Lt Col Owen William Reginald Graham Latimer

Collins Papers


LATIMER, O. W. — Private in the Somersetshire Light Infantry, 1905 — 1912. Joined Royal Flying Corps 1912, as Corporal : reverted to rank of Private. Obtained a Commission, October, 1916 ; Captain, 1917 ; Lieut. -Colonel, 1918. Appointed Head of Clothing and Rations Department for Royal Air Force at home and overseas, under Brigadier-General Fletcher (Equipment Department). His immediate boss Brig-Gen Albert Fletcher had also had a meteoric rise in rank. — Twelve-and-a-half years' service in the ranks of the Royal Engineers. Transferred to Royal Flying Corps 1914 ; obtained a commission ; promoted to rank of Brigadier-General, and appointed Director of Air (Quarter-Master-General) Services for the Royal Air Force at home and overseas under Major-General Brancker.

He appears to be a man with "no past" before he enlisted in SLI in 1905. His father is said to to be Charles Francis Graham Latimer from the wedding photo, but I can find no trace of him in UK or Overseas. The closest I have got is a John Henry Latimer who married an Elizabeth Snook in Bath in 1881 and who ended up in Herts in 1911 census. But they had no children in any of the censuses.

1886 Jan 21. Born Bristol, Somerset (1911 census says Bristol, Gloucester) but certainly not as "Latimer". No "Owen William" anything born in UK. He seems to have added the "Reginald Graham " around 1914 and that is what he died as. A tree on the web suggests he was born "Cal", and that another says Calcutta. His wedding entry in local paper gives his father as " Charles Francis Graham Latimer of Hertfordshire" but again no such person exists. I can only conclude that all this data is false. Army List has birth as 16 Feb 1886)

1904 He appears as O W Latimer of 6 Seymour St, Bath in a newspaper as list of latest arrivals in Bath. Which appears to be a gentry list. Yet a year later he is a private soldier in SLA. The address itself does not enable me to find a family for him in either 1901 nor 1911 census

1905 Enlisted in Somerset LI. Given that he was in 1st battalion SLI in 1911, he may have joined up in India. 1st Battalion Somersetshire Light Infantry: India 1893–1908 (1902 Peshawar, 1904 Cawnpore, 1906 Poona), England 1908–1914

1911 census A Private soldier at 47 Glamorgan Hotel Gilfach Goch S Wales. This was part of the garrisoning of troops in the area following the Tonypany riots. As part of these riots, thirteen miners from Gilfach Goch were arrested and prosecuted for their part in the unrest. The trial of the thirteen occupied six days in December 1910. During the trial, they were supported by marches and demonstrations by up to 10,000 men, who were refused entry to the town. Custodial terms of two to six weeks were issued to some of the respondents; others were discharged or fined.

1912 Transferred to RFC as a Corporal, and reverted to Private.

1914 Jul 4. Married in Bath, Somerset to Nellie L Bird. He is a Sergeant in RFC

1915 Mar 12 . Promoted Sgt Major

His RAF Service Record is available

1916 Oct 11. Commissioned 2nd Lt. The undermentioned Wt. and N.C.Os., from R.F.C., to be 2nd Lts. for duty with R.F.C. Serjt.-Maj. Owen William Latimer of RFC.

1917 Jan 19. Promoted Lt Equipment Officer 3rd Class

1917 Feb 24. Mentioned in Despatches

1917 Jun 15 . Promoted Captain - Equipment Officer 2nd Class. Promotion to EO1 and temp Captain: "Equipment Officers, First Class, from the Second Class, and to be Temp. Capts. whilst so employed: Second Lieut. (Temp. Lieut.) O. W. Latimer : June 15." (London Gazette 30170, 6 Jul 1917, p6779)

1918 Apr 1. Promoted Lt Col SO1- it is merely the change from RFC to RAF and the resultant change from EO to SO. All 1st Class SO rankings were Lt Cols, so the majors went one step to Lt Col, and the Captains went two steps to Lt Col.

