Private Owen Baker
34th & 53rd Battalion, AIF
Service Number: 1867
Born: 4 October 1894, St Marys, NSW
Died: 29 July 1917, Messines, Belgium
Owen Wallace Baker was born at St Marys in 1894, the youngest son of Thomas and Elizabeth Sarah (nee Thompson) Baker. Around 1910, Thomas Baker had purchased the prestigious property, Chatsworth at Rooty Hill. He was a highly esteemed cattle and sheep breeder and grazier. After attending Neutral Bay Preparatory College, Baker worked as a mechanical engineer before enlisting in the AIF.
Baker enlisted on 22 March 1916 and commenced training with K Company, Depot Battalion at Bathurst. On 18 April 1916, he was allocated to the 3rd Reinforcements, 53rd Battalion and left Sydney aboard HMAT Barambah on 23 June 1916 and disembarked on 25 August 1916 at Plymouth, England. In September 1916, Baker transferred to the 34th Battalion who had arrived in England in June 1916 and were undergoing training in England. On 22 November 1916, the 34th Battalion crossed to France and moved into the trenches for the first time on 27 November, just in time for the onset of the terrible winter of 1916–17. On 7 February 1917, Baker was detached to the 2nd Tunnelling Company, rejoining his unit on 2 April 1917.
On 13 June 1917, Baker was admitted to 77th Field Ambulance with influenza and rejoined his unit on 19 June 1917. In July, he was sent to a rest camp for a few weeks.
Baker was killed on 29 July 1917 on the mule track along Messines Ridge. An eyewitness, Private Frederick Engel stated Baker, a stretcher bearer, was hit by a shell when returning to the trenches with wounded from the front lines late at night. He died before he reached the dressing station. The Germans had often targeted the area with shell fire.
A memorial service was held for Baker in St Mary Magdalene Church in October 1917. An In Memoriam was inserted by his family in the Nepean Times many years after is death.
- Kandahar Farm Cemetery Neuve-Eglise, Belgium
- Honor Roll, Colyton Public School
- Anzac Centenary Walk, Mount Druitt Park, Mount Druitt
National Archives of Australia: B2455, BAKER O W
Australian Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau File no: 0200305.