Dedicated to the memory of all the men and women of the South Staffordshire area who died during the two World Wars.
George Owen was born at Coven Heath on 23 September, 1891 and was baptised at St Paul's, Coven on October 18th. He was the son of Thomas Heath, a labourer, and his wife Mary Ann. The family continued to live in Coven Heath for several years before moving to Wolverhampton. George enlisted as a regular soldier and was serving with the 2nd South Staffordshire Regiment at Whittington Barracks, Lichfield in 1911.
George did not go to France with the Battalion in August 1914 so he may have left or been transferred to the reserves before the outbreak of war. He must have been mobilized almost immediately though, as he joined the Battalion in France on 17th March, 1915. He died 'on or since' 18th May 1915 when the 2nd Staffords were in action in the Battle of Festubert:
[15 May, 1915 in support trenches, Richebourg L'Avoue] At 11:30 p.m. the attack was launched on the German trenches [by other units] . . . which succeeded in driving the enemy from their two front lines of trenches . . . At 1 a.m on the 16th 'D' Company . . . moved forward in support of the 60th Rifles who had called for reinforcements and occupied the first line of German trenches . . . the other three companies remained in A & B [support] lines under very heavy shell fire throughout the day. At 1 a.m. [May 17th] 'A' and 'B' and half 'C' companies advanced to relieve the 60th Rifles . . . the other half of 'C' Coy which had been employed in carrying rations, water and bombs to the front, rejoined prior to the attack. At 10:30 a.m. the Battalion moved forward to attack LE FME. COUR D'AVOINE . . . 'A' & 'D' Companies suffered heavy casualties from enfilade fire from rifles and machine guns. . . . [The attack appears to have fallen back after Lt-Col Routledge was killed.] A second attempt was made in the afternoon . . . which was hung up on the line R3-R4 where they held on until receiving orders to fall back . . . Only 130 of the Battalion which had gone in on the 15th nearly 1000 strong, could be mustered that night. The Battalion under very heavy shell-fire occupied this line all night and the following day [18th May] linked up with the SIRHINO Brigade on the left, and the 5th Liverpools on our right and in rear. The battalion was eventually relieved by the 4th and 7th Liverpools at about 1:30 a.m. 19th inst and moved into Divisional Reserve at RICHEBOURG ST VAAST. . . Total Casualties during the three days operations embracing the 16th 17th 18th inst: Killed: 2 Officers, 2 OR; Wounded: 10 Officers, 404 OR; Missing: 75 NCOs and men.[Extract from the War diary of the 2ndBattalion South Staffordshire Regiment.]
Presumably George was one of the 75 men who were missing. He is commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.
Private George Owen, 10172, was awarded the Victory and British War Medals and the 1914-15 Star.
This memorial has mostly been compiled from official sources. It would be good to be able to expand it with more personal material - memories, stories, photos, etc. If you have any suitable material or any corrections please contact Greg.