Douglas Arthur Downs was a Yorkshireman who joined the army before the war. He was sent to France early in the war and although wounded survived the Dunkirk evacuation. He married at Chelmsford Cathedral in March 1942 and had a Chelmford-born daughter the following year. In 1944 he returned to France after D-Day and in September that year he was killed in an ambush at Pont-a-Marq. His wife and daughter were then living in Van Dieman's Lane, Chelmsford.
Douglas was born in Hull, Yorkshire in 1920, the eldest son of the grocer John William Downs (1893-1972) and Amy Downs (nee Wilson). His parents had married in Yorkshire in 1913. Douglas had a brother, Leslie Downs, born in 1924.
Douglas joined the army around 1937, serving as Guardsman 2658205 in the 5th Battalion of the Coldstream Guards. He went to France at the beginning of the war, survived the Dunkirk evacuation in 1940 where he was wounded and suffered shell shock.
On 28th March 1942, when aged 21, Douglas married 20 year-old Rosemary Emma Wright at Chelmsford Cathedral. She was the daughter of Henry John Wright, a glass fitter, lived at 9 Legg Street, Chelmsford, and was employed as an engineer’s clerk at Hoffmann's bearings factory in Chelmsford. He was then serving in the army with his home at Leo Lane in Hull. A Chelmsford newspaper reported:
"A Pretty Wedding took place on Saturday in the Cathedral, when Douglas Arthur (Coldstream Guards), eldest son of Mr. W. Downs, chairman of the Hull Co-operative Education Committee, and Mrs. Downs, was married to Rosemary, only daughter of Mr. and Mrs. H. Wright, of 34 Van Dieman’s Road, Chelmsford. The Rev. W. F. G. Mitchell performed the ceremony.
Douglas Arthur DOWNS, Guardsman, 5th Battalion, Coldstream Guards
Killed in France. Aged 34
The bride was in white satin lace, with a waist line of lovers' knots and headdress of white satin lilies, with long flowing veil carried by tiny attendant Valerie Coppin, also dressed in white satin. The bride carried a sheaf of white lilies. Miss Joan Rolfe (matron-of-honour) and Miss Dolly Coppin (chief bridesmaid), wore dresses of white taffeta, while Miss Dorothy Cox and Miss Dora Means, as bridesmaids, were in mauve taffeta, and all carried bouquets of white heather and white gardenias, the whole assembly presenting a charming picture.
Mr. Leslie Downs, brother ot the bridegroom, was best man. A large silver horseshoe was presented to the bride as she left the Cathedral. A reception followed in Widford Parish Hall The telegrams of congratulation included those from Brigadier Bootle-Wilbraham, Capt. Hill-Wood, and Staff Officers. Following a short honeymoon the bridegroom rejoins his unit. Among the many presents was a cheque from the bride's workmates in the R.I. Department of Hoffmann's."
Douglas and Emma had a daughter, born on 30th August 1943. She was baptised at St. John's Church, Moulsham on 31st October 1943. At the time her mother was living at 34 Van Dieman's Road in Chelmsford, while Douglas was serving with the army,
In 1944, soon after D-Day, Douglas returned to France, and on 3rd September 1944 he was killed in an ambush at Pont-a-Marq. He was 34 years old and was a regular soldier with seven years’ service. At the time of his death his wife and baby daughter were still living at 34 Van Dieman's Road.
Today Douglas lies in Lille Southern Cemetery in France (Plot 5. Row A. Grave 36).