William John Dowsell

Memorial: Olveston

Regiment: Royal Hampshire Regiment

Medals: British War Medal, Next of Kin Memorial Plaque 1914 - 1921, Victory Medal

Rank and number: Private 33480

Parents: George and Hannah Dowsell

Pre-war occupation: Brick Maker

Date of birth: 1898

Place of birth: Olveston, Glos

Date of death: 20/09/1917

Buried/Commemorated at: Hooge Crater Cemetery, West-Vlaaderen, Belgium

Age: 19

Further information:

George, the father of William, ran a coal merchant and hauliers business from Haw Lane in Olveston. His wife Hannah was born in the village, while George came from Yate. The family comprised George, born in 1896 and William, born in January 1898, with Edith arriving at the beginning of the new century. Originally the family name was spelt Dowswell but by the time both boys joined the army, they were recorded as Dowsell

Before William enlisted at Bristol on the 6th of May 1916 at the age of 18 he had been employed as a brick maker. Within four days he was posted to the 9th Royal Berkshire Regiment but was subsequently transferred to the 15th Battalion of the Royal Hampshire Regiment. By this time, William’s father George had emigrated to America while Hannah and her daughter Edith had moved to Rose Cottage in Tockington

The 15th Battalion was involved in the significant attack at Flers on the Somme on the 15th of September 1916 when the British Army first deployed tanks. The Battalion then moved into Flanders and was engaged in the Ypres Salient throughout the winter of 1916/17, mostly in the Hedge Street line and tunnels. The third Battle of Ypres, also known as the Battle of Passchendaele, started on the 31st of July 1917. On the 20th of August with the Battalion in action at Tower Hamlets to the south-east of Ypres on the Menin Road, Second Lieutenant Moore of the 15th Battalion won a VC. William was Killed in Action in the continuing action at Tower Hamlets and the Tower Trench system in the area of Gheluvelt on the 20th of September when 89 men of the 15th Battalion were Killed in Action and 255 were wounded. William is buried in the Hooge Crater Cemetery outside Zillebeck some two and a half miles from Ypres

William’s brother George survived the war but was seriously wounded in the chest and was temporarily repatriated to the UK where, after recuperation, he guarded German prisoners of war. George was greatly affected by the brutality of war, particularly so when he was told that his comrades had shot and killed the German sniper who inflicted the injury to his chest, it transpired that he was only a young boy

By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):

Forces War Records