2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers (British Army)
16/05/1915 (Killed in Action)
William Richard Dickson was the son of Richard and Mary Jane Dickson of Ballysaggart, Dungannon, County Tyrone. He was born about 1889. By the time of the 1911 census, William was working as a saddler. He was still single and living with the family at Lisnahull. His father was now an auctioneer’s porter.Private William Richard Dickson was serving with "B" Company of the 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he died on 16th May 1915 during the Battle of Festubert. He was 22.
William Richard Dickson was the son of Richard and Mary Jane Dickson of Ballysaggart, Dungannon, County Tyrone. He was born about 1889.
Family: Robert James Dickson (born about 1889), Wm Richd Dickson (born about 1891), Elizabeth Dickson 7 (born about 1894), Mary Jane Dickson 5 (born about 1996), Mand Dickson 2 (born about 1899), John Dickson (born about 1901)
The 1901 census records 10 year old William as living with the family at Lisnahull, Derrygortreavy, Tyrone. His father was an agricultural labourer.
By the time of the 1911 census, William was working as a saddler. He was still single and living with the family at Lisnahull. His father was now an auctioneer's porter.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 9th January 1915: Corporal Johnston’s Christmas
Lance Corporal John Johnston, of the 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskillings, son of Mr David Johnston, Killymeal, Dungannon, writing to his friends in Dungannon, says that he has had a very merry time at Christmas. He went to Holy Communion at eight o’clock, and saw John McIntyre, Joseph McIntyre and William Dixon (Dickson), all Dungannon boys, there. There was a heavy snow storm on Christmas Day. We all got Princess Mary’s Christmas Box, from which we enjoyed a good smoke. He came across Wingfield Espey (Bush, Dungannon), and was informed that James Davis (Dungannon) was still alive and well. They were all sorry at losing Averall and Devlin, both Dungannon men, reported killed during November, who were very popular in the battalion. He concludes by wishing all the townspeople a New Year, and especially A Company U.V.F., and Mr Bingham, officer commanding and Sergeant Major Whitelaw.
From the Tyrone Courier – 22nd April 1915: A Request for the Courier - a mention of Willie Dickson in a letter by Joseph McIntyre. Willie was killed 4 weeks later.
Lance Corporal J McIntyre, Dungannon of the Inniskilling Fusiliers in a letter from the front to a friend in Dungannon says :- 'I lay beside the Irish Fusiliers last November but I have not seen them since. I saw young Devlin of the New Row; he was the only Dungannon fellow I saw, but I believe Bob Steenson, of the Windmill Hill, is in the battalion now, Johnston and Taylor are well. They are not in my Company, but I see them regular when we come out of the trenches for a rest. All the other boys are doing well in the regiment. This is a good battalion; my brother and Willie Dickson of the Caulfield Road and myself are in the battalion 6 months. We have seen a lot of country and a lot of Germans. We have met them on several occasions. They are a great nation and have some fine shots, especially the snipers. They never finish firing. They are very dangerous to us when going into the trenches and out of them. As regards their artillery, they are not much good now, but they used to give us hell with their big shells at the beginning but I think they have run short either of ammunition or guns. Thank God for it too as they used to play our trenches up greatly. This regiment has lost a lot of fine men since they came out here. Young Vallely of Moygashel was wounded a few weeks ago. He was also in my Company. I miss Averall; he came out to this country with me last September. We had a very severe winter, but the summer is on us now so it won't be so bad. We had plenty of clothing during the winter months. I was very sorry about Lord Northland. I saw the churchyard where he was buried but I had not time to go in and see it, but his grave is very nicely done up by the men of his own regiment (the Coldstream Guards). I would like a copy of the Tyrone Courier to see something about Dungannon'
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 14th May 1915: Dungannon Soldier's advice to Chums at Home
Private William Dickson, 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, writing from the Front to his friends in Dungannon says:
'Men of Dungannon take advice from me and for God's sake, wake up and enlist or you will have the Huns in the Market Square soon. It is better to beat the Germans here than have them coming over to Ireland to destroy everything as they have done in Belgium, which is in ruins Northern France and Belgium look like some wild country, not a civilised place at all. We have a few Dungannon chaps here, and they are a credit to the gallant Company of Volunteers. I hope therefore, that all the boys at home will join the colours and help our gallant fellows out here to smash the Germans.'
