Corporal Henry (Harry) Keighley Dickinson, A/104 Brigade, Royal Artillery. Regimental Number: 41097.
Harry was born on the 7th April 1889 and his parents were Thomas Beck and Harriet Ann Dickinson. His father was a wholesale draper. Harry was baptised on the 6th May that year at Heber Street Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Keighley. (This Building is now 'The Spiritual Temple.') In the 1891 census he was 2 years old and living at 14, Gladstone Street, Keighley, with his parents, three sisters and two brothers.
In 1898 Harry entered the Keighley Trade and Grammar School and was a pupil there until 1907. He was also the first head prefect of the school.
In 1901 he was 11 years old and the family had moved to 48, Manville Road, Keighley and one of his sisters had married and moved out. Also living here was his maternal grandmother Elizabeth Spencer.
Harry left Keighley Trade and Grammar School in 1907.
He was 21 years old in 1911 and boarding with the Horton family at 8 Townshend Road, at Richmond in Surrey, where he was working as a newspaper reporter for the Richmond Herald.
When war broke out, Harry was 25 years and six months old and he attested for the Army and joined the West Riding Regiment on 17th October at Huddersfield where he was probably working as a sub-editor for The Huddersfield Daily Examiner. His home address was given as 84, Malsis Road, Keighley. Because he had enlisted as an early volunteer, his named was entered into the list of 'Keighley's Gallant Sons' which was published in the Bradford Daily Telegraph newspaper in 1915.
At his medical his height was slightly above the average at 5 feet 8, 1/4 inches and his weight was 147 lbs with a chest measuring 37, 1/2 inches and a sallow complexion.
Eyes: Blue. Hair: Brown. Religion: Wesleyan.
He was attached to the West Riding Regiment on 17th October 1914 and posted to the RFA Depot as a private on 10th November. he was again posted, to 104 Brigade RFA on 23rd November.
On the first of February 1915 he was appointed (paid, acting) Bombardier rank and promoted to full Bombardier on the 24th February. Harry was promoted to Corporal 1st April and posted as a Corporal to 104 Brigade Staff on the 9th June 1915. It seems they had spotted his skills as a newspaper reporter and utilised him on their Brigade staff.
On the 3rd August the same year he married Elsie F. Crafford in Edmonton, Middlesex,
He was posted to France just three weeks later, on the 26th August 1915.
Harry was killed in action on the 24th June 1917 and was buried in a special memorial row: grave 9 of row c at the Perth (China Wall) Cemetery, near Ypres. This special memorial usually meant the precise position of the grave had been lost, possibly due to later bombardment, although still somewhere in this cemetery.
His headstone has a secondary inscription which confirms this with the sentiment: 'Their Glory Shall Not be Blotted Out', which appears on a series of graves in this section.
Harry's probate record shows he left £272 to his widow Elsie. She was living at 84, Lalsis Road in Keighley at the time.
Harry was awarded the 1914-15 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal for his war service.
He is also remembered locally in Keighley's Roll of Honour book which is on permanent public display in Keighley Library and his name appears in the Keighlian Magazine's WW1 Roll of Honour, for Keighley Boys Grammar School.
From Beckfoot Oakbank School archives:
Harry Keighley Dickinson was a gifted scholar and well regarded by all it seems. The story goes that he was taking a walking holiday in the Lowlands with a schoolfriend in the early years of the twentieth century, probably about 1906 we think, when caught in an awful rain shower that are all too common around Kirkcudbright the pair sheltered in an omnibus stop and bumped into a couple of chaps from the Manchester Grammar School who had a camp nearby. The pair were invited to camp overnight with them, and the experience was such a powerful one at on his return Harry petitioned the masters
to set up a camp for Keighley Boys Grammar School in the same location.
The first camp happened in the summer of 1911, and it was small affair using some borrowed scouts equipment, but soon grew to a larger affair in the following summers. 1914 was a particularly good summer and the weather was remarkable. After the war the School acquired a wooden hut which was formerly an Officers mess, and there it remains
on a field at the sea's edge a few miles outside the town of Kirkcudbright.
There have been dozens of trips up there every year since, thousands of Keighley kids have swum, run, built sand castles and got soaked every summer for over a century!
Oakbank's school holiday venue at Kircudbright appeared in the Keighley News here.
Keighlian Magazine Obituary:
HARRY K. DICKINSON. Corporal. Royal Field Artillery.
Harry K. Dickinson was a pupil from April, 1898, to July, 1907. He was always a very popular boy in the School and was equally devoted to his studies and to the best interests of the School in every direction. He was in his final year the first and Head Prefect of the School and Editor of the Journal in which this article appears. His work for the School Magazine may have turned his inclinations to the field of journalism as his future calling, but his tastes were always in the direction of literature and in the two highest Forms he carried off the First Prizes for English besides passing the Senior Oxford Local Examination with Honours at the end of his School career.
He served his apprenticeship in journalism on ” The Surrey Mirror,” and was afterwards on the staff of “The Richmond Herald,” and later on ” The Essex Weekly News.” For two years afterwards he was associated with his home weekly, “The Keighley News,” and at the time of joining the Army he was on the sub-editorial staff of “The Huddersfield Daily
Examiner.” Harry Dickinson was a very promising journalist and was rapidly making a name for himself in his profession. It has been our privilege to read one of his vivid pen-pictures of a soldier's life in the fighting line, and no doubt he would have been able to give an absorbing description of an artilleryman's life in the Army if he had been spared to see the end of the War. He had a very happy disposition combined with a keen sense of humour and was esteemed and loved by everyone who knew him. The following extract is taken from a letter written by his Major, Mr. J. C. Walford, to Mrs. Dickinson :
“In offering you my very truest sympathy in your loss I will only add that in him I lost a very valuable and able assistant. I left the management and working of the signal and telephone services almost entirely to him, and his constant cheeriness and devotion to duty undoubtedly will be and is hard to replace. The body of your gallant husband is buried with four other signallers in the Ypres salient.”
Corporal Harry K. Dickinson was 28 years of age at the time of his death, and was the son of our respected townsman, Mr. T. B. Dickinson, Malsis Road.
In the Prefects' Room, there hangs the photograph of our first Head Prefect, Harry K. Dickinson, surrounded by his Assistant Prefects, Frank Lister, who died in 1911, Lewis Whalley, who is serving with the R.G.A.; Jackson N. J. Hartley, who is now Captain, R.A.M.C., and who is attached to the Special Surgical Observation Ward, B.E.F.; Norris
Greenwood, who is in the R.A.M.C. at the General Hospital, Bombay; and Tom Barrett, at present Headmaster of a School in Birmingham.
To one who never spared himself in any good work the School is proud to put on record this short appreciation.
Family grave inscription in St John's Ingrow graveyard:
In loving memory of Harriet Anne, Wife of Thomas Dickinson of Keighley who entered into rest May 14th 1904, aged 56 years.
Also of Thomas B. Dickinson, who passed away Oct 14th 1918. aged 71 years.
Also Henry Keighley, (Cpl RFA) their youngest son who was killed in action near Ypres, June 24th 1917, aged 28 years.
Birth, marriage and death records.
British Army service records.
Soldier's effects records.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
Keighley News archives, Keighley library.
Cliffe Castle Museum.