1. ITV Report

Shropshire Poet remembered 100 years after First World War

Poppies in remembrance Photo: PA

Wilfred Owen was born in Oswestry in Shropshire and always wanted to be a poet.

He had a charmed start to life in the family home, situated in beautiful countryside, just outside the sleepy market town.

Wilfred Owen Credit: PA

He tried to write traditional Romantic poetry about nature, God, and the innocence of children.

But when he enlisted as a soldier, everything changed. The realities of trench warfare became material for some of the darkest and most famous poetry of the conflict.

Trench warfare Credit: PA

His description of soldiers trudging through mud, "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags" or young men running into enemy fire "like cattle" cut through the propaganda and made it perfectly clear what life was really like at the Front.

In his most famous line he calls the idea that dying for your country is honourable "an old lie".

Very different to War Poet Rupert Brooke from Rugby in Warwickshire.

He thought death in battle would be the ultimate honour and sacrifice:

"If I should die, think only this of me:

That there's some corner of a foreign field

That is for ever England."

– Rupert Brooke, The Soldier
War graves Credit: PA

Owen fought as an officer on the front line. He was blown up by a mortar, catapulted into the air and fell into a muddy crevasse. He spent days lying in the remains of a fellow soldier before he was rescued and sent to hospital to be treated for 'shell-shock' - what we know today as Post Traumatic Stress.

He went back to the Front and survived for four years. In the cruellest and most poignant twist of fate he was shot a week before peace was declared.

His family had by then moved to Shrewsbury and his mother learnt the news on Armistice Day itself, as the Abbey's bells rang out in celebration.

More on this story