Service Number 32/356
Battalion 2nd Battalion
Regiment Northumberland Fusiliers
Killed in Action: 31 October 1916
Buried Struma Military Cemetery, Greece
John William Dawson was born in York in 1897 the son of Tom Harold and Mary Dawson of 8, North Eastern Crescent, York.
John Dawson does not appear on the village war memorial, probably because his village connection was through working in Collingham. He worked on the railways at Collingham.
In 1911, on census night, John was living with his parents (Tom Harold and Mary), widowed grandmother (Catherine Nolan) and sister (Mary Eleanor) at 66, Aldwark in York. John was aged 14 and was still attending school, while his father was a plumber working for a railway company. A year later, in February 1912, John began his railway career as a clerk in the Passenger Department at Heighington, and then was on duty at Collingham Bridge at the time he enlisted (around 1915) (source: NE Railway Magazine Feb 1917 p. 29.)
John Dawson served in the Northumberland Fusiliers. He was a Lance Corporal and at the time of his death in 1916 was serving in the 2nd Battalion of that regiment in the fighting in Salonika. He died on the 31st October 1916, aged 20 and is buried in the Struma Military cemetery, Greece.
John's service record has not survived, but his service number of 32/356 may give some clues of his early service, as this suggests that he may have enlisted into the 32nd Battalion initially. The 32nd Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers was formed in Ripon in July 1915, around the time we think John enlisted as a reserve battalion, from a depot company of the 17th Battalion. In turn, the 17th Battalion had formed in Hull in 1914 as the 17th (Service Battalion) also known as the North Eastern Railway Pioneers) - so it may be that John, as a railway man, joined the 32nd Battalion as they were forming, only later transferring to the 2nd Battalion.
2nd Battalion Northumberland Fusiliers had moved to France in January 1915 as part of 84th Brigade, 28th Division, landing at Le Havre on the 18th January. In October 1915, they sailed from Marseilles (on the 24th) and arrived in Alexandria on the 29th October 1915. On the 21st November 1915 they moved from Egypt to Salonika, arriving on the 24th November 1915. However, there is no record that John William Dawson was awarded the 1914-1915 Star. He would have qualified for this medal if he had entered a war zone prior to 31st December 1915, so it seems likely that John did not serve in France and that he was drafted later from 32nd Battalion into the 2nd Battalion after it was already established in Salonika.
1911 Census. The National Archives. Class RG14 Piece 28396
First World War Medal Index Cards. The National Archives (WO372).
First World War Medal Index Rolls. The National Archives (WO329).
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