Private William Richard Dickson was serving with "B" Company of the 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers when he died on 16th May 1915 during the Battle of Festubert. He was 22.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 29th May 1915:
By far the most serious information was received on Friday when Lance Corporal John McIntyre, 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, wrote to his mother who resides in Linfield Street as follows:-
‘You will be surprised to know that I am wounded and at present in Cambridge East War Hospital. Joe (his brother) and I were both wounded on Sunday last at the one time – he in the foot and I in the small of my back. We were lucky, as nearly all the regiment were killed. Young Dickson was killed, and Joe Cunningham is wounded. Joe and I may be home in a month or so. Young Dickson was killed beside me, and I took a wee box from him to bring home to his mother. It was an awful battle on Saturday and Sunday, and we gained a great victory. We charged over heaps of dead Germans.’
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 29th May 1915:
His brother, Private Joseph McIntyre, has also written his brother that he is at present in East Leeds War Hospital suffering from a wound received in the left ankle. He also reports that Dickson was killed on the Sunday morning and adds that the Inniskillings won a great victory but lost over half the battalion. The man reported killed in the above letter is Private William R Dickson, second son of Mr Richard Dickson, Lisnahull, Dungannon. On hearing of the intimation, Rev T J McEndoo, M.A., visited the house and broke the sorrowful news to the parents. Mr Dickson afterwards wired for information to the War Office and received a reply that the name did not appear on the casualty list furnished. This was some consolation, but it is believed that the information contained in the two letters may be accurate.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 29th May 1915:
In our issue of 13th May appeared a letter from Private Dickson specially written for the Dungannon News in which he said ‘Men of Dungannon, for God’s sake, come forward at once and enlist otherwise you will soon see the Huns in the Market Square’. It is hoped that these few last words of advice of his to his fellow townsmen will bear fruit. Referring to the local casualties on Sunday at the service held in the Parish Church in connection with Empire Day, Rev F S Morrow, B.A., curate assistant, said that the realities of the war had struck home to Dungannon during the past week. Another member of the congregation had given his life for the Empire and a number of others had been severely wounded. They had suffered for the empire and we are their debtors. To the relatives they extended their heartfelt sorrow, and those who had laid down their lives for their country would ever be held in affectionate remembrance by those left at home. Rev T J McEndoo, M.A., also referred to Private Dickson’s death during the course of his address at the evening service.
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 1st June 1915: Dungannon Casualties
The Dead March in Saul was rendered on the organ in St Anne's Parish Church, Dungannon, at the conclusion of the Sunday morning service as a mark of respect for the memory of two members of the congregation belonging to the 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers who had laid down their lives for the Empire in France on the 15th and 16th May. Rev T J McEndoo, M.A., before entering upon his sermon, referred to the death in action of Corporal H V S Donaldson, son of Sergeant N Donaldson, R.I.C., Dungannon, and said that on the previous Sunday they had mourned for the death of Private W R Dickson, Lisnahull.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 3rd June 1915: Dungannon Man Killed
Mr Richard Dickson, Lisnahull, Dungannon, has received official confirmation from the War Office on Monday that his son, Private William Richard Dickson, of the 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, was killed in action in France on 16th May. It will be remembered that Lance Corporal McIntyre, who was wounded in heavy fighting at Festubert on that day, stating in a letter to his mother, which was published in last week’s Courier, that he saw Private Dickson being killed, and it is believed that it was at Festubert that Private Dickson fell., though no place is mentioned by the War Office. Private Dickson was a reservist, and had been at the front for some seven or eight months. He was a member of Dungannon Battalion of the U.V.F. and was very popular with all classes and creeds. The Dead March in Saul was rendered on the organ in St Anne's Parish Church, Dungannon, at the conclusion of the Sunday morning service as a mark of respect for the memory of two members of the congregation belonging to the 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers who had laid down their lives for the Empire in France on the 15th and 16th May. Rev T J McEndoo, M.A., before entering upon his sermon, referred to the death in action of Corporal H V S Donaldson, son of Sergeant N Donaldson, R.I.C., Dungannon, and said on the previous Sunday they had mourned for the death of Private W R Dickson, Lisnahull.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 3rd June 1915: How Private Dickson was Killed - Letter from Corporal Johnston
