Edward Cecil Dowse came to Chelmsford from Halstead before the war with his family. He worked as a grocer’s assistant and then as a clerk at the National Steam Bus factory in Chelmsford. He joined the army in February 1916, arrived in France in April 1918 and died from wounds later that month. His home was in Baddow Road, Great Baddow.
Edward was born in South Hackney in 1895, the eldest child of William Edward Dowse and Elizabeth Emily Dowse (nee Matthews). His father had been born in 1868; in Lydd St. Mary’s, Lincolnshire his mother in 1867 in Limehouse, London. the couple had married in London in 1895.
Edward’s seven siblings were Doris Wellard Dowse (born 1897 in South Hackney, died 1965), Leslie Wilfrid Dowse (born 1899 in Braintree, died 1979), Arnold Francis Dowse (born 1901 in Braintree, died 1989), Maurice Albert Dowse (born 1902 in Braintree, died 1991), Douglas Thistlewood Dowse (born 1904 in Braintree, died 1986), May Dowse (born c1906 in Braintree), and Aubrey Matthews Dowse, (born 1908 in Witham, died 1910).
The 1901 census found five year-old Edward living with his parents, two siblings and a boarder at Mount Road in Braintree. His father was a coal merchant’s clerk. A decade later the 1911 census listed 15 year-old Cecil, his parents and seven siblings at 27 Head Street in Halstead. Cecil was a grocer’s assistant; his father, a grocer’s agent.
On 18th February 1916 Edward attested at Chelmsford for Short Service (for the duration of the war with the colours and in the army reserve). He was aged 20 years and three months, employed as a bonus clerk at the National Steam Car Company in Chelmsford and resident at Rosendale in Baddow Road, Great Baddow. He was five feet five inches tall, weighed 112 pounds, had a chest of 33 and a half inches and good physical development. He had a port wine star on the left side of his face. He was a baptist and his next of kin was his father of the same address.
Edward was placed in the reserve for almost a year. He was medically examined at Warley on 31st January 1917 and was mobilised on 27th February 1917 when he joined the Bedfordshire Regiment as Private 39804. However, having contracted influenza he was admitted to hospital in Felixstowe in Suffolk on 14th March 1917. He remained there until 7th April 1917, a period of 27 days. The following month, on 15th May 1917 he crossed from Folkestone, Kent to Boulogne in France, as part of the 2nd Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment. He was posted to the regiment’s 6th Battalion in June 1917.
In November 1917 he suffered from trench fever and was transferred back to Britain to recover. He arrived in England on 3rd January 1918 and subsequently spent the period from 2nd April 1918 to 16th February 1918, some 46 days, at the 3rd Western General Hospital in Cardiff, Wales.
DOWSE, EDWARD CECIL, Private, 10th Battalion Sherwood Foresters
(Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) (formerly of the Bedfordshire Regiment)
Upon recovery Edward was posted as a Private to the 3rd Battalion of the Bedfordshire Regiment on 26th February 1918 and crossed from Dover, Kent to Calais, France on 5th April 1918. Later that month he was transferred to the 10th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) and given the new service number of 103512.
Edward was wounded in the field on 22nd April 1918 and died from his wounds on 25th April 1918 at No. 3 Canadian Stationary Hospital at Doullens. He was aged 22 and had been back in France less than three weeks, and had two years and 67 days’ service in the army. He is buried at Doullens Communal Cemetery Extension No.1, Somme in France (grave: VI. A. 63).
On 10th May 1918 the Essex County Chronicle
carried a family announcement regarding Edward’s death:
“Dowse. At the 3rd Canadian Stationary Hospital at Doullens, France, Signaller C. E. Dowse, son of Mr. and Mrs. W. E. Dowse, of Baddow Road, Chelmsford, of wounds received in action, aged 23. Buried in Doullens Cemetery. Memorial Service at Market Road, Baptist Church on Sunday next at 6.30."
The same edition also reported:
“Mr. and Mrs. Dowse, of Baddow Road, Chelmsford, have received the sad intelligence that their son, Signaller Cecil E. Dowse, has died in hospital at Doullens, France, of wounds received in action. Before joining the Forces Signaller Dowse was employed at the National Steam Car Works, Chelmsford. A memorial service for the deceased will be held at Market Road Baptist Church on Sunday evening at 6.30.”
On 22nd August 1918 the officer in charge of records at Lichfield wrote to Edward’s father, returning Edward’s surviving possessions. The 1918 register of electors listed Edward’s parents still at Rosendale in Baddow Road, Great Baddow.
Edward is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford and the Great Baddow war memorial at St. Mary’s Church. He was entitled to the Victory and British War medals whose receipt was acknowledged by his family on 31st December 1921.
Edward’s mother died on 18th October 1921, aged 55. His father died on 30th May 1924.