Harry Dobson, Private 6426, 1st Battalion Cheshire Regiment
Killed in action 9th March 1915 at Ypres, aged 32
Harry Dobson was baptised at Christ Church, Macclesfield on 3rd March 1883, the son of Eliza Jane and John William Dobson, a Silk Power Loom Weaver, of Court 2, Brown Street, Macclesfield. By 1891 the family had moved and Harry was living at 220, Crompton Road with his parents, brothers John, James, Albert, Joseph and George Frederick, and his aunts Amelia Durrant and Lilian Cooper.
Harry enlisted for service in the 4th Cheshire Regiment (Militia) at the age of 17 on 4th October 1900. He stated that he was living at 234 Crompton Road and employed by Mr Turpin in Macclesfield as a Clay Pipe Maker. He was described as being 5ft 3in tall, weighing 107 pounds with a 32inch chest. He had a dark complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair, and had a vaccination mark on his left arm and a scar on his left elbow.
The 1901 census shows that Harry was serving as a regular soldier, having reached the age of 18, and was stationed at Aldershot with the Provisional Battalion and Imperial Yeomanry. After six months training Harry was drafted to the South African war.
Once he had completed his time with the Cheshires Harry returned to Macclesfield, and in 1911 was employed once again as a Clay Pipe Maker, living at 33 Union Street with his parents and younger siblings Frank, Arthur, William, Cecil, Ronald, Florence May, Lillian and Phoebe.
Harry re-enlisted at Macclesfield soon after the outbreak of WW1 and departed with the British Expeditionary Force for the Western Front on 20th September 1914. Whilst acting as a stretcher bearer at Ypres, Belgium, he was badly wounded and succumbed to his injuries on the 9th or 10th March 1915 (there is conflicting evidence, although the official date is 9th March).
The following entries are in the Battalion war diary for 8th-10th March 1915:
8th March – Kruisstraat – Battalion in Brigade Reserve – returned to A sector trenches, relieving the Norfolks
9th March – Ypres – In trenches A Sector
10th March – Ypres – Relieved by Norfolks in evening – returned to Billets Kruisstraat
Harry’s death was reported in the Macclesfield Courier of 27th March 1915 (a similar report is in the Macclesfield Times of 26th March):
MISSING OR DEAD
Last week we published a letter from Quarter-master-sergeant J E Noble, of the 1st Cheshires, stating that Harry Dobson, of the 1st Cheshires, had been seriously wounded on the 10th inst., whilst acting as a stretcher-bearer, and that he had since succumbed to his injuries. This week, however, his mother, Mrs Dobson, of 33 Union St, received an intimation from the War Office that he was missing. Private Dobson joined the Cheshire Regiment in 1901, and after six months’ training proceeded to South Africa, where he remained to the end of the Boer War. His brothers, James and Joe, also saw active service in South Africa, the former being connected with the Yorkshire Light Infantry, and the latter with the 1st Cheshires. The three brothers, who held the South African war medal with three or four bars, were called up as Reservists at the outbreak of the present war, but owing to an injury to his leg, James has been unable to proceed to the front, and is now in hospital. Two other brothers, John (married) and Cecil (19) are attached to the Macclesfield Territorials, whilst another brother, Fred, belongs to the Special Reserves. Altogether Mrs Dobson has given seven sons to the Army, one dying in India some time ago, when he had almost completed his term of service.
Private Harry Dobson is buried in grave reference E. 16. in Ramparts Cemetery, Lille Gate in Belgium. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Harry Dobson, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
A silk bookmark was produced in Harry’s memory and can be seen on the University of Oxford Great War Archive website.
Brother of Albert Dobson, who served with the Cheshire Regiment in India and died there in 1909; Joseph Dobson, who served as Private 7181 with the 2nd Cheshire Regt and was wounded at Mons in September 1914; George Frederick (Fred), who served as Corporal 10760 with the Yorkshire and Lancashire Regt; Frank Dobson, who served as Private 48714 with the RAMC; William Dobson, who served as Private 33713 with the 10th Manchester Regt and was killed on 22 Aug 1918; and Cecil Dobson, who served as Private 290284 with the 7th Cheshire Regt and was killed on 23 July 1918.
With thanks to Bruce for the photo of Harry Dobson’s gravestone.