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Thomas Charles Orris

  • 14867, Lance Corporal, 2nd Grenadier Guards
  • Died of wounds, 8 December 1914, aged 27
  • Buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France
  • CWGC registered (no family details noted)

Thomas Charles Orris, the son of Edward Orris and his wife Mary (née Davies), was born in Harlech in 1887; little is known about Edward Orris. In December 1888, Mary Orris obtained the licence of the Penrhyn Arms at Penrhyndeudraeth. The 1891 Census records that Thomas Charles Orris and his mother were staying with her father David Davies on his farm at Criccieth. In December 1891, Mary Orris obtained the licence of the Victoria Hotel at Bethesda. Mary Orris died in December 1892 and the hotel’s licence was transferred to her brother. In 1901 aged 14, Thomas Charles Orris was living with his aunt Gwen Lloyd (née Davies) and her husband Thomas Lloyd, a coal miner at Ystradyfodwg, Glamorgan.

In August 1910, Thomas Charles Orris enlisted into the Grenadier Guards at Liverpool and in the following year he was billeted at Pirbright Camp in Surrey. His engagement having finished, he became a police constable in Bangor (PC 19) and then Llandudno. At the outbreak of war, he was recalled and joined the 2nd Battalion of the Grenadiers which landed at Le Havre on 15 August 1914 though Thomas’ date of embarkation was 27 August.

Thomas Orris was wounded in action near Ypres on 24 November 1914 and succumbed at No 13 General Hospital, Boulogne on 8 December 1914 aged 27. He was buried at Boulogne Eastern Cemetery, France.

 

Alfred Arnold Overton

  • 400720, Private, 2/7th Manchester Regiment (Territorial Force)
  • Died of wounds, 23 July 1917, aged 33
  • Buried at Coxyde Military Cemetery, Koksidje, Belgium
  • CWGC registered (Husband of Margaret Mary Overton, of 8 Watling St, Llanrwst, Denbighshire)

Alfred Arnold Overton was born in Aston Manor, Warwickshire on 24 July 1883. He was the youngest son of William Overton, a brass founder, and his wife [Athaliah] Ann Overton (née Peakman). In 1891 the family still lived at Aston but in September 1897, Alfred transferred from Trefriw National School to Llanrwst County School, his home being 2 Trefriw Terrace, Trefriw. He left school in April 1889 to become a postman, first at Trefriw then transferring to Llandudno. On 13 November 1907, Alfred married Margaret Mary Jones of Llanrwst at the Llandudno Presbyterian Church. In 1911, Alfred, Margaret and their son William Hugh Overton (b 14 July 1908) lived at “Craig-y-nos”, Grove Terrace. Alfred was still employed as a postman.

Alfred Overton’s first known service number was 5734 in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Since Alfred enlisted at Llandudno, it may have been issued by the 6th (Carnarvonshire and Anglesey) Battalion of the Territorial Force in June 1916. Alfred was transferred to the 45th Provisional Battalion which had a dual role of training and home defence. This became the 28th Battalion of the Manchester Regiment (TF) at Margate on 1 January 1917. Shortly after, his regimental number was changed to 400720. The date of his disembarkation is unknown though he was ultimately to serve with the 2/7th Battalion MF (TF) – it is possible that he had been posted to the 2/7th before it disembarked in France in February 1917.

Alfred Overton was wounded in action and he died of those wounds a day before his 34th birthday on 23 July 1917. He was buried in Coxyde Military Cemetery. On the day he died, the 2/7th MR was at Oostduinkerke, only a mile or two from where he was buried which suggests that he died before being evacuated. The war diary for 23 July records that nine men were killed that day, three by poison gas.

Alfred’s son, William Hugh Overton died in 1920. Margaret Overton’s address a little later was recorded as 8 Watling Street, Llanrwst. She married Oswald Richards in 1939 and died 30 years later.

 

David Henry Owen

  • 25004, Private, 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Killed in action, 3 September 1916, aged 23
  • No known grave (Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France)
  • CWGC registered (no family details noted)

David Henry Owen was born in Llandudno on 30 October 1892. He was the son of David and Jane Owen who lived at “Garfield House”, Madoc Street, Llandudno. David (senior) was a carter. In 1901, the family including David and three siblings: John, Robert and Annie still lived at “Garfield House”. That same year David Owen was recorded as attending Lloyd Street Council School though when he left school is not stated in the register. The 1911 Census for Wales records the family living at the same address, David Henry Owen being employed as an errand boy for a gentlemen’s outfitter and tailor.

