SIEGFRIED SASSOON 1886-1967
Siegfried Sassoon was born in 1886. When war was declared he first enlisted in the Sussex Yeomanry before transferring to the Royal Welch Fusiliers. He earned the nickname ‘Mad Jack’ for his courage on the Western Front.
In June 1916 he was awarded the Military Cross for assisting a wounded man back to the British lines while under enemy fire. Sassoon was wounded himself in April 1917 and was sent back to England for recuperation. He had developed a sense of unease concerning the conduct of the war that led him to publish a letter in The Times suggesting that the war was being deliberately prolonged by the authorities.
Expecting a courts martial, the unexpected intervention of another poet, Robert Graves altered events so that he was deemed to be suffering from shell shock and so was sent to the Craiglockhart Military Hospital in Scotland to recover. It was while at Craiglockhart that Sassoon met and formed a friendship with Wilfred Owen, who, with the aid of Sassoon’s mentoring and encouragement became a great poet himself.
Eventually Sassoon was well enough to return to active duty and was posted to Palestine for a short time before returning to the Western Front. It was here that he was accidentally shot by one of his own men while returning from a patrol which effectively ended his wartime active service, during which he was awarded a Bar to his Military Cross.
Sassoon was a great poet and one of the three great post war prose writers, along with Robert Graves and Edmund Blunden. After the war Sassoon became as famous for his prose writing as he had been for his war poetry.
He wrote three semi-fictional autobiographies (The Sherston Trilogy) Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer and Sherston’s Progress, loosely based on his pre war and war time experiences, after which he wrote his true autobiography in three parts, The Old Century and Seven More Years, The Weald Of Youth and Siegfried’s Journey.