2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (British Army)
Date Of Birth:
16/05/1915 (Killed in Action)
James Owens was the eldest son of John and Catherine Owens. He was born on 30th April 1892 at Lissan, Cookstown. He was the one of six children, five of whom were boys. They were a family that lived in Lissan. James became a farm servant. Private James Owens was serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he was killed in action on Sunday 16th May 1915. He was killed on the eve of the Battle of Festubert.
James Owens was the eldest son of John and Catherine Owens. John Owens and Catherine McIlkearney were married on 18th May 1889 in the district of Cookstown.
James Owens was born on 30th April 1892 at Lissan, Cookstown. He was the one of six children, five of whom were boys.
Family: John Owens, Catherine Owens, Mary Minnie Owens (born 10th May 1890), James Owens (born 30th April 1892), John Owens (born 26th February 1894), Andrew Owens (born 3rd July 1896), Patrick Owens (born 9th August 1897), Joseph Owens (born 24th August 1899).
The 1901 census lists James as 9 years old, living with the family at house 8 in Turnaface, Moneymore. John Owens was a farm labourer.
The 1911 census does not list James as living with family at house 3 in Drumard, Lissan Upper, County Londonderry.
The census does however list James as age 19, a farm servant living with the Mackenzie family.
James enlisted in Cookstown.
Private James Owens was serving with the 2nd Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he was killed in action on Sunday 16th May 1915. He was killed on the eve of the Battle of Festubert.
On the 12th May 1915 the 2nd Battalion marched through Richebourg to take their positions in waterlogged breastworks (makeshift trenches) near the front line getting ready for an attack on the strongly held German lines as repeated attacks had been made by other regiments since the 9th May without success.
All attacks during daylight had failed. On the night of May 15th 1915 a night attack was attempted. On the 2nd Division front, two brigades were entrusted with the task, 6th Brigade on the right of attack and 5th Brigade on the left which included 2nd Inniskillings along with the Worcestershire Regiment which would lead the attack. Their objective was to seize and consolidate the first and second lines of Germans trenches. “D” Company of the 2nd Inniskillings were successful with “C” company in their support. Unfortunately as the attack progressed, “A” company on the left of the attack suffered very heavy casualties, the Worcestershire Regiment failed to consolidate with their efforts and “B” company in support also suffered quite badly. A, and B companies were obliged to fall back to their own lines. C and D companies were ordered to fall back to the first German line and consolidate there, which they held until they were relieved the next evening. The 2nd Inniskillings lost 240 men in the attack including Private James Owens.
Private James Owens has no known grave and is commemorated on panel 16-17 on the Le Touret Memorial, France.
He is also commemorated locally on Cookstown Cenotaph and Moneymore War Memorial.
The CWGC record Private James Owens as the son of John and Catherine Owens of Letteran, Moneymore, County Londonderry.