Major Exhibition Reveals Wirral’s Links To The Battle Of The Somme

A CENTURY ago in 1916, The Battle of the Somme commenced, ushering in one of the bloodiest chapters in World War One. To mark the centenary, The Wilfred Owen Story is mounting a unique exhibition. The museum’s resident historian Lucy London has compiled what is believed to be the definitive list of writers and war poets who witnessed first-hand life on the frontline, many of whom perished in the hell to which they gave voice. Birkenhead-educated Wilfred Owen experienced the horrors of The Somme himself, inspiring some of his most graphic poems. Serving alongside Owen was Cecil Lewis, who was one of the founders of the original BBC. Cecil, who was born in Radnor Place, Birkenhead, on 29th March 1898, survived WW1 serving as a pilot in The Royal Flying Corps. He actually flew over the explosion of mines that signalled the start of the Somme Offensive, and was awarded the MC for his bravery. The commemorative panels also feature Merseyside poet Percy Haselden. Percy joined The King’s Liverpool Regiment, and was posted missing in action on 30th July 1916 during the First Battle of the Somme. The exhibition includes the most detailed account of casualties with a Wirral connection. Curator of the exhibition, Janet Holmes, says, “Lucy’s attention to detail is staggering. It is a monumental work of research and may represent the most complete anthology of poets of the Somme.” The Battle of the Somme was one of the largest battles of the First World War. Fought between 1st July and 1st November 1918 near the Somme River in France, it was also one of the bloodiest military battles in history. On the first day alone, the British suffered more than 57,000 casualties, and by the end of the campaign the Allies and Central Powers would lose more than 1.5 million men. The Wilfred Owen Story is interested in any stories regarding local peoples’ relatives who may have fought at The Somme, so these testimonies may be added to the archive. They can submit them to info@wilfredowenstory.com. The exhibition opens 1 July 2016 at The Wilfred Owen Story 34 Argyle Street, CH41 6AE Opening hours: Tuesday to Friday – 11am to 2pm For more information, call 07903 337995