241964 GNR. J. T. DOLPHIN.  R.F.A.

 

John Thomas Dolphin was born in the summer of 1898 in Reeth, near Richmond in Yorkshire.  His father was John Dolphin (b. 1864 in Reeth), a farmer and carter.  His mother was Eveline Corner (b. 1872 in Leyburn).  John and Eveline were married in 1892 and they had 13 children, though the lost two in infancy.  The survivors were: Anthony (b. 1893), Jane (b. 1894), Mary Ann (b. 1895), Elizabeth (b. 1896), then John Thomas, then Eveline (b. 1900), Tamar Jane (b. 1902), Rhoda Hannah (b. 1903), Ernest (b. 1904), Annie Gertrude (b. 1908) and finally Margaret Alice (b. 1909).  In 1911, John and Eveline and 9 f their children were living at Five Intakes, Healaugh, near Richmond.  John Thomas was 13 and stil at school.

 

John Thomas turned 18 in the summer of 1916 and I presume that is when he enlisted.  He enlisted at Richmond and from his service number he was posted to a brigade in the regular Army, though I don’t know which one.  He turned 19 in the summer of 1917 and I presume it was at this point that he was posted to “D” Battery of 276 Brigade (it was at this time that D/276 compliment of guns was increased from 4 to 6 so John may have been in the gun crews associated with the new guns).  If so, then he would have fought at Passchendaele and Cambrai.

 

55th Division relieved 42nd (East Lancashire) Division in the front line at Givenchy and Festubert on 15 February 1918. Here, it faced numerous strong enemy raids in March.  Early April was at first much quieter but this was the quiet before the storm.  The second phase of the German Spring Offensive, variously known as Operation Georgette or the Battle of the Lys, was launched on 9 April 1918.  55th Division were located at the southern end of the front under attack and while the Germans managed to make huge advances in the northern sector, they failed to break the British defence of Givenchy and Festubert.

From the War Diary:

9 April 1918

4.15am Enemy opened heavy H.E. and Gas bombardment on all Battery areas, Headquarters, and Wagon Lines.  Batteries opened on “Counter preparation” and later on S.O.S.  Hostile infantry reported attacking, and pressing back our Infantry on the Left.  164th Infantry Brigade still holding GIVENCHY.  Continuous hostile shelling throughout the day.  Enemy infantry at one time reached forward gun of A/276 Battery in GUNNER SIDING, but counter-attacked and driven off.

6.42pm A/276 Bty report all guns destroyed and personnel manning trench in front of position.  Ordered to move personnel to Wagon lines with all material that can be salved.  D/276 Battery moved forward gun back to main position.  Throughout the day information received of enemy concentration.  Batteries opened fire on all occasions, and with the exception of local encounters no further attack on a large scale developed on Group Front.

8.00pm  Information received that 800 prisoners captured to date.

 

I am not sure if John Thomas was wounded in this attack or on an earlier occasion, but he died of wounds at 7th General Hospital at St. Omer on 10 April 1918.  He was still only 19 years old.

 

Rank:  Gunner

Service No: 241964

Date of Death: 10/04/1918

Age:  19

Regiment/Service:  Royal Field Artillery, “D” Bty, 276th Bde.

Cemetery/memorial reference: V. A. 5.

Cemetery/Memorial: LONGUENESSE (ST. OMER) SOUVENIR CEMETERY

Additional Information: Son of John and Eveline Dolphin, of East Manywells, Cullingworth, Bradford, Yorks.

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