DILLON, Edward Thomas
(Service number 15853)
|First Rank||Corporal||Last Rank||Rifleman|
|Date||2 November 1895||Place of Birth||Kaikoura|
|Date||5 April 1916||Age||20|
|Address at Enlistment||Albury, South Canterbury|
|Previous Military Experience||8th SC Mounted Rifles|
|Next of Kin||Dennis Dillon (father), Albury|
|Medical Information||5 foot 8 1/2 inches tall, weight 137 pounds (62kgs), chest 34 1/2-37 1/2 inches, fair complexion, hazel eyes, light brown hair|
|Served with||NZ Armed Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||6th Reinforcements|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship||G Company, 3rd Battalion, NZ Rifle Brigade|
|Date||26 July 1916|
|Transport||HMNZT 59 Waitemata|
|Embarked From||Wellington, N.Z.||Destination||Devonport, England|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With||3rd Battalion NZ Rifle Brigade|
|Service Medals||British War Medal; Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
19-24 May 1916 - Featherston Hospital - influenza. 16-25 August 1916 - Waitemata - measles. 22 December 1916 - wounded by shell fire; admitted to 1 Australian Casualty Clearing Station; transferred to 7 Canadian General Hospital, Etaples; 30 December - transferred to 1 NZ General Hospital, Brockenhurst (developed jaundice); 9 Mar - transferred to NZ Convalescent Hospital, Hornchurch. 24 April 1917 - admitted 2 NZ General Hospital, Walton on Thames (double pleurisy with effusion); 5 May - classisfied as medically unfit. 3 July 1917 - died of disease at 2 NZ General Hospital, Walton on Thames.
|Date||3 July 1917||Age||21|
|Place of Death||2 NZ General Hospital, Walton on Thames|
|Cause||Died of disease|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Brookwood Military Cemetery, Woking, Surrey, England|
|Memorial Reference||Plot VIII, Row D, Grave No 13|
|New Zealand Memorials||On Memorial wall, Timaru; Albury War Memorial (as E Dillon); Albury Football Club Roll of Honour; Fairlie War Memorial & parent's headstone Timaru Cemetery|
Edward, only son of Denis and Mary (1865-1949 nee Joyce) Dillon, was born at Kaikoura on 2 November 1895. Edward’s father Denis was born in Queens County (Laois), Ireland, in 1842, and had come out to New Zealand aboard the “Accrington,” arriving in Lyttelton September 1863. On 1 September 1887 he married Miss Mary Joyce, the eldest daughter of Mr Thomas Joyce of Greenfield Farm, North Loburn, Canterbury, at Rangiora. Denis originally farmed at Leithfield and Wairau, and in 1904 won a ballot for 528 acres at the Rosewill Settlement, about 4 miles from the town of Albury.
Edward was educated at the Waikari and Albury Schools, and when he enlisted on 5 April 1916 he gave his occupation as ‘farmer, Albury’. He also had previous military service with the 8th South Canterbury Mounted Rifles. His father, also of Albury, was nominated as his next of kin until his death on 30 March 1917, when it was changed to Edward’s mother, Mary, who had moved to 187 North Street, Timaru. Edward was described as being single, Roman Catholic, aged 20 years, 5 foot 8 ½ inches tall, weighing 137 pounds (62kgs), with a chest measuring 34 ½ - 37 ½ inches, having a fair complexion, hazel eyes and light brown hair. He was posted to the 3rd Battalion, G Company, NZ Rifle Brigade (NZRB) at Trentham, where he undertook basic infantry training, followed by more intensive training at Featherston Camp. On 17 May he was promoted to Lance Corporal, and two days later was admitted to the Featherston Hospital with influenza. A few days later he was discharged back to training though. On 13 June Edward was further promoted to Corporal.
