1st Battalion, Royal Dublin Fusiliers
Royal Dublin Fusiliers Service Number 8083
Hampshire Regiment Service Number 11425
James Dowling was entitled:
Victory Medal (Roll B1/103 B33 Page 3221)
British War Medal (Roll B1/103 B33 Page 3221)
1914-15 Star (B/6 B Page 94)
Silver War Badge (B/48)
James enlisted to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers around end of 1902 or early 1903 (Service number 7999 joined on 9th October 1902 and 8823 joined on 15th September 1903). He served as a private and his service number was 8083 (1/2). At this time new recruits signed a contract for a period of 7 year’s full time service with the colours and another 5 on the National Reserve (3). He must have been at least 18 years old for a recruit (although he could not be sent overseas until he was aged 19) (3).
Unfortunately there are many James Dowling’s on the 1901 Irish Census whose age would broadly fit, therefore it is at this point impossible to narrow him down without any extra information (4).
Probably during this time he also served abroad if he was posted to the 1st Battalion which was based in Crete and Malta. From 1905 they were posted in Egypt and Sudan.
2nd Battalion was in Buttevant, Cork after the Boer War. They left for Aldershot, England in 1910 and remained there until Great War begun in 1914 (6).
After his full-time service with the colours, he was sent to the reserves around 1910.
When the Great War broke out, reservists were called up for service in August and September 1914. One of them was certainly Private James Dowling.
After retraining he was attached to the 1st Battalion what arrived to England from Fort St. George, Madras in August 1914 (3/5).
Early 1915 they were attached to the 86th Brigade in 29th Division and were located in Nuneaton (3).
On the 16th March they left from Avonmouth and embarked on the ship “Ausonia” to the port Mudros on the Aegean island of Lemnos. They arrived to there on the 9th April 1915 (3/5).
After preparations, 29th Division had orders to land at the Dardanelles peninsula, at Cape Helles. It was very difficult choice because open beaches or cliffs what was relatively easy to defend by Turkish troops. Also naval artillery support wasn’t able to destroy Turkish positions before men moved in (5).
Battalion start moving to their landing sector on the “SS River Clyde” night before 25th April 1915. Before they approached to the beach, their Brigade Commander told to the men; “Fusiliers, our brigade has the honour of the first to land.” (5).
And as a part of very first men of landing, companies from 1st Battalion landed at “V” Beach on 25th April 1915 at 06:25. They suffered instantly heavy casualties, most of not even getting out of their boats (6).
After few days serious fighting, British forces had been secured themselves on the peninsula but far from their objectives, continuously suffering casualties.
Cost to 1st Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers was horrific: battalion was 901 men strong on the SS River Clyde and during the period of 25th April – 30th April they lost 163 men killed, 342 wounded and 21 men missing. Because Royal Munster Fusiliers suffered similar casualties, they were decided to amalgamate and called “Dubsters” for next month until replacements arrived (3/5/6).
It is impossible to say when exactly Private James Dowling landed in Cape Helles because mistake on his medal card what gives Date of entry therein 16th April 1915. But surely he was there because his first theatre of war first served in is recorded Balkans (2B) what includes Gallipoli (1).
Also The Irish Times from 7th June 1915 records him as a one of 43 1st Battalion Royal Dublin Fusiliers wounded in action (7).
Probably after his recovery, he was transferred to the Hampshire Regiment as a private and his new Service Number was 11425.
Again, there is no trace did he got wounded for a second time or previous wounds were the reason of that but James was honourably discharged from the Army on the 11th September 1916 and he received one of the first Silver War Badge, what was started to issue from the same month.
(1) British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920http://search.ancestry.co.uk
(2) Army Service Numbers 1881-1918http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.com/
(3) The Long, Long Trail – The British Army of 1914-1918 – for family historianshttp://www.1914-1918.net
(4) National Archives: Census of Ireland 1901/1911http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie
(5) Royal Dublin Fusiliers – a forgotten regimenthttp://www.dublin-fusiliers.com
(6) Royal Dublin Fusiliers – Wikipedia, the free encyclopediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Dublin_Fusiliers
(7) The Irish Independent, 7th June 1915