Friday, 6 August 2010

Major Thain Wendell MacDowell, VC, DSO

Born on 16 September 1890 in Lachute, Quebec - son of Mrs. Eleanor Eliza Richardson, Maitland, Ontario - at the time of his enlistment in 1915: trade as student; single; currently a member of the 41st Regiment (one year); previously served with The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada (four months); Wesleyan; height of 5 feet 9 inches; chest of 28.5 inches fully expanded; ruddy complexion; blue eyes; dark brown hair.

Joined the 38th Battalion, CEF, in Ottawa, Ontario, as a Captain on 1 February 1915 - served with the 38th Battalion during its period of garrison duty in Bermuda - landed in France with the 38th Battalion on 13 August 1916 - wounded on 18 November 1916 - invalided to England on 23 November 1916 - rejoined the 38th Battalion on 14 January 1917 - wounded on 9 April 1917 - invalided sick to England on 15 July 1917 - later transferred to Headquarters, Overseas Military Forces of Canada.

Died in Nassau, Bahamas, on 28 March 1960.

Awarded the Victoria Cross - official citation: "For most conspicuous bravery and indomitable resolution in face of heavy machine gun and shell fire. By his initiative and courage this officer, with the assistance of two runners, was enabled, in the face of great difficulties, to capture two machine guns, besides two officers and seventy-five men. Although wounded in the hand, he continued for five days to hold the position gained, in spite of heavy shell fire, until eventually relieved by his battalion. By his bravery and prompt action he undoubtedly succeeded in rounding up a very strong enemy machine gun post." - unit recommendation dated 17 April 1917: "For conspicuous gallantry during operation of Apr. 9th 1917. He with the aid of two runners captured two Machine Guns and a dugout with a garrison of 79, two of whom were Officers."

Awarded the Distinguished Service Order - official citation: "For conspicuous gallantry in action. He led his company against an enemy position with great courage and initiative, capturing three machine guns and fifty prisoners. Later, although wounded, he remained at his post and greatly assisted in the success of the operations." - unit recommendation dated 21 November 1916: "In attack on Desire Trench Nov. 18/16, he personally led his Company in the assault, capturing the remainder of a M.G. Company, 3 Officers and 50 O.R."

Awarded Mention in Despatches - no official citation - awarded by London Gazette number 30107, 1 June 1917 - unit recommendation date unknown: "For distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty."

(sources: Library and Archives Canada (, online attestation papers; Canadian War Museum, 19740281-001, Manu 58F 2 3, 207th Canadian Infantry Battalion and 38th Canadian Infantry Battalion, Nominal Roll; The Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa Regimental Museum, A400-0007, Master Personnel List for the 38th Canadian Infantry Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force; Canadian War Museum, 19680229-001, Manu 58C 1 2.18, Honours and Awards, 38th Battalion (Records of recommendations for honours and awards and mentioned in dispatches 19161121 19190117))

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