yeovil at War

Harold Dicks

Killed in action at the Battle of Langemark

 

Harold Dicks was born during the spring of 1890 at Puriton, Devon. He was the son of police sergeant Angell James Dicks (1851-1935), originally from Curland, Somerset, and his second wife Charlotte Selina Mary Hannah née Cox (1852-1946) originally from Taunton. Angell and his first wife Elizabeth née Trump (1848-1875) had two children, both born in Yeovil; Augustus Charles (1872-1950) and James Henry Bertram (1875-1959) but Elizabeth died in 1875, probably in childbirth. In 1877, at Taunton, Angell married Charlotte and they were to have seven children, with Harold being the youngest. The first four children were all born in Yeovil but the latter three were born in Puriton where, presumably, Angell was temporarily transferred. Angell and Charlotte's children were John Stanley (1878-1963), Edward Lyndall (1879-1958), Ernest Cecil (1879-1941), Selina (b1883), George Vincent (1886-1945), Reginald (1889-1919) and Harold.

Within months of Harold's birth the family had moved back to Yeovil and in the 1891 census they were listed living at 4 Frederick Place. I couldn't find them in the 1901 census but in the 1911 census the family were listed living at 13 Woodland Grove, Mill Lane. Harold gave his occupation as a pawnbroker's assistant. The family later moved to 30 Crofton Avenue and Harold worked as a stationer in Sherborne Road.

Harold initially enlisted in the West Somerset Yeomanry, Service Number 2008, but was soon transferred to the 7th (Service) Battalion, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry with the new Service Number 28785, probably during the early summer of 1916. This battalion had been raised in September 1914 and came under command of 61st Brigade in 20th (Light) Division. It landed at Boulogne on 25 July 1915.

Harold was sent to the front during the summer of 1916 and on his first day he saw action he was recommended for his bravery and made King's Corporal - an honorary reward for distinguished service - that day. It is not known exactly where Harold fought during his year with the 7th Battalion although it is known that they were involved in The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line.

The Battle of Langemarck from 16–18 August 1917, in which the 7th Battalion, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry - including Harold Dicks - took part, was the second Allied general attack of the Third Battle of Ypres. The battle took place near Ypres in Belgian Flanders on the Western Front. The Allied attack succeeded in the north, from Langemarck to Drie Grachten ("Three Canals") but early advances in the south on the Gheluvelt Plateau were forced back by powerful German counter-attacks. Both sides were hampered by rain, which had a greater effect on the British who occupied lower-lying areas and advanced onto ground which had been frequently and severely bombarded. Harold was killed in action on the first day of the battle, 16 August 1917. He was 27 years of age.

In its edition of 16 September 1917 the Western Gazette reported "The Western Gazette 21 September 1917: Corporal Harold Dicks of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry, has been officially reported wounded and missing, but letters which have been received from officers and comrades leave little room for doubt but that he was killed on August 16th near Langemarck and was buried on the field. He was the youngest son of Sergeant A.J. Dicks, of 30 Crofton Avenue. He was recommended for bravery, and made King’s Corporal the first day he went into action and had been at the Front for a year. He previously carried on business as a stationer in Sherborne Road."

Harold Dicks is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial, Panel 80 to 82 and 163A, and his name is inscribed on the War Memorial in the Borough

 

Other Yeovil lads killed on this day include -
Albert Burgess, Robert Fry, Frederick Hunt and Alfred Tuck.

 

gallery

 

Part of the Langemarck battlefield.

 

Soldiers in the ruins of the village of Langemarck, after the battle.

 

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of Harold Dicks.

 

The Tyne Cot Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Belgian Flanders which cover the area known as the Ypres Salient. The memorial now bears the names of almost 35,000 officers and men whose graves are not known. The memorial, designed by Sir Herbert Baker with sculpture by Joseph Armitage and FV Blundstone, was unveiled by Sir Gilbert Dyett on 20 June 1927.