17 February-William Dowling VC

William Dowling was a native of Co Kilkenny Ireland. He was awarded the Victoria Cross for gallantry in 1857. He won the award, at the age of 32, for bravery shown whilst serving with the British Army in India. The Victoria Cross is awarded for ‘most conspicuous bravery, or some daring or pre-eminent act of valour or self-sacrifice, or extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy’. The Victoria Cross has been awarded to 168 soldiers from Ireland, six of whom were born in Kilkenny.

William Dowling was born in Thomastown Co Kilkenny in 1825. He was serving with the British Army in India during the middle of the nineteenth century. His Regiment was under siege at the British base in the city of Lucknow capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India.

During the siege Dowling went out under heavy fire to spike the enemy guns. He did this on three occasions, 4th July, 9th July and 27th September 1857, at great danger to himself. The siege, which lasted for over five months, was eventually lifted by the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. The defenders and civilians were evacuated and the base was abandoned.

William Dowling was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in November 1859. He was presented with the Victoria Cross by Queen Victoria of England at Windsor Castle on January 4th 1860. He survived the war and when he left the army he settled in the city of Liverpool where he became a customs officer in the Port of Liverpool. He died at the age of 62 and a monument was erected to his memory in Liverpool Roman Catholic (Ford) Cemetery. The monument was moved to St John’s Road Roman Catholic Church, Liverpool in 1991.

William Dowling VC from Thomastown Co Kilkenny died in Liverpool in the year 1887 On This Day.

Victoria Cross

Thomastown Main street



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