David Henry Owen originally attested to join the Royal Welsh Fusiliers on 8 January 1915 but it was not until 5 March, having re-attested, that he joined the 17th (Service) Battalion (2nd North Wales) which had formed at Llandudno on 2 February 1915. He gave his age as 22 and his occupation as a porter. His regimental number was 25004. The 17th RWF moved to Winchester in August 1915, but not with David Henry Owen on its strength because he had been posted at his own request to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion at Litherland near Liverpool on 19 June 1915. His reason for this request is not stated in his service record. He embarked for France on 30 September 1915 and was posted to the 1st Battalion on 2 October 1915.

David Henry Owen was killed in action on 3 September 1916 aged 23 at Delville Wood during the Battle of the Somme. The battalion war diary recorded that on that day, 25 were killed, 136 were wounded and 88 were missing. David Henry Owen has no known grave.

 

Enoch Owen

  • 23/22986, Private, 23rd Manchester Regiment
  • Died of wounds, 27 July 1916, aged 32
  • Buried at Abbeville Communal Cemetery, France
  • CWGC registered (Son of Sarah and the late William Owen, of 147 Mostyn St, Llandudno, Carnarvonshire)

Enoch Owen was born in Llandudno on 3 July 1885. He was the son of a pier-head porter, William P Owen and Sarah Owen (née Williams). In 1891, the family lived at 118 Mostyn Street, Llandudno. Enoch attended St. George’s National School and Lloyd Street School. In 1897 and 1900, Enoch was up before the Llandudno magistrates. He received a birching for the first offence but after the second, he was sentenced to spend up to his 19th birthday in a reformatory school. His trade was recorded as that of a bottle cleaner. The local newspapers which reported the cases with some zeal gave his address in 1900 as Prospect Street. The 1901 Census records Enoch as being an inmate at the Glamorgan County Reformatory School at Neath. The rest of his family lived at “Haslemere Masonic Cottage”, Bodhyfryd Road, Llandudno. Ten years later, Enoch Owen was living in a lodging house at Hay on Wye; he was described as a collier.

Enoch enlisted at Manchester into the 23rd (Service) Battalion (8th City Pals) of the Manchester Regiment. His regimental number of 22986 indicates that he enlisted in March 1915. The 23rd Manchesters had been raised at Manchester in November 1914 as a Bantam Battalion which suggests that Enoch was less than 5’3” tall. The battalion had moved to Morecambe in December 1914. In June 1915, it moved to Masham in Yorkshire and then to Salisbury Plain in August 1915. It landed at Boulogne in January 1916, entering the front line near Béthune on 7 March.

It is recorded that Enoch Owen died of wounds on 27 July 1916, aged 32 and was buried at Abbeville Communal Cemetery. He probably died at one of the stationary hospitals that had been established at the town having been wounded in action during the Battle of the Somme.

 

John Owen

  • 75428, Private, 19th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Killed in action, 8 January 1918, aged 21
  • Buried at Mory Abbey Military Cemetery, France
  • CWGC registered (Son of John and Frances Owen, of Tan-Y-Wal, Penrhynside, Llandudno, Carnarvonshire)
  • Penrhynside casualty

John Owen, the son of a plasterer, John Owen and his wife Frances Owen (née Evans) was born at Penrhynside in 1896. In 1901, the family lived at 1 Tan-y-Wal, Penrhynside; John (junior) had an elder brother William and a younger sister Fanny. Ten years later, John (junior) was recorded as having just left school and had another sister Margaret.

John Owen’s first known regimental number was 2092 in the Denbighshire Yeomanry (Hussars), a part-time cavalry regiment and part of the Territorial Force. The first-line regiment moved to Egypt in March 1916; the second-line regiment, formed in September 1914, converted to a cyclist unit in July 1916; and the third-line regiment formed as a training unit in 1915, disbanding in 1917. John Owen’s service record no longer exists but a soldier with a close number (2096) was mobilised on 19 Oct 1916, after enlisting earlier in the year, and posted to the 2/1st (Cyclist) Regiment. At this time, the usefulness of cyclists in a war of attrition including the introduction of tanks was questioned. Consequently, many soldiers in the second line yeomanry mounted and cyclist units were compulsorily transferred to the infantry. John Owen disembarked in France around 12 September 1917 and joined the 19th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers some days later with a regimental number of 75428. The battalion’s war diary records the arrival of 68 reinforcements on 29 September. The 19th RWF had formed as a Bantam Battalion at Deganwy in March 1915, part of the 38th (Welsh) Division but was transferred to the 40th Division before landing in France in June 1916.

