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George Owen (1877 - 1915) (Page 1)

These pages about George Owen are split up as follows :

Page 1 :  Ancestors & Siblings and Other Information
Page 2 : George's World War I Army file

 

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Ancestors/Siblings

George Owen was an original Anzac (Service No : 1111) who served in the Boer War and then later in World War I.  He was wounded at Gallipoli and repatriated home in 1915.  He was heading to Moree, NSW when he was taken ill at Scone, NSW where he died from his injuries on 5 November, 1915.  His death and funeral were reported on the front page of the local Scone newspaper and this is the text of that report.

Scone Advocate ,Tuesday 9th November 1915.

Return Soldiers Pathetic End.   Death in Scone.

Private George Owen, No 1111, A Co., 1st Battalion, AIF, whose passing away was surrounded with much pathos, was solemnly and reverently laid to rest here on Saturday morning last.

Far seperated from the scene of action, where he was severly wounded and under the distressing curcumstances whereby he was fated to end his days, still serving his colours, locally, being as it were a stranger in a strange land, a sad duty fell to the lot of the people of Scone on Saturday.

The fact that the "Last Post" had sounded for another Australian soldier was pathetically conveved to us all as the casket, wrapped in a Union Jack, conveying the mortal remains of the deceased, passed on its way from the hospital to the cemetery.

The deceased soldier was taken off the mail train here on Tuesday night last, he at the time being on his way to Moree from Sydney. His condition was serious and being admitted to the hospital he was, the same evening, operated on for an acute attack of Peritonitis. Despite every attention, he lingered, bearing his sufferings as only a soldier can, for some days, death taking place, in the presence of a brother and sister and his young and distressed fiancee, on Friday night.

At the wish of those more endeared to him, the funeral was arranged for 10 o clock, the same morning. With such brief notice, no local or militiary arrangements could be made, but withal the cortage, though not as long as would have been the case had arrangements been deferred was a most representative one.

The Mayor (Ald Sherwood), Ald A T Baker and Mr. Jas. Young represented the Municipal Council; Messrs G A Stevenson and Senior Sergt. Fortescue, the Recruiting Association; Lieut J G Asser and other members, the 6th ALH Regiment; with a goodly number of business people and local residents. Private R Ryan on leave, represented the AIF and marched immediately after the hearse. The Rev Father O'Donnell at the RC cemetery, conducted the burial service.

In conversation with the deceased's brother, who expressed gratitude for the kindly treatment extended to the family in their hour of trouble, especially by the Matron and Nursing staff of the hospital, we learned that the deceased's parents had predeceased him. A native of Nowra, (Should be Cowra) 38 years of age, but a late resident of Sydney.

As Private Owen's unit gives testimony, he was a member of the first landing party on Gallipoli, which made undying history for his country. Only eight hours in the firing line, he received a bullet over the heart, an injury which subsequently brought about the complication, which ended a noble career. Invalided home on the "Ballarat", he was granted several months leave of absence, and it was his one desire to rejoin his company at the front.

But it was another case of hoping against hope. A fine type of manhood, a typical Australian native, khaki was not new to him. Under General's Sir Redvers Buller and Sir Ian Hamilton, he saw the South African campaign through, and was one of the first to enlist for his country in the present European outbreak.

His life, what more could he give?

On 1 May 2008, The Scone Advocate ran a feature article written by Nikki TAYLOR on the 1915 story which retold the story of George's death and funeral. For obvious reasons a lot of the material was taken from the original article incuding unfortunately repeating the mistake of George having come from Nowra instead of Cowra.

It's interesting to note that the article refers to his fiancee. This is the only known reference to her. If you can help in identifying her an email would be appreciated.

His niece Sylvia Newton (nee Owen) in an interview stated that George "was the first Australian soldier to be returned to his native country" in the Gallipoli campaign. She also said that that "he was the first Australian soldier to die back in his own country after being wounded in Gallipoli". The truth of these claims has not been verified. The first seems unlikely but may mean that he was on the first ship that returned with wounded Australian soldiers (The "Ballarat", on which he travelled left from Cairo on 5 July 1915 and arrived back in Sydney on the Tuesday between 4 August and 11 August 1915) or may be a confusion about the second claim. The second may well be true but verifying it would be very difficult.

She said "The people of Scone gave him a remarkable funeral. Patriotism was very high. They closed all the shops that day for the funeral and (as quoted above) there was a big write-up in the local paper." She said he was one of the first to enlist for World War I and she also confirmed that he fought in the Boer War. Sylvia noted that her brother George Vincent Owen (1920-2000) was named after him.

The grave and headstone of George Owen in the Catholic Section of Scone NSW Cemetery

George Owen Grave Headstone Transcription
1111 PRIVATE
GEO OWEN
1ST BATTALION
6TH NOVEMBER 1915

HIS DUTY NOBLY DONE
INSERTED BY HIS SISTER
MINNIE
George Owen Headstone


George's name on the Australian War Memorial's Roll of Honour.
His name is located at panel 30 (toward the top) in the Commemorative Area of the Australian War Memorial

A fellow researcher, Fay Dobson (nee Hudson) when she lived in Taree NSW, was aware of a distant relative who was moving house who lived somewhere out the back of Wingham, NSW. She believed that these people would probably be inclined to throw out a number of items and so went to visit them during the move. One of the things she found sitting in a pile beneath a tree was an AIF Souvenir book containing a letter written on the back of the book's pages from George to his half-sister Minnie Hudson. The individual pages of the AIF Book are in the Gallery

George Owen Letter Page 1 George Owen Letter Page 2 George Owen Letter Page 3 George Owen Letter Page 4 George Owen Letter Page 5
Page 1Page 2Page 3Page 4Page 5

 Click Thumbnail to View Page 

Here is the text of the letter.

Cairo, Egypt
March 23rd 1915
Dear Minnie
I got your letter dated feb 19th and was glad to hear you where (sic) all well as I am at presant (sic). Well minnie you want to know if we are fighting. We are not fighting and I dont (sic) know when we will get into battle but I dont (sic) think it will be long. They tell me we are to go away every week but we are still here but when we are at the front I will let you know how things are if I get a chance. I am not to (sic) good at writing but I will strain a point. This is a big war and it will last for a few years. I am full up of Egypt and I would like to get out of it. I have been in this camp for over three months. I am going into Cairo to morrow (sic) and I will post this in there as they open all our letters if we post them in the Camp.

We are camped 10 miles out of Cairo. The Tram runs into the Camp. Cairo is a fine City. There is a lot of french people in the town. I get into town once a week but only for a few hours. They have been working us night and day lately and any man that plays up he gets delt (sic) with and they are very strict with us. I did not get any letter from Fred. I have got 4 lots of papers from australia and if granny Hudson sent them you can tell her I am very Thankful as they where (sic) all read by all the boys. I hopes (sic). She is getting fairly old on it now. Well I might se (sic) her again but the chances are against me. Well minnie we are having very hot wheather (sic) just now and I have not seen any rain in Egypt. Tell me the next time you write if rose is in gulgong yet and where they all are as you know I dont (sic) write mutch (sic) but I think a lot. So minnie old girl I will fetch this to a close. With fond love I remain your Brother

G  Owen
On the inside back cover is :

To my Sister Minnie Hudson
From No. 1111 George Owen
Egypt

Pinned on black cloth to the inside of the AIF Souvenir book was this newspaper clipping.

George Owen - In Memorium OWEN, -- In loving memory of my dear brother, George, who departed this life on November 5, 1915.  Loving memory lasts for ever.  Inserted by his loving sisters, Minnie and Rose.

 


Updated : 2 Dec 2013