1918 Jun 14 Mentioned in Despatches

1918 Aug 2. Violet Blanche Douglas-Pennant." wrote in 1921 "Under the search-light, a record of a great scandal " She was the second Commandant of WRAF, and had been sacked, for what she claims was good old fashioned male prejudice, coupled with political intrigues and turf wars. She certainly did not think much of Lt Col Latimer. It appears that Latimer was in the Equipment Dept of Air Ministry at this time. Douglas-Pennant claimed she had been dismissed in Aug 1918 in an attempt by several senior officers, including Colonel Bersey, the commander of the WRAF supplies unit, General Livingston, the deputy head of the personnel department and Mrs Beatty, the Assistant Commandant of the WRAF, to cover up "rife immorality" in WRAF camps by getting rid of the only officer "too straight for them to work with". A Select Committee was set up to investigate her claims, but Douglas-Pennant was unable to produce any evidence of the "rife immorality" that she had accused several officers of, and after three weeks the committee dismissed all witnesses. The final report was produced in December 1919, and found that Douglas-Pennant had been completely unable to substantiate her claims and was deserving "of the gravest censure". The Committee's decision led two of the parties (Colonels Janson and Bersey) to sue her for libel, and both cases were successful, forcing her to pay "substantial" damages

"Soon afterwards Colonel Bersey brought an officer from the Equipment Department to see me — Temporary Lieut.-Colonel O. W. Latimer (late Private in the Infantry) . I had never met Colonel Latimer before, and was glad to have the opportunity of getting into touch with the Equipment Department. He told me that he felt it was advisable that the inspection of the W.R.A.F. Camps, Clothing, and Contracts Clothing should be taken over by the Equipment Department. Though anxious to meet Colonel Latimer's wishes as far as possible, in view of the serious and un- accountable delays we had already experienced in connection with the supply of accommodation and equipment as well as uniforms, I did not feel justified in consenting, without General Paine's authority, to hand over to the Equipment Department an important part of the duties for which I was held responsible. I felt that it was necessary to safeguard my Department from being involved in the blame for the mistakes and delays which caused great inconvenience. For instance, large consignments of men's boots instead of women's boots had been delivered, and 10,000 embroidered badges for W.R.A.F. Motor Transport Drivers had been ordered through the Equipment Department at a moment when they were at a premium, though I had never asked for them, and they were not required. "

"Colonel Bersey then told me that Colonel Latimer had complained to him that when he (Colonel Latimer) called at the Clothing Depot the Clothing Controller had behaved in a most insolent and violent manner, and had actually threatened to throw him out of the window. Colonel Bersey added that Colonel Latimer was so good- natured he did not wish any official notice to be taken of his complaint. It seemed incredible that the Clothing Controller, a responsible woman, should have behaved in such an inconceivable manner. When questioned by me later she was astounded at the suggestion of such a scene, and denied any knowledge of it.

1919 May 3. Relinquishes his commission on ceasing to be employed. 2nd Lt. O. W. Latimer resigns his commn. on ceasing to be empld.. by the R.A.F., 3rd May 1919, and retains the .rank of 2nd Lt

1919 May 3. The undermentioned relinquish their commns. on ceasing to be employed : — Capt. O. W. Latimer.

His RAF record give his next of kin as his wife Ellinor Louise Latimer, Sylvan Lodge, Auckland Rd, Upper Norwood and later in 1919 amended to 13 Henrietta Rd, Bathurst, Bath.

1920 May 15. He has stopped writing to his wife

1920 Aug 10. Joined ADRIC with service no 170. Posted to K Coy which did not exist till Nov 1920. He was attached to E Coy to start with, and I assume he was setting it up K Coy

1920 Sep 18.An ambush was carried out in Abbeyfeale co. Limerick, by the IRA, resulting in the deaths of 2 RIC constables and the shooting of 2 local men. WS 1242 (Collins) has a write up that is not accurate with dates. Col. Latimer arrived on 19th Sep. B Coy were based at Newcastle West at this time, and the initial platoon of K Coy appears to have been attached to them. Latimer is referred to in the news report as a "Head Constable", that is a Section Leader in ADRIC

Limerick City documents has a write up. They were sent to Abbeyfeale from Newcastle West

1920 Sep 19. Col Latimer leads auxiliary detachment to Abbeyfeale - which is about 20 kn NE of Tralee. Oversaw search of mass goers as they left mass.  Sep 20 Green Howards detachment departs. Const Huckerby kills 2 civilians - Patrick Harnett and Jerry Healy. He reported the killings to Latimer. The latter inquired was he sure both men were dead, to which Huckerby replied "he would know when men are dead". Latimer and the head const sent a RIC patrol to go to the spot where the killings took place.

