Tribute to war poets unveiled to mark century

A PLAQUE that marked a historic literature meeting between three First World War poets has been unveiled at a golf club.

Saturday, 14th October 2017, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 2:20 am
British soldier and war poet Wilfred Owen in uniform with a young boy, circa 1917. Picture: Evening Standard/Getty Images

Poet Wilfred Owen was originally diagnosed with shell shock and treated at the Craiglockhart Hospital, now Edinburgh Napier University, which led to a friendship with another war poet Siegfried Sassoon. They would meet a third poet, Robert Graves, who joined them for what a historic event at Baberton Golf Club 100 years ago today.

The plaque was unveiled at the club in Juniper Green by Edinburgh Lord Provost, Cllr Frank Ross, and chairman of Wilfred Owen’s Edinburgh, Neil McLennan, who also gave a lecture on the meeting.

Cllr Ross, said: “The commemorative events organised by Wilfred Owen’s Edinburgh Committee have given him, after 100 years, the honour he always deserved from the city.

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“This plaque shows how proud Edinburgh is of our history, our veterans, of Owen and our literature links.”

The Baberton Golf Club was confirmed as the meeting venue earlier this year by Neil McLennan, who now is a senior lecturer at the University of Aberdeen.

The locally born historian found a letter written in 1917, now held in Southern Illinois University, in which Sassoon explains to Graves’ that he did not want to cancel a match of golf he had planned and if Graves could meet him at Baberton Golf Club in Juniper Green specifically.

Mr McLennan said: “Not only was my search worldwide but the find is important in world history, English literature and of course of great local interest.

“When Owen, Sassoon and Graves met here they would have talked about the war and poetry. Owen’s famous war poem Dulce Et Decorum Est was drafted again just after this influential meeting.

“Baberton Golf Club in Juniper Green can now be seen as an important site in history and also the formation of English literature.”

The plaque, designed to replicate the themes of War Poets Corner at Westminster Abbey, was made and donated by Edinburgh company Specialized Signs and contains some of the words of Wilfred Owen, who died in the last week of the First World War.

Managing director of Specialised Signs, Graham James Sim, said: “As a local company we like to help local groups where possible so therefore it is a great pleasure to be able to help with this plaque, which means so much too so many people and marks such a significant event for Edinburgh.”

The evening of the unveiling also saw three violins, specially made in commemoration of the war poets, played for the first time.

The Wilfred Owen violin was made with timber from a branch of a tree within the grounds of Craiglockhart by Edinburgh violin maker Steve Burnett, who also made a Siegried Sassoon and Robert Graves violin.

Players Thoren Ferguson, Liam Kelly and Steve Burnett hope these violins continue to act as ambassadors and symbols of peace 100 years after ‘the war to end all wars’.