Tuesday, December 29, 2015

2605 L/Cpl John Dicks, 9th Essex Regt

2605 Corporal John Dicks of the 9th Essex Regiment was a patient at Hickwells in 1915 and possibly into 1916. His entry in Nurse Oliver’s album reads:

2605 Cpl J Dicks
9th Essex Reg.
C Coy
France 1914 1915
also 1st Batt Royal West Kents South Africa, 1899 to 1902

He shares this page with another Essex Regiment soldier, 16880 Private Joseph French of the 3rd Essex Regiment, and a group photo of convalescent soldiers.

John Dicks was probably not a career soldier. I searched for him in Boer War medal rolls and came up with 2287 John Dicks who served with the 3rd (Militia) Battalion of the Royal West Kent Regiment during the Second Anglo-Boer War. He did not serve in South Africa but appears on the roll of men who saw service in Gibraltar, Malta and Egypt.

John Dicks's number falls within the sequence allocated to the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion, Essex Regiment one and therefore he must have been posted to the 9th Battalion, presumably to make up numbers, prior to its departure fro France at the end of May 1915. He was wounded in action in October 1915 and mentioned by name in The Essex Chronicle on 19th November 1915.

On Friday December 3rd he was mentioned in two articles published in The Sussex Daily News and The Sussex Express:

Friday December 3rd 1915 - Page 8 [Sussex Daily News]

The soldiers at Hickwells Relief Hospital at Chailey were ‘at home’ to their friends on Wednesday afternoon and by way of amusing them gave two excellent entertainments - one at 2:30 and the other at 4:30. The bugle called the performers together and when the screens were withdrawn a nice little group of waxworks was disclosed, Bombardier Ryan shewing off their ‘beauties’ in his usual amusing way. Corporal Nash (as St George) and Private Allen sang the ‘Tin Gee Gee’, Private Wise and Sergeant Calvert making two fascinating ‘Little Dolly Girls’. Rifleman Collins, still on crutches, made a splendid broken doll. Lance-Corporal Smith was a Japanese Lady, and, later on, although only having the use of one arm, cleverly ‘vamped’ some accompaniments. While dresses were being changed, Private Hume and Private MacBride sang and danced, and then to the tune of ‘Here We Are Again’, Hickwells’ Pierrot troupe appeared and gave a spirited entertainment. Driver Bradley and Private Allen made excellent ‘Corner Men’ and Bombardier Ryan was capital as the ‘Master of Ceremonies’. The troupe included, besides those already mentioned, Sergeant Calvert, Sergeant Sheppard, Corporal Nash, Lance-Corporal Smith, Privates Wise and Holleran, Driver Cleary and Corporal Dicks, many of whom sang and recited. Two of the nurses helped at the piano

December 3rd 1915 - Page 12 - Chailey [Sussex Express]

On Wednesday afternoon an enjoyable entertainment was given by some of the wounded soldiers in residence at the above hospital. It opened with a display of wax works exhibited by Mrs Jarley (otherwise Bombardier Ryan) whose antics and jokes caused great laughter. The costumes of all were varied and humorous. This was followed by a number of interesting items performed by Bombardier Ryan, Private McBride, Sergeant Nash, Private Allan, Driver Bradley, Corporal Dicks and Gunner Hume. The parody on “The Village Blacksmith” by Driver Bradley and Private Allan and the song “Macnamara’s Band” by Bombardier Ryan, were specially worthy of notice. Another performance was given later in the day.

John Dicks obviously recovered sufficiently to be transferred to the Middlesex Regiment. The number G/92639 dates to May or June 1917. He served with the 1/9th Battalion and latterly the 3rd Battalion before being demobilised.

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