Private James Dowds

 

 

James Dowds was born on 9 October 1893 at 61 Marlboro Park, Londonderry, the first of three children of carpenter James Dowds and his wife Violet (née Marshall). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at 65 Creggan Road, Londonderry, with his parents, siblings, two aunts and a cousin, and working as a shirt-cutter.

Dowds enlisted in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons between 23 and 31 October 1914 (No.UD/81). He trained at Enniskillen before embarking for France with his squadron on 6 October 1915.

The 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron served as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division until June 1916, when it was brought together with B and C Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps until September 1917, when the regiment was disbanded and its men transferred to the infantry. Most, including Dowds, were transferred on 20 September and posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt five days later. Dowds was issued regimental number 41551 and posted to D Company.

He probably saw action with the battalion at the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

Dowds was one of the many posted as missing following the 9th (NIH) Battalion's fighting withdrawal from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 during the German spring offensive. It was later learned that he had been captured, unwounded, on 27 March at Erches, near Roye, when much of the battalion had been overwhelmed by the fast-moving German advance. He remained a prisoner until the end of the war, held at the Friedrichsfeld camp in Germany.

Following his repatriation, on 23 May 1919 Dowds was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve. He returned to Londonderry, but emigrated to Canada the following year.

 

My thanks to Blair Masschelein for making available the image of Private Dowds.