Rendez-vous at Ors Communal Cemetery
A corner of Ors Communal Cemetery is given over to the graves of 59 British soldiers killed in World War I.
Among his comrades of the Manchester Regiment lies Second Lieutenant Wilfred Owen, who was killed on 4th November 1918 at the age of 25 years, as he attempted to cross La Sambre Canal with his company of men.
At the time of his death the Allied Armies, bolstered by American reinforcements, were involved in what would be known as the Hundred Days Offensive which brought about the liberation of the occupied territories and the surrender of the German Army. On that same day of 4th November 1918, New Zealand soldiers were liberating the village of Le Quesnoy, some 15 kilometres further north.
Wilfred Owen is considered to be one of Britain's greatest war poets for his vivid depiction of the realities of World War I. As the man said himself, 'My subject is War, and the pity of War'. However Owen's works were not published until the 1920s when fellow poet and friend Siegfried Sassoon took up his cause. The titles of his poems, such as Anthem to Doomed Youth, Futility, and Exposure, amply convey the themes of hardship and horror which permeated his work. Indeed, his poetic genius was both revealed and snuffed out by the war.
In tribute to the soldier poet, the village of Ors in Nord-Pas-de-Calais has named its library after Wilfred Owen and every year French and British citizens come to Ors to commemorate the anniversary of his death. Two associations, one in France and the other in Great Britain, continue to publish and study his work. The forestry worker's house in Bois-L'Evêque, where Owen spent his final night and wrote a final letter to his mother, will soon be reopening to the public with a brand new presentation of his poems by the British artist Simon Patterson.