Victor Maxwell OWSTON


OWSTON, Victor Maxwell

Service Numbers: 3392, 3392A
Enlisted: 5 August 1915, Place of enlistment - Warwick Farm, Sydney New South Wales
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 53rd Infantry Battalion
Born: Darrington near Pontefract, Yorkshire England, 15 May 1887
Home Town: Sydney, City of Sydney, New South Wales
Schooling: Not yet discovered
Occupation: Waiter at the Union Club Sydney
Died: Killed in action, France, 19 July 1916, aged 29 years
Cemetery: Ration Farm Military Cemetery, la Chapelle-D'Armentieres
Plot VI, Row D, Grave 47
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour
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World War 1 Service

5 Aug 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 3392, Place of enlistment - Warwick Farm, Sydney New South Wales
2 Nov 1915: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 3392, Embarked on HMAT 'A14' Euripides from Sydney on 2nd November 1915, disembarking Egypt.
16 Feb 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 53rd Infantry Battalion
9 Apr 1916: Transferred AIF WW1, Private, 53rd Infantry Battalion, Re-allotted Regimental No. 3392A.
19 Jun 1916: Embarked AIF WW1, Private, SN 3392A, 53rd Infantry Battalion, Embarked on HMT Royal George from Alexandria, Egypt on 19th June 1916, disembarking Marseilles, France on 28th June 1916 to join British Expeditionary Force. Was detached for duty with 14th Brigade Police from 12th July 1916 until 16th July 1916.
19 Jul 1916: Involvement AIF WW1, Private, SN 3392A, 53rd Infantry Battalion

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Biography contributed by Daryl Jones


Before the war, gardener Victor Maxwell Owston, had come to Ilkley to work for Robert Dalton, who had the post office at 54 Skipton Road, Ilkley. Robert Dalton also had a market garden and sold the produce in his shop. Therefore, he needed someone with Victor's skills grow and provide good quality fruit. Victor was not a native of Ilkley, but had been born in Darrington, near Pontefract in 1887. His father, an auctioneer and estate agent, moved his family to the Woodhouse area of Leeds, where Victor was educated. Victor seems to have tired of life in Yorkshire and in May 1912 set sail, aged 25, for a new life in Australia. In Sydney he obtained employment as a waiter at the Union Club on Bligh Street in the city. On 5th August 1915 he went into the recruiting office at Warwick Farm, in the west of Sydney, and joined the Australian Army. In December 1915 he embarked on a troopship,HMAT Euripides, arriving in Egypt just after Christmas where he was assigned to the 53rd Battalion, Australian Infantry Force. The 53rd Battalion was nicknamed 'The Whale Oil Guards' because their commanding officer insisted that they use oil to ensure that their helmets where shiny. The battalion arrived in France on 28th June 1916 and were sent to the Western Front. Instead of the Somme sector the battalion went into the front line south-west of Armentieres near to the village of Frommelles. The 53rd Battalion where involved in an utterly ill planned assault on the German lines, on 19th July 1916, which resulted in the deaths of several hundred Australian soldiers. Victor was one of those who was reported missing and presumed dead. Months later his remains were discovered and buried in the British Military Cemetery at Ration Farm. He is also remembered on Ilkley War Memorial

Source : Ilkley in the First World War -

Son of William C. and Eliza A. OWSTON.