Herbert Dobson 3rd from right
Herbert Dobson (4th Lancaster) gained the first King’s Scout badge locally, in 1911. He tragically became a war casualty on 9 August 1916 at the young age of 20 serving as a sergeant with the 1st/5th Battalion King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment.
Herbert was born on 25 Aug 1895 (Priory Church baptism records) at 3, Winder’s Court, Lancaster, the son of Robert and Sarah Ann Dobson née Beacham. His parents lived at 75 Windermere Road, and previously at Dundee Street, Moorlands and 24 Williamson Road.
In the 1911 census Herbert is living with his parents at 36 Williamson Road. Age 15, his occupation is recorded as “Paint Works Labourer (Linolium Work).”
He is buried at Quarry Cemetery, Montauban, near Albert, France.
It is recorded that some 130 former scouts in the district served their King and Country in the First World War.
The requirements for the King’s Scout Badge as in the ‘Boy Scout Regulations’ of 1911.
Must be a First-class Scout and a Pathfinder, and pass three of the following efficiency tests:
Ambulance, Marksman, Bugler, Seaman, Cyclist, Signaller.
The badge is worn on the left arm above the First class Badge, surrounded by the qualifying badges.
In the enlarged photo below you can see Herbert’s King’s Scout badge at the top of his sleeve, above his First class badge, as specified in the regulations.
From R.E. Wright’s log book
“Quernmore Fete, June 14th, 1911”
BOY SCOUTS’ DISPLAY –
MR. GARNETT ON THE MOVEMENT.
Additional interest was lent to the proceedings by the presence of six or eight local troops of Boy Scouts, who attended as the special guests of Mr. Garnett; the commissioner for the Lonsdale district association. Some forty or fifty lads were present, and in the evening gave a display of ambulance work, flag and arm signalling, rescue work, and other accomplishments which go to make up the perfect scout, Mr. H. F. Beeton, principal scout-master of the district, and Mr. R E. Wright, secretary, were in charge of the arrangements, and the lads did their work smartly and well. The chief event from the scouts’ point of view was the presentation to Patrol-leader Dobson of the 4th Lancaster troop, of the King’s badge, possession of which, constitutes him a King’s scout. Dobson is the first King’s scout in the district.
In making the presentation, Mr. GARNETT congratulated the lads on their fine appearance, and said he was sure the winning of the badge by Dobson would be the very strongest inducement to every scout to do his best to gain a similar honour. The King’s scouts at Windsor would form a special guard of honour to his Majesty, and he hoped Dobson would be included in it. “You lads,” continued Mr. Garnett, “have a very high aim before you. Scouting is a business which you must aim at carrying out throughout life. There are three things you have to do, and if you do them properly you will be making a new page in the history of England. You have, first, to do your duty to God and your King; secondly, to do good to everybody every time; and thirdly, to obey the scout laws, which, if obeyed, will carry you through life under any circumstances whatever.” He wanted the movement to be a strong one in the neighbourhood, with troops in every township and village, and if they supported him they would make scouting a thing of which Lancaster would be proud. He urged that the older members should set a good example to the younger ones, and not only that, but he wanted them to justify the scout movement to the public so that they might feel that whenever they saw a boy scout they saw one whom they could trust, through thick and thin. “Once a Boy Scout, always a Boy Scout.” If they carried out the scout law the public would be able to say ” That lad must be right because he is a scout.” In handing the badge to Dobson Mr. Garnett said he had won four proficiency badges and passed difficult tests. His brother scouts and leader were proud of him. (Applause.)
At the call of Mr. Beeton cheers were given for Mr. Garnett, and an exhibition of fire drill brought an interesting display to a close.
From R.E. Wright’s log book
4 July, 1911
This week we are enabled to give the above portrait reproduction of Patrol Leader H. Dobson, of the 4th Lancaster, the King’s Scout, who was one of the Body-guard at the review held on July 4th, 1911, at Windsor. He was not, however, the only Lancaster boy present who had gained the high distinction of King’s Scout, for our Association can now boast of two such; but Patrol Leader Hodgson, who shares the honour, unfortunately did not gain the badge in time to take his place in the Body-guard at the review.
