Biographies

World War One

Aysgarth Parish

D - G

Below are the biographies of some of the men and women from the Roll of Honour table who served during the Great War. The list seeks to remember all who served, not just those who lost their lives. Inevitably, it is incomplete, but it is hoped that additional names will be added as further information becomes available. Those who made the ultimate sacrifice are shown with a         alongside their name. 

Keith Taylor, author of 'Wensleydale Remembered,' has very generously allowed me to transcribe and display material from his excellent book about the lives of those from Aysgarth Parish who made the ultimate sacrifice. Some additional information has also been provided by the owners of the website, Craven’s Part in the Great War.

The names are in alphabetical order of surname to make it easier to scroll down to find a particular name. 

If you notice any errors or have additional people to add to the list, further information about people already included or a photograph, please contact me. Thank you.

"In the years before the Great War, the Dixon family lived at the Grange, a farmhouse between Buckden and Hubberholme. Edmund Dixon was born at Starbotton but raised at Kidstones Farm, Bishopdale. Aged 21, he married Jane [Heseltine], a girl from Thoralby, near West Burton, before moving to the Grange in 1896. Matthias was born at Walden [Chapel Green] and was the second eldest of four children, his siblings being Mary Jane, Jeffrey and Frances. Sheep provided the main income at the Grange, but Frances the youngest child, remembered when the cows would be walked 20 miles to Skipton market. As the eldest son. Matthias worked at The Grange as his father's right hand man. The whole family were church goers and in his spare time, Matthias was a chorister and bell ringer at Hubberholme Church. 

However, on August 15th 1916 he travelled to Skipton to enlist and joined the Coldstream Guards, before embarking for France on January 31st 1917. Six months later they were in the Ypres Salient and about to take part in the new offensive. At dawn on July 31st the Battalion crossed the Yser Canal, passed through the 2nd and 3rd Guard Brigade which had attacked their objectives, and advanced to secure the crossing of the Steenbeck (a large stream). There was hostile shell fire and the casualties mounted.

As they reached their final objective, they began to dig in but the ground was very wet and the ranks were getting thin and so they had no great volume of rifle fire. All the night it rained in torrents and continued for the whole of August 1st. The trenches were ditches of water, with everyone standing in water up to their thighs and terribly cold. The Battalion HQ was in a concrete German blockhouse which was continuously shelled with all calibre of weapons.

Matthias Dixon was wounded on August 1st and taken to a casualty clearing station, where he died from his wounds. He is buried in grave 11.D.4. Dozinghem Military Cemetery, [Belgium]. The following week a memorial service was held at Hubberholme Church by the Reverend Anderton".

 

BUCKDEN – GUARDSMAN DIES OF WOUNDS - 24 August 1917 - The Craven Herald

" ... The Vicar (Rev. R.F.R. Anderton) preached a memorial sermon at a special service on Sunday evening in the Hubberholme Church, which was crowded for the occasion. He spoke of his friend’s happy and well-spent life in the parish, and particularly of his many years’ excellent services as chorister and bell ringer at the old church. He also mentioned three letters received from the Front.

First from the Lieutenant in the Coldstream Guards:– “He is a great loss to me, and I shall miss him very much, for under the most trying conditions he never lost heart. He died a hero at the farthest point of the recent advance.”

The Sergeant’s letter described him as one of the bravest men he had ever seen.

The Matron of the hospital where the beloved soldier died wrote of his passing peacefully away, and added that he was buried with military honours and laid to rest with many of his comrades, and that the graves are very well looked after, and that his name and number were put on his cross.

The Vicar pointed out that the letters were full of kindness and consolation, and showed clearly that the deceased soldier was highly thought of and tenderly and reverently treated at the last.

The memorial service was very affecting and bore witness to the congregation’s deep sympathy with the family."

[Transcribed from 'Swaledale & Wharfedale Remembered', by Keith Taylor and information and images kindly provided by Craven’s Part in the Great War (CPGW)].

Matthias is also remembered on the cruciform headstone of his parents, Edmund and Jane, in St Michael’s Church, Hubberholme (see photographs below).

The Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium where Matthias Dixon is buried in grave 11.D.4, (courtesy of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission).

Private, Matthias Dixon formerly of Walden, (courtesy of The Craven Herald).

St. Michael’s Church, Hubberholme, where Matthias was a was a chorister and bell ringer.

The Dixon family cruciform headstone in 

St. Michael’s Church graveyard, Hubberholme (courtesy of Steve Randall).

St. Michael’s Church: memorial tablet, honouring, private, Matthias Dixon 

(courtesy of CPGW).

The inscription on the cross reads: "Matthias Dixon their son Pte Cold Stream Gds Died of his wounds at Ypres Aug 1st 1917 Aged 25 years" (courtesy of Steve Randall).

James Bell Fawcett (1879-1917)                                                Thoralby

"James Bell Fawcett was born at Thoralby in 1879, the eldest son of and child of Robert and Ann Fawcett. The Fawcetts were farmers and by 1889 had moved to a farm at neighbouring Newbiggin, where Robert and Alice Ann were born. James worked on his father's farm, although by the time the war had started, his father was dead and James was married to wife Elizabeth and they had one child.

The Menin Gate, Belgium where James Fawcett Bell is honured, courtesy of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission

He went to enlist at Leyburn and joined the 8th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment [1916]. At At 3 a.m. on June 7th 1917 they lay down in front of the assembly trench and ten minutes later 19 great mines exploded simultaneously beneath the enemy's defences, and supported by a barge, the infantry went forward. The advance was difficult in intense darkness but moved across the great craters with which the front was studded. The "Red Line" was captured with great dash while "C" Company advanced upon and captured the two mine craters.

