John James Owens

John James Owens with his wife and daughter

John James Owens with his wife Elsie and daughter Muriel.

Date of birth: 7th February 1880
Place of birth: Clonmel, County Tipperary
Date of marriage: 1st August 1910
Place of marriage: Registry Office, Isle of Wight
Service No.: 6383
Rank: Battery Sergeant Major
Regiment: Royal Garrison Artillery
Battalion: 1st Battery, 1st Reserve Brigade
Died: 5th January 1920 aged 40 years
Death location: Isle of Wight


John’s name is not listed on the Southampton Cenotaph or Memorial Walls and there could be one or more reasons for this.  However we have researched some of these ‘excluded’ names as their stories are just as important, and worthy of publishing, as those who are listed.


Life before the War
John was born on 7th February 1880 in Bolton Street, St. Mary’s, Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland.  His father’s name was given as James, (but shown as Joseph on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website) and his mother was Mary, nee Fitzgerald.

His wife Elsie, who he married 1st August 1910, was born in 1886 at Freshwater, Isle of Wight.  She died in 1959 in Winchester and didn’t remarry after John’s death.  Their daughter Muriel married George Bates in 1929 and she died in 1944.

John, his wife and daughter, were living with his wife’s parents in the 1911 census, at Rockstone, Colwell Bay, Freshwater, Isle of Wight.  They were classed as boarders.


Incoming Passenger List
John, Elsie and daughter Muriel, sailed from Sydney, Australia arriving at Tilbury, London, England on 1st November 1915.  They travelled aboard the vessel “Arabia”.  John gave his occupation as Soldier.  They travelled 2nd Class.


War Service
John first joined the Army on 13th October 1894 when he was 14 years and 8 months old.  He served with the Londonderry Artillery.  He rose through the ranks from Boy to Battery Sergeant Major.  He continued serving through World War 1 and was discharged on 18th July 1918, serving a total of 23 years and 279 days.  He received the Long Service and Good Conduct (with gratuity) Medals on the 1st April 1913.

After the war had ceased he also received the 1915 Star, the British Service and Victory Medals.  He confirmed his father was James and mother Mary with a younger brother Albert.  He gave details of his marriage to Elsie Ellen Saunders (spinster), at the Registry Office, Isle of Wight, on 1st August 1910 and his daughter Muriel Alice, born 4th February 1911 in Totland, Isle of Wight and baptised there on 19th March 1911.  His wife Elsie, on occasions, travelled with her husband when he was posted abroad.

John died on the 5th January 1920 in Freshwater from Phthisis (Tuberculosis).  He is Remembered with Honour in the St. Saviour’s Churchyard, (Roman Catholic Church), Totland, Isle of Wight.  He has the standard CWGC headstone, with the following Inscription:


At the time of her husband’s death, Elsie was living at “Ferndale” South East Road, Sholing, Southampton.


Researcher: Becky Lonergan
Published: 18th June 2015
Updated: Insert dates here

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