Robert John Dale

york and lancaster regiment badgeLance Corporal 8580. 1st Battalion, York & Lancaster Regiment, died of illness, 11th October 1916, in Salonika, aged 27.

Born at Crowle in 1889, Robert was the son of Thomas and Evelena Dale (nee Lindley) and younger brother of Tom and George Dale. His mother was from Crowle but his father was a flax dresser from Egremont in Cumbria. In 1901 the family lived in Gas House Road but had moved to North Street by at least 1908.

Like his brother George, Robert Dale had also enlisted as a member of the 3rd (Special Reserve) Battalion York & Lancaster Regiment in Doncaster, shortly after his 18th birthday in January 1907 and at some point after this he became a professional soldier. Even the Army were unsure when this actually was as in 1925 they wrote to his mother, then remarried as Mrs Dennis, to see if she could remember.

When war was declared Robert was with the 1st York & Lancaster’s at Jubbulpore (now Jabalpur) in India. Returning home for transfer to the Western Front they arrived in January 1915. Robert was serving alongside Fred Wroot when he died in the Battle of Gravenstael Ridge in April 1915 and it was he who wrote to Fred’s mother.

In October 1915 the 1st York & Lancaster’s were one of the units transferred from the Western Front to the Mediterranean to the Salonika Campaign (also known as Macedonian Campaign). They arrived in Salonika on 14th December 1915, just too late to relieve the Serbian forces they had been sent to help. Instead they set to work to erect defensive fortifications around Salonika with so much barbed wire that it gained the name the ‘Birdcage’.

Promoted to Lance Corporal on 23rd May 1916 later that summer Robert began to feel unwell and on 21st August he was sent to 86th Field Ambulance suffering from an undiagnosed illness. Twice treated for malaria in India, on 25th August he was transferred to 5th Canadian General Hospital. Here the doctors of the Royal Army Medical Corps diagnosed that he was suffering from a recurrence of the malaria and Robert was sent to recover at the Convalescent Depot in Salonika.

With no sign of recovery and his illness getting worse, on 17th September Robert was transferred to No 30 Stationary Hospital. Where on 11th October 1916, Robert Dale died, the official cause being given as dysentery. He is buried in Salonika (Lembet Road) Military Cemetery.