"A" an "B" Companies had pushed on to the "Blue Line" as the enemy bolted from the shell holes they were occupying. At 3.40 a.m. "D" Company passed through in artillery formation and occupied the "Black Line", meeting little opposition and receiving four casualties. The rest of the morning was then spent in reorganising, consolidating and putting in strong points in a state of defence. 

Although the first day had been successful, one of the casualties was James Bell Fawcett. Killed by a shell burst, his body was never recovered and his name was inscribed on Panel 33 on the Menin Gate [Belgium].

Sadly, five days after James's death, his mother Ann died and was buried in Aysgarth churchyard on June 15th ...

Three men from Hawes in Wensleydale, who joined the same Regiment, had been hit on the first day of assault, with one being killed and the other two dying some days later from wounds received.Died 7th June 1917, age 38."

[Transcribed from 'Wensleydale Remembered', by Keith Taylor].

He is also commemorated on the gate pillars at the entrance of St. Andrew's Church, Aysgarth, on a brass plaque within the Church and on the village war memorial in Thoralby  Village Hall (see Aysgarth and Thoralby, Home Front Section for images).

"John Gould was born in the town of Masham, North Yorkshire, in 1889, the son of George Gould, a draper, and Isabella Gould. Born at Exelby, near Bedale, George married Isabella, a County Durham girl, and set up business in Masham as draper. Four children, Albert, May, John and George were all born at Masham, but by 1901 the family had travelled the short distance to live at Warnford House, Thoralby, [see photograph below] with George still employed as a village draper. John Mills Gould was 12 years old and the second youngest in the family. [All three sons served and John and George were both killed].

Warnford House, Thoralby, home of the Gould family

By 1914, the youngest child, George Sydney Gould, was living in Canada, having emigrated a few years earlier on one of the government schemes that took so many Wensleydale folk away for a new life in the Dominions. 26 year old John Gould was, however, working as a railway clerk at Ferrybridge when he enlisted in the army in January 1915, and prior to that job had worked on the clerical staff at Thirsk Station of six years.

John was in "E" Company 17th Northumberland Fusiliers and had been in the Hull area for just three months when the sad news of his death shocked his numerous friends in and around Thoralby and Aysgarth.

He was spending a few days leave with some friend at Ferrybridge and on Easter Sunday was taken ill, having contracted a chill. Pneumonia and pleurisy supervened and he passed away on the following Friday, 9th April 1915, age, 26. [the first casualty from Thoralby].

His body was conveyed to Aysgarth Church on Monday and internment took place on Tuesday afternoon. Most of the Bishopdale homes were represented and 16 soldier comrades attended, with two buglers. His comrades fired three volleys over the grave and buglers sounded the Last Post. John Mills Gould is buried in the SW section of St. Andrew's Churchyard, Aysgarth (see photograph of Church and headstone below)."

St. Andrew's Churchyard, Aysgarth, (courtesy of Pip Land).

John Mills Gould, headstone, Aysgarth churchyard

John's younger brother, George Sidney Gould [see below], volunteered to return to Britain with the Canadian Expeditionary Force and fight for Britain and the Dominions. He died, aged 26, on April 9th 1917 whilst attacking the Germans on Vimy Ridge. With in a space of a few years the Gould family had lost their two youngest children. ...

[Transcribed from 'Wensleydale Remembered', by Keith Taylor].

Both brothers are remembered on their parents' G. & I. Gould's headstone in Aysgarth churchyard. They are also commemorated on the gate pillars at the entrance of St. Andrew's Church, Aysgarth, on a brass plaque within the Church and on the village war memorial in the Thoralby Village Hall (see Aysgarth and Thoralby, Home Front Section for images).

"In Chapter Two (see above) we saw that George's brother John Mills Gould, died in England whilst serving in the army and was buried in Aysgarth Churchyard.

 

Years before the war began George Gould emigrated to Canada from Thoralby and settled as a farmer as at Erisksdale, inland from the eastern shore of Lake Manitoba. He enlisted there on April 30th 1915 and eventually sailed for England on the S.S. "Missanabic", arriving on September 13th 1915.

 

As a member of the 29th Battalion Canadian Infantry he arrived in France on May 8th 1916 On May 9th 1917, one year later, they gathered themselves to attack Vimy Ridge, to cover the flank of the British 3rd Army as it attacked out of the subterranean tunnels and caves of Arras, towards Cambrai.

The Canadian Infantry surged across the wreckage of the German first line before few survivors could get out of their dug-outs and by 6.05 a.m. were in possession of the trench system. The second line was reached, but machine-gunners caused mounting casualties as the Canadians fought for the ruins of a large cellar containing two German Battalion Headquarters.  

An advertisment of 1913 by Tom Hiscock, the Hawes printer

The Vimy Memorial, France where George Sydney Gould is commemorated, (courtesy of The Commonwealth War Graves Commission).

Machine-guns on Hill 145 took a further toll on the advance up the slope of the Ridge and the Canadian 4th Division ground to a halt. Resistance southwards was lighter and by 1 p.m. three woods fell into Canadian hands.

The northern part of the Ridge line was only gained after the tenacious German machine-gunners on Hill 145 had been dealt with. Scattered groups of Germans withdrew hastily from the far foot of the Ridge. The forward slopes were stormed before nightfall and the crest fell in the early hours of April 10th. 

By April 12th the Canadians were in full control of Vimy Ridge, standing 200 feet above the Douai Plain below, overlooking the coal mines and slag heaps of the Lens district. Its capture was a remarkable feat of arms and gave signal proof of the Canadians' courage, skill and ability.

George Sydney Gould did not survive the first day's battle for Vimy Ridge. His name is commemorated on the imposing Vimy Memorial, France. Died 9th April 1917, age 27."

[Transcribed from 'Wensleydale Remembered', by Keith Taylor].

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