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  cap badgePrivate David Collie Dillon

17th (Service) Battalion (3rd Glasgow) Highland Light Infantry
Service No: 28859

David Collie Dillon grave

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Personal details

Family Information

Son of William and Margaret Craig Dillon of 49b Coatbank St, Coatbridge. Husband of Elizabeth Burns Dillon (18/11/1892- ) of 239 Main St, Coatbridge. Father of David (14/03/1917- ). David also had a stepdaughter Elizabeth Martin (28/01/1915- ) and stepson Hugh Martin Dillon (09/01/1913-1920). Their father Private John James Martin died on the 21/05/1915 and is buried in Airdrie (St Josephs) R.C Cemetery. His young son Hugh sadly joined him there in 1920. From the 1901 Census - Address - 2h East Stewart St, Coatbridge - William Dillon aged 40, Margaret Dillon aged 34, Elizabeth Dillon aged 15, Patrick Dillon aged 13, William Dillon aged 11, Margaret Collie Dillon aged 10 (27/01/1891-04/04/1983), Lillias Dillon aged 8, David Collie Dillon aged 7, James Dillon aged 4, Agnes Dillon aged 3 and Janet Craig Dillon aged 1. David's Pension was awarded to his wife Elizabeth on the 07/06/1917. Both David and his brother William are listed on Pension awarded to their mother Margaret.

Born / Resided

Coatbridge / 239 Main St, Coatbridge.

Died

Killed in Action on the 18/11/1916 at Beaumont Hamel during the Battle of the Ancre (the last part of the Battles of the Somme 1916)

Enlisted

Coatbridge 1914

Employed

Iron Works Labourer / Reservist.

Age

22 / DOB - 22/07/1894

Buried / Remembered

Thiepval Memorial (Pier and Face 15 C), Somme, France.

Cemetery / Memorial Information

The memorial commemorates more than 72,000 men of British and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave, the majority of whom died during the Somme offensive of 1916. On the high ground overlooking the Somme River in France, where some of the heaviest fighting of the First World War took place, stands the Thiepval Memorial. Towering over 45 metres in height, it dominates the landscape for miles around. It is the largest Commonwealth memorial to the missing in the world. On 1 July 1916, supported by a French attack to the south, 13 divisions of Commonwealth forces launched an offensive on a line from north of Gommecourt to Maricourt. Despite a preliminary bombardment lasting seven days, the German defences were barely touched and the attack met unexpectedly fierce resistance. Losses were catastrophic and with only minimal advances on the southern flank, the initial attack was a failure. In the following weeks, huge resources of manpower and equipment were deployed in an attempt to exploit the modest successes of the first day. However, the German Army resisted tenaciously and repeated attacks and counter attacks meant a major battle for every village, copse and farmhouse gained. At the end of September, Thiepval was finally captured. The village had been an original objective of 1 July.

