SAPPER JOHN DALLY
15TH SEPTEMBER 1918 AGE 29
BURIED: ROCQUIGNY-EQUANCOURT ROAD BRITISH CEMETERY, MANANCOURT, FRANCE
This may not be great literature but it is very heartfelt, and very affecting. Mrs Sarah Dally chose the words for her son, John's inscription. John had been married since early 1914 but his wife, Elizabeth, was dead.
There is very little information about John Dally but what there is can be pieced together to tell a story. He was born in Smoketown, USA, the only one of his parents' five children not to have been born in Wales. Smoketown is a minute and remote farming community in Pennsylvania. Did John's parents try to escape from the mining life of South Wales but find they couldn't manage it? They returned to Wales where James Dally, a coal miner, died in 1896.
In the 1901 census Sarah Dally, a widow, is living with her five children, her widowed mother, a widowed sister and her two children, and three spinster sisters in a single house in Aberdare. Her son Thomas aged 13 is a coal miner, a hewer, despite the fact that he is so young. In 1911 Sarah Dally and four of her children are living in their own house. John and Thomas are both coal miners, both hewers.
John joined up early earning the 1915 Star. He went to France in July 1915, serving with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. He later transferred to No. 1 Water Boring Section, Royal Engineers. This was formed in March 1917 and served in France with the 3rd Army from 1 July 1917. Made up of one officer and 40 other ranks with a variety of different skills, these sections were responsible for drilling wells and pumping the water.
There is no information about how John Dally died but on 15 September the 3rd Army was taking part in the assualt on the Hindenburg Line. Dally is buried in a Casualty Clearing Station cemetery 12 km south east of Bapaume.