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Boys Scouts on Imperial Service

Sergeant Herbert Dobson - Killed
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, Sergeant 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. Sergeant 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 Lieutenant 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, Sergeant 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 Sergeant Major Barrow and Sergeant 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.

Captain 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, Sergeant Dobson, of this Battalion. He died fighting, and was buried in the presence of Captain Briggs and Lieutenant 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, Sergeant Major M. Smith, Company Sergeant Major G. Barrow, C.Q.M. Sergeant A. Wilson, Sergeant L. Harrison, Sergeant R. Butler, Sergeant J.E. Towers, Sergeant Douglas, Sergeant R. Borrowdale".

Scout Memorial Service
From R.E. Wright’s log book Dated “20 Aug 1916”

In Memory of Sergeant 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 Sergeant 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 Reverend 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 main-taining the efficiency and best interests of the troop. He was known to many scouts in the district, and his early decease has caused pro-found grief and evoked much sympathy.

Patrol Leader H Dobson
From R.E. Wright’s log book Dated “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.


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