Frank William Dowell

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Frank William Dowell
Dowell Frank William.jpg
The Drill of the Foot-Hills 1918 Feb-Mar p.10
Dowell Frank WIlliam headstone.jpg
Linton Reynolds photo April 2023
Personal Information
Date of Birth Not known
"Not known" contains an extrinsic dash or other characters that are invalid for a date interpretation.
Place of Birth Bedfordale, Western Australia
Death 30 May 1916
Place of Death Cordonnerie, France
Age at Enlistment 29 years, 5 months
Description 5' 6" (1.68m) tall ; 128lbs
58.06 kg
; fair complexion ; blue eyes ; light brown hair
Occupation Sleeper hewer
Religion Congregational
Address Bedfordale, Western Australia
Next of Kin Father , Mr. James Willcox Dowell
Military Information
Reg Number 3775
Date of Enlistment 2 Aug 1915
Rank Private
Unit/Formation 11th Battalion, 12th Reinforcement, posted to B Company
Date of Embarkation 22 Nov 1915 ‒ 14 Dec 1915
Ship Embarked On RMS Mongolia Port Suez
Fate Killed in Action 30 May 1916 at Cordonnerie, France
Monument Armadale War Memorial (Bedfordale panel)
Bedfordale Roll of Honour
Armadale and Districts Roll of Honour
Keysbrook Roll of Honour
WA State War Memorial
Australian War Memorial
Medals 1914-15 Star
British War Medal
Victory Medal

Pre War

Frank doesn't appear to have been registered to vote prior to departing for the war.

War Service

Following initial training at Blackboy Hill camp, Frank was allocated to the 12th reinforcement draft for the 11th Battalion and sailed with them aboard RMS Mongolia to Port Tewfik, arriving on 14 Dec 1915. Following his arrival in Egypt, he would have completed training at one of the Training Battalions before he joined the 11th Battalion at Habieta on 2 Mar 1916. Allocated to 'B' Company, he travelled with them on HMT Corsican to Marseilles from Alexandria between 29 March and 5 April 1916.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission internet site records....

"On 30 May, the Germans staged another raid, this time attacking a salient held by the 11th Battalion AIF at Cordonnerie Farm. British and Australian miners had been tunnelling in this part of the line, and the objective of the German raid was to identify the Commonwealth regiments in the area and destroy mine shafts. At 8.15 in the evening, the Germans unleashed a devastating bombardment of artillery shells and heavy trench mortar bombs. This intense fire continued for over an hour and twenty minutes and completely destroyed the flimsy breastworks behind which the Australian troops were sheltering. Despite the noise and thick clouds of shell smoke, the men of the 11th rallied well and began firing Lewis gun rounds toward the German troops who started advancing across no man’s land just after 9.00 pm. The raiders managed to enter the Australian position and capture a handful of prisoners, but were forced to retreat before they could inflict further damage. The lengthy bombardment that accompanied the raid on 30 May caused over 100 Australian casualties, over 40 of whom were killed. Many of those killed during the raid were buried at Rue Pétillon, which is also the final resting place of over 100 Australian soldiers killed at the Battle of Fromelles on 19 July 1916." a website hosted by the Australian Department of Veterans Affairs, credits a large German mortar shell for the deaths of Frank and 39 other members of his unit. This is supported by a statement by Lt S.J. Forbes of his company who wrote that
"Frank was one of a number of men lost on the night of the 30th and 31st May 1916 as a result of a German attack on his battalion's trenches after a heavy 95 minute bombardment."

Frank along with Rudolf Eberhardt, also a victim of the same shell, were the first locals to lose their lives on the Western Front. Buried in the Military Cemetery, Rue Petillon - Plot 1; Row H; Grave 29. Five km east of Laventie, and 7.5 km southwest of Armentiès. Son of James Wilcox Dowell and Annie Mary Dowell.

  • Grave location courtesy Commonwealth War Graves Commission
  • Rue-Petillon Military Cemetery Fleurbaix Commonwealth War Graves Commission
  • Dowell FW headstone 1.jpg


Given names are Frank William on the Australian War Memorial and AIF websites.

In the Autumn 1986 edition of "The Listening Post", page 25 there is mention of FW Dowell's grave in the Rue Pétillon Military Cemetery, about a half-hour drive from Bethune.

Thomas William Dowell, a cousin from Bedfordale died 5 Sep 1916 of wounds received at Mouquet Farm (Poziéres) in France.

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