No. 10169, 1st Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Died of wounds on Tuesday 29 August 1916 (aged 22)
Vermelles British Cemetery, France (Grave V. B. 3)
Newtownards and District War Memorial
Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s)
William McDowell was born on 11 November 1893 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 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 on 16 August 1896 (aged 45) and Jane worked as an embroiderer.
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War William McDowell worked as a general labourer. He enlisted in Newtownards, served with the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and he was 22 when he died of wounds on 29 August 1916 during the Battle of the Somme. His sister Mary placed a death notice in the 25 November 1916 edition of the Newtownards Chronicle and it contained the verse:
Little I thought when we said good-bye
It should be the last parting between you and I;
I loved you in life, you are dear to me still,
But in grief we must bend to God’s holy will.
Each year thereafter his mother, his brothers and his sister Mary placed Our Heroes – In Memoriam notices in the Newtownards Chronicle. The 1917 and 1918 notices contained the verses:
Had I but got one last fond look into your loving face,
Or had I got the chance to kneel down in that place
To hold your hand, dear William, while your life blood ebbed away,
My heart would not have felt so much the tears I shed today.
You have answered, dear brother, the call of the brave;
And somewhere you rest in a hero’s grave
What more or what better could any lad give
Than his life for his country that others might live?
His widowed mother, Jane McDowell, died of influenza on 14 November 1918.
Lance Corporal William McDowell (No.10169) was buried in Vermelles British Cemetery, France and he is commemorated on Newtownards and District War Memorial and in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s).