100 years of compassion and understanding
Today, Sunday 11th November, people across the UK will pause in silent contemplation to mark 100 years since the end of world war one, a conflict that is widely seen as the deadliest and most brutal wars in history.
During the four-year conflict ten million military personal were killed in battle and tens of thousands more returned home baring the physical and psychological scars of war. It is estimated that one in three of the men enlisted were under the age of 19, the legal minimum for armed service overseas at the time.
One of those brave young men was Wilfred Owen, an aspiring poet from Shropshire whose ingrained sense of compassion captured the grim realities of life on the front line. Owen’s prose reflected the irony of the heroism he saw around him, preferring to fill his work with empathy and regret rather than hero worshiping. Owen understood that there was nothing glorious in being dead and believed that his generation would ever be able to deal truthfully with the trauma that they had witnessed.
“Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal. Only a solemn man who brought him fruits Thanked him; and then inquired about his soul.”
- Wilfred Owen.
The memory of Wilfred would be widely celebrated, if not for the fact that he was admitted in the summer of 1917 to a psychiatric hospital for shell shock, what we recognise today as PTSD.
While under the care of Arthur Brock, the psychotherapist at Craighlockhart psychiatric hospital, Owen was encouraged to document his time in the trenches and his frontline experiences in the form of short verses that shone a light on the horrors of the war.
A year later, having recovered sufficiently, Owen returned to the front line in France to continue fighting. Just six days before the armistice was declared, he was killed in combat.
In 1920, three years after he wrote them, Owen’s single volume of poems were published by his friend and mentor Siegfried Sassoon and have remained some of the most poignant and moving words about the effects of war and are seen as the turning point in how we help service personnel returning from conflict.
It is estimated that 6% of service personnel will experience PTSD and this figure has increase by 2% in the last decade. Our network of advice lines, peer groups and services offer much needed support for military personnel and their families to ensure they get the right treatment they need.
If you, or a loved one would like more information about PTSD, please download our Factsheet or visit our advice and information pages to find out what is available in your area.