Soldier’s death on the far side of the world

An Australian man has contacted the Gazette with information about a First World War veteran in the hope that his descendants discover what happened to him.

Matt Dickinson comes from Victoria and his uncle was John Graham, a Ridsdale man who served with the Northumberland Hussars, C Squadron, Morpeth troop, during the conflict.

Mr Dickinson explained that after the war, John was so badly shellshocked that he was seeing dead men in the ditches of Northumberland.

He was meant to take on the family grocery business, but couldn’t do so due to his health.

John married Margaret Amy Crowe, of Prudhoe, in 1919, and had a son, Matthew Oswald in 1920 before emigrating to New Zealand two years later.

The idea was to start a new life and then bring his wife and young son out to join him, but nothing was ever heard of him again until 2012.

That year, Mr Dickinson’s daughter started a search for John after being informed he had landed at Sydney in Australia. She found his name listed in the cemetery records as being buried in the Beechworth Cemetery in Victoria, having lived in the Ovens Valley Benevolent Home. John is understood to have been there for a number of years before his death in 1953 at the age of 62.

The Dickinson family have now visited Beechworth and left a plaque on the unmarked grave.

“I feel sure there are descendants of his son, Matthew Oswald Graham, in the north and I would like them to know what happened to this man,” said Mr Dickinson.

“John Graham fought for his country and was mentally scarred, I believe, for the rest of his life. Life didn’t work out as they had had hoped and planned, life seldom does.”

If any descendants of John want to get in touch with Mr Dickinson, they can do: Matt Dickinson, 62 Laurel Street, Whittlesea, Victoria 3757, Australia.