Wednesday 24 February 2021

Marking the end of World War I 100 years on - Thornhill School Marking the end of World War I 100 years on

Posted by Louise Meah at 9:58AM on 08 October 2018

Before dawn broke over northern France on 4 November 1918, a 25-year-old British officer, Lt Wilfred Owen of the Manchester Regiment, headed out from a house in which British troops had been holed up in woodland near the village of Ors.

The Hundred Days Offensive was nearing its conclusion and Allied victory was just a week away. Owen had written to his mother from what he called the “smoky cellar” of that house five days earlier to reassure her that he was in good spirits. He suggested that it would all be over soon.

“It is a great life. I am more oblivious than alas! yourself, dear Mother, of the ghastly glimmering of the guns outside and the hollow crashing of the shells. There is no danger down here, or if any, it will be over before you read these lines.”

They were to prove prophetic words, though not in the way he had hoped. The operation that Owen was to take part in on the morning of 4 November was risky and Owen fell while directing operations, shot through the head. Forty soldiers were lost that morning and were buried in two cemeteries in Ors.

It is not known precisely when Owen’s mother received her son’s last letter, but it would have been close to, if not on, the date of his death. If it raised her hopes, it was not to be for long. A few days later, on Armistice Day, 11 November, as the church bells rang out to celebrate the end of the war in the town of Shrewsbury, where the family lived, she and Owen’s father opened the telegram every parent of a serving soldier dreaded, saying that their son had lost his life fighting bravely for his country.

Through his poetry, Owen has done more than any other victim of the WWI to express its horror and futility to future generations. The story of his death would hit our emotions with the same force today whoever he was, though it has a particular poignancy because so many of us have read and been moved by his work. Owen’s was, however, just one of 17 million military and civilian deaths that world will commemorate on 11th November.

It is for these reasons that here at Thornhill we will begin a week of commemorative events from 5th – 9th November involving all students. Amongst the many activities planned we are creating a WWI museum room and would appreciate the loan of any of your own artefacts to include in the display. All loans will be logged, very carefully looked after and returned to you after the week’s events. 

More details about the week’s events will be communicated to you over the coming weeks via the website. However if you would like any more information, if you have any stories to share or believe that you could help in any way please do not hesitate to get in touch with us.


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