Edward H. Dobson at Wytschaete

Jonathan Capek is currently editing an unpublished history of the 1st Lincolnshire Regiment written by Sgt. F.G. North in the 1920’s. Remarkably he recognized Edward Dobson’s name while visiting my website and kindly forwarded this amazing first-hand account from an encounter in the early morning hours of November 1st 1914:

‘In the pitch blackness of the night ‘A’ and ‘B’ Companies advanced in line supported by ‘C’ and ‘D’ Companies and Battalion Headquarters, each line being accompanied by a machine-gun section.  Eventually the first line reached a railway cutting which formed an arc to the south of the village.  On entering the cutting some rifle shots were fired whereupon Corporal Arthur King volunteered to reconnoitre beyond the northern bank.  Having climbed to the top a voice greeted him with the words “We are Indian, who are you?”  It was rather surprising yet feasible because the Lincolns had already seen some wounded Indians passing through Kemmel so the answer went back spontaneously “We are Lincolns”, and back came the invitation to “Come on Lincolns.”  Which was followed by a rifle shot and Corporal King fell dead with his ammunition pouches ablaze.  Sergeant Fred Briggs went forward to investigate and was shot immediately but was able to cry out “They are German!”   In the meantime the enemy had advanced a machine-gun along the cutting from the right and opened fire with it into the close ranks of the Lincolns.  Rifle-fire also became general.  Only the very slight curve of the cutting saved the two companies from complete destruction by the machine-gun’s flanking fire, and even as it was many were killed or wounded including both company commanders.

The two leading companies now began to fall back on to the supporting line, taking with them as many of the wounded as possible.  In their endeavours to extricate themselves the men preformed many acts of individual bravery and gallantry, some of which have now passed to oblivion, but one at least cane be recorded here.  At the moment when the withdrawal began Corporal Mealing was lying at the foot of the bank having been shot through the right breast.  He was endeavouring to crawl away when a German Officer bore down upon him flourishing a naked sword.  Lance-Corporal Edward Dobson who was nearby had some difficulty in loading his rifle, owing to the mechanism having become clogged with mud, so with a wonderful presence of mind he hurled his rifle – with bayonet fixed – at the German, transfixing him through the bowels and Corporal Mealing crept away to safety.’

Categories: Edward Henry Dobson

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