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 First World War

Edward's time at home with his wife and son was cut short by the outbreak of World War One. On the 5th of August 1914 he was mobilised at Chester and returned to the 1st battalion Cheshire Regiment as a lance corporal. He left for France with the British Expeditionary Force on the 14th August 1914. Fighting for his country seemed to bring the best out of Edward because unlike his previous eight years in the army he quickly moved through the ranks to become, by November 1914, a Company Sergeant Major. He also acted up as the Regimental Sergeant Major for five months, from May to October 1915, while the RSM recovered from his wounds. He appears to have had an eventful war and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in June 1915. The citation read "On the 30th June 1915 for conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty throughout the campaign, notably at Ypres on the 16th November 1914, when he brought back under heavy fire from the enemy, only 80 yards away, an abandoned machine gun which had been left in a trench".

In the summer of 1915, just after he was awarded his Distinguished Conduct Medal, Edward came home on leave. While at home he was interviewed by a reporter from the "Wallasey News" a popular local paper of the time. In the article, which ran to over 1000 words, Edward modestly praised others and dismissed his own bravery as "just a little bit of work". The article describes how Fell Street was decked out with bunting on his return home. Edward, described as a "modest hero", talked about what it was like "over there" in Belgium and the campaigns he had been involved in. These included the battles at Mons - where his battalion suffered so heavily - Marne, Aisne, Le Cateau, La Bassee, Ypres, Hill 60 and Neuve Chapelle. The article, a cutting of which survives to this day, is both a tribute to a brave local hero and war propaganda for the local people; on both counts Edward was happy to do his duty.

During the war years Edward and Theresa had two further children, Joseph James born in 1914 and Theresa (Tess) who was born in 1917. Life was hard for Edward during his time in Flanders; narrow escapes, gas attacks, shrapnel injures and miserable weather as well as having to endure the appalling conditions in the trenches were all part of his daily life. Some of these hardships are mentioned in the few surviving letters sent to his wife and family from the trenches. He spent very little time at home during the war so these letters would have be his only real contact with his family. You can see in these letters the love Edward had for his wife and children and how much he missed them all.

Edward's only long spell away from the fighting in France and Belgium was between September 1916 and March of the following year. During this six-month respite his regiment was brought back to England and for some of the time he was billeted at Bidston in the borough of Birkenhead. A photograph taken around this time survives today and shows Edward with "B" company's tug of war team.

Edward's continued devotion to duty and the army's need for good officers led to him receiving a field commission on the 11th of June 1917. The newly promoted second lieutenant Edward Owens DCM was posted to the 10th Battalion Cheshire Regiment. He was later transferred to "B" company 1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment a company and battalion he had spent most of the war with. We know from his army records he suffered his fair share of war wounds, including shrapnel injuries and several gassings. Following injuries sustained from shrapnel he was granted sick leave to England in August 1917, so the recently commissioned officer would have been able to be with his wife, his sons and his newly born daughter for a short time at least.

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