Lance Corporal James Alexander Dickson

 

Dickson (standing) with his brother Thomas

 

James Alexander Dickson was born on 9 July 1884 at Tawley, Kinlough, County Leitrim, the fourth of ten children of farmer Walker Dickson and his wife Mary Jane (formerly Cunningham). In 1911 the family estate was sold to the Congested Districts Board, after an attempt to sell it at auction was subject to threats and a local boycott.

Dickson enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 2 January 1909 at Ballyshannon (No.261). He was promoted to lance corporal on 7 March 1914.

 

 

On 17 August 1914 he embarked for France as part of A Squadron, seeing action on the retreat from Mons. However he suffered a sprain and on 28 August was admitted to No.2 Racecourse Hospital at Rouen. From there he was shipped home to recover. The Belfast News-Letter of 18 September reported that he and another Horseman had been "wounded and invalided home, [and] are now at their homes on a fortnight's furlough before they rejoin their squadron."

Dickson returned to France on 20 January 1915 with a reinforcement party, and was posted to C Squadron of the North Irish Horse. However when his period of engagement ended on 1 January 1916, Dickson chose to leave the army. His record of service was marked as 'very good'.

During 1916 or early 1917 Dickson re-enlisted, this time with the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron (No.315). Soon after he was sent to France to join his squadron, which by then was part of the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps.

In September 1917 the 2nd Regiment was dismounted and most of the men transferred to the infantry. After training at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, the men were formally transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers on 20 September and soon after were posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – re-named the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt. Dickson was issued regimental number 41171.

It is likely that Dickson saw action with his new battalion in the Battle of Cambrai in November and December 1917 and perhaps also in the retreat from St Quentin from 21 to 28 March 1918 during the German spring offensive, and the fighting around Ypres the following month.

He was wounded in action on 1 October 1918 near Dadizeele in Belgium during the Advance to Victory Offensive. The battalion diary for the day states:

The 2nd R. Irish Rifles relieved the bn. in the line S of Hill 41. On relief the bn. moved into Divisional Reserve in K.14.a. 1 officer & 15 O.R's casualties were incurred during relief.

Dickson spent some time recuperating from his wounds. On 4 September 1919 he wrote to authorities from his home at Tawley, Castlegal:

I am attending Hospital owing to a wound received 1st of October last. But am at present on leave and will return on 16th to 2nd Northern General Hospital Beckett Park Leeds.

On 3 June 1924 Dickson married Mary Charlotte McCartney at Drumkeeran, County Leitrim. He later moved to Corcreevy, Fivemiletown, County Tyrone. He died there on 6 June 1948.

 

Dickson's younger brother John Nobel Dickson, who served during the war with the 7th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, was killed in action on 24 April 1915.

 

John Nobel Dickson

 

Images sourced from Ancestry.com, Public Member Trees.