Siegfried Sassoon’s granddaughter highlights his words

Kendall Sassoon with her father Siegfried's journal and book
Kendall Sassoon with her father Siegfried's journal and book

He was one of the First World War’s greatest poets; a fearless soldier who won the Military Cross for bravery, only to be later sent to a mental hospital for speaking out against the conflict.

Most remarkable of all, he then returned to the trenches because he felt obligated to his fellow soldiers.

Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) is one of three or four major English poets who conveyed the horror of the war not just to the “folks back home” at the time, but ever since to generations of people all over the world.

His only surviving granddaughter, Kendall Sassoon, who lives in Kibworth, is keen to “drum up support” for her famous grandfather on the 100th anniversary of the “war to end all wars”.

“My own favourite poem of my grandfather’s is actually a joyful war poem,” she revealed.

“Do you know ‘Everyone Sang’?” She immediately starts to recite the poem, about a lighthearted moment amid the horrors of war.

“Everyone suddenly burst out singing; / And I was filled with such delight / As prisoned birds must find in freedom, / Winging wildly across the white / Orchards and dark-green fields; on - on - and out of sight.”

She added: “He was my grandad, so the academics and the obsessive ‘fans’ I find a bit scary.

“But I appreciate some of his work and I think he represnted the war very well.

“He wasn’t a mindless patriot; he understood that those guys didn’t have to be there, and he cared about them to such an extent that he was haunted by them.”

Kendall never met her famous grandad, even though their lives overlapped – the poet was estranged from her mother’s family. But she and her father George Sassoon moved into Siegfried’s huge mansion in Heytesbury, Wiltshire, after the poet died.

“It was a big, draughty mansion, and a really scary haunted house,” she recalled.

“My father used to swear at the ghosts; I basically ran away and hid in the laundry closet.”

She and husband Stewart Reeves moved to Kibworth in the 1990s. “I love it here – even the teenagers are polite.”

The couple currently present the Friday Rock Show on Harborough FM at 10pm.