Morris Owen, Enlistment No. 87 in the 11th Battalion enlisted 17th August 1914 at Blackboy Hill. He was born on the 19th November 1891 in Llanfair, Wales to parents John Owen and Mary Evans. His occupation was a farm labourer. Morris had only arrived in Western Australia 4 years before he enlisted. Morris embarked at Fremantle on the HMAT “Ascanius” 2nd November 1914. The 11th Battalion first went to Egypt and trained then were transported to Lemnos where they undertook further training before landing on Gallipoli on the 25th April 1915. Read his letter from here dated 15th July, 1915. On the 15th August Morris was made a temporary Corporal. On the 13th September Morris was struck down by gastroenteritis and was taken off Gallipoli to Mudros then Lemnos however his condition became chronic and he was taken back to England but landed in Malta and was admitted to St Paul’s Hospital on the 25th October 1915 until 4th March 1916. A photo from this stay on Malta shows Morris as a Sergeant but there is no mention of this promotion in his service records. When recovered he left Malta to rejoin his unit in Egypt on the 25th March 1916. By late March 1916 he had arrived in France. At Pozier in July 1916 Morris was wounded in action and while recovering from this he suffered arthritis of the left knee which required his transfer to England on the 2nd August 1917. He stayed in England doing light duties and because of this disability he was eventually returned to Australia on the 15th February 1918 by the ship “Llanstephan Castle” and discharged on the 4th June 1918.
Morris married Myrtle Olive Knott in October 1921 at Dumbleyung where he had been working as a labourer. The family moved in 1924 to Darlington where Morris bought the local grocery store which he would run until his death in 1949.
Morris and Myrtle raised two sons (who served in WW2, both survived, married and had families) and a daughter in Darlington. Both were very involved in the local affairs of Darlington. They belonged to the Congregational Church where Morris was the organist; he was also an accomplished piano player at local weddings and musical evenings. He belonged to the Darlington Badminton Club and the Mundaring Bowls Club. He was a life member of D Company Battalion and the Darlington Progress Association, as well as belonging to the Guildford Freemasons and both the Parkerville and Darlington Lodges. He was also a member of the Darlington RSL.
While visiting Adelaide, Morris became ill and died, aged 58. He was cremated in the West Terrace Crematorium then his ashes were bought back to WA and scattered at Karrakatta Cemetery. Myrtle Owen died in 1974 and was buried in the Midland Cemetery WA.
Mundaring Bowling Club 1940’s Morrie Owen in the centre with the tie.
Myrtle and Morrie Owen with sons John and Robert at Darlington c1926
Courtesy of Lyn Myles, Gwen Whitley (nee Owen) and Brett Owen (photos)