With many thanks to the Wood Norton Remembers project for this post, As ever if you or your local history group have any research to share please do get in touch.
George Thomas Dawson was born on the 28th January 1878, the second son of James and Sarah Ann Dawson. He was baptised on the 5th June 1881, in Wood Norton parish church (see Figure 1).
The British Army WW1 Service Records 1914-1920 do not appear to have survived for George, but from extant records it can be seen that George was serving with the 14th Battalion, The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) (see Figure 2).
The 14th Battalion was one of three Labour Battalions (13th, 14th and 15th), formed between July and September 1916. It was formed in Crawley, and went to Salonika in September 1916. The Royal Warrant of 21 February 1917 sanctioned the formation of a Labour Corps, and the 13th, 14th and 15th Labour Battalions of The Queen’s (Royal West Surrey Regiment) were transferred to the Labour Corps in June 1917; the 14th Battalion became the 95th and 96th Companies of the Labour Corps, and new regimental numbers were issued to the servicemen (the 95th Company being issued the regimental numbers 56401-57000).
The new Labour Corps would have continued to support the troops (the British Salonika Force) as part of the Salonika Campaign, allied troops having been sent to support the Serbs against the German, Austro-Hungarian and Bulgarian armies in October 1915. A second offensive in the spring of 1917 made little impression on the Bulgarian defences, and the front line remained more or less static until September 1918 and the launch of a third offensive culminating with the surrender of Bulgaria on the 30th September 1918. Soldiers on both sides faced each other for three years across challenging terrain, through extremes of climate in summer and winter. Much effort was expended on improving the local road network and in constructing light railways, but even so, many parts of the front could only be reached by pack mules.  The Register of Soldiers’ effects for George records that he died on the 19th September 1918 of ‘illness’; disease, in particular malaria, proved endemic throughout the campaign, and this may have been the cause of his death. The British Salonika Force alone suffered more than 160,000 cases of malaria, particularly in the Struma Valley; at the time, the region was one of the worst malarial areas in Europe. The Register of Soldiers’ Effects notes that an amount of £7 4s 4d was paid to George’s mother, Sarah Dawson as sole legatee in March 1919, with a War Gratuity of £9 being paid to her in December 1919. George is buried in the Mikra British Cemetery, and his headstone bears the inscription We Shall Meet Again, chosen by George’s mother.
Further research into George’s family reveals that his father, James Dawson, was born on the 6th December 1847, and baptised on the 17th January 1847 in South Creake parish church, the son of John and Alice Dawson. James Dawson married Sarah Ann Buckingham on the 27th October 1874, in Wood Norton. Sarah was born in 1846 in Stibbard, the daughter of Thomas and Susan Buckingham. It is possible that James died in 1914 aged 68, as George’s Register of Soldiers’ Effects lists his mother Sarah as sole legatee in 1919. Sarah Ann died in 1928, aged, 81, and is buried in Wood Norton.
The 1911 census for Wood Norton records that James and Sarah had four children, of which only George was recorded as still living with them:
|John||1876, Wood Norton. Baptised 4th June 1876.
In the 1911 census for Wood Norton, John is aged 34 and a fitter’s labourer (railway worker), married with one child. He married Emily Louisa Hill on the 17th March 1900, in Wood Norton.
|1956, aged 79. Buried in Wood Norton.|
|George Thomas||1878, Wood Norton. In the 1911 census, George is aged 33, and a farm labourer.||19th September 1918, Salonika|
|Benjamin||17th December 1880, Wood Norton. Baptised 5th June 1881 (with his brother, George Thomas).
In the 1911 census for Fulmodeston, Benjamin is aged 30 and a railway worker, and newly married (he married Florence Emerson in the spring of 1911).
|1944, aged 63.|
|Susanna||22nd October 1884, Wood Norton. Baptised 16th May 1886.||1971, aged 86, in Derbyshire.|
The Wood Norton War Memorial lists two other related Dawson men: Frederick and Herbert, brothers who both survived the WW1 conflict, who were the sons of William and Elizabeth Dawson. William and George were cousins whose fathers, William (aged 76) and James (aged 65), were brothers and both living in Wood Norton at the time of the 1911 census (see Figure 3).
 British Army WW1 Medal Roll Index Cards, 1914-1920 (www.ancestry.co.uk)
 See The Long, Long, Trail, The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918, http://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/regiments-and-corps/the-british-infantry-regiments-of-1914-1918/queens-royal-west-surrey-regiment/; and Army Service Numbers 1881-1918, The Formation of the Labour Corps in 1917, http://armyservicenumbers.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/formation-of-labour-corps-in-1917.html
 Salonika Campaign Society,1915-1918, The Campaign https://salonikacampaignsociety.org.uk/campaign/; CWGC, Salonika, https://www.cwgc.org/history-and-archives/first-world-war/campaigns/salonika
 CWGC commemoration and headstone schedule (www.cwgc.org)
 FreeBMD, Quarter to December 1874, Aylsham, Vol.4b, p.253 (www.freebmd.org.uk); Transcript and Index to Wood Norton, Norfolk, Parish Registers, compiled by Keith and Shirley Howell (February 2000), Marriages, 1874 (p.95)
 FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1914, Aylsham, Vol.4b, p.123 (www.freebmd.org.uk)
 Transcript and Index to Wood Norton, Norfolk, Parish Registers, compiled by Keith and Shirley Howell (February 2000), Burials, 1928 (p.131)
 1911 census, Wood Norton (Schedule 148) (www.ancestry.co.uk); FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1900, Aylsham, Vol.4b, p.135 (www.freebmd.org.uk); Transcript and Index to Wood Norton, Norfolk, Parish Registers, compiled by Keith and Shirley Howell (February 2000), Marriages, 1900 (p.99)
 FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1956, N. Walsham, Vol.4b, p.705 (www.freebmd.org.uk); Transcript and Index to Wood Norton, Norfolk, Parish Registers, compiled by Keith and Shirley Howell (February 2000), Burials, 1956 (p.133)
 FreeBMD, Quarter to December 1944, Fakenham, Vol.4d, p.272 (www.freebmd.org.uk)
 Transcript and Index to Wood Norton, Norfolk, Parish Registers, compiled by Keith and Shirley Howell (February 2000), Banns, 1908 (p.60); FreeBMD, Quarter to December 1908, Nottingham, Vol.7b, p.570 (www.freebmd.org.uk)
 1911 census, Bulwell (Schedule 21) (www.ancestry.co.uk)
 FreeBMD, Quarter to March 1971, Derby, Vol.3a, p.749 (www.freebmd.org.uk)
 1911 census, Wood Norton (Schedule 197) (www.ancestry.co.uk)
 1911 census, Wood Norton (Schedules 172 and 194) (www.ancestry.co.uk)