John Dahl

by Robyn Dahl

John Dahl was born in Zurich, Switzerland in 1871 and he arrived in Australia aged 2 years and 11 months in 1873 (1).

His parents were Bertel Christian and Caroline Dahl (nee Burkli). Records show that Bertel Christian arrived at Brisbane aboard the ship Lammershagen in January of 1873 and his mother Caroline arrived aboard the Friedeburg in August of the same year however there is no record of John aboard either vessel. Caroline & Bertel married in Queensland in the year of 1874.

On arrival in Brisbane, Queensland, the procedure was for immigrants to spend time in Ipswich camps and according to his mother Caroline she stayed 10 months in Ipswich before the family moved to Dalby presumably for work (2).

In 1875 the family expanded and John became a brother to the first of three sisters Anna Wilhelmina followed by Caroline Julien (1877) and Sophie Louise Amalie (1881).

His early school years were spent at Toowoomba, Warra and Oxley State Schools while his father travelled for work as a labourer. By 1886 the family was living in the Oxley area and on the death of his father in Brisbane Hospital from Rheumatic Fever in 1887 (4,5) saw his mother take on the role as Station Mistress at Darra station on the Ipswich line (6).

In 1892, at the age of 21 years John was employed as a lengthsman & labourer in Southern Division maintenance branch of the Queensland Railway and by 1899 was living in the Railway cottage at Palmwoods, he was 28 years old (7). He remained a railway employee until 1901 (3). His mother Caroline is also is recorded as living at Palmwoods at this time (2).

Although John was born in Switzerland he decided to become an Australian citizen and on 12th March 1898, at the age of 27 and while still living at Darra he took the Oath of Allegiance (8). The 1901 electoral records show John and his mother Caroline as living at Buderim Mountain with his occupation as a fruit grower on portions 184 & 185v (9).

After the marriage of his sister Caroline Julien in 1909 to Henry J. Fletcher and her move to New South Wales the family was joined in Buderim by his sister Sophie. Records from 1905 -- 1910 (9, 10) show them as living in the same area, the ladies as having domestic duties and John as Orchardist. Shipping records starting December 1904 show Sophie, at the age of 23 years, as being a female steward aboard the steam ship 'Woolowra' which serviced the eastern coast of Australia mostly between Sydney and Cairns and ports enroute (19) .

At one stage John was recorded as living at South Tiaro and census records around the same time record Grace and her sister May as domestic servant and housekeeper at Glengarloon Station south of Tiaro in Queensland. Glengarloon at that time belonged to the Scougall family however in 1896 the property went into liquidation. There is a family connection between the Scougall family when Adria Scougall Brand married William Sheridan Addison -- brother of Grace Maud in 1911.

On 7 August 1912 at the age of 41 years he married Grace Maude Addison (1880 -- 1913) and they lived in Jane Street, Toowong, Brisbane (11, 15). Grace was one of seven children born to parents William Addison and Elizabeth Murphy Sheridan.

His son John Addison Dahl was born in Brisbane on 19 May 1913 and this event took the life of his wife Grace (12, 13). Grace was buried on 21 May 1913 in Toowong Cemetery (16). Following the death of Grace, John returned to the Buderim area with his young son and took up work as a carpenter.

The First World War had already started when John, aged 44 enlisted in Brisbane on 10th December 1915. Age and physical conditions had been relaxed by this time allowing men of his age to enlist. He was assigned to the 11th Field Company Engineers, Section 3 of the Australian Imperial Force (14). The 11th Field Company Engineers was a newly formed unit in 1916 and on its first deployment. Following basic training at Enoggera in Brisbane the company was concentrated at Mitcham, South Australia by 29th April 1916 (17). From here the company was posted overseas and embarked on 31st May 1916 aboard the 'Seuvic' from Outer Harbour, Adelaide South Australia arriving in Devonport, England, after a few problems with the ship, on 21 July 1916. The company, after more training left from Southampton, England aboard the 'Nirvana' on 24th November 1916 for France (17). While on deployment overseas his sister Anna became the guardian of his son John Addison. After less than a month in France and having endured the cold, wet and muddy conditions John was the first of the company to be killed in action. It was a high explosive shell that took his life while he was in the support line at Armentieres on Christmas Eve December 1916 (17).

Sapper John Dahl, 9445, is buried at Cite Bonjean Military Cemetery, Armentieres, Plot 111, row C, grave number 21.

John Dahl was survived by his son John Addison, aged 3, his mother Caroline and sisters Anna, Caroline and Sophie.

John Addison Dahl attended Queensland University and gained a Science degree from Queensland University. He became a chemist and later joined the clergy with his own parishes in Sydney and surrounding districts.

Anna married John Henry Olive in 1928 and died in 1960.

Caroline Julien had married Henry John Fletcher in 1909 and was living at Woolahra, Sydney. Johns mother Caroline died in Double Bay, Sydney in 1928 and had been living with her daughter Caroline prior to her death. Records show that Anna was also living around the Sydney area in 1928.

Date of death: 24 December 1916
Commemorated on: Panel 23
Conflict: First World War, 1914-1918
Service number: 9445
Unit: 11th Field Company Australian Engineers


'OUR LOSS was light,' the paper said,
'Compared with damage to the Hun':
She was a widow, and she read
One name upon the list of dead
- Her son -- her only son.

By J. Le Gay Brereton (18)


J. Le Gay Brereton "The Australian Experience of War" Illustrated Stories & Verse selected by John Laird
(ANF 820. 80358 AUS)
1. Taken from details supplied for the 'Roll of Honour of Australia in the Memorial War Museum'.
2. Taken from details supplied by Caroline Dahl on the 'Application for Certificate of Naturalisation'.
3. Transcription from Queensland Railway Employees 1889 -- 1940, State Library of Queensland.
4. Brisbane Hospital Register of Admissions, 1872 - 1887
5. Australian Death Index, 1787 -- 1985, Registration Number B019579
6. Brisbane Courier Mail 26th April 1899 court record "The Oxley Murder- Wilson Again before the Court".
7. The Electoral District of Moreton -- Maroochy Division registration number 512.
8. Oath of Allegiance number 16149.
9. Queensland State Electoral Roll 1905
10. Queensland State Electoral Roll 1910
11. Australian Marriage Index, 1912/B012045
12. Queensland Birth Registry, 1913/B32276
13. Queensland Death Registry, 1913/B17611
14. Australian Imperial Force Attestation Paper, 9445
15. Australian Electoral Rolls, Subdivision of Toowong, p 35.
16. Brisbane City Council Grave Location Search.
17. History of the 11th Field Company Australian Engineers.
18. "The Australian Experience of War" Illustrated Stories & Verse selected by John Laird.
19. Australian Shipping

No: 1 Surname DAHL, JOHN
Rank: Sapper
Service Number: 9445
Date Of Death: 24/12/1916
Age: 45
Regiment/Service: Australian Engineers
Nationality: Australian
Grave/Memorial Ref: III. C. 21