Dorman, John Thomas. Died 2nd Dec 1915

John Thomas[1] DORMAN’s birth was registered in early 1885 and he was a native of North Kilworth, Rugby.

His father was William Thomas Dorman, possibly more commonly known as Thomas,[2] who was born in about 1857 in North Kilworth; his mother was Sarah Jane née Robinson, who was born in Newark in 1856.

In 1891, John Dorman was 6 and had two brothers: William Dorman, aged 3, who would become a farm boy in the village before 1901; and Joseph Henry Dorman, aged 1. Their father was an Agricultural Labourer and they lived at 6 Rugby Road, North Kilworth, just down the road from the ‘Shoulder of Mutton’ pub.

In 1901, John Dorman was 16 and a farm labourer, still living in Rugby Road, North Kilworth, with his parents and siblings: Joseph Dorman, now 11; Adlaide Dorman, 8; Mary Dorman, 5; and David Dorman, 1.

In 1911, now calling himself ‘Jack’ Dorman, he was 26, and living in one room at the ‘Stables, 107 Albert Street’, where he was working as a Groom, presumably for John Liddington, the baker and corn dealer at 109 Albert Street next door.

John’s marriage with Mary Violet Hinks was registered in Q3, 1912, in Rugby, and they later lived at 12, King Edward Road, Rugby. She had been born in Rugby, and her father was then a ‘paver’ and they lived in Pinder’s Lane. She was baptised on 19 August 1887 at St Andrew’s, Rugby.   Just over two weeks later, on 11 September, the poet, Rupert Brooke would be baptised there.

It seems that John and Mary had a son, also John Dorman, whose birth was registered in Rugby in Q3, 1913. It may have been John junior whose marriage to Iris S Brooks was registered in Rugby in mid-1939.

It is uncertain when John joined up but he became No.M2/099389, a ‘Driver, Mechanical Transport’ in the Army Service Corps, and he was attached to the 26th Field Ambulance, Royal Army Medical Corps.

He went to France on 2 June 1915. The 26th (3rd Wessex) Field Ambulance was attached to the 25th Brigade,[3] in the 8th Division. In 1915, the 8th Division had already been in action at the Battle of Neuve Chapelle and the Battle of Aubers.   John would have arrived in France well before the next major action at Bois Grenier (a diversionary attack on 25 September 1915 coinciding with the Battle of Loos – see Rugby Remembers for that date).   As a driver, John would probably have been transporting injured soldiers, typically back from the various Advanced Dressing Stations, to the General Hospitals further behind the lines.

The 8th Division did not seem to have been in any major actions in later 1915, indeed activity would have probably slowed for the winter. However, routine trench duties as well as hazardous resupply work and training behind the front lines would have carried on, and even during such ‘routine duties’ many soldiers were being killed and injured.

It may have been whilst collecting wounded, or on routine duties, that John was wounded and transported back to base hospital. However, there was also an outbreak of a ‘mysterious respiratory infection at Etaples during the winter of 1915-16’,[4] possibly a pre-curser of the later ‘Spanish Flu’, and he may have been a victim of such an outbreak.

Whatever the circumstances, an entry in the ‘Register of Effects’ shows that John died in Etaples in the ‘No. 7, Canadian General Hospital’[5] on 2 December 1915, aged 32. He was buried in Grave Reference: III. G. 20A., in the nearby Etaples Military Cemetery, which served the many transit camps and hospitals in around Etaples. The Military Cemetery is to the north of the town, on the west side of the road to Boulogne. The cemetery contains 10,771 Commonwealth burials of the First World War, the earliest dating from May 1915.

Etaples is a town about 27 kilometres south of Boulogne. During the First World War, it became the principal depôt and transit camp for the British Expeditionary Force in France and also the point to which the wounded were transported.   The area around Etaples was the scene of immense concentrations of Commonwealth reinforcement camps and hospitals. It was remote from attack, except from aircraft, and accessible by railway from both the northern and the southern battlefields. In 1917, 100,000 troops were camped among the sand dunes. The hospitals, which included eleven general, one stationary, four Red Cross hospitals and a convalescent depot, could deal with 22,000 wounded or sick.

After John’s death, in March and April 1916, sums of £7-8-8d and £9-1-4d were paid to John’s widow and sole legatee, ‘Mary V’, and then in August 1919, a ‘War Gratuity’ of £3-0-0d.

John Dorman was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the 1915 Star. He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates.

It would appear that John’s widow, Mary, remarried with an Arthur Hinks in Lutterworth in mid-1920.   No other record of him has been found on-line and certificates would have to be purchased to advance any knowledge of him. It will be recalled that Hinks was also Mary’s maiden name, although they do not appear to be obviously related. They had three children, half-siblings for John junior, all registered in Rugby: Joyce D M Hinks in Q2 1923; Matthew A T in Q4, 1925; and Rosemary J in Q4, 1930.



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This summary was prepared for the Rugby Family History Group by John P H Frearson in November 2015.   Thanks are due to other members of the Group for copying data in the local newspaper.




[1]       T for Thomas, not V, as recorded on the Rugby Memorial Gates.

[2]       John’s father was recorded as Thomas rather than William by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.


[4]       Connor, Steve, Flu epidemic traced to Great War transit camp, The Guardian, Saturday, 8 January 2000.

[5]       The handwritten entry is unclear and was transcribed as ‘No 1 Candie Genl Hospl’.   This was probably the No.1 Canadian General Hospital which is listed at Etaples, at; and which apparently later moved to Trouville.   See also: List of Canadian Hospitals Overseas – War of 1914-1918, in “Three Centuries of Canadian Nursing“, 1947, p.311.

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