b. 1825 Thomastown, County Kilkenny, Ireland. d. 17/02/1887 Liverpool.
William Dowling (1825-1887) was born in 1825 in Thomastown, County Kilkenny, Ireland. Little is known of his early life prior to service in the Army. It is known that in the mid-1840s, he enlisted with 32nd Regiment of Foot (later Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry), and spent the majority of his service in India.
After the outbreak of the Indian Mutiny in Meerut in 1857, Dowling became heavily involved in the fighting in the defence of the Lucknow Residency. Dowling performed three separate acts of gallantry over the summer of 1857 which lead to the award of the VC (London Gazette, 21st November 1859). On the 4th July 1857, he volunteered with two other men (who were both later killed in action) and spiked two of the enemy guns, killing a subadar next to one of the guns. On the 9th July, he went out with three men (all since killed in action) and attempted to spike an enemy gun. Unfortunately, the spike was too small and she was forced to retire under heavy fire. Finally, on the 27th September 1857, he spiked an 18 pounder gun during a sortie, again under heavy enemy fire.
Dowling was presented with his VC by Queen Victoria at Windsor Castle on 4th January 1860. He then returned to India to serve for a number of years. On retirement from the armed forces, Dowling returned to England, and settled in the port of Liverpool, where he became a customs officer at the docks. Dowling died in Stanley Hospital, Liverpool aged 62 on 17th February 1887, and he was laid to rest in an unmarked grave in Ford Roman Catholic Cemetery. In 1990 a memorial tablet was laid at Ford Cemetery for Dowling, but the tablet has now been re-sited at St John’s RC Church, Kirkdale, Liverpool. Dowling’s medals are held by the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry Museum, Bodmin, Cornwall.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: DUKE OF CORNWALL'S LIGHT INFANTRY MUSEUM, BODMIN.
BURIAL PLACE: FORD RC CEMETERY, LIVERPOOL, LANCASHIRE. (UNMARKED)
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