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.
53rd INFANTRY BATTALION OF THE AUSTRALIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCE
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.
WEST YORKSHIRE REGIMENT
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.
42nd BATTALION OF THE CANADIAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES
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.
YORK AND LANCASTER REGIMENT
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.
EAST YORKSHIRE REGIMENT
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