A letter was received in Dungannon on Saturday from Corporal John Johnston, Machine Gun Section, 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, in which he states, in connection with the Battle of Festubert:-
‘I suppose you have heard that the Inniskillings gave the Germans a bit of the steel during the past few days. It was a grand sight to see our fellows leave what had been their winter home and drive the enemy out of theirs. Of course, it meant the loss of some brave men, but when the Germans saw the steel, it was enough for them. I was actually talking to young Dickson (Private W R Dickson, a Dungannon man) when he fell struck by a shell, which passed on and burst about 200 yards away, so you can see I had some narrow escapes. Or bishop told us the following Sunday that he had witnessed the battle, and he had never imagined that human beings could live through it, but God have mercy on me, and I did not get a scratch. We lost our machine gun officer and all our men, so that I am now a full corporal, having got the additional stripe on the battlefield.’
From the Belfast Newsletter dated 3rd June 1915:
Mr Richard Dickson, Lisnahull, has now received official confirmation of the report appearing in private Letters from the front that his son, Private William R Dickson, 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, has been killed in action in France on 15th May.
From the Mid Ulster Mail dated 5th June 1915:
Mr R Dickson, Lisnahull, Dungannon, has received official notification from the War Office stating that his son, Private Willie Dickson, 2nd Battalion Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, has been killed in action on 16th May, and expressing the sympathy and regret of the Army Council.
From the Tyrone Courier dated 2nd December 1915: With the Ulster Division (Robert Dickson - brother of Private William R Dickson)
Mr Richard Dickson, Beechvalley, Dungannon, has received the following letter from his son, Corporal Robert J Dickson, 9th Inniskilling Fusiliers, who is at present serving with the Ulster Division in France:-
‘Just a few lines in answer to your very nice parcel and letter which I just received now. We were just having dinner in an old barn when the post Corporal came in with it. I was glad to see by your letter that you are all well at home as this leaves me and all the Dungannon boys ‘A-1’. We are still having a rest, but we expect to soon go up to the trenches again. The last time we were in them we had only one casualty in the battalion, but I am very glad to let you know that we had none in my Company. It would have been the sight of your life if you had seen the Dungannon and Belfast boys going into the trenches singing a song entitled ‘For we’re Irish and Proud of it too’. Don’t forget to send me the Courier.’
From the Tyrone Courier – 13th January 1916:
Mr Richard Dickson, Beechvalley, Dungannon has given two sons to the service of King and country, one of whom has laid down his life in France. The elder son, Corporal Robert J Dickson, 9th Inniskilling fusiliers, volunteered early in the war and is at present serving in France with the Ulster Division. The younger son, Private William Richard Dickson, 2nd Inniskillings, who was a reservist, had gone to the front shortly after the outbreak of hostilities and was killed in action on 16th May last, after some 7 or 8 months fighting.
From the Tyrone Courier – 24 August 1916: Robert Dickson (brother of Private William R Dickson)
Corporal Robert Dickson, who is reported as having done very fine work throughout the fight, is a son of Mr Richard Dickson, until recently residing at Lisnahull, Dungannon, but now living in Belfast. Corporal Dickson's brother Private William R Dickson, Inniskillings, was killed during the Festubert battle in May 1915, and in recent letters Corporal Dickson stated that on 1st July he had amply avenged his brother's death. He is a member of Holdfast L.O.L. No 1620.
William R Dickson is also commemorated on the gravestone of the family plot in Castlecaulfield.
Also my dear Son William R Dickson, 4th Battalion R.I.F killed in action at Festubert, May 1916
The CWGC record Private William Richard Dickson as the son of Richard and Mary Jane Dickson, of Ballysaggart, Dungannon, County Tyrone.