William was born about 1879 in Llanddewi'r Cwm, Builth Wells. He was the son of William Henry Dowdeswell and his wife Mary Ann. The family home was at Oakland Cottages, Llandewi and William’s father worked as an engine fitter in a local works.
By 1911 his parents were living at 2, Lion Street, Brecon, but subsequently moved to 34, The Watton before buying 28, Free Street for £150 in a property sale in April 2015.
William's family were well known and respected in Brecon with William's father being a Brecon native and having worked for the Cambrian Railway in Builth for a number of years before returning to Brecon and running the Victoria Inn for a few years. He was later engaged by the Brecon Town Council as hall keeper, undertaking other roles in his tenure there. The council paid tribute to him on his death in 1916, aged 61.
William joined the Navy in 1899 serving about 14 years before leaving in 1913. He was living in Portsmouth in 1901 and his occupation was listed as Royal Navy Engine Room Artificer. His naval records show that he had about 28 placements on 20 different ships in his 13 years
reinforcements for the 1/1 in France.
By this time, the German Spring Offensive was at its height, and the Allied armies were suffering a terrible onslaught, with many battalions being almost wiped out. The War turned in the Allies’ favour on 8 August 1918, the Black Day of the German Army, when Australian troops won a decisive battle at Villers Brettoneux, and from that day on the Allies held the upper hand. The 46th Division pushed the Germans back in Flanders, then moved southwards, forcing a crossing
over the formidable Hindenburg Line at Riqueval Bridge, and pushing on toward Cambrai. George was wounded in action during the Pursuit to the Selle and died shortly after. He is buried in Tincourt New British Cemetery, France. He is also commemorated on the Abergwili War Memorial.
His brother Harry was killed in 1915 and is commemorated at Llanelli and features elsewhere in this book³². Another brother Sidney served with the 1st Brecknock Battalion and after the war was well known in Brecon, working for the County Education Office.
See page 299
Private William John Dowdeswell
Royal Army Service Corps, service no. MS/951
Died of Pneumonia March 6th, 1919, aged 40
Buried at St John the Baptist Churchyard, Clydach-on-Tawe