Lance Corporal Isaac Baxter McDowell



Isaac Baxter McDowell was born on 15 September 1889 at 13 Thorndyke Street, Belfast, one of at least four children of sea captain John McDowell and his wife Margaret (nee Baxter). His father died before his third birthday. By the time of the 1911 Census he was working as a solicitor's clerk. On 12 September that year he married miller's daughter Agnes Letitia Anderson at Belmont Presbyterian Church, Holywood, County Down. The couple subsequently lived at 48 Chatswood Street, Belfast, where their first child, Bryce, was born in 1913.

McDowell enlisted in the North Irish Horse between 14 and 27 December 1916 (No.2333). The following year he embarked for France, where he was posted to one of the squadrons of the 1st or 2nd North Irish Horse Regiments.

In September 1917 the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment was disbanded and most of its men, together with some surplus to the needs of the 1st NIH Regiment, were transferred to the infantry. The majority, including McDowell, were transferred to the 9th (Service) Battalion, Royal Irish Fusiliers – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – on 20 September. McDowell was issued a new regimental number – 41367 – and posted to B Company. He probably saw action with the battalion in the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917.

McDowell was one of the many reported as missing following the retreat from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 during the German spring offensive. He had been captured unwounded at Erches, near Roye, on 27 March when much of the 9th (NIH) Battalion was overwhelmed by the fast-moving German advance.

Initially held at Giessen, McDowell was later transferred to a camp in Munster. He was released in the months following the Armistice and demobilised soon after his return to the UK.


Images from the Belfast Evening Telegraph kindly provided by Nigel Henderson, Researcher at History Hub Ulster (