James Owen of Penrhos

and his descendants


An extract from a letter to Billy's father from Corporal Hockridge of the 9th Welsh Regiment, appears on a previous page. The letter continued: "Lieut. Owen's death cast a gloom not only over his company, but over the whole regiment. A braver officer never donned khaki. He was beloved by all and his loss will not easily be replaced. The fact that he was scout officer to the battalion showed of what stuff he was made. Officers and rank and file join in sending the deepest sympathy at the loss of one of the bravest of the brave. It was a consolation that he died the most glorious death a man can die in giving up his life for his King and country and those he loved so well." That a lowly corporal took the trouble to write is a testament to Billy's character. The report of Billy's Memorial Service concludes with the words of Major Sir Edward Pryse: "Lieut. Owen was about the most popular subaltern in the regiment and one of the ablest. All would miss him very badly."

[Billy was a young man who enjoyed rivers, rowing and fishing and so I have chosen this poem in his memory.]


In the main fighting area between Loos and Givenchy there were 2,013 officers and 48,367 other ranks killed and wounded, with 867 officers and 21,627 other ranks missing. More than 11,000 casualties were sustained by the BEF in the subsidiary attacks. Names on the Loos memorial include the poet Charles Hamilton Sorley, the late Queen Mother's brother, Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon of the 8th Black Watch, and Lieutenant John Kipling of 2nd Battalion, Irish Guards. The bodies of many of those whose names appear there were never found. John Kipling, the eighteen-year old son of Rudyard Kipling, had volunteered for a commission in the Army in August 1914 but being under age and with poor sight was initially refused. Kipling used his friendship with Lord Roberts to gain John a commission in the Irish Guards of which Roberts was Colonel-in-Chief. John was reported missing near Loos on that same day, 25 September. Rudyard Kipling went to France in a fruitless search for his only son and after the war did everything he could to find out what had happened to him. He then devoted five years to writing the history of the Irish Guards in the Great War. He also worked closely with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. It was Kipling who suggested the phrases 'Their Name Liveth For Evermore' and 'Known unto God', the latter for the headstones of the unidentified. In 1992 some belated detective work ascertained that the grave of 'An unknown Lieutenant of the Irish Guards' was in fact that of John Kipling.