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Major David James Gowney D.S.C., D.C.M., RM

By RMFA Historian Shaun Foster

Sgt Gowney (Manager).jpg

Sergeant David James Gowney pictured in 1910

I first stumbled across the name David Gowney whilst researching the Royal Marines Light Infantry football team of 1910 that won the FA Amateur Cup & Army Cup, a remarkable story that I covered in The Class of 1910 Double Winners and David was the team manager and at the time held the rank of Sergeant. Remarkably he went from Private to Major during his R.M.L.I career which spanned 36 years from 1890 (aged 14) until his retirement 27th May 1926, another feat rarely achieved. 

David James Gowney Obituary, The Globe Laurel 1936, Vol XLIV

Born 27.05.1876

Died 26.07.1936

Major D.J. Gowney, D.S.C., D.C.M., RM. (retd.)

We announce with very deep regret the death of Major D. J. Gowney, which occurred on 26th July, 1936. Major Gowney was born on 27th May, 1876, and enlisted in the R.M.L.I on 27th May, 1890. He was promoted to Corporal on 1st July, 1898; in that rank he served in the Legation Guard, Pekin, which was besieged from June to August, 1900. During the fighting he received a wound in the right arm. For his services in China he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal (D.S.M.,) mentioned in dispatches, and specially promoted to Sergeant (5th Dec., 1900); he was in addition commended by the Admiralty.

He was promoted Quartermaster-Sergeant on 30th March, 1913, and served with the Portsmouth Battalion at Ostend in August, 1914. He was promoted Lieutenant on 20th Sept., 1914, and Captain on 13th April, 1915. He served with the  63rd (R.N.) Division at Dunkirk, Lille and Antwerp. He was present at the landing and evacuation at Gallipoli. He was wounded on 14th July, 1915, but afterwards served in France from 7th June, 1916 to 3rd May, 1917. He was Adjutant to the "Hood" and "Anson" Battalions and at the 63rd (R.N.) Divisional School at Pernes.

He was mentioned in despatches for services during operations at Antwerp (3rd Oct, 1914) and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (D.S.C.,).

He was again mentioned in dispatches for servicby G.O.C Mediterranean Expeditionary Force on 31st Dec., 1918. He was specially promoted to Major for meritorious services in the field during the War.

He was Adjutant of the Portsmouth Division R.M.L.I. from 1st January 1919 to 31st December 1920. Afterwards he served in H.M. Ships Calliope and Ajax, retiring on 27th May, 1926, on account of age. His decorations consisted of the D.S.C., D.C.M., the China (1900) Medal, the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, the 1914 Star, Clasp and two Roses, the British War Medal and Victory Medal.

The following is an extract from an article written by former Royal Marine Mike Pinchen about the siege of the Ligations 1900; During the 8th, Corporal Gowney, still recovering from a wound sustained during the previous night's action, was tasked with keeping the heads of the Chinese gunners down in an attempt to reduce the rate of fire from the field gun they had set up. After some brisk shooting at bobbing targets, the gun fell silent, and stayed that way all the time that Gowney carried out this duty from an exposed position. Corporal Gowney was subsequently awarded the D.C.M for his collective actions during the siege.


After his retirement in 1926 he continued his love for football with Hampshire Football Association as you will see in the article further down the page.

Davey Gowney junior.jpg

Pictured left, David's son, also called David but known as Davey, David Edward Gowney enlisted in the Royal Marines in June 1911 age 14 and when the First World War broke out was serving as a gunner in the Royal Marine Artillery Howitzer Brigade. David was killed in action in France in June 1916. He was 19 years old and is buried in Hebuterne Military Cemetery, France grave ref IV.K.4. National Archives hold a copy of his service record ref. ADM159/86/12656

1906-07 Portsmouth Division R.M.L.I., &

1906-07 Portsmouth Division R.M.L.I., & Divisional School football Clubs

Winners of US League Division 1 & Brodrick Cup

Back row L to R LCpl W. J. Thornton, LCpl George Osman Exford, LCpl H. Hann, LCpl A. Baxter, Pte Potten, Pte W. Turner, Pte W. Davidson, Pte W. Bowman, Pte G. Yates, Pte W. Smith.

Middle row L to R Pte A. White, Cpl W. Hirst, Cpl J. Jones, Sgt D. Gowney, Sgt-Maj J. Sullivan, Lt & Adjt R. Darwall, Sgt P. Mullington, Cpl Gouldstone, Pte W. Rennie, LCpl Horace. Gravestock.

Front row L to R H. White, A. White, H. Box, W. Davis, H. Banks, A. Andrews, B. Doidge, A McLareu, M. Andrews, W. Leece, W. McILveen.

*Record for the Divisional team, played 48, won 31, lost 11, drawn 6, goals for 145, goals against 52

*Record for the boys team, played 20, won 13, lost 3, drawn 4, goals for 43, goals against 19

1932 Football story Maj DJ Gowney.jpg
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