Digging for YMCA Wirral's war history

Wirral Globe: Digging for YMCA Wirral's war history Digging for YMCA Wirral's war history

Research volunteers at The Wilfred Owen Story have been commissioned by YMCA Wirral to discover the part that the organisation played in the First World War.

Initial groundwork has discovered that there is a wealth of information documenting the YMCA's role in the war effort between 1914 and 1919.

The support for the soldiers is unprecedented in Wirral, involving the YMCA's own building, then in Grange Road and numerous prefabricated structures across Wirral.

Soldiers received accommodation, food and entertainment, along with prayers and readings.

Even land at the present site of the Bebington Oval was purchased to form the headquarters of The Bantam Regiment that was formed in Birkenhead.

A spokesman for YMCA Wirral said: “We had very little information relating to the YMCA's work during The Great War, and what the Wilfred Owen Story have discovered so far is fascinating and very rewarding, considering the aims on which we were formed."

Dean Johnson, founder of The Wilfred Owen Story, said, “Our research into Owen's time in the town has already thrown up many wonderful facts.

"This data often overlaps with other prominent institutions and individuals that were contemporary with him.”

Wilfred Owen is widely recognised as one of the greatest voices of the First World War.

He was born near Oswestry in 1893. His family moved to Birkenhead shortly after and Owen was educated at Birkenhead Institute. 

Owen was killed in action on November 4, 1918, during the crossing of the Sambre–Oise Canal, exactly one week almost to the hour before the signing of the Armistice.


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