Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMay 21, 1895
Place of BirthBirmingham
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinFred Walters (father), 416-6th Avenue South, Kenora, Ontario
Trade / CallingLabourer
Service Details
Regimental Number439087
Service RecordLink to Service Record
Battalion75th Battalion
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Infantry
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentKenora, Ontario
Address at Enlistment416-6th Avenue South, Kenora, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentJanuary 26, 1915
Age at Enlistment19
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathSeptember 3, 1975
Age at Death80
Buried AtRiverside Memorial Park Cemetery, Regina, Saskatchewan

Walters, Owen

Sergeant Owen Walters signed up with the third overseas contingent in January 1915 and spent 3-1/2 years in England and France. He was wounded during the advance on Cambrai in the last weeks of the war.

Owen was the oldest son of Frederick Walters and Emily Golding of Kenora, Ontario. Fred and Emily were originally from Birmingham, a large city in the county of Warwickshire, England. Owen was born in Birmingham on 21 May 1895. His grandfather and namesake Owen Golding had passed away the previous year. Fred and Emily had five more children born in England: Lily, Henry, Frederick, Florence and Phyllis (b.1907). In the spring of 1908 the family immigrated to Canada, embarking from Liverpool on 11 March on the Lake Erie and arriving in St. John, New Brunswick 12 days later. Fred’s occupation was listed as mechanic and their destination was Kenora, Ontario. At the time of the 1911 census they were living in Kenora and Fred was employed as a woodworker in a box factory. Owen was 16 years old, living at home and working as a deck hand on a steam boat. Two more children were born in Kenora, Walter James in 1911 and Gwendoline in 1913.

The war started in August 1914 and Owen, his brother Henry and their father Fred all enlisted. Owen was the first to join up, signing his attestation on 26 January 1915 when volunteers were being recruited for a third overseas contingent. The Kenora lads were briefly attached to the 44th Battalion but when the 52nd (New Ontario) Battalion was organized in mid-March they were transferred to the new unit. The 52nd was based in Port Arthur and Owen was sent there in June 1915 along with the rest of the local recruits. While they were training the 1st Canadian Division was fighting in France and Belgium. Men were needed to replace casualties in front line combat units and battalions in Canada were asked to send reinforcements. Owen was sent to England with the 2nd Reinforcing Draft in September 1915, one of 250 men from the 52nd Battalion. They embarked from Montreal on 4 September on the SS Missanabie and arrived in England nine days later.

Overseas service:
-Owen was transferred to the 12th Reserve Battalion on 14 September 1915 and he spent the next two years in England
-he was promoted to Lance Corporal on 8 October, Corporal on 7 December and Sergeant on 1 October 1916
-from April to October 1917 he was on command to the 198th Battalion as an instructor
-on 16 October 1917 he was drafted to the 75th Battalion and sent to France, with his rank reverting to Private
-after a few weeks at the Canadian Corps Reinforcement Camp he joined his new unit in the field in late November in a draft of about 100 reinforcements
-the 75th Battalion had just moved from Belgium back into France; they were based west of Lens
-on 7 December Owen was promoted to Sergeant and in January 1918 he was sent to Corps School for a month
-over the winter and spring the Canadians were holding a long stretch of the front line near Lens and in May they went into reserve
-in the summer of 1918 the Canadians underwent eight weeks of intensive training in open warfare; they were heavily involved in the final months of the war
-the Canadian Corps captured the Drocourt-Quéant Line in early September and pushed on to the Canal du Nord
-the 75th Battalion crossed the Canal du Nord on 27 September and moved into Bourlon Wood, consolidating and holding their position on 28-29 September
-their Division’s orders for 30 September were to capture a bridgehead at Eswars, northeast of Cambrai
-the 75th Battalion was in the lead for the assault, which began at dawn; they were raked by machine gun fire from both flanks and from high ground to the east
-the battalion suffered over 300 casualties that day including the loss of most of its officers and NCOs
-Owen was one of the casualties, suffering a bullet wound to his inner right thigh
-from the war diary of the 75th Battalion, 1 October 1918, ‘The month of September has been by far the most eventful month in the history of the Battalion and in fact of the whole war. The Battalion, and in fact the whole Brigade, has upheld the splendid reputation which it attained in our first experience in open warfare in August.
-Owen was evacuated to England and he spent five weeks recovering in three different hospitals
-he was discharged to duty on 16 November and assigned to the 1st Central Ontario Regiment Depot
-in January 1919 he was transferred to the 12th Reserve Battalion
-he embarked from Liverpool on 1 February on the SS Carmania and returned to Canada via New York
-he was entitled to wear one gold casualty stripe and four blue service chevrons (one for each year)

During the war his mother Emily had moved from Kenora to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, where her widowed mother and a married sister were living. Owen was given two weeks landing leave, from 14 to 28 February, which he planned to spend in Moose Jaw. He was discharged due to demobilization on 4 March in Regina.

His brother Henry Walters enlisted in November 1915 and served in France with the 16th Battalion. He was wounded at the Vimy Front in April 1918. Their father Fred Walters enlisted in March 1916 and served in England for 2-1/2 years. Henry and Fred were both discharged in February 1919 in Regina.

When the 1921 census was taken Owen was living with his family in Moose Jaw and working as a policeman. Sometime after that he got married and he and his wife Ivy had three sons and a daughter. Owen enlisted again in the Second World War, serving as a Sergeant in the Royal Canadian Air Force. He died on 3 September 1975, at age 80, and he’s buried in Riverside Memorial Park Cemetery in Regina. Ivy passed away in 1988.

By Becky Johnson

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