David OWER

OWER, David

Service Number: 6627
Enlisted: 25 October 1916, Brisbane, Queensland
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 26th Infantry Battalion
Born: Perth, Scotland, 14 September 1892
Home Town: Kenilworth, Sunshine Coast, Queensland
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Dairy Farmer
Died: Natural causes, Brisbane, Queensland, 10 May 1976, aged 83 years
Cemetery: Not yet discovered
Memorials: Eumundi & District Roll of Honour, Kenilworth & District Honour Board, Kenilworth Memorial Wall
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World War 1 Service

25 Oct 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 6627, Brisbane, Queensland
7 Feb 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, 6627, 25th Infantry Battalion, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
7 Feb 1917: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, 6627, 25th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Wiltshire, Sydney
12 Oct 1918: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 26th Infantry Battalion
11 Oct 1919: Discharged AIF WW1, Private, 6627, 26th Infantry Battalion

David Ower

David Ower was a tall well-built person, who stood very erect, and was readily recognised in a crowd He was about 6 foot 5 inches in height, with white silvery hair which stood up to give a flat crewcut appearance.

He was born in Perth, Scotland on 14 September, 1892, and migrated to Australia in 1910. He worked in the timber industry with relatives at Bellethorpe near Woodford for a short period before moving to a dairy farm near Kenilworth, Queensland.

David enlisted as an Australian in the First War on 25 October 1916, as a farmer from the Kenilworth district, and moved into camp at Enoggera for basic warfare training. He used to recall tasks he was given there, such as driving a team of horses drawing loaded wagons from the railway station to Enoggera camp and return. He was allocated that task based on his proven ability to manage horses.

He also related the story of the troopship journey from Sydney to Southampton when the war in Europe was in full flight, where a convey of ships waited some distance from port, until naval protection was available, and, using special low smoke emission coal, steamed at full speed into Southampton under cover of darkness.

After some further brief training in England, his 26th battalion was sent to France where they were immediately engaged in hand to hand warfare in terrible wet, cold, muddy trench conditions. They suffered many casualties, to the extent that their depleted battalion was linked with another, to continue warfare as the 25th battalion.

As like many other returned soldiers, he rarely spoke about his wartime experience. On the rare occasion that he did speak, names of battles and locations included The Somme, Amiens, and Villers Bretonneux. On one occasion, he was buried alive in a dugout when an enemy grenade blasted the entrance. He was trapped for 3 days, before managing to unstrap his weaponry, and dig his way out. He had been reported “missing in action”, but after escaping from the dugout, managed to report to his Unit. They doubted his story at first, but then provided assistance to dig down where the dugout was, and found his belongings. When enlisted, he was described as having brown hair, but after this terrifying experience, his hair turned white for the rest of his life.

On another occasion, in close warfare, his left knee was pierced by an enemy bayonet, and he was hospitalised in Britain, before returning to Australia. This damaged knee affected him all his life, as he could not play sport with his family, and always had some doubt about its reliability. He was discharged on 11 October 1919 after almost 3 years service.

On the 10th August 1935, he married Eva Jane Pickering and had 2 children, Beverley in 1936 and John and in 1937.

Many strong friendships are formed in battlefields, and one such comradeship was with a relatively short, thickset gent, Billy Foord, who was a hairdresser in Queen St after the war. He and others nicknamed David “Tiny” because of his imposing structure. A story was told of a parade in Brisbane to welcome home the troops (in uniform), when Prime Minister Billy Hughes was present. Billy Hughes was apparently a small framed person, and to give him exposure, the troops placed him on David’s shoulders for a portion of the parade along Queen Street.

He passed way of natural causes on 10 May 1976 in Brisbane Queensland, at age 83.

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