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Robert Henry Owers (1895-1976)

Boldon Colliery man served in Canadian Veterinary Hospital in France

Robert Henry Owers (known as Harry) was born on 8 December 1895 in Boldon Colliery and was baptised four weeks later in Sunderland. He was one of the twelve children of coal miner George and his Suffolk born wife, Jane. Their eldest child, Lillie, was born in 1884, the year of their marriage, and the youngest, Reuben, in 1905. In 1897 the family moved to Jarrow, George started his own business as a coal merchant, and all the younger children were born there. In 1906 George, along with Thirza and George William, left for Canada and, in 1912, the rest of the family followed. Fred and Mahala followed in June, and Jane and the rest in October. The family settled in Winnipeg and then tried their hand at homesteading in Sandridge, Manitoba, where George was also a lay minister.

Harry, along with three of his brothers, enlisted in the armed forces. Harry enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) on 22 June 1915 and became Private 460813 (a number that was later changed to 229256) of the 61st Battalion. On arrival in England Harry was transferred to No. 2 Canadian Veterinary Hospital (CVH) based at Shorncliffe and then a year later transferred to No. 1 CVH in Havre, France.

November 1917 saw Harry transferred to the Canadian Artillery Pool, still in France, and, six months later, to the 2nd Divisional Ammunition Column, where shortly after arrival he forfeited a day’s pay for leaving his mess tin in his billet in a dirty condition. On leave in Edinburgh from 2-25 November 1918, Harry returned to France after the Armistice and remained there until April 1919, before returning to Canada and discharging from the CEF.

In the summer of 1924 Harry and two of his brothers, James and Albert, returned to England as labourers, giving an address in Fulwell, Sunderland as their intended destination. Parents George and Jane also returned to Sunderland. Harry married Mary Wilkinson in 1930 and they visited Canada in 1933 with their children, Margaret and Kenneth.

Robert Henry Owers died in Sunderland in June 1976.

Civil Parish: Boldon Colliery

Birth date: 8-Dec-1895

Death date: 1976

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: 19 West Terrace, Boldon Colliery (1891 census)
1 Derby Street, Jarrow (1901 census)
69 Whitley Road, Whitley Bay (1911 census)
503 Bannerman Avenue, Winnipeg (enlistment papers)
Coldwell, Selkirk, Manitoba (1916 census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta)

Religion: Methodist

Employment: Teamster (enlistment papers)
Farmer (discharge papers)
Labourer (ship’s manifest)

Family: Parents: George Owers, Jane Owers nee Potter
Siblings: Lillie Owers, Thirza Owers, George William Owers, Frederick John Owers, Mary Ann (Polly) Owers, Mahala Jane Owers, Amy Ada Owers (died in infancy), Albert Edward Owers, James Alfred Owers, Edwin Ernest Owers (died in infancy), Reuben Potter Owers
Wife: Mary C. Wilkinson
Children: Margaret Owers, Kenneth Owers

Military service:

61st Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Force
Canadian Army Veterinary Corps
Canadian Artillery Pool
2nd Canadian Divisional Ammunition Column

Medal(s): British War Medal
Victory Medal

Gender: Male

Contributed by Jean Longstaff, Durham

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