Rev Owen Mountain Collins
Owen was the father of parishioner Rex Collins and was a Welshman born and bred. He began work at an early age, coal mining in a colliery in South wales. In time he saved enough money to leave the colliery and train for the Methodist Ministry at a college in Victoria Park, Manchester. He enlisted in the Army Chaplains department with the rank of captain and was attached to one of the regiments of the South wales borderers. He arrived in France on 22 may 1917. The Methodists at the time were divided into three groups: Primitive; Independent; and Wesleyan, the latter being the most ‘high’ church. Owen was a Primitive Methodist and as such he believed that he had to be with the men, whether they were pouring out of the factories when their shift ended, chatting in the streets or fighting in the Trenches and ‘going over the top’ to engage the enemy at close range. It may have been for bravery on one of the latter occasions that he was awarded the Silver war badge and also one such occasion that he received a wound which caused him to be invalided out of the military service. He was honourably discharged and received the British and Victory medals in 1922.
Unfortunately Rex’s father, in common with many others, said little about their experience during the war. The lasting impression it made on him was one of scorn for what he conceived to be the cowardice of Church of England chaplains staying safely behind the lines. He seems to have been unaware the authorities in the Church of England had forbidden its chaplains from endangering their lives. Sadly the scorn seems to have been fuelled by indignation at what he regarded as a lack of respect for his own ministry. It was not until after he died that his family could enjoy a proper feeling of pride in his war service.