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Hare Hall Camp


Image courtesy of the First World War Poetry Digital Archive/ Cardiff
University Library Archive / The Edward Thomas Literary Estate

Training for the 2nd Battalion began in earnest in 1915


when they moved to camp, first at High Beech in
Epping Forest and then at Hare Hall, Gidea Park near
Romford. Among those making the journey to Essex
in November were Edward Thomas and Wilfred
Owen. Ironically both struggled to find kindred spirits
and they never identified one another as fellow poets.

Edward Thomas (middle row, second from left) at Hare Hall in


October 1915. As Lance Corporal he was in charge of the
men in his hut, organising cleaning, roll calls and meal times.
Image courtesy of the First World War Poetry Digital Archive/ With kind
permission of the Trustees of the Wilfred Owen Estate

Life in camp quickly paled for both of them. Thomas


wrote of High Beech: The conditions are cramped and
not over clean. The food is ill-cooked and ill-served, and has
to be eaten in haste in a dark dirty room that the rain
comes into. And the nights are cold.
Hare Hall was an improvement, although military life
rankled with Owen, who wrote to his mother: I was

Wilfred Owen (back row, second from left) at Hare Hall in


November 1915.
Artists Rifles Association

put on Guard Duty from 9am yesterday to 9am today.


Miserable time; not allowed to take off packs or boots
during 24 hours ... this Camping is beginning to get
troublesome....
Thomas found camp life lonely and miserable until he
enjoyed his work as a map instructor but decided he
should go on active service, taking a commission with

A group at Hare Hall Camp including the cartoonists Sidney


Strube and Fred Buchanan, graphic artist Alfred Leete and the
composer Thomas Sterndale Bennett.
Artists Rifles Association

met the artists Paul Nash and John Wheatley. He

the Royal Garrison Artillery in 1916. He was killed at


the Battle of Arras in April 1917. Wilfred Owen, the
most celebrated poet of the war, joined the
Manchester Regiment in 1916 and was killed as they
attempted to cross the Sambre Oise Canal just a week
before the Armistice.

The band performing at Hare Hall Camp.