Private Francis McDowell


Francis McDowell was born on 27 September 1885 at Glenbank, Ballygomartin, County Antrim, the fifth of twelve children of millwright (later bleachworks manager) Matthew McDowell and his wife Margaret (née Curry). By the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Ballysillan with his parents and seven of his ten surviving sibilings and working as a flax mill manager.

McDowell enlisted in the North Irish Horse at Belfast on 12 May 1915 (No.1539 – later Corps of Hussars No.71429). He trained at the regiment's Antrim reserve depot before embarking for France sometime between 1916 and 1918, possibly with E Squadron on 11 January 1916.

In May 1916 E Squadron came together with A and D Squadrons to form the 1st North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to VII, XIX, then V Corps until February-March 1918, when the regiment was dismounted and converted to a cyclist unit, serving as corps cyclists to V Corps until the end of the war.

McDowell remained with the regiment throughout the war, though how much time he spent in France and Belgium and how much at the Antrim depot is not known at present. On 8 March 1919 he was demobilised and transferred to Class Z, Army Reserve.


At least two of McDowell's brothers also served in the war – Samuel McDowell in the 15th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles, and William Frederick McDowell in the North Irish Horse.