While on active service in France in July 1917 Hugh was seriously injured by German shell fire. He was quickly evacuated to a casualty clearing station and due to the scale of his wounds subsequently moved to King's Heath Hospital in Birmingham were he eventually died of his wounds on August 14th 1917.
On the 15th August his remain were sent by ship back to Ireland arriving back in Carrickfergus for his funeral on Friday 17th August. Leaving from the Carrickfergus Railway station at 3 pm a large number of the public assembled to pay a last tribute of respect to this gallant young man. An escort and firing party of the Royal Irish Rifles accompanied the remains which were placed on a gun carriage, the coffin being covered with the Union Jack. The Rev Alexander Cuthbert minister of the 1st Presbyterian Church officiated at the graveside and paid tribute to the memory of Hugh. At the conclusion of the tributes the firing party gave the last salute of three volleys and the “Last Post” was sounded.
Sapper Hugh McDowell was laid to rest in St Nicholas Church Yard and the gravestone is still there today should you wish to visit it.