Remembrance Day / Veterans Day

· Military

While numerous Owston and Ouston men served from the British Commonwealth and the United States during World War I, ten individuals gave their lives during The Great War.  Of the ten, eight were from Britain, one from Australia, and one from Canada.  On the traditional date of November 11 for Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth and Veterans Day in the US, we analyse/analyze the sacrifices of theses soldiers and sailors.


Able Bodied Seaman John Owston (1893-1915) of SS Shipcote in the Mercantile Marines died November 13, 1915. He was presumed drowned.  John Owston was the son of Henry Owston and Isabella A. Harwood of the Scarborough Mariner’s Line of the Sherburn family. It is assumed that he was named for his grandfather who was the Coxswain of the Scarborough Life Boat.  His body was never recovered and he is memorialized on the Tower Hill Memorial in London.

Sailor Henry Owston (1897-1918) of the SS Mavisbrook in the Mercantile Marines died May 17, 1918.  He drowned as the result of an attack by a German submarine.  Henry Owston was the son of Henry Owston and Isabella A. Harwood of the Scarborough Mariner’s Line of the Sherburn family. His body was never recovered and he is memorialized on the Tower Hill Memorial in London. He was the brother of Able Bodied Seaman John Owston who is listed above.


Private Victor Maxwell Owston (1887-1916) of the 53rd Infantry Battalion of the Australian Expeditionary Force  who were nicknamed as the “Whale Oil Guards.” Born in Wentbridge, West Yorkshire in 1887, he immigrated to Australia in 1912. He was wounded on July 16, 1916 at the Battle of Fromells.  On November 23, 1916, his status was changed to wounded and missing in action.  A board of inquiry held on September 2, 1917 determined that he was killed in action.  Victor was the son of William Christopher Owston and Eliza Annie Angus of the Well Close Mount line of the Sherburn family. Although his body was never recovered, a grave bearing his name can be found at the Ration Farm Military Cemetery, La Chapelle-d’Armentieres, Nord, France.

Photograph reproduced by permission of Marijke Taffein.


Private Henry Thomas Owston (1878-1916) of The Prince of Wales’ Own Regiment also known as the West Yorkshire Regiment.  He was killed in action on August 9, 1916 during the Somme Offensive.  Henry T. Owston was the son of Thomas Owston and Fanny Jennison of the Old Toll Bar line of the Ganton family. He is buried in the Authuile Military Cemetery, Somme, France.

Private Francis (Frank) Owston (1893-1917) of The Prince of Wales’ Own Regiment also known as the West Yorkshire Regiment.  He died on February 25, 1917 from wounds he received on the opening day of the Battle of the Somme.  He was the son of Francis Owston and Elizabeth Tweedie of the Francis Owston (1793-1870) line of the Ganton family. He was survived by his wife Emily E. Gowland Owston and their two-year old daughter Madge.  He is buried in the Wimereux Communal Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France.  Frank Owston was posthumously issued the Victory and Service medals.


Sergeant Charles Albert Owston, DCM, MM (1890-1917) of the Quebec Regiment of the Canadian Infantry of the 42nd Battalion of the Canadian Overseas Expeditionary Force. He was born in Liverpool on September 9, 1897 and immigrated to Canada in 1910 where he served in the 5th Royal Highlanders for three years prior to World War I. He was the son of Peter Lythe Owston and Caroline Ann Woodhead of the Brompton line of the Ganton family. He was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal in 1916 for “conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He tended and rescued the wounded under very heavy fire, displaying great courage. Later, when the battalion was relieved, he remained behind to see that the wounded were more quickly evacuated.”

Distinguished Conduct Medal; Military Medal

Sgt. Owston was further awarded the Military Medal in 1916 “For conspicuous good work and devotion to duty as M.O.’s [medical officer’s] sergeant on all occasions when the Battalion had been in the trenches during the last eight months.”  On April 9, 1917, “While engaged in dressing a wounded man during an attack West of Vimy, he was hit in the head by an enemy’s sniper’s bullet and instantly killed.”


Photo from the Canadian Virtual War Memorial

His remains were removed to the Villers Station Cemetery, Villers-au-Bois, Pas de Calais, France where a headstone bearing his name, regiment number, and date of death was later erected. He was posthumously awarded the 1914-1915 Star, Victory, and Service medals.


