Born in Barnstaple in either late December 1884 or January 1885 (his medical examination certificate of 21st December 1914 states that he is 29 years and 11 months old, and his birth was registered in the first quarter of 1885), George Dalling was the second of three brothers.
His elder brother, Arthur, was born in 1872 while Charles, the youngest of the three, was born in either 1886 or 1887. Their father, William, was born in Barnstaple in 1841 and, in the 1881 census, listed his profession as a shoe maker; however, from 1891 the census lists him as being a coal merchant. Their mother, Mary, was born in Bishops Tawton in 1845, and according to the 1911 census she was a horse hauler and had been married to William for 27 years, which would put their wedding day sometime in 1884.
The family would appear to have moved house fairly regularly. In the census of 1891 their address is listed as 58 High Street, Barnstaple. Then in 1901 it is 9 Pottington Lane, Pilton.
Finally (1911 is currently the latest census available) in 1911 they are listed as living at 5 Mill Road, Rolle Quay Cottage, Pilton East.
It is not known exactly how wealthy the family were, however they certainly had at least a measure of disposable income available to them, as they always seemed to be able to afford to keep a servant – Ellen Harper in 1891, Pauline Woolway in 1901 and Nellie Darch in 1911.
According to an article published in the North Devon Journal of Thursday 28th October 1915, George had “served his articles” (basically served as an apprentice and learned a trade) with W. Hunt & Son, ironmongers, who at the time were situated on the Barnstaple High Street at numbers 35 and 36.
Then, sometime between April 1901 (the census of 1901 took place on 31st March) and May 1902 he emigrated from England to South Africa, where he fought in the closing stages of the Second Boer War of 11th October 1899 to 31st May 1902. Following the conclusion of the war George stayed in South Africa for several years, continuing to serve in the Cape Mounted Rifles. He eventually emigrated to Karridale, Western Australia, where he worked as a farmer until the outbreak of the First World War.
Australia entered the war alongside Britain on 4th August 1914, and George Dalling was sworn into the Australian Imperial Forces on 13th December of the same year. George was attached to the 10th Australian Light Horse and moved with them to Fremantle, Western Australia, where on 17th February 1915 they boarded His Majesty’s Australian Transport (HMAT) A52 Surada, which carried them to the Gallipoli peninsula.
The Gallipoli Campaign of 1915 took place as a result of the desire of the Entente Powers (France, Great Britain and Russia) to seize control of the Dardanelles Straits, which links the Mediterranean Sea with the Sea of Marmora. This was considered to be of strategic importance for two main reasons. Firstly, it would provide a means of accessing, and in turn attacking, the Turkish capital of Constantinople. Secondly, controlling the Sea of Marmora would grant Britain and France a convenient supply route to Russia. The attempt to seize the peninsula lasted until 9th January 1916, and was ultimately a failure.
The last major battle of the campaign is now known as The Battle of Hill 60 (not to be confused with the battle of the same name which took place in Belgium), which lasted from 21st to 29th August 1915. The 10th Australian Light Horse were heavily involved in the fighting. The entry in the regimental diary for Sunday 29th August reads as follows:
“At 1 am the Rgt. Attacked + drove enemy from Trench + held position which consolidated that section. The enemy counter attacked 3 times before 5 am, during which time about 3 to 4 thousand bombs were thrown + by 6 am quietness reigned. Our casualties were heavy but good work was done.”
Amongst the casualties referred to in the entry was George Dalling, who had been promoted from Private to Lance Corporal just one week before, on 22nd August.
Ancestry Library Edition – Census records (available free online in the Local Studies Centre)
British Newspaper Archive – North Devon Journal (available free online in the Local Studies Centre)
Photo of George Dalling publised in the Sunday Times, Perth Trove, National Library of Australia
Australian War Memorial – diaries 10th Australian Light Horse Regt