Project handed corporal’s letter of hope

A POIGNANT letter written by a corporal in the Army just two days before he was killed in action, has been handed over to the Tynemouth World War One Commemoration project.

Among the many casualties for the month of June, 1917, was Corporal John Dixon.

In 1914, aged just 16, and a member of the 8th (Territorial) battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers, he had been called up for active service on the day war was declared.

By the time of the battle of Arras in spring 1917 he was in France and a Corporal in the 13th battalion of the regiment.

In a letter sent to his brother on June 14 he tells of his wish for an end to the war and a return home.

Sadly it was not to be. He was killed two days later in the fighting to which he noted in his letter he will soon return from.

His letter was received a day after his death.

His name is included on the Arras memorial amongst the 34,716 names of those British, dominion and colonial troops lost in the area from spring 1916 to August 1918 and for whom no known grave exists.

The battle of Arras was to be the major offensive of 1917, but like the previous year on the Somme, the fighting failed to produce any significant advantage for the allies and resulted in the heaviest daily casualty rate of the whole war in the period from April to May 1917.

A collection of papers held by Corporal Dixon’s relatives has been passed to the project and will be included in the items which it is intended will contribute to an exhibition of war related materials planned to be organised for the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the war in 2014.

THIS week’s list of casualties is drawn from men of the borough who were killed or died in the month of June 1915 to 1918.

Burns, Andrew, age 27, AB (RNVR) Drake Bn, RND, DOW, 21st, 1915, son of Sarah and the late Andrew, of Tynemouth, husband of Helen North (formerly Burns), now of Ontario, Canada.

Dixon, John, age 19, Corporal, No. 11 platoon, C Coy, 13th Bn NF, KIA, 16th, 1917, son of Christopher and Margaret (nee Turnbull).

Dowson, William John, Private, 22nd Bn (Tyneside Scottish) NF, DOW, 22nd, 1916, 28 Nile Street.

Fields, Edward Cotnam, age 34, 2nd Lieutenant, 27th Bn (Tyneside Irish) NF, DOW, 22nd, 1916, son of Ann and the late Robert Lehair, 17 Northumberland Square. Commissioned in France from the ranks, he had fought at Festubert and Loos. Buried at Corbie Communal cemetery extension.

Hall, James Storey, Private, 1st. Bn NF, DOW, 18th, 1915, 7 Beacon Street.

Oliver, Andrew, Private, 13th Bn NF, KIA, 16th, 1917, 73 Huddleston Street, Cullercoats.

Peek, George Charles, age 30, Private, 1st Bn NF, DOW, son of James and Mary, of Lowestoft, husband of Jane Anne, 4 Prospect Terrace, North Shields.

Porterfield, Robert Reed, age 24, Private, 13th Bn NF, KIA, 16th, 1917, son of Mr Alexander and Mrs Porterfield, 32 Addison Street.

The following were killed together in

HM Drifter ‘Ocean Fisher’ on June 16, 1918:

Morton, William Armstrong Dawson, age 34, deckhand, RNR, lost at sea, son of Philip Dawson and Easter (sic), husband of Barbara Ann, 43, Trinity Street.

Smith, William Henry, second hand, RNR, lost at sea, details needed,.

Tomlinson, Henry Lowery, age 31, deck hand, RNR, lost at sea, son of Thomas and Jean, 43 Bell Street, Fish Quay.


KIA – killed in action

DOW – died of wounds

LAS – lost at sea

NF – Northumberland Fusiliers

DLI – Durham Light Infantry

RND – Royal Naval Division

RNR – Royal Naval Reserve

RFA – Royal Field Artillery

n Anyone with information on this week’s list or who wants to find out more about the project, should visit, e-mail or write to Tynemouth World War 1 Commemoration Project, c/o Essell, 29 Howard Street, North Shields, NE30 1AR.