Additional Information

David arrived at Marseilles on the 02/12/1914 with the 1st Battalion Highland Light Infantry who were part of the Sirhind Brigade, 3rd (Lahore) Division. David was wounded in France in 1915 and when he recovered, he joined the 17th (Service) Battalion who arrived at Boulogne on the 23/09/1915 and were part of the 97th Brigade, 32nd Division. David is listed as DILLION on the Thiepval Memorial and with the CWGC. David was Killed in Action at Beaumont Hamel during the Battle of the Ancre on the last day of the Battles of the Somme, one of 253 Highland Light Infantry men who fell that day. His elder brother William of the Seaforth Highlanders was killed 6 months later. His cousin William of the Royal Scots Fusiliers was killed in 1914 (see Directory for both men's pages). Beaumont Hamel : The attack which commenced at 6.10 on the morning of November 18th - a day of ice-covered slushiness - was held up owing to the insufficiency of the artillery barrage and the heavy enemy machine gun fire. At 7.42 a.m. the message came into the Battalion from the right-hand Company that the Company Commander was wounded and that a Sergeant and about ten men were holding the right flank. The jumping off trench known as New Munich Trench, was manned by the Battalion machine gunners with a view to concentrating some of the Companies in it back across "no man's land" to form a rallying point. At 8.30 a.m. the following message was received from 2nd Lieut. Macbeth of the right Company, "Am holding old front line with remainder of Battalion and have established a bombing post on the right. There are only Lieut. Martin and myself in the trench." The left Company was also being hard pressed. It was reported by one of the Battalion Officers that when the barrage opened a great number of shells fell just in front of New Munich Trench where the attacking companies were lying out, killing and wounding a large number of the Battalion. When the barrage lifted on to Munich Trench for the last four minutes, it was still short, and when the leading waves came up to about 50 or 60 yards from Munich Trench followed by the barrage, the Germans could be seen lying in the trench in force. When the barrage was on the Munich Trench, the enemy machine guns played on the attackers from both flanks all the time. The failure of the attack was due to the inefficiency of the British supporting barrage, together with the condition of the ground-thaw having set in and rain falling on the snow, making it exceedingly slippery-the targets the men formed against the snowy background, and the intense cold. Describing the attack one of the members of the Battalion writes: -"The preliminary bombardment opened with its awful messages of destruction, and the rapid reply of the enemy's artillery indicated ominously that our intentions were not unknown to him. When our barrage lifted, and the first wave of our men attempted to go forward, their dark forms showed up against the snow. They were met by machine gun fire, by rapid fire from the enemy trenches, and by snipers in skilfully chosen holes. Our bombardment had failed. It was impossible to get to close quarters with the enemy-hopeless to advance-dangerous to retire. Many of our men were killed in the attack, others in the attempt to carry in the wounded. Many remained all day in exposed positions, beside their wounded comrades, in hope of rescuing them when darkness fell. Beaumont Hamel will not be remembered by us as bearing any resemblance to the official description. We look back upon it now, from the personal point of view, as a touchstone of the individual soul, as a prominent landmark in the vast monotony of death and horror-a chapter of inspiring deeds. It represents to us the heroism of a forlorn hope, the glory of unselfish sacrifice, the success of failure. Tis too easy to despond " while the tired waves" visibly gain no " painful inch," hard to believe that " far back through creeks and inlets making, comes silent, flooding in, the main." The Battle of the Ancre, 13th – 18th November 1916 : The Battle was now extended northwards across to the far side of the River Ancre. The British force attacked in fog and snow on the 13th November from the very same front lines from which the attack had failed so badly on the 1st July. Beaumont-Hamel was finally captured but Serre once again proved an objective too far. Considerable casualties were sustained before the battle was called off. This signalled the end of the Battles of the Somme, 1st July – 18th November 1916 : A Franco-British offensive that was undertaken after Allied strategic conferences in late 1915, but which changed its nature due to the German attack against the French in the epic Battle of Verdun, which lasted from late February to November. Huge British losses on the first day and a series of fiercely contested steps that became attritional in nature. For all armies on the Western Front it was becoming what the Germans would call “materialschlacht”: a war not of morale, will or even manpower, but of sheer industrial material might. The 15th September 1916 saw the first-ever use of tanks in the step known as the Battle of Flers-Courcelette. The British army in France is now approaching its maximum strength in numbers but is still developing in terms of tactics, technology, command and control. SEE PHOTOS X 10 FOR THE BATTALION WAR DIARY FOR THE MONTH OF JUNE 1917. The 17th were the "Glasgow Commercials" or the "Featherbeds", a nickname acquired after a storm destroyed their tents at their training camp at Gailes in Ayrshire and they were moved to comfortable billets in Troon. Their original name was the "Glasgow Chamber of Commerce Battalion". David is also remembered in the St Patrick's Roll of Honour (book) (see photos for more Family information x 2). A huge thank you to Robert D Corrins for sending me a copy of his St Patrick's and the Great War book. See photos for David's Medal Index Card, his Newspaper clippings x 2, his Army Register of Soldiers Effects, his Service Medal and Award Rolls, his CWGC Grave Registration, his name on the Thiepval Memorial x 2, the Highland Light Infantry Cap Badge and David's and his brother William's Pension Records x 6. Finally, this book is the Record of War Service 1914-1918 of the 17th (Service) Battalion - https://ia800306.us.archive.org/29/items/17thHLI00glasuoft/17thHLI00glasuoft.pdf and if any more information is required, I have the War Diary of the Battalion from November 1915 till January 1918.

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War Diaries

The battalion War Diary is available on the National Archives website.

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