There is a photograph at the Australian War Memorial (H15117) of a Sergeant Dowsett in Gallipoli, Turkey, in 1915. He kneels, casually, beside an unexploded 8.25 inch Turkish shell which he was in the process of stripping. I was on the hunt for information on my great grand-uncle Jack Dowsett, who served at Gallipoli – was this evidence of him?
The highest rank Jack had achieved, according to his war records, had been Lieutenant so this was unlikely. Who was this other Dowsett that appeared at Gallipoli? With Australia still having been such a relatively small country at the time, I figured it a good chance that two Dowsetts at Gallipoli could be related – even if unknown to each other.
Once again, searching the National Archives turned up most of the information I needed. I found the soldier I was looking for, and his digital war records at the Archives were extensive and of high quality. Sergeant Major David Dowsett of the Royal Field Artillery had enlisted in the 4th Battalion, Field Artillery of the AIF on August 4th, 1914 – just two weeks after Australia entered the Great War along with other nations of the British Empire such as Canada and New Zealand.
An extensive search through genealogical records also proved that he was a cousin of Jack’s, and my 6th cousin twice removed. It was another thrilling discovery to make; another Dowsett serving in the First World War – making a total of four in both of the World Wars. All of a sudden, there was a Dowsett family military history stretching out before me. For a long time I had wanted a story to write about and now I felt compelled and obligated to record these stories, as much as I could know.
Clearly, having ancestors who trod the hallowed battlegrounds of Gallipoli was an immense source of pride. However, the fact that both men had survived and more to tell was fascinating. Like most of the soldiers who were evacuated from Gallipoli, other theatres of the Great War awaited them. Jack, as a Lieutenant of the 7th Light Horse, went on to serve in Sinai and Palestine. David was transferred to the 2nd Field Artillery Brigade and became a Lieutenant in the 21st Howitzer Brigade, seeing action in France and Belgium.
Jack Dowsett survived the Middle East and returned home.
David Dowsett was killed in action during the Battle of Passchendaele, Ypres in 1917.