In an early stage of the Boy-Scout movement the late King suggested that a special badge should be awarded to any boy who after graduating as a first-class Scout, should gain proficiency badges in certain subjects which would be of great service to their King and his Empire, and that the boys who won these distinctions should be called King’s Scouts.
The Pathfinder badge – the most difficult of all to obtain, is a compulsory test. In addition, six other tests are named, and high efficiency must be attained and badges gained in at least three of these ere the coveted King’s Scout badge becomes the boy’s possession.
From R.E. Wright’s log book Dated “20 Aug 1916”
SCOUT MEMORIAL SERVICE.
– In Memory of Sgt. H. Dobson (killed in action August 9th), a former member of the 4th Lancaster (Wesley) Troop, a short “Scouts Own” service was held on Sunday afternoon in the Cardwell Room, Sulyard-street. About 40 members of the troop were present, besides the immediate relatives and intimate friends of the deceased. After the usual devotional exercises, the roll of honour was read, and a brief sketch of the late Sgt. Dobson’s connection with the troop given by the Scoutmaster. Subsequently a short and much appreciated address on the ” Union Jack,” as standing for loyalty, devotion, and courage, &c., was given by the Rev. T. Allcock. The 4th Lancaster Troop’s roll of honour now contains 30 names; of these, two (including Sgt. Dobson) have been called to “higher service,” three have been wounded, and one is missing. The following is a brief summary of the late Sgt. Dobson’s connection with the troop:- He was one of the first patrol leaders when the troop was started in 1909. The first to gain the coveted King’s scout badge in the South Lonsdale district, he had the further honour of being one of the 50 (out of 30,000 scouts present at the King’s rally at Windsor) to bear a Colonial flag – that of N. Borneo – in the march past. He instituted and helped to maintain the junior section of the 4th Lancaster troop, a section which now numbers 26, and for this he was promoted senior leader. His influence on the boys was of the best, and his quiet Christian character helped considerably in promoting and maintaining the efficiency and best interests of the troop. He was known to many scouts in the district, and his early decease has caused profound grief and evoked much sympathy.
SUPPLEMENT TO THE LONDON GAZETTE, 3 JUNE, 1916
Awarded the Military Medal.
2746 L./Sjt. H. Dobson,
1/5th. Bn., R. Lanc.R. (T. F.)
State Flag and Ensign 1882-1948
British North Borneo, Malaysia
According to the 1914-15 Roll of the 1st/5th Battalion, King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment Herbert is listed:-
Dobson, Herbert B
1/5 KO Roll 1914-15
Killed in action 9 Aug 1916
Lived 75 Windermere Road, Lancaster
Also, in the 1914-15 Star Medal Roll of the same regiment:-
Dobson Herbert Lance Corporal T5/2746
Disembarked (for France) 5 May 1915
Killed in action 9 Aug 1916
Herbert’s grave inscription reads:-
“The King’s Own
H. Dobson. M.M.
Royal Lancaster Regiment
9th August 1916 Age 21
Sweet is the Memory of thy Name”
LANCASTER’S BOOK OF HONOUR
SERGEANT 2746 H B DOBSON MM 1/5th Battalion King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regiment (T F)
Herbert Dobson was born in Lancaster on 24 August 1895, the son of Robert and Sarah Ann Dobson of 75 Windermere Road. He attended Christ Church School and, as Lancaster’s FIRST King’s Scout, carried the North Borneo Flag on the left of His Majesty at the Great Scout Rally at Windsor in 1911.
Enlisting in the 1/5th Royal Lancaster’s on 3rd September 1914, he went to France on 1 May 1915. As a LCpl he joined a much weakened 1/5th Battalion, part of the 83rd Brigade in the 28th Division, soon after the second battle of Ypres. After a move to Kemmel and a brief presence at the Battle of Loos, the 1/5th were transferred to the 2nd Brigade of the 1st Division, and from November were in the line near Mazingarbe.
