Maison Forestière (Forestry House)

Near Pommereuil.

Foresters House - Front View

Foresters House

The house stands outside the entrance to a military encampment the whole camp area being surrounded by high wire fences.

It was the 31st October 1918 when Owen and his battalion (2nd Manchesters) reached Pommereuil, about 2 miles north-east of Le Cateau. (It had been taken just a week before by two sister battalions of the Manchesters). A Field Ambulance unit had originally been established in the house from which wounded were sent on to Le Cateau and beyond. It also had to deal with many French civilians who were in a very feeble condition because of age, food shortages, illness and gas poisoning.

By the time Wilfred Owen arrived, the Ambulance unit had moved on. During the early evening of the 31st, surrounded by sleeping officers, including his Company Commander, officers’ servants and some battalion HQ personnel, he wrote his last letter from the cellar in this house. At that time he felt he was out of danger. But there was danger to come and he died on the nearby banks of the Sambre-Oise canal at Ors on 4th November. The ventilation grille to the cellar can been seen just to the left of the bush.

 

Smoky Cellar

During the Second World War, General Rommel met strong resistance here from French troops. On 18th May 1940 he failed to get past a few heavy tanks barring his way forward to Le Cateau. He therefore reversed direction and diverted to Ors where he overwhelmed the opposition that he encountered there. Pressing on, he reached Le Cateau, skirted Cambrai and then went on to meet very stubborn British resistance outside Arras.

The Forester's House opened as a museum to Owen on October 1st 2011. More in The Oxford Times (13 October 2011)

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