Martha Mackay
Martha Mackay
Owen Gentle, gunner
Owen Gentle, gunner

Owen Beaumont Gentle (1895–1917), Gunner (68332), 244th Siege Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, was killed when a shell hit his dug-out at Passchendaele on 14 September 1917, aged 22. He was buried in the New Irish Farm Cemetery, Ieper, Belgium, as well as being commemorated on this family grave. His older brother, Hubert Gentle (1888–1918), was also a casualty of the War.

Owen was born in 1895 in Cambridge. He was one of twelve children born to Samuel Gentle and Maria Scott Gentle (née Beaumont). His father was a coal merchant, carter and haulage contractor. The family grew up at 1 Paradise Street, 85a and then 95 East Road, Cambridge. Owen was an assistant in his father’s business. He enlisted in Cambridge as Gunner (68332) in the 244th Siege Battery, the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was killed in action at Passchendaele on 14 September 1917. He was entitled to the Victory medal and the British War medal.

While Owen was at the front, he wrote letters to his sister Martha (1892‒1967) (see portrait)

Owen Gentle: letter of 21 Feb 1917
Owen Gentle: letter of 21 Feb 1917
Owen Gentle: letter of 29 June 1917 to his sister Martha Mackay two of which can be seen here as images and as a download ‒ the identity of the
Owen Gentle: letter of 29 June 1917 to his sister Martha Mackay (nee Gentle)

Owen Gentle letters from the front

Owen’s family was devastated by the death of both Owen and his older brother, Hubert. A number of the younger family members travelled to France shortly after the war ended to visit their graves at the time of the opening of the Menin Gate (memorial to the missing) at Ypres, Belgium. Their descendants still have several treasure boxes containing momentoes of the two brothers. (For the newspaper account of his death, see download.)

Owen Gentle report of death

Gentle grave
Gentle monument




Lat Lon : 52.204079, 0.13765896 – click here for location

Parish : St Andrew the Less

See family grave page for more information




War Graves Photographic Project
Census returns for England: 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901, 1911
England & Wales, FreeBMD Birth Index, 1837–1915
England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index, 1837–1915
England & Wales, FreeBMD Death Index, 1837–1915
England & Wales, Death Index, 1916–2007
England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858–1966
UK, Soldiers Died in the Great War, 1914–1919
Web: International, Find A Grave Index

Cambridge Independent Press, Friday, 10 January 1902
Cambridge Independent Press, Friday, 21 September 1917
University Library, Cambridge, books
Mackay Co.

Further reading: Memories from the Cambridge Firm of D. Mackay in our Centenary Year (Histon, Cambs: Print-Out, 2012)

Communications from Duncan MacKay, great grandson of Samuel Gentle and Maria Scott Gentle (née Beaumont)

By Emma Easterbrook and Ian Bent

Owen Beaumont Gentle