No. 1819, 7th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Killed in action on Friday 16 June 1916 (aged 28)
St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Loos, France (Grave III. B. 28)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s)
Joseph McDowell was born on 28 October 1887 in Wallace’s Street, Newtownards and he was a son of Joseph and Jane McDowell (nee Rainey) who were married on 25 December 1874 in Dromara Parish Church of Ireland Church. Joseph McDowell (aged 25) from Magheraconluce was a son of John McDowell, a weaver. Jane Jainey (aged 23) from Drumlough was a daughter of James Rainey, a labourer.
The McDowell family lived in Newtownards, in the townland of Cronstown; in Queen Street and in Wallace’s Street No. 2.
Joseph and Jane McDowell had at least eight children:
Elizabeth (born 23 December 1877 in Cronstown, Newtownards)
John (born around 1878/1879)
Alice (born 17 April 1880 in Cronstown, Newtownards)
James (born 9 April 1882 in Cronstown, Newtownards)
Andrew (born 6 September 1884 in Ballymurphy, Belfast)
Joseph (born 28 October 1887 in Wallace’s Street, Newtownards)
Mary Jane (born 14 March 1891 in Wallace’s Street, Newtownards)
William (born 11 November 1893 in Wallace’s Street, Newtownards)
Elizabeth McDowell married Joseph Arnold who served with the Royal Irish Rifles during the First World War.
Andrew McDowell joined the Army on 8 August 1906, served with the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and went with the 2nd Battalion to France on 18 August 1914 as part of the British Expeditionary Force (No.8243). Private Andrew McDowell transferred to the 1st Garrison Battalion Royal Irish Regiment (No.11383) on 28 August 1915 and later served as a Private (No.230930) with the Labour Corps.
Joseph McDowell Senior died of influenza on 16 August 1896 (aged 45) and Jane worked as an embroiderer.
Joseph McDowell served with the Royal North Downs and worked as a general labourer before the outbreak of the Great War. He re-joined the colours in Newtownards on 23 October 1914 and served with the 7th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles. Rifleman Joseph McDowell (No. 1819) went to the Front on 22 December 1915 and he was 28 when he was killed in action on 16 June 1916. Two of his brothers were also on active service and both were wounded, one in France and one in Egypt.
The McDowell family placed a Killed in Action notice in the 15 July edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and they placed Our Heroes – In Memoriam notices each year thereafter. The 1917 and 1918 notices contained the verses:
Although we’re in a far-off land,
And your grave we cannot see,
As long as life and memory last,
We shall remember thee
God knows the way; He holds the key,
He guides us with unerring hand;
Some time with tearless eyes we’ll see,
Yes, there, up there we’ll understand
His widowed mother, Jane McDowell, died of influenza on 14 November 1918.
Rifleman Joseph McDowell (No. 1819) was buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery, Loos, France and he is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s).