[Return to Home Page]

3620 Sapper John Dye
Royal Engineers
Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis, 1998.

Personal Data:

John Dye was born in the Parish of Attleborough, near the Town of Norwich, in County of Norwich (now Norfolk) in September of' 1835. He was the son of John Dye, a farm labourer, and Elizabeth Dye. John had a younger brother and sister, James and Sarah.

The 1851 British Census shows that in that year the Dye family resided at West Carr, Attleborough Wayland. In that census young John is listed as a farm labourer (age 16) along with his father. James (10 years) is listed as a "scholar." Sarah was 5 years old at the time. At some time after 1851, John apparently left his parents home and farm, as his occupation prior to enlisting in the Army is listed as stone cutter [1].

He is described at the time of his enlistment as having a fresh complexion, dark brown hair, and grey eyes [1].


Dye enlisted in the Army as a Private in the Royal Sappers and Miners at Aldershot in Hampshire on the 11th of September 1855. He was 20 years old when he enlisted [2].


During his entire period of service, John Dye did not receive a promotion to a higher rank. He served in the rank of Private from the 11th of September 1855 to the 30th of September 1859, a total of 4 years and 20 days. On the 1st of October 1859 Dye was converted to the rank of Sapper. This change came about when the gallant services of the Corps of Royal Sappers and Miners were rewarded at the close of the Crimean War by the grant of the title Royal Engineers. In the London Gazette of the 17th of October 1856 the change was thus announced--

"The Queen has been graciously pleased to direct that the Corps of Royal Sappers and Miners shall henceforth be denominated the Corps of Royal Engineers."

This reorganization put the non-commissioned officers and other ranks in the same Corps as the officers. As a consequence of this royal grant the rank and file were no longer known as Privates, but Sappers.

Service Abroad:

Sapper Dye served in the following overseas areas for the periods indicated:

Campaign Service:

Sapper Dye served at Scutari during the Crimean War. Scutari was a British hospital base in Asia Minor on the Bosphorous Straits between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. This was the place where the famous Miss Florence Nightingale made a name for herself caring for the British wounded who had been evacuated from the Crimea [3].


Good Conduct Pay: Sapper Dye's military service was characterized by numerous ups and downs in his conduct as illustrated by the following tabulation regarding his Good Conduct Pay:

In 1873, after 18 years of service, Sapper Dye was authorized the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.

Military Trade Skills: During his military service Dye performed the duties of a Sapper and a Stone Cutter.

Certificate of Education: Sapper Dye's discharge papers indicate that he was in possession of a School Certificate. This was probably a 3rd Class Certificate of Education.

Disciplinary Actions:

Sapper Dye's name appeared in the Regimental Defaulters Book six times for committing relatively minor infractions. He was never tried by court-martial. Despite these acts of misconduct and the previously cited losses of Good Conduct Pay, he nevertheless did qualify for the Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.


Sapper Dye re-engaged at Chatham on the 7th of June 1866 for a period of 10 years and 93 days upon completion of his first term of limited engagement with the Colours.


A discharge board convened at Chatham on the 2nd of October 1876 to consider the military records of Sapper John Dye upon the termination of' his second period of limited engagement with the Colours. The board was composed of the following officers: Major E.C. Sim, R.E. (President), Captain C.A. Sim, R.E., and Captain W.E. Peck, R.E. The Discharge Board reckoned Sapper Dye's service to be 21 years and 22 days on the 2nd or October 1976. They duly recommended his discharge from the Army, but his discharge was not finally approved until the 31st of October 1876, at which time he had a total of 21 years and 51 days of service. He was discharged at Chatham, Kent. At the time of his discharge he was serving with the 40th Company, Royal Engineers.

Upon discharge, Dye was 40 years and 10 months old. His conduct was rated as "very good" and he was in possession of a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal with gratuity.

Post Service Data

Dye listed his intended place of residence upon leaving the Army as The White Horse in Cambridge. The 1881 British Census records do not show a John Dye living in Cambridge that can be matched to Sapper John Dye.


1. W097/1851 Proceedings of a Regimental Discharge Board.
2. Ibid.
4. The medal in this collection and the subject of this research work.


1. War Office Form 83. Proceedings of a Regimental Board (Discharge). Public Record Office, London.
2. CONNOLLY, F.W.J. Roll of Officers of the Corps of Royal Engineers From 1660 to 1898. Royal Engineers Institute, Chatham, Kent, 1898.
3. GIBB, P. Crimean Blunder. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York, 1960.
4. 1851 British Census, PRO Reference HO/107/1823, Folio: 26, Page 33. Family History Resource File, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FHL Film: 0207477, 1977.

[Return to Home Page]