After a day exploring the battlefields around Le Cateau, I knew there had to be a final visit before heading for the hotel and a well-earned beer or two.
The village of Ors lies close to the Sambre à l'Oise Canal and the communal cemetery is easy to miss with only the small green CWGC sign by the gate to tell me I had eventually arrived. Up the steps and through the entrance, the small plot of white headstones halfway down on the right stood in contrast to the surrounding village graves, yet I was left with the strong feeling they are welcome here and a source of local pride.
This is a remarkable place. Of the 59 men here, most are from the 2nd Bn Manchester Regiment and the 16th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers, with two VC winners amongst them, who all fell in the intense fighting to cross the canal and capture the village in early November 1918.
But I had come to see one grave in particular, that of Wilfred Owen, whose iconic poetry resonates from the face of battle and rings down the ages. The setting sun cast long shadows and added a special ambience to a few moments which will live long in the memory. “Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.” “None,” said that other, “save the undone years,
Strange Meeting, by Wilfred Owen
(Lieutenant, 5th Bn Manchester Regt, MC, Aged 25)