Captain Charles Albert John Oecken



Charles Albert John Oecken was born on 1 August 1895 at Islington, London, son of jeweller Charles Albert Oecken and his wife Sarah Jane (nee Griffiths).

Oecken was working as a bank clerk when the war began. He enlisted in the 3rd County of London Yeomanry (No.2202) on 16 August 1915. Oeken later claimed that he had "seen service with the Yeomanry in the Mediterranean Expeditionary force" from 1914 to 1916. However this is not supported by the information in his service file, which states that he was on home service from the time of his enlistment.

In 1916 he applied for a commission and on 1 September was posted to the No.2 Cavalry Cadet School at Kildare. On 21 December 1916 he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant and posted to the 9th Reserve Cavalry Regiment at Newbridge.

Oecken was then attached to the North Irish Horse, joining the 2nd Regiment at Boeschepe on 29 April 1917. The regimental war diary for 5 June (just prior to the Battle of Messines) notes that:

One Troop under 2 Lt Oecken reported APM Xth Corps for conducting of Prisoner work.

On 26 July 1917 Oecken formally transferred from the Cavalry Reserve to the North Irish Horse. However the following month orders were received that the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment would be dismounted and its officers and men transferred to the 9th Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers. Oeken did not join the new battalion. On 11 August he applied for a transfer to the Indian Army Reserve of Officers and on 20 September he left for the UK. His secondment to the Indian Army came through in November 1917 and he sailed for India on the 25th.

In India, Oecken was attached to the 8th Cavalry Regiment. He was promoted to lieutenant on 21 June 1918.

On 27 March 1919 he was released from service by the India Office.

There appears to have been some administrative confusion over Oecken's status in the Indian Army. He was initially seconded from the North Irish Horse on probation, and his name appears with that status (i.e. NIH, seconded) on the Army List until 1922. However the London Gazette of 16 May that year records that he was admitted to the Indian Army Reserve of Officers (as a lieutenant) following his period of probation on 13 January 1918, ranking from 21 December 1917.

Again, the London Gazette of 9 September 1921 records him as relinquishing his commission in the North Irish Horse on 1 April 1920. However a later Gazette (29 August 1922) has him resigning from the Indian Army Reserve of Officers on 1 May 1922, and being granted the rank of captain.

Oecken remained in India for many years after the war before returning to England. He died in Worthing, West Sussex, on 5 January 1960.


Oecken (third from left) with fellow officers in India


Oecken at his wedding in Nagpur, Bengal, in December 1926


Images kindly provided by Captain Oecken's great grandson Chris Bown.