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Major-General John Baillie Ballantyne Dickson, C.B. was born 24th October 1842 and was originally in the Indian Service.
He received his Commission as Cornet in the Bengal Cavalry on 20th January 1860, becoming a Lieutenant on 1st January, 1862 Brevet-Captain on 20th January, 1872 and Captain in December 1872 when he transferred to Indian Staff Corps where he remained until 1875.
In 1879, he proceeded to South Africa on Special Services involved in the Zulu Wars.
He continued to ascend the ranks, becoming a Major in 1881.