36618 Private Thomas Henry Dunn, 11th Battalion, the Durham Light Infantry died of wounds 26 December 1916 and is buried at St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen, France.[1]  He was 24 years old and is commemorated on the Evenwood War Memorial, the memorial plaques in St. Paul’s Church and Evenwood WMC.

Family Background

Thomas Henry was born 1892 [2] at Evenwood, the son of William and Hannah Dunn.  There were 10 children: [3]

  • Walter bc.1873 at Shipley, Yorkshire
  • Christopher bc.1877 at Bedale, Yorkshire
  • Isabel bc.1879 at Bedale, Yorkshire
  • William bc.1881 at South Church, Bishop Auckland
  • Arthur bc.1884 at Evenwood
  • Albert bc.1886 at Evenwood
  • James bc.1889 at Evenwood
  • Frederick bc.1891 at Evenwood
  • Thomas Henry born 1892 at Evenwood
  • Nelson bc.1894 at Evenwood

In 1891, the family lived at Cragwood near Evenwood and William worked as a colliery keeker and 19 year old Walter was a colliery weighman.  In 1901 the family lived at Chapel Street, Evenwood, where 53 year old William worked as a coal miner(colliery keeker) [4], 24 year old Christopher (“Kit”) worked a coal miner (shifter), 20 year old William, 17 year old Arthur and 15 year old Albert were colliery labourers.[5]  By 1911, the family lived at Randolph Terrace.  William now aged 63 worked as a miner (shifter).  His 4 oldest sons were all employed at the local colliery (Randolph Colliery):

  • Albert now 25 as a boiler minder
  • James now 22 as a shifter
  • Frederick now 20 also as a shifter
  • Thomas Henry now 18 as a labourer above ground

17 year old Nelson was an errand boy.  Also living there was 17 year old Frances E. Ellerker from Leeming, North Yorkshire employed as a “servant.” [6] By 1916, the family resided at 4 Randolph Terrace, Evenwood.  Thomas H. Dunn worked at Randolph Colliery as a surface worker.

Military Details

Thomas Dunn signed his Attestation Form 28 February 1916 aged 23 years 10 months and joined the Durham Light Infantry being given the regimental number 36618.[7]  He enlisted at Bishop Auckland.  Private T.H. Dunn joined 3/DLI for training 26 June 1916.  He entered France 11 October 1916[8] and posted to 11/DLI 27 October 1916[9] and served with B Company.[10]

The 11th (Service) Battalion (Pioneers) was formed at Newcastle as part of K2 Kitchener’s New Army and came under the orders of 60th Brigade, 20th (Light) Division.  It was converted to a Pioneer Battalion 6 January 1915.  The Division landed in France 20 July 1915.[11]  The 61st Brigade comprised the following units: [12]

  • 7th Bn., the Somerset Light Infantry
  • 7th Bn., the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry
  • 7th Bn., the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) left February 1918
  • 11th Bn., DLI left January 1915 to become the Pioneer Battalion
  • 12th Bn., the King’s (Liverpool Regiment) joined January 1915
  • 61st Machine Gun Company joined March 1916 left March 1918 to join the 20th MG Battalion
  • 61st Trench Mortar Battery formed July 1916

 The Division remained on the Western Front throughout the war.

1 July 1916:  at the opening of the Battle of the Somme, 11/DLI was still in Flanders working in the Ypres salient behind Wieltje.

25 July:  the battalion entrained to Doullen, France and next day marched to Couin relieving the 38th Division in the Colincamps-Hebuterne sector.  The Durhams were employed repairing the support trenches following the havoc of the opening days of the battle and building deep dug-outs whist also manning the support trenches.

20 August:  11/DLI moved to the Candes-Murlancourt sector in the Somme area.

18 October: 11/DLI moved onto the Citadel at Carnoy.

1 November: 11/DLI at Saleux.

2 – 8 November: 11/DLI was billeted at Bourdon on the river Somme enjoying a little comfort and relaxation.  [13]

There is one letter dated 4 November from Thomas addressed to his brother and sister.  The letter is reproduced below:

“Dear brother & sister            Nov 4th

I am writing to tell you that I am in the pink and hope you are both the same.  I am sorry that I have not been able to get hold of anything for the bairns yet but I will look out for something for them without fail.  I am at a very pleasant place here within sound of the big guns but I can still sleep alright.  I was sorry that our Nelson & Matty could not get with us.  I’m enclosing a photograph which you can give to mother.  It is of a pal of mine from Etherley.  You can send a few Woodbines if you like.  We cannot get them here, that is the only drawback here.  I think that this is all at present, promising to write again soon.  I will close with best love & hoping to see you all again soon.  From your young brother Tommy.

