James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants
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Frederick killed in action

The Division then returned to France, to an area south of Cambrai where it took up position between Honnecourt Wood and Lempire-Ronssoy. Here it was much criticised for its failings during a German counter attack on 30 November 1917 and it was withdrawn for intensive training at Bomy near Fruges.

On 15 February 1918 the Division returned to the front line at at Givenchy and Festubert where in March the enemy mounted many strong raids. It was, perhaps, during such a raid that Frederick (Reg. No. 675950) was killed on 21 March. He was 21. The CWGC website states that he was a bombardier in the Royal Field Artillery, "B" Bty. 275th Bde and that he was the son of Mrs. Victoria Starkey, of 75, Briardale Road, Birkenhead; there is no mention of his father.

Frederick Starkey's grave Frederick is buried in Gorre British and Indian Cemetery, which is 150 metres from the church in the hamlet of Gorre, to the left of the D72 (Rue de Festubert) and about a mile from Festubert. The 55th (West Lancashire) Division buried many of their dead in Plots V and VI of the cemetery at Gorre. A few graves were brought into the cemetery later from near Gorre and from Mesplaux Farm, near Locon. Frederick's grave reference is VI. C. 13. He is also commemorated on the Birkenhead war memorial.

By a tragic coincidence Frederick’s second-cousin, William Henry Kenrick Owen, had been mortally wounded at the Battle of Festubert in 1915 and six weeks later another second-cousin, Vernon Elias Owen, who had fought alongside Billy, had been mortally wounded nearby.



Since Wilfred Owen, like Frederick, grew up in Birkenhead it is tempting to choose one of his war poems in memory of Frederick but I have chosen a Rudyard Kipling poem, Snarleyow. This was based on a genuine incident in India (hence the reference to 'native army corps' and 'niggers') involving the death of a bombardier and of a horse called Snarleyow. The incident occurred in the 19th century but horses were still employed to move guns and heavy equipment used by bombardiers in the Great War.