Early in 1916 Herbert, by then a Corporal, received the coveted “Green Card of Merit” bearing the following:
‘I have read with great pleasure the report of your conduct on 30 December 1915 in leading a patrol up to the enemy’s line and obtaining very useful information. Your name and the circumstances of the case have been duly recorded’
signed A Holland Major General Commanding
1st Division 3 January 1916
For this Deed, Herbert was awarded the Military Medal for bravery in the field.
On 7 January 1916, the 1/5th moved out to join the 166th Brigade, 55th Division – The old West Lancashire Division (T.F.) reformed- and spent the next six months in the Ballacourt sector. In May/June Herbert, by then a full Sergeant, attended a Divisional School in England, but soon returned to France. On 11 July 1/5th began a very rough week in the line at Agny in the Riviere sector, and on 18 July began the long march to the Somme. On 1 August they occupied reserve trenches at Talus Boise and that night shellfire caused casualties in the trenches and to the Battalion working party near Trones Wood.
While preparations were made for the attack on Guillemont, the objective of the 55th Division, on 6 August the Talus trenches were shelled heavily and at 8 pm the Battalion moved back to the ammunition box bivouacs near the Citadel. On the 7th two days rations were issued and at 8 pm A Company left to relieve the Briqueterie. That night all the other companies were on standby, with orders to “remove boots only”. Six officers and 50 men were to stay behind as battalions were to go into the attack no stronger than 20 officers and 750 other ranks. Each man drew two bombs, two sandbags and a pick and shovel.
8 August was spent on standby, whilst the initial attack on Guillemont was pressed by the 164th and 165th Brigades, but by 10pm it was clear that the attack had failed. Sat 11.30 pm the battalion, less details, marched off to the trenches via Marincourt with the objective of the 166th Brigade, with the help of the 165th, to attempt to extricate the remnants of the 164th Brigade -who were surrounded at Guillemont. The night was dark and the roads narrow and terribly rutted and long lines of motor transport had to be passed. The noise of the wagons drowned the screaming of the shells and prevented the dive for cover when the shells came close.
By 3.50 am on the 9th August, all of the Battalion had reached the Assembly Area and almost the first shell to burst was a phosphorous shell, which set alight the Véry light dump. The whole of the Battalion were exposed and the enemy began shelling immediately with 5.9 guns, causing casualties. After a slight hesitation the whole Battalion moved forward and the Colonel had an opportunity to read operation Orders and to issue his own. Zero hour was 4.20 am and the Battalion advanced to relieve 1/10th Liverpools*, but the trenches were so full of troops that B and C Companies of the 115th had to find cover in shell holes. At 10.30 am they were able to move into the trenches and at 4.20pm orders came for the Battalion to relieve 1/10th Liverpools, this being carried out under a heavy barrage of fire in which both battalions suffered casualties.
On 9 August 1916 Battalion casualties (all ranks) were: 10 killed 48 wounded and 1 missing. Second Lieutenant Higginson, writing on 10th August to Robert and Sarah Dobson said that their son Sergeant H Dobson:-
“Fell in an attack yesterday morning. . . he was my platoon sergeant, a splendid one too and to me it is a personal loss … as a soldier I had grown to like him very much, and I appreciate, as others do, the splendid work he has done. It will be some consolation for you to know that his death was instantaneous and occurred whilst leading his men. Captain Briggs and I laid him to rest at 7.30 pm on 9 August. Company Sergt Barrow and Sergt Towers and B Company were also present. Captain Briggs read a few verses over his grave.”
Herbert Dobson lies in grave 11 F8 in the Quarry Cemetery Montauban, 11 kilometres east of Albert. He was 20 years old when he died and is commemorated on the Lancaster War Memorial.
“Their Name Liveth for Evermore.”
