WW1 John Owen (12/3119) Military Medal

John Owen (Portrait, Auckland Weekly News 1918)

John Owen was born on 1 February 1884 to Anne (Annie) Owen (nee Wilson) and John Owen of ‘Norwood’, 54 Great South Road, Remuera.

He attended King’s College from 1896 to 1900 and during that time, he was a member of the King’s College Cadets.

At the time of enlistment on 15 June 1915, he was working as an electrician with the Waihi Gold Mining Company, at Waikino on the East Coast of the North Island. He was 31 years of age and was described as having grey eyes and dark brown hair. After military training, he embarked on 9 October 1915 for Suez, Egypt, as a Private, with the Auckland Infantry battalion, 7th Reinforcements.

He was sent to the Western Front in France where in April 1916 was reported’ missing’ and then ‘not missing’ on 30 July 1916. On 30 September 1916, he was wounded in action. He transferred to Head Quarters as a Runner in November 1916. Being a Runner was a perilous job, which involved fitness, tenacity, and courage to provide communication links between units.

On 15 October 1917, in North Eastern France, he was awarded the Military Medal, for gallantry in the field (London Gazette 14th December 1917, (116872)). The Military Medal (MM) instituted in 1916, was awarded to non-commissioned officers and other ranks of the Army for acts of bravery. The Military Medal citation for John Owen follows:

“During the operations east of St Julien on 4 October 1917, Private Owen carried despatches from Brigade Headquarters at Capricorn Keep to Matha House and Battalion Headquarters at Kansas House and Cluster Houses under very heavy shell and machine gun fire.

He frequently volunteered for duty when it was not his turn to go out and showed a courage and devotion to duty which was very marked”.

During the 1918 spring military offensive, John returned to the Somme, near the Ancre Valley, France from ten day’s leave in England on 4 April 1918 and he was killed in action the following day on 5 April 1918, aged 32. [1, 2]

He was awarded the following medals: 1914-1915 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal and the Military Medal. He is buried at Bertrancourt Military Cemetery, Somme, France, Plot 2. Row B. Grave 4.

John Owen (12/3119) is remembered at King’s College Roll of Honour, Otahuhu, Auckland; All Saints Church, 284 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby Auckland and the Auckland War Memorial Museum, World War 1 Hall of Memories.

G Ralph
April 2020

Military Medal New Zealand Defence Force

Military Medal Obverse New Zealand Defence Force