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Ernest (Tim) Dale

William Ernest (known as Tim) was the younger brother of George Frederick Dale (q.v.) He was born in the first quarter of 1892 and his birth registered in Malton  He was the Younger son of William and Caroline (nee Gledhill) who married in the Leeds area in the second quarter of 1882.  In 1901 the family was living at 3, Market Street in Malton, above William’s drapery shop.  

 1901 Census – resident at 3 Market Street, Malton
DALE, William, Head, Married, M, 48, General Draper, Nunnington Yorkshire,
DALE, Caroline, Wife, Married, F, 47, , Leeds Yorkshire,
DALE, George Frederick, Son, Single, M, 12, , Malton Yorkshire,
DALE, William Ernest, Son, Single, M, 9, , Malton Yorkshire,
ARUNDALE, Annie, Servant, Single, F, 19, General Servant Domestic, Scagglethorpe Yorkshire,

 In 1905 William expanded the shop into the next door no.5, taking over from the rope-maker who had previously worked there and in 1911 they are recorded at the expanded address. At this stage Tim was working in his father’s shop.  Like his brother George, Tim was a chorister at St Michael’s church.

1911 Census – resident at 3 &5 Market Street, Malton
DALE, William, Head, Married, M, 58, Draper, Yorks Nunnington,
DALE, Caroline, Wife, Married 29 years, F, 57, , Yorks Leeds,
DALE, Clarice, Daughter, Single, F, 26, , Yorks Malton,
DALE, William Ernest, Son, Single, M, 19, Drapers Son Working In Shop, Yorks Malton,
MEDD, Agnes, Servant, Single, F, 18, General Servant Domestic, Yorks Helperthorpe,

By the outbreak of war, Tim was already serving in the Regular Army in the Royal Field Artillery.  By May 1915 they were training in Bordon when the orders came through for the 51st Brigade to be sent to France. On May 10th they were sent by eight trains down to Southampton and there embarked for Le Havre, arriving there on the 12th May and going to Rest Camp. Over the next couple of days they moved to Wezernnes and re-organised themselves.

The 20th May saw “D” battery go into action for the first time at Messines and during the next few days the whole Brigade saw action, mainly in registering targets from observation posts.  On 24th may the men reported feeling the effects of gas in their eyes thought to be drift from heavy use of gas at Ypres. The following day they came under bombardment from six aeroplanes but suffered no casualties.  Through the rest of May they came under intermittent howitzer fire but things were on the whole quiet. The first two days of June saw the observation posts heavily shelled and in consequence abandoned.

At the beginning of October the brigade was moved by bus to Poperinghe from where they were moved to the front line at Dickebusch. On October 25th a further re-organisation took place which saw “D” Battery, 51 Brigade exchanged with “D” Battery 53 Brigade on a semi-permanent basis and coming under the Command of the 53rd Brigade. For the last week of October D/51 were in action SE of Ypres.

During November D/51 was in action between the Ypres - Menin Road and Rouleres Railway, covering the front of the right Infantry Brigade, continuing in the Ypres area through December.

At the end of December a rumour reached Malton that Tim had been killed at the front, and this rumour was confirmed when his father received a letter from another Malton soldier dated 16th December saying “We had rather a severe shelling today and, of course, we hit back as hard as we could, but they knocked out two men and wounded another two. I am very sorry indeed to tell you that one of the two killed was Tim Dale…I did all I could for him before he passed away. He was badly wounded, and I helped to carry him to the dressing station, but we had just dressed his wounds when he passed away. He opened his eyes once, but did not know me. He only lived for an hour at the most, and was practically unconscious all the time.”

This was confirmed in the Messenger of 8th January 1916 which stated that William Dale had received official confirmation of Tim’s death, and included tributes from his comrades:

Dear Sir – it is with greatest and deepest sympathy of all the Drivers and Gunners of our Battery, that I am called upon to write you a few lines. No doubt, you will already have head, or received a message from the War Office, informing you that the name of your gallant and patriotic son is now numbered amongst the fallen heroes of our great Empire. Although your loss is far greater than a world of riches or pleasure, you can console yourself that Sergeant Dale died at his post while fulfilling a great and noble duty, namely, that of fighting against a nation who have lost all thoughts of civilisation, and who only seek to crush the defenceless ones of our allied nations. It was with a noble spirit that your son enlisted at the outbreak of war, when our dastardly enemy was committing such crimes of violence and outrage, breaking all rules of international law and rights of civilisation. It is by great and special request of B Subsection (of which Sergt. Dale had charge) Gunners and Drivers, that I am called upon to extend to you their greatest and deepest sympathy in so great a loss. Sergt. Dale was a “father” to all members of his Section, and his calm and tender manner was appreciated by all who were under him. He never tired of attending to the wants and comforts of the boys, and anyone in trouble or anxiety was cheered by the whole-heartedness of his disposition. One thing I can assure you is that “Tim” suffered no pain, for when he was struck, he lost all consciousness, and just seemed as though he had fallen asleep. He passed way shortly afterwards, thus laying down his life while fighting for the greatest and noblest cause that the history of the world has ever known. I may say that everything possible was done to save him, but he remained in the hands of One who is above all earthly methods, and it has been His wish that He thought fit to number him amongst the Army of the great white-robed throng of the great hereafter. He was our model, and we pray that we may all be as good soldiers as he. In this horrible time we are all called upon to make sacrifices, and you have made the greatest sacrifice possible for any man. I have been asked, personally, to send the sincere sympathy of all gunners and drivers of our battery. They share with you the great loss that you will mainly have to bear. I trust that you will be given the strength to bear your sad loss and terrible trial. Though he is dead in the body, so long as the spirit of Sergt. Dale lives, England cannot die. I remain , on behalf of the Gunners and Drivers of the Battery, yours in ”Sympathy” Driver E. A. Fussey 90471, D Battery, 51st Brigade, RFA, BEF.

…I only did what I know your brother would have been ready to do for any of his comrades. I tried my best to make him as comfortable as possible…He did not suffer much, I am pleased to say, only being conscious for a few minutes…I deeply regret the loss of a good pal, and I can also speak for the men under him. Never one had a wrong word to say of him, and all join with you in your terrible grief. I know it will be awfully hard for you and your father to bear, but you have one consolation – he died a hero’s death. He could have sought safety in a dug-out but he stuck to his gun to be ready to fire at a second’s notice… Words fail to describe my heartfelt sympathy with you in your terrible bereavement. I know it will be awfully hard to bear, but may God give you strength and comfort. I only hope that, if I am called, I may die as glorious a death as your brother… Yours very sincerely G.F. Holmes.”

Tim Dale’s body was not located after the war and he is commemorated on the Menin Gate in Ypres.

Over the next few days they were moved to billets at Steenwerck, and spent some time installing a telephone exchange to link all the batteries together. The weather was very hot and some men were suffering from sun-stroke. “Swimming parade in the canal. Day extremely hot.”  They remained there for some weeks before being moved on to billets in Le Reveillon, just as the weather broke. In torrential rain they took up their new and distinctly unsatisfactory position, but by the end of the month they had moved again to Gorre Church Position where they once again went into action. Again they were occupied with laying telephone cables and registering targets. “D” Battery was sent back to the wagon lines at attached to Colonel Knapp of 53rd Brigade “for tactical purposes and discipline” while “D battery” of the 53rd was attached to the 51st. This ensured a mixture of horse guns and howitzers at each point. Reinforcements both of men and horses were received before they were on the move once more after much delay and re-organisation. They continued to come under fire from the air and under shelling form enemy trenches and sustained a few casualties. By 31st July, they had finally moved and regrouped near Loisnes. Much of their time seems to have been spent in re-installing telephone wires and negotiating with the units whose positions were being taken over with regard to this. (Could they leave the wires and provide the outgoing unit with new wire to take with them, or should they remove the old network and re-install it?)

August 11th saw “D” Battery using High Explosive to take out a German trench responsible for sending up Very lights (rockets fired from a brass pistol and used at night in the front line to illuminate No Man's Land so that sentries could be sure the enemy were not approaching.) This was very successful.

By 15th they were moved to Rest Camp, handing their positions complete with wires, maps etc. to the 22nd Brigade. The Colonel and Adjutant spent three hours on the road getting a wagon belonging to “D” battery out of a ditch, arriving at the billets at 3.00 a.m. here they spent the next couple of weeks, before reaching new positions on 31st August.  The following days saw much re-working and repair of the new positions, improving communications and shell-proofing gun-pits and dug-outs. “D” battery was taken out of the main forces of 51 Brigade to act as counter Battery – i.e. firing specifically at the enemies artillery rather than on their attacking forces – so were not involved in the bombardment and storming of the Hohenzollern redoubt which occupied the rest of the brigade throughout September.