John Owen was killed in action on 8 January 1918 aged 21. The 19th Battalion’s war diary for the day does not mention any casualties though it does mention nightly fighting patrols in the Bullecourt Sector. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth War Grave Commission records that five soldiers of the 19th Battalion died on that day. He was buried at Mory Abbey Military Cemetery.

 

John Richard Owen (Owens)

  • 20016, Private, 14th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Killed in action, 10 July 1916, aged 39
  • No known grave (Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France)
  • CWGC registered (no family details noted)

John Richard Owen, the son of a general labourer, Edward Owen and his wife Margaret Owen (née Williams, was born in 1877 at Llandudno. His birth was registered as Owens. In 1881, the family lived with John’s grandmother at “Tanynant”, Cwlach Street, Llandudno. Ten years later, the family lived at the same address though Edward Owen was the head of the family and his occupation was given as a quarryman; John Richard’s occupation was not given. On 1 November 1899, John Richard Owen married Mary Ann Thomason at St. George’s Parish Church, Llandudno; John gave his address as “Victoria Cottages”, Cwlach Street and his trade as a labourer. In 1901, John Richard Owen and his wife lived at 2 Brooke Street (Cwlach Street). The couple’s two daughters were Margaret Elizabeth, born on 25 September 1901 and Alice Mehefin, born on 29 June 1908. The Census of 1911 records the family living at “Tanyfron”, Wyddfyd Road, Great Orme’s Head and indicated that the couple had had a third child who had died in infancy.

John Owen volunteered to join the Royal Welch Fusiliers at Llandudno in November 1914 and was given the regimental number 20016. He joined the 14th (Service) Battalion that had formed at Llandudno on 2 November. The battalion moved to Winnal Hill Camp, Winchester in August 1915 and disembarked at Le Havre on 2 December 1915.

Aged 39, John Richard Owen was killed in action on 10 July 1916 during the attack on Mametz Wood during the Battle of Albert, a phase of the Battle of the Somme. He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

 

John Roberts Owen

  • 49240, Private, 8th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Died of illness, 26 October 1917, aged 30
  • Buried at Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Iraq
  • CWGC registered (Son of Hugh and Elizabeth Roberts Owen, of “Olive Bank”, 9 Mostyn Avenue, Llandudno)

John Roberts Owen, the son of a farmer, Hugh Roberts Owen and Elizabeth Owen was born in Llandudno in 1887. In 1891, the family lived at Ty Uchaf Farm, Penrhyn (about 200 metres NE of the “LLANDUDNO WELCOMES YOU” sign). Ten years later, the family lived at the same address with John being described as a scholar. In 1911, the family: Hugh, Elizabeth and seven of their eight children including John lived at 2 Ocean View Terrace, Craig-y-Don. Hugh was now described as a jobbing gardener and John as an assistant to a barber.

John Owen enlisted at Caernarvon, but his service record no longer exists. His regimental number in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers was 49240. A soldier with a close number (49236) who, like John Owen, was posted to the 8th (Service) Battalion of the RWF, joined for duty at Wrexham in September 1916. John Owen would have trained in one of the reserve battalions before being posted to the 8th sometime in 1917. The 8th RWF was the first of the regiment’s New Army Battalions having formed at Wrexham in August 1914. It had served at Gallipoli and in Egypt before being moved to Mesopotamia. Baghdad fell to the Allied forces in March 1917.

John Roberts Owen died of malaria at the 23rd British Stationary Hospital on 26 October 1917 aged 30. He was buried at the Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery.

John Roberts Owen’s mother died in 1918. Her address as written on the headstone was 3 Glan-y-Mor Terrace. Though the address was not unique to the area, it is believed that this referred to a property in Deganwy village.

NOTE

The name “JOHN R OWEN” appears both in St. Paul’s Church, Craig-y-Don and on the Deganwy Village panel of the Llanrhos War Memorial. John Roberts Owen’s parents’ address in Deganwy in 1918 makes him the most likely of the three John Roberts (see previous) to be remembered thus.

 

Norman Owen

  • 201324, Second Lieutenant, No 63 Training Squadron, Royal Air Force
  • Flying accident, 3 June 1918, aged 24
  • Buried at St. Tudno’s Churchyard
  • CWGC registered (Son of Mary Jane Owen, of Canton House, Lloyd St, Llandudno, and the late David Owen)

Norman Owen, the second son of a painter and decorator, David Owen and his wife Mary Jane Owen (née Swain) was born on 19 March 1894 at Llandudno. In 1901, the family lived at “Rockwardine”, Caroline Street. Norman had an elder brother Harold and four sisters. He attended Lloyd Street School and, from 1907, John Bright County School. His father died in 1905 – the family’s address at the time was “Floville”, Llandudno. In 1911, Mary Owen and five of her children lived at “Canton House”, Lloyd Street. Mary Owen was described as a lodging-house keeper and Norman Owen as a butcher’s assistant. He later worked for Thornycroft’s at Basingstoke.

