Royal Navy obituary in the Times newspaper
Royal Navy obituary in the Times newspaper

Royal NavyObituaries

The following obituary for William Montagu Dowell appeared in the Times newspaper.

Obituary in the Times newspaper
30 December 1912


The death occurred on Friday night at his residence at Ford, near Bideford, of Admiral Sir William Dowell, G.C.B.

Admiral Sir William Montagu Dowell, second son of the Rev. W. Dowell, vicar of Holme Lacey, was born on August 2, 1825. He entered the Navy in 1839 on board the Royal Adelaide, on which he hoisted the flag as Commander-in-Chief at Devonport 50 years later, and went out to China in time to witness and take part in all the operations of the first war. Afterwards in the Racer he was actively engaged on the coast of Brazil in the prevention of the slave trade, and, as mate of the Eagle, commanded her launch at the capture of Colonia in 1846; he was landed with the small-arm men who garrisoned Montevideo, and for a twelvemonth, up to July, 1847, was Governor and Commandant of an island in the harbour. For these services he was promoted to be lieutenant, October, 1847. When the Eagle was paid off in March, 1848, he was appointed to the Excellent, from which, after a severe course of study extending over two years, he was appointed, in May, 1850, gunnery lieutenant of the Albion, going out to the Mediterranean, where she still was when the war with Russia broke out. After some service with the naval brigade, in course of which he was wounded, Dowell was promoted to be commander in November, 1854. In the following year he married his first cousin, Caroline Johanna, daughter of Captain John Pyke, R.N.; and in January, 1856, he was appointed to the Rodney with Captain G. Knyvet Wilson, and in her went out to the Crimea to bring home troops. In August, 1857, he commissioned the Hornet, in which he arrived in China in time to take an effective part in the reduction of Canton, for which he was promoted to captain, in February, 1858.

In September, 1862, he commissioned the Barrosa, again for the China Station, and in September, 1864, was specially mentioned for his gallantry and conduct in action with the batteries in the Straits of Simonosaki. On September 12 he was appointed flag-captain to Sir Augustus Kuper in the Euryalus, and on November 30 was nominated a C.B., and at the same time an Officer of the Legion of Honour. The Euryalus came home and was paid off in the summer of 1865; and from 1867 to 1871 Dowell, as commodore of the second class, was Commander-in-Chief on the West African Station. In 1870 he was appointed one of the Queen's naval aides-de-camp. He became a rear-admiral in December, 1875; was second in command of the Channel Fleet, 1877-8; and senior officer on the coast of Ireland, 1878-80. He became vice-admiral in January, 1880; and commanded in chief the Channel Fleet, 1882-3, during part of which time, in 1882, the Fleet was temporarily attached to the Mediterranean Command for service on the coast of Egypt, for which Dowell obtained the K.C.B. and the Osmanieh of the second class, and received the thanks of Parliament. In 1884-5 he was Commander-in-Chief in China, vacating the office on his promotion to the rank of admiral in July, 1885, In 1886 he was president of a committee for the revision of naval signals, and in 1888 of a committee on the lessons to be learned from the naval manoeuvres. From December, 1888, he was Commander-in-Chief at Devonport, till August, 1890, when he retired under the age limit.

In 1891 he was awarded a good service pension, and in the summer of that year was chairman of the executive committee of the Naval Exhibition held at Chelsea, the success of which was largely due to his zealous attention. On May 25, 1895, he was created a G.C.B.

Dowell, who during his retirement lived for the most part at Ford, took an active part in the affairs of Bideford, and was a magistrate and Deputy Lieutenant of Devon. In 1904, when the freedom of Bideford was bestowed on him, he said:- "I came into the Navy at a time when wars little and big were going on, and I was just at the age to benefit by them. I became a young lieutenant, young commander, young captain, and a young admiral. I had many commands, and fortunately, unlike so many of my brother officers who entered the Service earlier or later than myself, had many chances of distinguishing myself."

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