Kenora Great War Project

 

Personal Details
Date of BirthApril 21, 1879
Place of BirthWidnes, Lancashire
CountryEngland
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinMiss Martha A. Dickinson (sister), City Hall, Windsor, Ontario
Trade / CallingLocomotive foreman / master mechanic
ReligionChurch of England
Service Details
Regimental NumberN/A
Service Record Link to Service Record
Battalion10th Machine Gun Company
ForceCanadian Expeditionary Force
BranchCanadian Machine Gun Corps
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentFort William, Ontario
Address at Enlistment500 South Marks Street, Fort William, Ontario
Date of EnlistmentDecember 21, 1915
Age at Enlistment36
Theatre of ServiceEurope
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathMarch 23, 1928
Age at Death48

Dickinson, Thomas

Lieutenant Thomas Dickinson was commissioned as an officer in the 94th Battalion and served in France with a machine gun unit. He was wounded in May 1917 and invalided back to Canada later that year.

Thomas was the oldest son of James Dickinson (Dickenson) and Alice Pendlebury. James was a publisher, editor and journalist. He was born in Bolton, Lancashire, England and his wife was from the nearby village of Radcliffe. They were married in the spring of 1873 and that summer they travelled to the U.S., sailing on the City of Chester and arriving in New York on 25 August. A daughter, Martha, was born in Millville, New Jersey in July 1874. James and Alice returned to England and their next child, Mary, was born around 1877 in Farnworth, Lancashire. She was followed by Thomas, who was born on 21 April 1879 in Widnes, Lancashire. At the time of the 1881 census the family was living in Farnworth and James’ occupation was newspaper agency manager and publisher. A son, Alfred Ling, was born later that same year.

James immigrated to Canada in 1881 or 1882 and Alice and the four children followed later, arriving in Quebec on 27 August 1882 on the SS Sarmatian. They spent some time in Toronto where James was on the staff of the Toronto Globe. From there they moved to Fort William and James was the owner and editor of two local newspapers. Silver mining was booming in the area and he was also very interested in mining and prospecting. Two children were born in Fort William, Nancy (ca1884) and James (1888). In 1896 the family moved to Windsor, Ontario where James bought The World newspaper.

Alice went to England in 1899 to visit family and two nephews came with her when she returned to Canada. They sailed from Liverpool on 14 September on the SS Scotsman. A week later the ship was wrecked during the night in dense fog at Change Island, off the coast of Newfoundland. The women and children were loaded into lifeboats but eleven of them drowned, including Mrs. Dickinson. When the next census was taken in 1901 James was living in Windsor with his six children, his occupation listed as newspaper editor and owner. By the time Nancy was married in 1909 James had moved to Indiana and he died at his home in Daleville, Indiana on 20 March 1915.

Thomas and his brother James, a civil engineer, both enlisted in December 1915 and they were both commissioned as officers. Thomas was already serving as a Lieutenant in a militia unit, the 98th Regiment in Kenora, and he said he had also served for five years with the 21st Regiment in Windsor. He signed his officers’ declaration on 21 December 1915 in Fort William and was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the 94th Overseas Battalion. His occupation was locomotive foreman/master mechanic and next of kin was his sister Martha Dickinson with the City Clerks Office in Windsor.

The 94th Battalion was based in Port Arthur and recruited in towns throughout northwestern Ontario. The unit was sent overseas in June 1916, sailing from Halifax on the SS Olympic and arriving at Liverpool on 6 July. Thomas was transferred to the 32nd Battalion and at the end of August he was put on command to the Canadian Machine Gun Depot. In late December he was attached to the 10th Canadian Machine Gun Company and sent to France, joining them in the field on 1 January 1917.

Thomas started machine gun school on 15 January but ten days later he was admitted to No. 39 General Hospital, where he was treated for vd until mid-March. After two weeks at the Base Depot he rejoined his unit at the end of the month. The machine gun units were heavily used in the Battle of Vimy Ridge. After the capture of the ridge the Canadians stayed in the area holding the new front line and taking part in operations at Arleux and Fresnoy. Thomas was wounded by shrapnel on 6 May, suffering injuries to both of his feet. He was taken to a casualty clearing station then evacuated to England on the hospital ship St Denis.

Thomas recovered at Yorkhill War Hospital in Glasgow for the next three months. On 23 August he was transferred to Queen Alexandra’s Military Hospital (Millbank). He had surgery to remove shrapnel from his ankle and on 13 September he started three weeks leave. When he returned to duty he was attached to the Canadian Machine Gun Depot but his ankle continued to bother him. A medical board recommended that he return to Canada for home service. Thomas embarked from Liverpool on the SS Olympic, arriving in Halifax on 14 November. After his landing leave he was sent to Winnipeg where he received outpatient treatment at Deer Lodge Hospital starting in early January 1918.

On 14 January a medical board in Winnipeg recommended light duty for Thomas. He reported to the 1st Depot Battalion, Manitoba Regiment on 8 April in Port Arthur and served for another four months. He was also still listed as a Lieutenant with the 98th Regiment in Kenora. He was discharged as medically unfit for service on 27 August in Port Arthur. His brother James also served with a machine gun unit and he was invalided to Canada in February 1918, with the rank of Acting Captain.

Thomas returned to his job as a locomotive foreman and moved to Hearst, Ontario. He was married in Hearst on 2 January 1920 to Helen Forrest (née Marshall), a widow. Helen had emigrated from Scotland in 1908 with her young daughter, on their way to join her husband John Muir Forrest in Blind River, Ontario. Thomas and his wife made their home in Hearst and his stepdaugther, Helen Lamonte Forrest, was married there in 1924. Her husband, Harold Hodgson Nicholson, was a veteran of the war and had enlisted in 1917 at age 18.

Thomas passed away in Hearst on 23 March 1928, at age 48. Some of his family still lived in Port Arthur/Fort William (now called Thunder Bay) and his obituary was published in two newspapers there. His sister Mary (Mrs. James Fotheringham) died in 1959, Martha in 1965 and Nancy (Mrs. William Coslett) in 1978; they are all buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Thunder Bay. Alfred passed away in Windsor in 1937 and James in London, Ontario in 1960. Alfred’s son, Pilot Officer Alfred John Dickinson, served with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. He was killed in a raid on Brunswick, Germany on 13 August 1944 and he’s buried at Kiel War Cemetery in Germany.

By Becky Johnson


« Back To Soldier Biographies