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

Killed in Action

Sadly Edward was killed in action on the morning of the 27th of June 1918, by a machine gun bullet while he was in charge of a wiring party on the front line. Edward was two months short of his 31st birthday when he was killed, just five months before the end of the war. He was laid to rest in the Tannay British Cemetery near Thiennes in northern France. In February 2001 I was fortunate enough to visit his grave and pay my respects, it was a moving but enjoyable experience. His grave is in a peaceful and beautifully kept cemetery in an isolated part of rural France.

A short but eventful life

Edward had spent just over 13½ years of his short life in the army with two thirds of that time overseas, including nearly 3½ years in France and Belgium during World War One. His records show that he returned home on only a few occasions during this time. He was home to see in the new year of 1915 and also just after he was awarded his DCM in the summer of the same year. He was also recalled to England with his battalion in September 1916, where he was stationed until his return to the battlefields of Flanders at the beginning of March 1917. We also know he had at least two spells of sick leave, one in the summer of 1917 and again in May 1918, when he suffered the effects of a gas attack. On both occasions sick leave to England was recommended and it is therefore possible that the month before he was killed he spent some time at home with his family.

Edward had a short but eventful life beginnings with his childhood in Victorian Birkenhead through his work on the railways to his enlisting in the army and his time in India. Like many thousands of men he did his duty to protect the country from the threat of the German nation and fought on the battlefields of Flanders. He became a modest hero receiving the DCM and rose swiftly through the ranks to become an officer and while still a young man he made the ultimate sacrifice for his country by laying down his life.

After Edward's death Theresa continued to live at no. 27 Fell Street and on her own brought up her three children, Donald George - who would have been about eleven years old when his father died, Joseph James and Theresa. She died at the home of her daughter Theresa on the 10th of December 1976.

Edward Owens is listed in the London and North Western Railwaymen Roll of Honour and his name has recently been added to the Cenotaph in his home town of Birkenhead.

We know a lot about the life of Edward Owens, but I'm hoping that someone will have some additional information to further expand the story.

Donald Edward Owens

February 2002 Updated May 2002

My thanks go to the following: -

Colin Brothwood, also a great grandson of Edward, who obtained copies of his army records from the public records office at Kew and a copy of his marriage certificate. These records form the basis of this account.

Robert Bates, another great grandson of Edward, who provided me with photographs from his days in the army and the newspaper cutting of 1915, as well as the London and North Western Railwaymen's role of honour.

The authors of a number of publications on the history of Birkenhead, both in book form and on the Internet, which helped with background information for this story.

The Wirral archives department at the Wirral Museum for making available information to help me with this story.

Wirral Metropolitan Council's Public Buildings Department for their help in getting the name of Edward Owens onto the Birkenhead Cenotaph.