Name of Researcher / Enw’r ymchwylydd: Eifion & Viv Williams
Name of Memorial / Enw’r gofeb: Rhes y Cae Memorial
Name / Enw: Owen Thomas Owens
Regiment/Catrawd: 25th bn Royal Welsh Fusiliers
Service Rank and Number / Rheng gwasanaeth a rhif: Private 356034
Military Cemetery/Memorial / Fynwent milwrol: Beersheba War Cemetery
Ref No Grave or Memorial / Rhif cyfeirnod bedd: K 12
Country of Cemetery or Memorial / Gwlad y fynwent neu gofeb: Israel
Medals Awarded / Medalau a ddyfarnwyd: Victory and British War medals
Date and Circumstances of Death / Dyddiad ac amgylchiadau marwolaeth:
Killed in Action 31st October 1917
We believe that Owen was born in 1895 in Blaenau Ffestiniog. His parents were John and Mary Owens. The 1911 cesus tells us that John and Mary lived in Bodhyfryd, Rhes y Cae where he was a shoemaker. The census form tells us that they had had seven children but only four of them were still alive. None of them were living at home.
We have found Owen Thomas on the 1911 census, he was 16 and a cowman on a farm in Rhosesmor working for a farmer called Peter Lloyd.
Owen joined the army on the 27th July 1915 and he sailed for Alexandria, Egypt. Some of his army service records have survived and they tell us that Owen was a bit of a handful and his conduct sheets reveal a few misdemeanors such as:
- Failing to comply with an order
- Disobediece after gambling in barracks
- Absent from rouse parade
- Whilst on active service irregular conduct committing nuisance in bivouac area
- Breaking out of camp at 9.15 on 4/9/15 until reporting himself at 3.30 7/9/15
- Dirty on parade
- Smoking on parade
- Absent from parade
Despite various punishments such as being confined to barracks or losing pay, his behaviour didn’t seem to improve.
This colourful character was killed in October 1917.
In 1921 a letter was sent to Mrs Grace Lewis in Walton, Liverpool explaining that Owen’s body was to be exhumed from the original burial place which was deemed unsuitable for permanent retention. She was assured ‘that the work of reburial has been carried out carefully and reverently. Special arrangements having been made for the appropriate religious service to be held.’
In 1922 Grace Lewis took receipt of his two medals.
Who was Grace Lewis? We have not established this so far but suspect that she was his sister. Can anyone help?