The Sambre canal, November 4 1918
After Craiglockhart he returned to the front line.
In October the officer wrote home:
‘My senses are charred. I don’t take
the cigarette out of my mouth
when I write Deceased over their letters.’
After four years of war that transformed his verse
the Allies were making swift advances
but talk of peace was premature. He wrote
to Sassoon: ‘The new soldiers cheer
when they hear these rumours, but the old ones
bite their pipes, or go on cleaning their rifles.’
In early November the officer was doing his job,
urging his men to cross a canal on rafts after
engineers had been cut down by machine guns.
At the water’s edge he was hit and killed.
On November 11th, just before eleven, a Canadian
was one of the last to die on the Western Front.
On that same day the parents of Wilfred Owen
could hear the bells of Shrewsbury,
an armistice anthem as their telegram arrived.
With acknowledgements to Martin Gilbert’s history of The First World War