Pte. T. H. Dunn 36618

6th Platoon B. Company

11th D.L.I. (Pioneers)

20TH Division

B.E.F. France”  

25 November:  11/DLI moved to Picquigny and Corbie then they marched to the Citadel in heavy rain.

“The camp was deep in mud and there was little protection from the weather nor were better quarters found when the battalion moved to Montauban…Then parties were provided to carry up rations, water and trench boards to the line and the cellars of Ginchy, Lesboeufs and Morval were explored and cleared.  Two main communication trenches called Ozone and Flank Avenue were put in hand.  ..The trench became a drain and the Pioneers spent much of their time pulling out infantrymen and helping the stretcher bearers, whose task was indescribably difficult.  One of the wounded died after being 32 hours on the way from the front trenches to the Lesboeufs-Morval road.

On December 20th, when the division were relieved, the Pioneers remained at work.  The extensions of a light railway for the gunners, well beyond Guillemont, entailed the removal of piles of German dead.  Weather conditions were as awful as they could be.

All ranks were becoming thoroughly tired out and unfit and the climax was reached on December 29th when heavy rain flooded the camp at Montauban.  As a result of the medical officer’s representation the 11th were moved back to Ville next day.” [14]

12 December:  Private T.H. Dunn was wounded.[15]

26 December 1916:  Private Thomas Dunn died of wounds to the right thigh at 6th General Hospital, Rouen, France.[16]

It appears that 11/DLI was working behind the front lines at this time.  The exact circumstances of his death are unknown but anecdotal family evidence indicates that he was shot in the back by a sniper.

Private T.H. Dunn served a total of 302 days as follows:[17]

  • Home:  28 February – 10 October 1916………………225 days
  • France: 11 October – 26 December 1916……………..77 days

Private T.H. Dunn was awarded the British War and Victory medals.[18]

Later research records that during the month of December 11/DLI lost XX Officers and XX Other Ranks killed in action or died of wounds.[19]

News of his Death

 The announcement of his death was published in the Church Magazine. [20]

“News has just reached us of the death from wounds, in France, of Pte. Tom Dunn, D.L.I., son of Mr. and Mrs. Dunn of Randolph Terrace.  Our deepest sympathies are with his family and relatives at this sad hour.”

 Memorial Service

The Memorial Service took place at St. Paul’s Church on Sunday 14 January 1916 and was reported as follows: [21]

“I am also anxious to write a word or two about our Memorial Service for the late Private Tom Dunn.  This took place on Sunday afternoon, 14th ult., and was splendidly attended in spite of very stormy weather.  The Silver Band was with us as they were on all former similar occasions and rendered the “Dead March in Saul” the “Last Post” (cornet) and the “National Anthem” very impressively.  The choir also, and Mr. Bird, our organist, did their part in making the service a memorable one.  My address was based upon the words in Acts xxxvi, 19, “Almost thou persuaded me to be a Christian.”  In this I endeavoured to point out the appeal which God is making to our nation at this time through the solemn and grand spectacle of the devotion of her (the nations) splendid sons to their country’s cause.  Faithful unto death as so many of them are, to be not almost but quite Christians would enable us to see the sacrifice in a true light and draw us into a closer and more loving sympathy with God who gave His own Son in our cause and Christ who was crucified for us.”    


 Private Thomas H. Dunn is buried at grave reference O. II. A. 8. St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen.  During the First World War, Commonwealth camps and hospitals were stationed on the southern outskirts of Rouen.  Almost all of the hospitals at Rouen remained there for practically the whole of the war.  They included 8 general, 5 stationary, 1 British Red Cross and 1 labour hospital and No. 2 Convalescent Depot.  The great majority of the dead from these hospitals were buried at the city cemetery of St. Sever but in September 1916, it was necessary to build an extension.  There are 8,346 Commonwealth burials from the First World War.  [22]


Private T.H. Dunn is commemorated on the Evenwood War Memorial, the memorial plaques in St. Paul’s Church and Evenwood WMC.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales 1837-1915 Birth Index Vol.10a p.269 Auckland 1892 Q2

[3] 1881, 1891, 1901 & 1911 census

[4] Keeker: in charge of the pitheap

[5] 1901 census

[6] 1911 census

[7] Army Form B.2512

[8] Military History Sheet

[9] Army Form B.103

[10] Army Form B.2090A

[11] http://www.1914-1918.net/dli.htm

[12] http://www.1914-1918.net/20div.htm

[13] W. Miles book published in 1920, “The Durham Forces in the Field 1914-18: The Service Battalions of the Durham Light Infantry” 1920 Capt. W. Miles

[14] Miles

[15] Military History Sheet

[16] Post Office Telegrams

[17] Military History Sheet and Statement of the Services

[18] Medal Roll

[19] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[20] Evenwood Church Magazine December 1916

[21] Evenwood Church Magazine February 1917

[22] CWGC


DUNN T.H. photo


DUNN T.H. Headstone


DUNN T.H. Memorial Card 1

Memorial Card 1

DUNN T.H. Memorial Card 2

Memorial Card 2

DUNN T.H. Memorial Card 3

Memorial Card 3