Van Buren County

Capt. W.H. Owen Jr.

 

Capt. Owen Lost At Sea

Capt. W.H. Owen, jr., with the coasts artillery corps captured by the Japanese in the fall of Corregidor May 7, 1942, has been officially declared dead, according to a telegram from the war department received yesterday by Mrs. Owen here from Frankfort, Ill., visiting in the home of Mr. and Mrs. J.M. Knowles, 905 E. Monroe St.

The message stated that Capt. Owen was lost at sea October 27, 1944, aboard a prisoner ship torpedoed by the allies, as it was transporting prisoners from the Philippines camp supposedly to the Japanese mainland.

Capt. Owen was awarded the Silver Star citation for gallantry in action on Corregidor before it fell to the Japs, as well as the Purple Heart for wounds in action. Mrs. Owen received the information from her husband the middle of June 1942 in a letter written from the tunnel hospital at Corregidor dated April 30, 1942. It also stated he was convalescing from a wound in the left leg caused by a shell splinter. It is assumed he received the injury sometime in April and that he expected to leave the hospital in 10 days after the letter was written. The island fell two days before he was to have been released. The letter was probably taken from the island when the last group of American officers and nurses made their escape shortly before the stronghold held by MacArthur, was captured.

Capt. Owen was in command of the North Sector of Corregidor Island, it was revealed in a letter dated February 2, 1942, received by Mrs. Owen early in 1942. The letter, which bore a Naval censor stamp and routed air mail, said that "a sudden opportunity arose to send mail so I am writing hurriedly. Going is rough and rugged at times but we are sure in its eventual outcome." He had not received any mail from home since November 1941, he added. Owen sailed from the States for the Philippine Islands, August 1941.

A war department telegram was received December 11, 1942 stating that Owen had been taken prisoner. Mrs. Owen did not have further word until August 16, 1942 which was a card from the Japanese government stating Capt. Owen was in "excellent health" and "not under treatment." The card bore no date. Almost a year later to the date, she received another card at an old address here, indicating her husband had received no word from home. It was again stated he was in excellent health and had been moved from Camp No. 1 in the Philippines to Camp No. 4. Mrs. Owen broke up her home here at 202 E. Burlington St. the last of August two years ago and, with her two sons, Billy and Michael, went to live with her mother, Mrs. H.W. Miles in Frankfort, Ill.

A short time ago, Mrs. Owen received the person effects of her husband from a non-commissioned officer at the same camp, who had been liberated. Capt. Owen, in giving the things to the soldier had indicated he felt sure he would be liberated before the officers. Information in the collection led the family to believe that Owen was in command of part of the camp and was making every effort to alleviate the hardships and conditions the prisoners were being subjected to.

Some years ago he was in charge of the CCC camp at Keosauqua and the family resided here. Shortly after he was transferred to Ames, he enlisted in the coast artillery corps and was sent to California. His family accompanied him to the west coast and were with him until he sailed in August 1941. They then returned to Fairfield to make their home until going to Frankfurt, Ill. His wife and two sons survive.

Source: Van Buren Co. Genealogical Society Obituary Book F, Page 67, Keosauqua Public Library, Keosauqua, IA