Every soldier tells a story. Harold Heber Owen was born in Toronto on 2 July 1893, the only son of Rev Cecil Owen and Alice Grundy Owen. They had four daughters, Winnifred, Margaret, Alice and Beatrice. The Rev Owen moved the family to Vancouver when he became rector of Christ Church. Harold attended Vancouver College and then Wycliffe College at the University of Toronto. He studied medicine and was preparing to be a medical missionary.
At the outset of WW1, father and son enlisted. Rev Owen was chaplain to the British Columbia regiment of the CEF. Harold served in Flanders first with the 7th Battalion, then the 3rd Staff Ambulance, then again with the 7th Battalion as a lieutenant. He survived the Second Battle of Ypres in April 1915. A few days later he wrote to his mother: “I have lost nearly every personal friend within the contingent.” He was killed around midnight on 30/31 January 1916 at age 22.
From University of Toronto Roll of Service, 1914-1918:
… he went to France in February 1915 and served with the Ambulance through the battles of Ypres and Festubert. He then obtained his commission again and joined the 7th Battalion at Givenchy a few days after the battle of June 15th. Owing to his medical experience he frequently gave first aid to the wounded. During the following months he organised night patrols and trench raids with such success that his battalion had control of ‘No Man’s Land’. On the night of his death he, with a small group of scouts, met a working party of the enemy and drove them back to the trenches, from which they opened fire with machine guns. When two of his party were wounded he ordered them all to withdraw while he covered their retreat with his revolver. Seeing that after a few moments he was not following, the two wounded men and another made their way back and found him lying on the ground shot through the head. They carried him back, but he died before they could reach the trench.
On 1 February 1916, his father wired home: “Harold is promoted to service with God.” He is buried at Berks Cemetery Extension near Ieper, Belgium.
The stained glass window in memory of Harold Heber Owen at Christ Church Cathedral depicts a soldier in WW1 uniform near a line of barbed wire. Jesus and three angels meet him to take him to his eternal rest. The caption: A Good Soldier of Jesus Christ. In memory of Lieut Harold Heber Owen. C/7. At rest January 30th, 1916. The window was designed by N.T. Lyon Co. of Toronto. Christ Church is at 690 Burrard St, Vancouver.