* This was the same action in which Captain Noel Godfrey Chavasse, Medical Officer of the 10th (Liverpool Scottish) Battalion, one of only three men to have won the award twice, was awarded his first Victoria Cross.
Lancaster Guardian 19 August, 1916
“A brave young Lancastrian, who had gained the Military Medal for meritorious conduct on the field, has been killed in action, viz, Sergt. Herbert Dobson, of the 5th King’s Own Royal Lancaster Regt. The sad news was received by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Dobson of 75 Windermere Road, Lancaster, on Wednesday morning. Sergt. Dobson was only 20 years of age. He was educated at Christ Church School, and became a teacher of the Wesleyan Sunday School, Sulyard street, where he was held in high esteem. One of the first boy scouts in Lancaster, he was the first to win the King’s Badge. He joined the Terriers in September 1914, and was trained with the 2/5th King’s Own, from which he was drafted to France in May 1915. Promotion came quickly because of his efficient work, and on December 30th, 1915 he was awarded the Military Medal.
Second Lieut. R. Higginson, writing on August 10th, states:- It is with great sorrow that I am writing to impart such sad news to you of your son, Sergt. H. Dobson, who fell in an attack of yesterday morning. The Officers, N.C.O.’s and men of this Company feel a great loss in his death, with all of whom he was so popular. He was my platoon Sergeant, a splendid one too, and to me it is a personal loss. Being in constant touch with him as a soldier, I had grown to like him very much, and I appreciate, as others do, the splendid work he has done. It will be some consolation to you to know that his death was instantaneous, and occurred whilst leading his men in an attack. Captain Briggs and I laid him to rest at 7.30 p.m. on August 9th. Company Sergt. Major Barrow and Sergt. Towers and B Company were also present. Captain Briggs read a few verses over his grave . . . . Please accept my very deepest sympathy, in which all ranks of B Company join, and may you be comforted in your great trouble is our sincere wish.
Capt. W. R. Deed wrote on 11th August:- Dear Mr. Dobson, As ill news travels apace, it is probable that you have already been notified of the death of your son, Sergt. Dobson, of this Battalion. He died fighting, and was buried in the presence of Capt. Briggs and Lieut. Higginson. I was not with my Company at the time that it occurred. I really cannot properly express to you my grief and sense of personal loss in losing such a soldier as your son. We have been associated in the same Company for a considerable time, during which I was able to see and appreciate the work he did. I had the highest opinion of his character. All his brother N.C.O.’s and all the men were thoroughly attached to him. Please accept our sincere sympathy with you and your wife in your loss. I am glad to think your son received some reward for his good work, and regret that he lived such a short time to wear his decoration. This and other personal belongings are being forwarded to you as soon as possible. – Believe me, yours very truly, W.R.W. DEED Captain.
The Non-Commissioned Officers sent a striking tribute in the following terms:- Mr. and Mrs. Dobson, – You will probably have already received the sad news of your son’s death on the 10th inst,. The news of his fall cast a great gloom upon us, for he was a fearless soldier and a fine comrade. We who have known him during all these months will feel his loss most keenly, and we wish to share with you your great sorrow. Words cannot express our sympathy with you, and we trust you will derive comfort from the fact that Herbert died fighting for the cause of right and freedom. He was laid to rest in the presence of his comrades, who will always carry pleasant memories of Herbert’s noble life. With deep sympathy:- We are yours very sincerely, B.S. Major M. Smith, C.S. Major G. Barrow, C.Q.M. Sergt A. Wilson, Sergt. L. Harrison, Sergt. R. Butler, Sergt. J.E. Towers, Sergt. Douglas, Sergt. R. Borrowdale”.
“We will remember them”
Whilst returning from their annual camp to the Kandersteg International Scout Centre in Switzerland in August 2008 members of 16th Morecambe took time out to visit Herbert’s grave in Montauban, Picardy.
On a beautiful sunny day they placed a floral tribute in memory of Herbert.
(Images © Alan Hague 2008)
“IF I should die, think only this of me;
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.” – Rupert Brooke