1920 Sep 22..Col Latimer was called on to give evidence at the inquiry held by Major John T Eastwood. The Head Constable also gave evidence.

1920 Sep 25 . Promoted Section Leader

1920 Sep. WS 1272. a lorry load of Auxiliaries and Black and Tans arrived in charge of a Colonel Latimer. They surrounded a field where my youngest brother, Michael, was working. They arrested him and took him to the local R.I.C. barracks, after which they took him out into a field at the back and tied him to a whitethorn bush where they beat him and questioned him to extract information from him as to the whereabouts of myself and other members of the attacking party that had shot O'Mahony. The local square was; full of people watching the beating, when the local parish priest, Canon Creegan, came on the scene. He protested violently against the treatment being meted out to Michael and succeeded in getting the local District Inspector, R.I.C., to stop the beating and to phone Newcastlewest military barracks for the military. When the military arrived, the Auxiliaries and Black and Tans protested at their interference.

1920 Oct 6. Thos Leahy, Batt Wrenn & John Ahern of Tournafulla intercepted the local postman Denis Hunt transferring Mail between Tournafulla & Newcastle West. They confiscated the mailbag being only being armed with hurleys. They then moved inside the ditch and proceeded to search & censor the mail. The postman, proceeding to Newcastle West met a patrol of Auxiliaries to whom he reported the loss. Latimer (who is described as a district inspector and IO of B Coy) was in charge of this patrol which resulted in the capture of Wrenn & Ahern who was wounded in an attempt to escape. Leahy escaped. Both were incarcerated in Limerick jail for 18 months following court martials. The auxiliary patrol had been responding to an earlier robbery of mail that had occurred the same day.

1920 Nov 13 . Second in Command K Coy

1920 Nov 21. Commander of K Coy .

1920 Dec 11-12 The Burning of Cork, for which K Coy was largely responsible. Latimer was in command of K Company, therefore was responsible for the conduct of his men.. Trying to put his movements together is difficult, but they appear to be

1921 Feb 15. General Tudor told a Cabinet Meeting in London that there were about 50 men of K Company in Cork that night, and that he believed that "there were seven or more men unfit to be in the service, and about 20 others ought to be got away from bad influences.The seven had not been dismissed, but they had been 'run in' for other charges at Dunmanway. Four of them were accused of robbing a Bank. The K Company, to which all these men belonged, was being re-organised by getting rid of these men. .. it had not been possible to identify any one particular person as guilty of the cork burnings. He had himself interrogated the Company..... the burnings took place at 9.30 and the Colonel [Latimer] had taken charge of his men at 10 o'clock. Latimer denied that his men were implicated in the burning. They were, on the contrary, doing their utmost to put out the fires. He was with his men all night....The accommodation was of a very temporary character in Cork. Servants were living with the Cadets. Latimer could not get quarters for himself for an Office so the Deputy Constable allowed him to work at the Police Barracks and he lived in an hotel close by. He was there when the lorries came to him to report for orders. The bombing started at 300 yards off and he went and paraded his men. "

1921 Feb 17. P de Haviland posted K Coy as Coy Commander. This ties in with the announcement in parliament that Latimer had been suspended over "Burning of Cork".

1921 Feb 28. Lieut.-Commander KENWORTHY asked the Prime Minister whether he ordered the suspension of Colonel Latimer, commanding "K" Company of the Royal Irish Constabulary, implicated in the burning of Cork City; whether he was suspended only a few hours before the present Session of this House commenced; and why this officer was not brought before a court-martial where he could defend himself?

1921 Mar 26. Deemed to be responsible for the Burning of Cork, K Company was broken up . The Commander of the Company, Lt. Col. Latimer was transferred to "Q" Company as 2nd in Command

1921 May 6. Posted to Depot Coy. Reverted to T/Cadet

1921 Jun 2. Hansard.

1921 Jul 12 to Aug 22 he was on official leave that had been extended once on 8 Aug

1921 Aug 23. Suspended. Struck off strength as a deserter

1939 Register He is living at 13 Henrietta Villas , Bath C.B., Somerset with wife Nellie. He is a Journalist. They are living in his wife parents house, and he seems to have been reunited with his wife

1949 Jul/Sep Died in Bath age 63


WO 339/63503