Lance Corporal James Alexander Dickson


Dickson (standing) with his brother Thomas


James Alexander Dickson was born on 9 July 1884 at Tawley, Kinlough, County Leitrim, the fourth of ten children of farmer Walker Dickson and his wife Mary Jane (née Cunningham). At the time of the 1911 Census he was living at Tawley with his parents and some of his siblings, and working on the family farm (although on the actual day of the census he was recorded as a visitor at a home in nearby Bundoran).

Dickson enlisted in the North Irish Horse on 2 January 1909 at Ballyshannon (No.261). He was promoted to lance corporal on 7 March 1914.

On 17 August 1914 he embarked for France with of A Squadron, seeing action on the retreat from Mons. However he suffered a sprain and on 28 August was admitted to No.2 Racecourse Hospital at Rouen. From there he was shipped home to recover. The Belfast News-Letter of 18 September reported that he and another Horseman, Hugh McClelland, had been "wounded and invalided home, [and] are now at their homes on a fortnight's furlough before they rejoin their squadron."

Dickson returned to France on 20 January 1915 with a reinforcement party, and was posted to C Squadron of the North Irish Horse. However when his period of engagement ended on 1 January 1916, Dickson chose to leave the army. His record of service was marked as 'very good'.

In November or December 1915 Dickson re-enlisted, this time in the 6th (Inniskilling) Dragoons Service Squadron (No. UD/315). On 6 October 1915 the squadron, which was then serving as divisional cavalry to the 36th (Ulster) Division, had embarked for France. Dickson trained at the regimental reserve at Enniskillen until 1916 or the first half of 1917, when he embarked for France as a reinforcement for the squadron.

In June 1916 the Inniskilling squadron had joined with C and F Squadrons of the North Irish Horse to form the 2nd North Irish Horse Regiment, serving as corps cavalry to X Corps. In August-September 1917 the Regiment was disbanded and its men, following training at the 36th (Ulster) Division Infantry Base Depot at Harfleur, were transferred to the Royal Irish Fusiliers, an infantry regiment. Most, including Dickson, were transferred on 20 September and posted to the 9th (Service) Battalion – renamed the 9th (North Irish Horse) Battalion – joining it in the field at Ruyaulcourt. Dickson was issued regimental number 41171.

He was wounded during the Battle of Cambrai in the fighting for the village of Moeuvres on 22 and 23 November 1917. The battalion war diary for those days read as follows:

[22 November] The Battn moved up at 6.30 a.m. to a position N. of Bapaume & Cambrai Road arriving at 8.30 a.m. Here the Battn waited for an order to attack Inchi when Moeuvres was taken by the 12th Royal Irish Rifles. At 11.45 a.m. the 12th R. Ir. Rifles captured village of Moeuvres. It was unable to clear trenches East of village. At 5.30 p.m. Battn moved up to support 12th R. Ir. Rifles in the village of Moeuvres. At 5.45 p.m. 12th R. Ir. Rifles reported driven out of village. At 8.30 p.m. Battn less 'D' Coy counter attacked village of Moeuvres but was driven back to trenches immediately south of the village, where it took up a defensive position for the night.

[23 November] Battn attacked Moeuvres at 10.30 a.m. At 11 a.m. Battn reported in village. At 11.45 a.m. enemy counter attacked from trenches West of village. 12.15 p.m. counter attack driven off. At 4.30 .p.m village evacuated by Battn on account of supports not coming up. 5 p.m. 'C' & 'D' Coys took up position on Sunken Road South of village and 'A' & 'B' Coys went back to trenches North of Bapaume & Cambrai Road.

Casualties for 22nd & 23rd: Officers killed 1. Officers wounded 6. ORs 82 casualties.

Dickson later rejoined his battalion. On 9 April 1918 they were on the Ypres front when the Germans began their offensive in that sector. The battalion saw severe fighting between Wulverghem and Kemmel for more than a week and suffered many casualties, including Dickson, who was wounded.

He was again wounded, on 1 October 1918, near Dadizeele in Belgium during the Advance to Victory Offensive. The battalion diary for that day stated:

The 2nd R. Irish Rifles relieved the [9th] bn. in the line S of Hill 41. On relief the bn. moved into Divisional Reserve in K.14.a. 1 officer & 15 O.R's casualties were incurred during relief.

Dickson spent some time recuperating from his wounds. On 4 September 1919 he wrote to authorities from his home at Tawley:

I am attending Hospital owing to a wound received 1st of October last. But am at present on leave and will return on 16th to 2nd Northern General Hospital Beckett Park Leeds.

Dickson later moved to Corcreevy, Fivemiletown, County Tyrone, working as a farmer. On 3 June 1924 he married Mary Charlotte McCartney in the Tubrid Church of Ireland Church, Drumkeeran, County Fermanagh. He died on 6 June 1948.


Dickson in his pre-war North Irish Horse dress uniform


Dickson's younger brother John Nobel Dickson, who served during the war in the 7th Battalion, Canadian Expeditionary Force, was killed in action on 24 April 1915.


John Nobel Dickson


Images sourced from, Public Member Trees - contributor of images 1 & 2 'justin_moore123'; third image 'thewilsons999'.


This page last updated 8 July 2023.