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Wilfred Owen's VoicesLanguage and Community$
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Douglas Kerr

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198123705

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198123705.001.0001

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Officers and Others

Officers and Others

(p.205) 13 Officers and Others
Wilfred Owen's Voices

Douglas Kerr

Oxford University Press

‘The Smoky Cellar of the Forester's House’ — the last letter that Owen wrote — contained a very emotional scene in which there was no distance between the officers and other ranks as they all had to stay in a cellar. Such situations were found to be rare since one of the most important aspects of the army involves the distinction of officers from the other men. The distribution of rank worked in such a way that the poor comprised the ‘other ranks’ while the officer corps were composed of the people who had been to public school and training in either Woolwich or Sandhurst. The European land war in 1914 changed traditional methods, and Wilfred Owen rose to a junior officer position. This chapter looks into the factors that determine whether one could be an officer through qualifications, influence, and even luck. It also analyses how Owen had been able to achieve his position.

Keywords:   officers, other ranks, qualifications, influence, junior officer

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