Owen Stanley Burchell (1888-1918) - Pte 72688 1st Bn Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Regiment)Owen Burchellwas the youngest of eight children, two girls and six boys, born to George and Ameila (nee Attwater) Burchell between 1866 and 1888. George and Amelia moved to Itchingfield after their marriage in 1866 and all eight children were christened in St Nicholas, Itchingfield. The family left Itchingfield and moved over the border into Surrey around 1902 and father George died in Godstone in 1906. By the 1911 census just the two youngest sons, Owen and his older brother Frederick were still living at home with their widowed mother. Owen Burchell signed up with the Army Service Corps at Woolwich on the 8thFebruary 1915 aged 27. His original army number of TH/059763 and his rank of Driver shows that he enlisted in a Horse Transport unit. He was posted to 308 Company, a home service company, based initially at Holton Camp, Wendover, Bucks and then at Crowborough Camp, Sussex. Between times he married Millie Glosby in August 1915 in Limpsfield Surrey.
In May 1916 he was sent to France and posted to the Base Horse Transport Depot near Le Havre, where he served until October the following year. Working for the Army supply chain was a dangerous and arduous job but would not have put Owen directly in the line of fire. All that changed in October 1917.On the 15thOctober 1917, under the terms of Army Order 204/1915 Owen was compulsorily transferred to the 1stBn Notts & Derby Regiment (The Sherwood Foresters) as Pte 72688.The 1stSherwood Foresters were part of 24thBrigade, 8thDivision and through the latter part of 1917 and early 1918 supported the actions resulting in the German retreat.
This culminated in the Battles of the Somme that took place from March to July 1918. The major input of the 8thDivision was as part of the 5th Army in the Battle of of Rosières which took place on the 26th/27th March and it was here that Owen lost his life.The Allies took severe losses in this action and Owen’s body was never found – his record just states “missing” and later “death presumed”. He is commemorated on the Pozieres memorial and was awarded the Victory and British War Medals for his service. As yet no other memorials recording his sacrifice have been found.Owen’s service records survives and can be found online on both Ancestry or Findmypastor on microfilm at the National Archives in Kew.