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Lieutenant Wilfred Owen chosen for Danny Boyle portrait on Folkestone's Sunny Sands

A First World War poet will be commemorated in a large-scale sand portrait on a beach for an Armistice event orchestrated by Hollywood director Danny Boyle.

Lieutenant Wilfred Owen's image has been selected to feature on Folkestone's Sunny Sands at the Pages of the Sea event next week, announced last month on the seafront.

On Sunday, November 11, some 32 beaches around the UK and the Republic of Ireland will be visited by the public at low-tide for a nationwide gesture of remembrance for the men and women who died during the First World War.

Danny Boyle on Folkestone Suny Sands beach
Danny Boyle on Folkestone Suny Sands beach

A large-scale portrait of Wilfred Owen designed by sand artists Sand In Your Eye, will be drawn into the sand on the beach and washed away as the tide comes in.

The public will be asked to join in by creating silhouettes of people in the sand and each of the beaches taking part in the project will commemorate a different war casualty.

Lt Wilfred Owen was born in Oswestry on the Welsh borders in 1893 and raised in Birkenhead and Shrewsbury.

In September 1915, Owen enlisted in the British Army and by 1917, left for the Western Front across the channel from the Folkestone Harbour Arm station, the day after staying in Folkestone’s Metropole Hotel.

Lt. Wilfred Owen (5150850)
Lt. Wilfred Owen (5150850)

He stood for 50 hours in a flooded dugout in No Man’s Land at Serre, where he developed shell-shock and returned to Britain for treatment.

Owen left Folkestone once again, for what would be the final time, on August 31 1918, to return to his battalion on the Western Front after more than a year away.

He went on to take part in the breaking of the Hindenburg Line at Joncourt in October 1918, seizing a German machine gun, for which he was awarded the Military Cross in recognition of his courage and leadership.

Tragically, Wilfred Owen was killed in the last week of the war, during the battle to cross the Sambre-Oise canal at Ors on November 4, 1918.

Film director Danny Boyle announces the project in Folkestone

At the time of his death, he was virtually unknown, with only four of his poems published during his lifetime.

His poetry was characterised by its images of the horrors of trench and gas warfare.

The figures have been chosen by Danny Boyle to represent a range of stories from doctors to munition workers, along with Privates, Lieutenants and Majors, with many having links to the regions they will featured in.

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