On 30 October 1914, Norman Owen joined the Royal Naval Air Service Armoured Car Section for the period of the hostilities. He claimed to be aged 20 but was a year younger. He gave his occupation as a motor driver and his service number was F1324. His experience gave him a promotion to petty officer mechanic and he initially served on the East Coast on home defence. He was with No 1 Squadron of the now-named Royal Naval Armoured Car Division when it sailed in March 1915 to Africa to help the South Africans invade German South-West Africa. The German surrender came on 9 July 1915. Part of the squadron moved to East Africa; the rest, including Norman, returned to Britain. Norman’s unit was disbanded on 31 August 1915. He re-enlisted on 15 July 1916 for the duration of the hostilities. Nominally based at HMS President II, an accounting station, his rank was air mechanic second class. He served at Le Havre from 7 October 1916 as an acting air mechanic first class which was substantiated on 11 April 1917. On 19 January 1918, he was commissioned with the rank of probationary flight officer.

On 1 April 1918, the Royal Flying Corps, controlled by the War Office, and the Royal Naval Air Service, controlled by the Admiralty, merged and Norman was gazetted as a temporary second lieutenant in the new Royal Air Force on 17 May 1918 with a service number of 201324.

It was during this period of administrative fluidity that Norman Owen began his flying career at the Royal Naval Flying School at Eastchurch, Kent and received a pilot’s certificate in early May 1918. His flying training continued at No 63 Training Squadron at RAF Joyce Green near Dartford where pupils from preliminary flying training schools were instructed in combat.

Norman Owen was killed on 3 June 1918 aged 24 during a flying accident. His body was returned to Llandudno and he was buried in St. Tudno’s Churchyard on 7 June 1918 in the family plot.

NOTE

It was said of RAF Joyce Green, “To employ it as a flying training station was folly and as a Camel training station was lunacy. A pupil taking off with a choked or failing engine had to choose, according to wind direction, between drowning in the Thames (half a mile wide at this point), or crashing into the Vickers TNT works, or hitting one of their several high chimney stacks, or sinking into a vast sewage farm, or killing himself and numerous patients in a large isolation hospital, or being electrocuted in an electrical substation with acres of pylons and cables; or trying to turn and get back to the aerodrome. Unfortunately, many pupils confronted with disaster tried the last course and span to their deaths.”

 

Thomas John Owen

  • Second Lieutenant, 3rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers attached 8th
  • Died of wounds, 9 February 1917, aged 26
  • Buried at Shaikh Sa’ad Old Cemetery, Iraq (grave lost); memorial at Amara War Cemetery
  • CWGC registered (no family details noted)

Thomas John Owen was born in Llandudno on 16 May 1891. He was the son of John Owen, a grocer, and his wife Margaret who lived at “Anglesea Villa”, North Madoc Street. By 1911, John Owen had become a builder and the family lived at “Avallon”, Abbey Road. Thomas attended Lloyd Street School until December 1903 when he transferred to John Bright County School. In 1911, he was employed as an apprentice in Manchester at a drapery warehouse.

Thomas Owen’s medal card lists three regimental numbers, seemingly in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers: 297, 6919 and 24105. The last number is of a batch that was taken up by volunteers to various Service battalions that had been formed at Llandudno. Thomas probably joined the 17th (Service) (2nd North Wales) Battalion on or around 19 May 1915. On 13 June 1915, Thomas received a commission into the 17th RWF. The 17th RWF moved to Winchester in August 1915 and disembarked in France in December 1915. For a reason unknown, Thomas Owen did not disembark in France for at some time after being commissioned, he had been posted to the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, RWF which was based at Litherland, Liverpool. Whilst on the strength of the 3rd RWF, Thomas Owen was attached to the 8th (Service) Battalion RWF. He joined the battalion in Mesopotamia in September 1916. The 8th RWF had been the first RWF Service Battalion to form in August 1914 and had served in Gallipoli and Egypt before joining a task force to relieve the besieged garrison at Kut-al-Amara in modern-day Iraq.

Thomas John Owen was wounded in action during an offensive along the River Tigris. He died of his wounds on 19 February 1917 aged 26. He was buried at Shaikh Sa’ad Old Cemetery but because the graves there are lost, he is remembered on a memorial at the Amara War Cemetery. However, if that was somewhat unfortunate, the situation has worsened since the Second Gulf War and the Amara War Cemetery is in a poor state. Thomas is now additionally commemorated in the CWGC’s Iraq Roll of Honour.

