Information about birth

Year of birth:
Place of birth:
Lilydale, Victoria, Australia

General information


Army information

Australian Imperial Force
Service number:
Enlistment date:
Enlistment place:
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
 —  Australian Infantry, 6th Bn.  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
Place of death:
Broodseinde, Zonnebeke, Belgium
Cause of death:
Missing in action


Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial
Panel: Bay 7 stone M

Distinctions and medals 3

Points of interest 3

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place
#3 Place of death or original burial place

My story

Private John Dick served in the Australian Infantry 6th Battalion part of the 2nd Australian Brigade of the 1st Australian Division. John was a 26 year old former labourer from Warburton, Victoria, Australia. Together with his brother Archibald Spalding (18th Bn. A.I.F.) and Henry (10th Company Australian Army Service Corps) he served in both Gallipoli, where he was wounded, and on the Western Front.

On 4 October 1917 the 1st Australian Division participated in the Battle of Broodseinde, a phase of the Third Battle of Ypres. The Division had to advance on the right of the village of Zonnebeke and had to capture and secure the Broodseinde Ridge and a part of the Passchendaele-Beselare Road. Its attack was carried by two Brigades. The 1st Australian Brigade and 2nd Australian Brigade. The 2nd Australian Brigade firstly attacked with the 8th Battalion. Once they had captured the first objective the 6th and 7th Battalions would move through to the second objective.
The 6th battalion moved into positon at about 02.00 a.m. While the Battalion was waiting till the sign to attack the German artillery laid down a very heavy barrage on the line. Many Australians were caught in the open and the Battalions in the line suffered heavy casualties. The German shelling did not indicate any pre-knowledge of an Australian attack, but was a precursor to a German attack that was due to commence coincidentally with the Australian attack. When the German infantry attacked they were caught in the allied barrage, which preceded the Australian assault. The barrage drove everything beyond it, inflicting very heavy casualties on the German defenders. The German soldiers had almost no place to hide. The ones that did survive the heavy shelling were quickly dispersed, killed or taken prisoner by the advancing troops. Even the Germans in the concrete strongpoints were utterly shocked. Most of them surrendered without putting up a fight.
The main resistance of the 6th Battalion’s advance came from a large crater, near Retaliation Farm, in which a pill-box was situated. This position supported by other nearby posts. Bombing parties of the 6th Battalion quickly outflanked the positions and eventually managed to silence or capture the defenders.
Meanwhile the 8th Battalion had advanced through the marsh and tree stumps of Romulus and Remus Woods, north of the hamlet of Molenaarelsthoek. They arrived at the first objective, the red line, around 07.15 a.m.
Around 08.00 a.m. the 7th and 6th Battalions moved through the 8th Battalion and carried on the advance. They quickly captured the summit of the ridge. While passing west of Celtic Wood, the 6th Battalion was now fired upon from distant machine gun positions on the Keiberg. At one stage the advance on Celtic Wood was halted by a German strongpoint. It was silenced by a Lewis gun team and by noon, the Australians had consolidated their positions astride the ridge.
No counter-attacks were launched and the Battalion kept on holding the line till they were relieved on the next day.

Private John Dick was reported missing in action on the 4th of October 1917, and later reported killed in action. His remains were never found or identified and today he is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres. His younger brother Archibald Spalding Dick was killed in action the day after John went missing, on the 5 October. And is also remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial.

A third brother, Driver Henry Dick of the 10th Company Australian Army Service Corps was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in Belgium only two weeks later, the recommendation stating, 'On 19th October, 1917, near WESTHOEK RIDGE, east of YPRES, this soldier was in charge of wagons delivering sleepers for track making in forward areas. The track behind them was blown to pieces by heavy enemy shell fire. He assisted in repairing and clearing the road for traffic which had become dangerously congested, and continued to carry on with his self imposed task on his own initiative, and with cool courage although the NCO in charge had been killed. His action with that of Drivers 7903 J.W. ELLIS and 8428 N.D. LACKIE, saved many valuable lives, horses and wagons as traffic was barely clear when the enemy put down further heavy shelling on the spot where traffic had been held up.' He was evacuated from France during 1918 suffering from severe debility and returned to Australia in January 1919.

Connection to other soldiers 1

Files 1