George Brownlow Downes
Serial No. 37406
8th Field Artillery Brigade
George Brownlow Downes - Information
The Downes family lived on a property in Brownlow Hill near Camden. George was the youngest son of Frederick William Arthur and Caroline France May Downes, born in Camden in 1897. George’s father worked as a farmer and Parliamentary Minister. Frederick resigned from political duties with the general parliamentary elections in December 1913. He later became a Town Alderman in Camden. George grew up in the area, attending St Paul’s Church, and serving in the Senior Cadets for 5 years. George was continuing his studies, when conflict engulfed the globe. The war would have a significant impact on the Downes family. George’s older brother, Rupert Frederick, enlisted in the AIF in September 1915. George followed suit, signing on at the Royal Showground Camp in Moore Park on the 17th of February 1917, aged 19. George commenced training at Moore Park where he was posted as a Gunner, first to the 7th Field Artillery Brigade (FAB) and then the 30th Reinforcements, 8th FAB. In June, the people of Camden held a social to welcome back and farewell servicemen from the area at Foresters’ Hall in Camden. Amongst cheers and well-wishes, George was thanked for his sacrifice. George had extensive training for the artillery. He was then shipped out from Sydney on the 5th of November 1917 onboard the HMAT Port Sydney. Sadly, while George was at sea, his father passed away on the 3rd of December 1917, and was buried at St Paul’s in Cobbitty.
George disembarked in Suez in mid December. He was then transported to Southampton, England at the beginning of January, taken to the Reserve Brigade Australian Artillery in Heytesbury. On the 7th of March, he was taken to the Western Front, where he joined the 8th FAB, 108th Howitzer Battery. Artillery fire was a central part of overall strategy with George and his unit keeping up with the changing positions throughout 1918. At the end of February 1919, George was sent back to Australia, boarding the Anchises. He was discharged from military service in May, and returned to his family in Brownlow Hill.