 

William Owen

  • 60667, Private, 8th Royal Welsh Fusiliers
  • Died of illness, 30 October 1917, aged 34
  • Buried at Basra War Cemetery, Iraq
  • CWGC registered (no family details noted)

William Owen, the son of a blacksmith William Owen and Ann Owen, was born at Llandudno on 16 July 1882. He was educated at Lloyd Street School. In 1891, the family lived at 4 Owen’s Yard, Back Madoc Street; William (Junior) was recorded as having a younger brother John. William left school in April 1896. In 1901, the family lived at Alexandra Road; William (junior) was employed as a labourer and he now had a younger sister Mary. In 1906, William married Jane Evans and their daughter Annie was born on 5 April 1908. In 1911, the family lived at 30 Alexandra Road; William was employed as a builder’s labourer. A second daughter, Jennie, was born on 30 June 1912 followed by Ellen on 9 January 1915.

William joined the reserve at the end of 1915 and was called up into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers at the end of October 1916, joining the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion at Litherland with a regimental number of 60667. William embarked at Devonport on 9 March 1917 and disembarked at Bombay on 6 May 1917 only to embark at Bombay on 28 May 1917 and disembark at Basra on 5 June 1917, joining the 8th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. The battalion was the first of this regiment’s New Army battalions and was formed at Wrexham in 1914. After seeing action at Gallipoli, and subsequent service guarding the Suez Canal, by March 1916, the battalion was in Mesopotamia.

William Owen died of enteric (typhoid) fever at the 33rd British General Hospital, Makina Masus, near Basra on 30 October 1917 aged 34 and was buried at Basra War Cemetery.

Meanwhile on the home front, William and Jane’s first son William had been born on 30 January 1917. Tragically, Jane died four days later. The children then came under the guardianship of their paternal grandparents who also lived at Alexandra Road.

 

William Glyndwr Owen

  • 45003, Private, 1/5th Northumberland Fusiliers (Territorial Force)
  • Died (cause uncertain) 25 (or on or since 26) October 1917, aged 21
  • Buried at Cement House Cemetery, Belgium
  • CWGC registered (no family details noted)
  • Penrhynside casualty

William Glyndwr Owen’s father was Owen Hugh Owen, a plasterer born at Bryn Pydew who married Eliza Jane Francis at Pontypridd, Glamorganshire in 1893. William Owen, their first child, was born there in 1896. By 1901, the family had moved to 4 Mount Pleasant, Penrhynside. In 1911, William Owen was employed as an errand boy.

William Owen’s only known regimental number was 45003 in the Northumberland Fusiliers. Other Llandudno soldiers with close serial numbers in this regiment were William Davies (NF), Donald Evans, David Hobson, and Robert Williams (all qv). Donald Evans and David Hobson were at the Army Cyclist Corps Training Centre at Chiseldon when they were compulsorily transferred. Both arrived at 31 Infantry Base Depot at Étaples on 13 December 1916. With them were William Davies, Robert Williams and William Owen who probably had a similar service history in the Welsh Divisional Cyclist Company. All five were posted to the 19th (Service) Battalion (2nd Tyneside Pioneers) which they joined on 15 December 1916. David Hobson was wounded and evacuated to England in July 1917, the other four being posted to the 1/5th NF (Territorial Force) on 11 October 1917.

On 24 October 1917, the 1/5th NF took up its position on the front line. This was in preparation for a diversionary attack on the first day of what became known as the Second Battle of Passchendaele. The next day the battalion was lying quiet, interrupted by intermittent shelling and by 11 pm it had formed up between Aden House and Turenne Crossing. After an artillery barrage, the battalion went over the top at 5.40 am on 26 October. The battalion received a mauling and eventually fell back to the start line. Casualties were 61 killed (including Robert Roberts), 156 wounded (including William Davies and Donald Evans) and 234 missing.

William Glyndwr Owen was listed as missing, later as “death being presumed on or since 26 October 1917.” In 1919, the remains of five British soldiers were found next to the Ypres-Staden railway line. At least three belonged to the Northumberland Fusiliers, one being William Glyndwr Owen, identified by a metal disc. The five bodies were reinterred at Cement House Cemetery, a couple of miles away.

NOTE

The body of William Glyndwr Owen was found just under a mile behind the British front line. Could he have been a victim of incoming shellfire, an accident or something else, even on the day before the action? Soldiers Died in the Great War, which was compiled from service records, many now missing, gives his fate simply as having died on 25 October 1917.

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