Lance Corporal Charles Edward George Owston (1879-1917) of the York and Lancaster Regiment (formerly of the West Riding Regiment).  He was killed in action at Messines Ridge on June 7, 1917.  A descendant of the Thornholme Owstons, he was of the son of Charles Edward Owston and Charlotte Matilda Dorrell.  Besides his parents, Corporal C.E.G. Owston was additionally survived by his widow, Ellen N. Eyekelbosch Owston, and their 11-year old son Sydney Charles Ernest Owston.  His body was never recovered and he was posthumously awarded the General Service and Victory medals. He was memorialized on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial, Ypres, West Flanders, Belgium.


Second Lieutenant William Henry Owston (1895-1917) of the Lincolnshire Regiment.  Died of wounds October 23, 1917. He was of the son of Henry Phillips Owston and Katherine Barraclough of the Lincolnshire line of the Sherburn family. He is buried in the Bruay Communal Cemetery Extension, Pas de Calais, France.

Grave Photo courtesy of the soldier’s nephew, John Owston


Private Charles Owston (1899-1917) of the East Yorkshire Regiment and 7th Battalion, Training Reserve. He was struck by an automobile and killed on November 13, 1917 in Scarborough prior to being deployed for service.  He was son of Charles (Valentine) Owston and Elizabeth Taylor of the Old Toll Bar line of the Ganton family. He was the nephew of Private Henry Thomas Owston who is listed above. He is buried in the Dean Road Cemetery in Scarborough.


Private James Herbert Owston (1896-1918) of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Regiment also known as the Wiltshire Regiment. He was formerly a member of the Middlesex Regiment. He was killed in action on September 1, 1918.  He was of the son of an unknown father and Lilly Maud Owston of the Kent/London line of the Sherburn family. He is buried in the Beaulencourt British Cemetery, Ligny-Thilloy, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France. James H. Owston was posthumously awarded the Victory and Service medals.

May we never forget their sacrifice and their service.

The 1914-15 Star; The British Service Medal; The Victory Medal


Comments RSS
  1. Jacqi Stevens

    I just found your blog, thanks to the announcement this morning on GeneaBloggers. It was interesting taking a look around your site–I wasn’t previously aware of the Guild, so learned of a new-to-me resource there–and I wish you well in your blogging endeavors.

    • jowston

      Thanks Jacqi for your kind words on this new endeavor.


  2. Michael T. Rogers

    I am hoping for some clarification concerning W. H Owston, the date of whose death in the Great war is given as 23 October 1917. An Owston ( no Christian name given) features in the First World war diary of my uncle Lieutenant John Emrys Rogers as being one of his best friends. They apparently joined the 2/4th Lincolns together in the autumn of 1916, and their mothers knew each other. My uncle records being very sad at the loss of his friend and says he missed him for a considerable time afterwards. I am simply puzzled by the fact that my uncle records his death as taking place on 20th November. Given that on this website only three Owstons who died in the Great War are listed as coming from Britain, and all the other details are compatible, am I to assume that my uncle has simply got the wrong date? It is strange, because it is a hand=written diary, in which the previous paragraph refers to 16 November, and the next one to 21st November. The diary reports: On the 18th November poor old Owston, who had recently returned to us after an absence on sick leave, was hit in the back by apiece of shrapnel as he was climbing over the parapet to inspect the forward posts, and, after being ‘dressed’ in the brewery, was sent down to hospital at St Venant, where he died two days later after an unsuccessful operation. I was very sorry to lose Owston, as he had gone out with me from Lincoln, and our respective mothers had sympathised with each other on our departure.

    It HAS to be the same man, surely?

    Michael Rogers

    • jowston


      I am sure it is the same man as W.H. Owston was the only one in the Lincolnshire regiment to my knowledge. I’ve seen errors like this in American records. There’s not much listed about his death and so it may have been based on when he first went into the hospital. Thanks for the additional information. He has one surviving close relative – the son of his brother.



    Hi James,
    I live in France and I am military collector. Incredible thing as I have in my collection Sergeant Charles Albert Owston’s helmet with his name and military number inscribe inside. This helmet is for sure original and came from house of clearance about thirty years ago. When I got it I do not know it was a canadian one. The helmet is camouflaged and has no more inside. One day I see there was a name and a number inside and so I do research on the web. And this day was the 9 april ! Incredible no!.
    I would be interested to be in relation with his Family. Perhaps you can help me.
    Sorry for my poor english. It is difficult to explain all.
    Best wishes

    • jowston

      Phillippe: Thank you for your message. I will email you regarding his relatives.


      Jim Owston

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