After some final leave, Edward returned to camp at Trentham where the troops were reviewed by Lord Liverpool. On 25 July, after a reception by the Wellington Mayor, the troops marched through the streets to Glasgow Wharf, where the 15th Reinforcements NZ Expeditionary Force, the 9th Reinforcements NZ Rifle Brigade’s 1st and 2nd Battalion, and the 6th Reinforcements NZ Rifle Brigade’s 3rd and 4th Battalions, boarded HMNZT 59 “Waitemata” which sailed on the next day’s tide. The journey to Devonport, England, was by the usual route via Western Australia and Cape Town, arriving at Devonport, England, on 8 October 1916. During the voyage he was again vaccinated and was subsequently ill with measles from 16 to 25 August. On arrival the troops marched into Sling Camp, the main NZ training camp on the Salisbury Plains. Here Edward was posted to C Company, 5 Reserve Battalion NZRB, and reverted back to the rank of Rifleman. Because of the heavy casualties the Division was suffering in France, he was only there until 20 October before departing for France, marching into camp at Etaples on 21 October. A quick period of intensive training followed before he was posted to C Company, 3 NZRB in the field on 5 November.
Now Rifleman Dillon arrived during the worst winter on record, just in time to take part in the final weeks of the nightmare of the battle of the Somme which finished on 18 November 1916. The Allies had suffered the loss of 120,000 during the nearly five months of fighting; the Germans suffering even more casualties (160,000). Whilst the Allies were reinforced by troops as America had joined the war, the Germans were Exhausted and retreated 40kms to the Hindenburg Line, a German defensive position built during the winter of 1916–1917 on the Western Front. On 13 December, during one of the harshest winters on record, the 3rd Battalion moved into new support positions in the appalling conditions of Dead Mule Gully, behind Polygonveld. This area was a sea of mud, dead mules and men, with an accompanying over-powering odour. Here the men had to live in shell holes and craters in full view of the enemy. The only way they had of reaching the line was on a duck-walk track made of wood. Each Brigade took turns in having a week on the almost non-existent front line.
On 22 December Rifleman Dillon received multiple wounds to his chin, arm and leg, and was evacuated to the 1st Australian Casualty Clearance Station, then onto the 7th Canadian General Hospital at Etaples. From here on 30 December he was shipped back to England where he was admitted to 1 NZ General Hospital at Brockenhurst. While he was there he developed jaundice, and on 9 March 1917, was sent to the NZ Convalescent Hospital at Hornchurch. Here he caught a cold but did not report sick until about 17 April, resulting in being admitted again to No.2 NZ General Hospital, Walton on Thames, on April 24 with double pleurisy with effusion. A medical board on 5 May classified him as medically unfit, and he was placed on the Roll for return to New Zealand. It was not to be though as on 3 July Edward died at No.2 NZ General Hospital of disease contracted on active service. Edward was buried in the Brookwood Military Cemetery, Woking, Surrey, England. Brookwood Military Cemetery is the largest CWGC cemetery in the United Kingdom, and contains the graves of more than 1,600 servicemen of the British Empire in the First World War, and over 3,470 from the Second World War.
Edward’s mother Mary later received a plaque and scroll along with Edward’s British War and Victory Medals. His name is commemorated on the Albury, Fairlie, and Timaru War Memorials, and his parent’s headstone in the Timaru Cemetery.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [July 2019]; New Zealand ANZACs in the Great War 1914-1918 (University of New South Wales) at https://nzef.adfa.edu.au/showPerson?pid=66631; "Personal" column in the Temuka Leader 9 January 1917, "Roll of honour" in the Timaru Herald 8 June 1917, and "Men who have fallen" in the New Zealand Herald 1 August 1917 courtesy of Papers Past at https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/; New Zealand War Graves Project at https://www.nzwargraves.org.nz/casualties/edward-thomas-dillon; Timaru District Council cemetery records at https://www.timaru.govt.nz/services/community-and-culture/cemeteries/cemetery-search (July 2019); NZ Defence Force Personnel Records, Archives NZ (July 2019)
No documents available.
Researched and Written by
Carol Bell, SC branch NZSG & Timaru Herald; Ted Hansen, SC branch NZSG
Currently Assigned to
Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License unless otherwise stated.
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