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News > OQ Archives > A Soldier of WW1

A Soldier of WW1

Geoff Bisson's piece on remembering Sergeant Thomas William Dowsett, (OQ 1905-09)
23 Nov 2022
Written by Geoff Bisson
OQ Archives
Photo from the Wyvern - original photo included the words 'faithful unto death'
Photo from the Wyvern - original photo included the words 'faithful unto death'

The day after Remembrance Sunday, I received an email from someone researching the men who lost their lives serving in the Honourable Artillery Company in WWI, one of whom was Thomas Dowsett (OQ 1905-09). The timing of her enquiry was apt as Thomas was one of the OQs killed in WWI and coincidental in that, a few days earlier, I had given a talk in Trull on Queen’s College and WWI in which special mention was made of him. 

This was because Thomas Dowsett was the first of the 67 OQs to die in WWI. He was shot in the upper part of the head by a sniper, on the front line at Kemmel, near Ypres, on 30 January 1915. He was not wearing any protective headgear. At that time, soldiers did not wear the steel helmet which, later, became standard equipment for British soldiers. The Brodie helmet, colloquially known by a variety of alternative names such as the Tommy helmet, battle bowler or tin hat, was invented in 1915 and it was not until the following year that every soldier was issued with one. 

The death of Thomas Dowsett was marked in the Spring 1915 edition of the Wyvern with this fine photograph and a brief mention of the incident in Belgium. After the war, a fuller tribute was paid to him in the booklet produced in April 1919 which provided details of all but a few of the OQs who died in WWI. The photo and commentary reveal the person who otherwise might be just a statistic.


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