Frank Dobson, Private 14526, A Coy, 10th Battalion, Cheshire Regiment
Died 18th November 1915 at Ploegsteert, Belgium, aged 21
Frank Dobson was born in March 1894 and baptised on 4 April 1894 at St John’s Church, Statham Street, Macclesfield, the son of Emily and Henry Thomas Dobson, a labourer of 3 Higginbotham Street, Macclesfield (now named South Park Road).
By 1901 the family had moved to 29 Duke Street and seven year old Frank lived there with his parents and siblings Ethel (16), Emily (14), Pollie (12), Walter (10), and half-brother Thomas Sherratt (19). Ten years later the family was at the same address and now included Laura Annie (14), Henry (11) and George Leonard (7). Frank had left school and was employed in the silk industry as a Swiss Embroiderer at A W Hewetson’s Albion Mills.
Frank was educated at Mill Street School and on 21st September 1908, whilst employed as an embroiderer, he enrolled at Macclesfield Technical College to further his education. He attended St John’s Church Sunday School and was a regular member of St John’s Bible Class.
Frank enlisted in Macclesfield on 4th September 1914, soon after the start of the war, and was sent for training with the 10th Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment on 15th September. Frank’s army records describe him as 5 feet 7¾ inches tall, weighing 124 lb with a 31 inch chest, brown eyes and hair and a fresh compexion.
The Battalion embarked for France on 26th September 1915, arriving at Boulogne at 2am the next day. They travelled by train to Hazebrouck, and from there marched to Bailleul, arriving on 30th September. A final march on 3rd October took the men to Ploegsteert in Belgium.
Most war diaries only mention officers by name, but unusually the diary of the 10th Cheshire Regiment includes at least some names of the rank and file. The entry for 18th November reads:
Fine day enabling the work of repairs to be carried on satisfactorily. At 3.30pm trenches 124 and 125 were shelled for about 20 minutes. Some damage was done to parapet and dugouts. Pte DOBSON was killed and Pte CLARKE seriously wounded. Both of ‘A’ Company.
Frank’s death was reported in the Macclesfield Times of 26 November 1915:
Information has reached Mr Henry Dobson, 29 Duke St, Macclesfield, that his son, Private Frank Dobson, 10th Battalion Cheshire Regt, has been killed in action. The sad intelligence was conveyed in a letter written by Sergeant A. Brindley, another Macclesfield soldier of the same regiment: “… the death of your son Frank … occurred on November 18th at 3.30pm. … he suffered no pain for he was killed instantly. His remains have been interred in Ploegsteert Wood along with other fallen heroes. A wooden cross will be erected over his grave…”
Mrs Dobson also received a letter from Private Tom Brown, of the 10th Cheshire Regt: “…your poor Frank was killed yesterday afternoon, Nov 18th, by a shell, which also injured J Clarke very seriously. He was occupying the same dug-out as Frank… As a soldier, he was one of the best…”
Private Dobson was 21 years of age, and prior to enlisting at the beginning of the war, worked for Mr A W Hewetson at the Albion Mills. He went to the front nine weeks ago. He received his education at Mill Street School (of which he is the sixth old scholar to fall int he great struggle) and attended St John’s Sunday School. He was a regular member of the Bible Class at St John’s and a communicant. In his last letter home, Private Dobson stated: “We have been in the trenches since last Monday, and came out this morning. We are up to the knees in water in the trenches, and our platoon was in the worst. Anyhow, we had a dry dug-out. It took us all morning to cook breakfast.”
Private Dobson has two brothers in the army, Private Walter, 1/7th Cheshire Regt – who is now on his way to the Dardanelles – and Private Harry, 10th Cheshires. The last named enlisted when he was 15 and is now at the front in France.
Private Frank Dobson is buried in Grave Ref. D. 14. of the Hyde Park Corner (Royal Berks) Cemetery, near Ypres, Belgium. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private Frank Dobson, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
Brother of Walter Dobson (1/7th Cheshire Regiment) and Harry Dobson (10th Cheshire Regiment).
GRO (England & Wales) Index: Births
Cheshire Parish Baptism Registers: St John’s Church, Macclesfield
Census (England & Wales): 1901
National School Admission Registers and Log-books: Macclesfield Technical College
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards
War Diary – 10th Cheshire Regt (Ancestry)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
Macclesfield Times: 26 November 1915, 23 September 1921 (photo supplement)