company leading, they advanced over a ridge and came under heavy fire, with 30 casualties, before dropping down into the safety of Fig Wood. Having regrouped, they climbed a long hill to the Dancourt trench on the crest, relieved to find the Germans had just fled. This attack was the origin of his poem “Spring Offensive” …

        ‘…So, soon they topped the hill, and raced together
        Over an open stretch of herb and heather
        Exposed. And instantly the whole sky burned
        With fury against them; earth set sudden cups
        In thousands for their blood; and the green slope
        Chasmed and deepened sheer to infinite space.

        Of them who running on that last high place
        Breasted the surf of bullets, or went up
        On the hot blast and fury of hell's upsurge,
        Or plunged and fell away past this world's verge,
        Some say God caught them even before they fell…’

Wilfred’s attack was praised by his Colonel: “The leadership of the officers was excellent…” but, he writes to his mother, “the reward we got was to remain in the line for 12 days… I did not wash my face, nor take off my boots, nor sleep a deep sleep…”

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