CWG: Private Henry Oaten

Private Henry Oaten

Henry Oaten was born in 1876, the second youngest of seven children to Henry and Mary Ann Oaten. Henry Sr was an agricultural labourer, who raised his family in his home village of Pitminster, to the south of Taunton in Somerset.

When he left school, Henry Jr followed in his father’s footsteps as a farm worker. Sadly, however, there is very little further documentation to expand on his life.

Henry married a woman called Emily; this is likely to have been at some point around 1900, although there is nothing to confirm an exact date. The couple went on to have four children – John, Albert, William and Howard.

When war broke out, Henry joined up. Again, dates for his military service are not available, but he enlisted in the Devonshire Regiment as a Private. He was assigned to the 13th (Works) Battalion, which was a territorial force, based in Plymouth.

Little further documentation exists in relation to Private Oaten. The next time he appears is on his pension record, which confirms that he passed away on 20th February 1917, having been suffering from bronchitis. He was just 40 years old.

Henry Oaten was brought back to Taunton and laid to rest in the St James’ Cemetery in the town.

As an aside to this story, while researching Private Oaten, an additional piece of information about his father came to light. A record confirms that, on the 1st October 1851, at the age of just 16, Henry Oaten was admitted to gaol. Sadly further details – including that of his crime and his sentence – are lost to time, but it adds an interesting footnote to his son’s background.

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