War poet Wilfred Owen’s bugle will be played in a Scottish church

A bugle that belonged to First World War poet Wilfred Owen played in public for only the second time in 100 years
A bugle that belonged to First World War poet Wilfred Owen played in public for only the second time in 100 years
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A bugle which belonged to First World War poet Wilfred Owen after being taken from a dead German soldier has been played at a church service in Glasgow.

The bugle is still owned by the family of the poet but they allowed it to be played in public for the first time at his graveside in Ors, northern France, at a service to mark the centenary of his death just a week before the end of the First World War.

A week later Scottish Opera trumpeter, Simon Bird, played a rendition of the Last Post during a Remembrance Service at Wellington Church of Scotland in Glasgow. It had also been played at a private dinner in Edinburgh’s Redford Barracks.

Owen’s verse, along with fellow war poets like Siegfried Sasson, captured the horrors of trench and gas warfare. He was killed in action on 4 November 1918 at the age of 25.

Alan Kitchen, director of music at Wellington Church, revealed that Fiona MacDonald, a trustee of the Wilfred Owen Association, arranged for the bugle to be used. She said that the performance on 11 November had the full blessing of the poet’s family.

Ms MacDonald said: “The bugle was taken from a dead German soldier by Wilfred in May 1917. He wrote to his youngest brother Colin and said that he had thought to give the bugle to Colin, but had ‘now become too fond of the thing to part with it’.

“So it is a German bugle – bringing to mind the poem by Owen ‘Strange meeting’ – where a dead British soldier meets a dead German soldier, and includes the line, ‘I am the enemy you killed my friend’.”

Commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Manchester Regiment, Wilfred Owen’s poetry helped change the public view of the war.

Mr Kitchen said: “I felt that it was important to mark the centenary of the Armistice with appropriate music, and to that end I had endeavoured to harness the musical talents we have available within Wellington and from further afield to offer what was intended to be a fitting Remembrance Day service.

“It was an extra special dimension to hear Simon playing an instrument which had been largely silent for 100 years, and which was a direct link to both WW1 and to Wilfred Owen, the soldier poet.”

Former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Very Rev David Lunan, who preached at the service, said: “Simon’s trumpet playing made our hearts soar, and the fact that he was using, for the Last Post, the bugle which belonged to the man whose poetry has defined for all time the First World War, was a singular honour for everyone present.”