On November 9, 1914 Lance Corporal Edward Henry Dobson died of wounds suffered during the First Battle of Ypres. He was my great-grandfather’s younger half-brother and barely 20 years of age. Ironically my great-grandfather Herbert would be shot and captured on the same ground less than six months later.
Although no British Army service record exists to confirm family hearsay it is believed that Edward enlisted in the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment before the war. This photo was taken at Arundel Camp and although there is no indication of date he looks very young indeed.
There is something of a mystery surrounding Edward’s death. Official records state he died of wounds on November 9th however his body was never found. He was not reported missing so this implies that his condition was known but that medics couldn’t get to him. The war diary states that there was heavy shelling on the 9th and that a direct hit on “C” Company wounded six soldiers and destroyed much of the trench. However the diary doesn’t indicate that the battalion were falling back and so the only explanation I can think of is that he lay dying in a forward position and that his body had disappeared by the time the Regiment could attempt to recover it. A sad story indeed.
In 2012 Jonathan Capek kindly provided me with an excerpt from Sgt F.G. North‘s unpublished diary. It recounted the story of the 1st Lincolnshire Regiment on November 1st and the heroics of young Edward Dobson in saving the life of a Corporal Mealing. Recent research leads me to believe that this Corporal was George Gilbert Mealing, a 32-year old from Leicester who joined the Lincolnshire’s in 1901 and who saw service in South Africa. Mealing was injured on two further occasions but survived the war and died in London in 1936.
Although Edward lost his life 100 years ago and was never formally recognized for his act of bravery he is not forgotten by his family in England and in Canada.