2nd Lieutenant Edward Owens D.C.M.

Edward Owens. Biography. Tannay.

Edward Owens (1887 - 1918)

A brief history of his life By his great grandson Don Owens

The Life of a Young Soldier

For the majority of his adult life Edward was a professional soldier. He enlisted in the Cheshire Regiment on the 21st November 1904 for a 12-year term, 9 years with the colours and 3 years in the army reserve. It is unclear what the motivation was for joining the army but Edward had spent a short time in the Cheshire Regiment Militia, the territorial army of its day. There is some confusion as to how old Edward was when he enlisted, according to his army records he was 18 years and 4 months old but other records, as well as this account of his life, have him one year younger.

The newly enlisted No. 7788 Private Owens E was not a big man; he stood 5 foot 7½ inches tall, weighed 8 stone and 12 lbs. and had a 34-inch chest, not the ideal stature for a career in the army. However the tough army regime did its job because within six months his chest measurement had increased by two inches and he had put on nearly a stone in weight. We also know from his records that he had a fresh complexion, brown grey eyes and reddish brown hair and suffered with his teeth. The army medical officer, when he enlisted, commented that all his lower molars required dentistry. Edward even had to sign an undertaking to look after and maintain his new teeth - it could be that the army dentist provided him with false dentures.

Edward spent the first two years of his army career stationed in England before he was posted to Madras, now called Chennai, India in December 1906. Britain still had an Empire at this time and the British Crown ruled India and following the Indian Mutiny of 1857 there was a need for a large military presence in the country. He spent the next six years in various parts of India, including Jubbulpore (now Jabalpur) in the Madhya Pradesh and Secunderabad near Hyderabad in the Andhra Pradesh. During this time he reached the rank of lance corporal, became a 1st class shot and gained a 2nd class certificate of education. He must have also been a keen sportsman, as there exists a photograph of him with his hockey teammates, winners of the first regimental hockey shield in 1910.

During his time in India Edward spent nine months employed with the regimental police. It is not known in what capacity and when because on a couple of occasions he had run-ins himself with his superiors. At the age of 20 he spent 56 days in detention for "offering violence to a superior officer" and again, as he approached his 23rd birthday, he lost his lance corporal strip for "using improper language to an NCO". Despite these missdaminers his records show him to have been a smart capable hard working NCO who was a total abstainer. He was also inspired religiously while serving in India because in January 1910 he abandoned his Church of England roots and took up the much stricter Wesleyan Methodist faith.

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