Wilfred Owen on The People's History Show

Posted: 27/09/2017 16:44 | News Home

Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon's time in Edinburgh in 1917 is discussed on STV's The People's History Show:

The War Poets Collection at Craiglockhart, now part of Edinburgh Napier University, is featured in this piece.

Tags: Craiglockhart | Category: General

The Send Off

Posted: 17/07/2017 07:32 | News Home

Radio General – a not-for-profit hospital broadcaster based in Warrington - is proud to present a dramatisation of Wilfred Owen's "The Send Off", devised and written by Walter Dain. It goes out on the Afternoon Mix on Monday, 24th July, from 12noon till 3pm. You can tune in by visiting our website - - from your computer or laptop, or by using an app such as Tune In on your mobile.

Radio General's remit is to promote health and well-being, and the arts have a proven track record in this regard. My own view is that we should also strive to inform, educate and entertain, and when you put these two things together you get radio drama. When Walter first suggested the idea I jumped at it straightaway: "The Send Off", and a drama based on William Wordsworth's "Westminster Bridge", are our first forays into it.

The arts can speak truth to power. Sometimes, as in Communist-era science-fiction in the USSR, it has to do so obliquely. But at other times it can be more explicit, such as in the Vietnam protest songs of the 60s – or the poetry of Wilfred Owen.

Our target audience is anybody and everybody. Obviously those who enjoy these two poets, poetry in general or radio drama. But more generally, anybody who has the curiosity to tune in. If such a person enjoys it, but then takes that enjoyment no further, we shall still have succeeded. But if they pick up a book on poetry or history, or put pen to paper and unleash that hidden scribe, or in some way engage with their community, we will be jackpot winners many times over.

It's as simple as that.

Tags: Send-Off | Category: General

June 10th 1917

Posted: 10/06/2017 19:25 | News Home

After many delays and false starts had prolongued his evacuation by a month, on 10th June Wilfred finally got a train to Étrétat, where he was in No.1 General Hospital, staffed by Americans. Having spent a week there, he travelled in a single cabin in a luxurious liner to Southampton on the 16th. After a further 9 days at the Welsh Hospital at Netley, where he was visited by his cousin Leslie Gunston, he was allowed to travel to London. After some shopping and viewing the Summer Exhibition at the Burlington, he caught the night train to Edinburgh, where he “breakfasted hugely” in the Waverley Hotel, walked the length of Princes Street, admiring the Castle, and finally took a taxi to Craiglockhart, 26th June 1917.

Category: General

10 May 1917

Posted: 11/05/2017 20:57 | News Home

10 May 1917


Wilfred enjoyed 40 days being assessed at Gailly, where he went for a ride along the Somme Canal in a steam barge, on the 10th May, which inspired the later poem:

                                      Hospital Barge

                   Budging the sluggard ripples of the Somme,
                   A barge round old Cérisy slowly slewed.
                   Softly her engines down the current screwed,
                   And chuckled softly with contented hum,
                   Till fairy tinklings struck their croonings dumb.
                   The waters rumpling at the stern subdued;
                   The lock-gate took her bulging amplitude;
                   Gently from out the gurgling lock she swum.


The lock was right next to the hospital at Gailly, while Cérisy was a mile East along the dead straight canal.

Category: General

May Day, 1917

Posted: 01/05/2017 21:02 | News Home

One day, around 18th April, Wilfred was almost killed by a stray shell, while asleep near Savy: “One wet night, when we lay up against a railway embankment, a big shell lit on top, just two yards from my head…I was blown in the air right away from the bank,” as he wrote to his mother. He goes on to say that he was in a small hole, covered with corrugated iron, the remains of his erstwhile friend Lieut. Gaukroger scattered near-by. In fact Gaukroger had been killed in the Savy Wood attack on 2nd April, over a fortnight earlier, but it is possible that the shell disinterred his body, which his military file says was buried “in the vicinity of Savy”, before it was transferred to Savy British Cemetery after the war. Also Owen was in the line 9 days, not 12; clearly the explosion that concussed him a second time had confused his memory. This was one of the symptoms noticed by his CO, on May 1st, along with his being “shaky and tremulous and his conduct peculiar.” So when Colonel Luxmore handed over the Regiment to his temporary replacement, the “odious” Major Dempster, 1st May, the Medical officer sent him down to Gailly again. He arrived the next day.

Gailly was now a specialist hospital for Shell-shock cases, of which there were some 20 officers and 400 other ranks. They were now labelled with “neurasthenia”, which covered a range of symptoms: shaking, gibbering, stuttering, unable to walk. As Wilfred hinted in a letter home, part of his problem stemmed from concussion, but the doctor was also “nervous about my nerves”. He is confident however: “Do not suppose for a moment that I have had a ‘breakdown’. I am simply avoiding one.” And he describes the Nerve Specialist Dr. Browne, as a ‘kind of wizard’.

Category: General

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