2nd lieutenant Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

Captain Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)

Wilfred Edward Salter Owen was born on the 18th March 1893 in the county of Shropshire. They soon sold their house and lodged in the backstreets of Birkenhead, a small town om the merseyside. When he grew up he travelled to France in 1912 to teach english. When war broke out he did not rush to enlist and considered the french army but returned to England. 

He joined the army in 1915 and was commisioned as an 2nd lieutenant. As he was an officer he was given partial control of a regiment. He described the men he commanded as “Expressionless lumps”. However after the horrors of some time on the western front he adopted their way of thinking. 2 years later he was hit by a mortar shell and spent several days laying out on an embankment with the remains of his fellow officer. He was diagnosed with shell shock and sent to hospital in edinburgh for treatment where he met siegfried sassoon. 

Siegfried Loraine Sassoon was born on 8th september 1886 in Kent. He grew up modestly wealthly, living in a county mansion. When he was 9 his father died of tuberculosis. As a teenager Siegfried was interested in politics and cricket. 

Motiavated by patriotism he rushed to enlist the day war broke out. However his enthusiasm was killed when he broke his leg during a riding accident and spent a year recovering. At this time he found out his brother had been killed in the gallipoli campaign. He was commisioned as a 2nd lieutenant and sent to northern France. His first poems where all glory and honour however as the war dragged out they developed a macabre tone. His time on the front was marked by exceptionally brave actions. Including capturing a line of trench with grenades. He was unsueccessfully reccomending for the victoria cross in 1916. In 1917 he published wha the house of commons, called “Treasonous literature” involving his grim war poems he was sent to hospital and declared unfit for service. 

The two poets formed a strong bond in hospital. Owen was inspired to write his own poetry, his first great work “Anthem for a doomed youth” was read over and edited by sassoon. Owen had a great love and admiration for the man. Sassoon threatened owen with a “stab to the leg” if he went back to the trenches but owen returned to the front in july 1918. Sasssoon would be sent to guard a mandate in palestine, he was promoted to lieutenant and joined owen in the front in august 1918. 

Later that Year owen would be awarded the millitary cross for bravery and siegfried would be promoted to captain. Only a week before the war ended Wilfred owen was killed in action. His other works such as dulce decorum est where published after his death. Sassoon was instrumental in bringing owens work to light after the war. Which Sassoon survived. 

After the war Sassoon settled in oxford had a string of gay love affairs and then married in 1933. He was awarded an Knighthood in 1951 and died of stomach cancer in 1967 at the age of 81. 

“I am not protesting agains the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerites for which the fighting men are being sacrificed”                - Siegfired Sassoon 

“ What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? Only the monstrous anger of the guns” - Wilfred Owen