7190: Ernest David Dimes of Fleet, Hampshire
Rank: Acting Corporal
Service Number and Unit: 1773 Hampshire Regiment
And Service Number and Unit: 200156 2/4th Hampshire Regiment
Born on 11/5/1894 at 'Esmeralda', 183 Middle Street (now 194 Clarence Road), Fleet, Hampshire. Son of George and Martha Dimes, nee Cranstone. His father was a bricklayer who later owned his own building business. He had 5 brothers and 4 sisters, all born in Fleet. Ruth born 1883, Arthur born 1886, George Charles born 1887, Beatrice born 1890, (twin Gertrude born 1890 died 8 days old), Ada May born 1892, John Henry (aka Jack) born 1896, Harry Leonard born 1899, Nellie Dorothy born 1901, Charles Frederick (aka Charlie) born 1907.
Ernest David Dimes was a bricklayer for his father and later self employed.
Ernest enlisted in the Hampshire Regiment during the First World War. His service number was 1773. He also served in the 2/4th Hampshire Regiment; service number 200156. Ernest survived the war with the Rank of Acting Corporal.
The reason he had two service numbers was because at the time each regiment (and in some cases, the units in a regiment) issued its own numbers. This meant that when a soldier changed regiments, he usually had to change numbers. In 1920, the army introduced a new system of issuing numbers; each soldier would have one unique individual number.
Note: 60% of the 1st World War soldiers Service Records were destroyed as a result of enemy bombing in 1940 during the 2nd World War. Unfortunately, Ernest's records have been destroyed.
Medal Index Card shows that Ernest was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. First World War medals were engraved around the rim (Service Number, Rank, Initial, Surname, Name of Regiment). The engraving on his two medals reads: 1773 A CPL E DIMES HAMP R. (A CPL means rank of Acting Corporal abbreviated). Also on the Medal Index Card the Theatre of War section in which he served is left blank. If this part of the card is blank it usually means that the individual went to France in 1916 or later.
Unfortunately, I have no information or family stories where Ernest Dimes served and fought. However, here is a brief history of the 2/4th Battalion of the Hampshire Regiment:
Formed at Salisbury Plain in September 1914 after the outbreak of war, intended as a home service "second line" unit.
Became part of 2/1st Hampshire Brigade in 2nd Wessex Division.
13 December 1914 sailed for India.
29 April 1917 left for Egypt, landing at Suez on 15 May 1917: attached to 233rd Brigade in 75th Division.
May 1918 left the Division and sailed to France, arriving Marseilles 1 June 1918.
5 June 1918 attached to 186th Brigade in 62nd (2nd West Riding) Division.
The start of the Hundred Days Offensive (8 August to 11 November 1918) was an Allied offensive which ended the First World War. It is normally dated from the beginning of the Battle of Amiens (8-12 August) on the Western Front. The Allies pushed the Germans back after their gains from the Spring Offensive. However, 2/4th Hampshire Regiment was one of a number of British units that saw action mid-July at the Second Battle of the Marne, considered by some to mark the true turning of the tide on the Western Front.
Having arrived in France on 1 June 1918, the 2/4th Hampshire was assigned to 62nd Division and went into the line near Bucquoy a fortnight later. On 15 July the German Army launched a major offensive around Rheims and the battalion was immediately sent to the Forest of Courtagnon, south-west of the city. On 20 July they formed part of a week long assault by 62nd Division along the Ardre valley in which it helped capture the German strongpoint of Marfaux along with the neighbouring villages of Cuitron and Bligny.
The Hampshires suffered heavy casualties during a week of hard fighting on the Ardre, losing 2 officers and 172 men killed and missing with 9 officers and 170 men wounded. For the Germans, however, the battle was a disaster.
Ernest David Dimes married Gladys M Cripps in 1934. Verbal account told to me by my grandmother (Ernest was my grandmother's uncle): when married they lived at 'Esmeralda', 183 Middle Street (now 194 Clarence Road), Fleet, Hampshire with his mother Martha Dimes. His mother was taken ill and went to Kent (stayed with daughter Nellie?) and died on 27/8/1938. The family home in Fleet was sold and Ernest and his wife lived in Basingstoke. They had no children.
Ernest David Dimes died 18/1/1967 aged 72 at Worting Bottom, Basingstoke, Hampshire.
Ernest's older brother George Charles Dimes was killed in the war on 5/5/1917, serving with the Royal Garrison Artillery. His younger brother Harry Leonard Dimes was also killed in the war on 4/11/1918, serving with the Royal Fusiliers and the 9th Battalion Royal Sussex Regiment. Both their names are inscribed on the Fleet, Hampshire War Memorial. Ernest's eldest brother Arthur Dimes and his family had emigrated to Winnipeg in Canada before the war and worked as a tin smith/sheet metal worker for the Canadian Pacific Railway. This job was a reserved occupation during the war.