Monday, April 16, 2012

2nd Lieutenant Allan Dawson

Second-Lieutenant Allan Dawson


There was only one Allan Dawson listed in the CWGC database and his medal card had a next-of-kin address in Liverpool(not only in Liverpool but the vicarage of St James!)  so I am confident that this is the right man.

Family Information

An entry in De Ruvigny's Roll of Honour gives an account of Allan's life (transcript below)

Dawson, Allen, 2nd Lieut, Machine Gun Corps. 3rd s of the late James Naismith Dawson, of Manchester, by his wife, Mary; b Ashton-on-Mersey, 26 May 1885: educ prvately at Manchester and was later and for many years connected with Yorkshire and the State insurance companies, being appointed district manager of the North British Mercantile Insurance Company at Preston in July, 1914. He took a keen interest in work amongst lads, especially in the cadet movement and held a commission as Capt in the Church Lads' Brigade. Enlisted in the 20th (service) Battn. The King's Liverpool Regt in Nov 1914; was gazetted 2nd Lieut in Jan 1915; served with the Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders from the following Nov.; volunteered for machine-gun work and took a special course of training at the Machine Gun School; too part in the advance on the Somme, being subsequently transferred to the 22nd Machine Gun Coy., and was killed in action at Delville Wood Sept 1916 when, the infantry being surprised by a large force of the enemy concealed in a sunken road, they could neither advance nor retire, and were in danger of being destroyed; the machine guns were ordered to come forward, in order to cover their retirement, and he was killed while directing the position of his guns. His Captain wrote: "Dawson was a brave man and as thorough a gentleman as he was a sound officer. My personal sense of his loss enables me to appreciate the extent of your bereavement. He was always keen and his high sense of duty enabled him to carry out the most difficult of tasks unquestioningly and with a coolness and cheerfulness which always had a great effect on his men." and the Officer Commanding his former company: "He was a very good officer and a man of very high principles, which he always acted on. His men were devoted to him as he was most considerate and thoughtful to them." A brother officer also wrote "It was to my section that he came when he joined the company, and we were together constantly. We got on splendidly and the men liked him from the first. He was a wonderful fellow... In everything he showed the same characteristic, nothing was too small to be conscientiously atended to, and as a natural consequence, nothing was too great."

The 1891 census shows the Dawson family were living at Park House, Altrincham, they were a large household consisting of Allan’s father (who was born in Scotland and employed as a ‘calico printer’), his mother and 6 siblings (5 older, 1 younger than 4-yr old Allan) One of Allan’s elder brothers was Colin Towers Dawson, he was aged 11 and a scholar on this census.

By the time of the 1901 census the family had moved to Crumpsall. The father was now working on his own account (self employed), Allan (incorrectly transcribed as Adam) was aged 14 and Colin was a member of the Church of England Clergy.

By the time of  the 1911 census, Allan's father was deceased and his mother the head of the household in Orrell Park, Liverpool. Allan was working as an insurance Clerk and he completed the census forms on behalf of his mother.

Military information 

Allan Dawson's medal index card (Crown Copyright)
The medal rolls show that Allen Dawson received the 1915 star as a second lieutenant in the Liverpool Regiment and the British War Medal and Victory Medal as a second lieutenant in the Machine Gun Corps. The card gives the additional information that he had the regimental number 22976 as a private in the KLR and it notes his date of death as 3rd Sept 1916.

The reverse (bottom image) shows the address for his next-of-kin and it was his brother Rev C.T. Dawson, the address is the vicarage of St James Church, where the memorial was originally sited.

Thanks to the help of the Great War Forum I can now add that Allan Dawson was commissioned 18/1/15 as 2/Lt directly into the 20th (Service) Bn (4th City) K.L.R. this was one of the Liverpool Pals Battalions. (ref Army List April 1915, ref: 984d)

He was transferred to MGC 27/6/1916

Death and Commemoration

Second Lieutenant Allan Dawson was killed in action with the Machine Gun Corps at Delville Wood on 3rd September 1916, his death was noted in the Battalion war diary as shown below:

Map references to map GUILLEMONT 1:20000
Sep 3 (1916)
The Fourth Army manned its offensive in conjunction with the French.
The infantry attack at 12 noon was preceded by a bombardment which became more intense at 10:25 and intense from 11:20. The fire was then lifted at 3am and advanced in accordance with a carefully advanced barrage Table and behind it followed the infantry.
The objectives of the 22nd infantry brigade were:-
(a) PINT TRENCH and GINCHY VILLAGEwith a defensive flank along ALE ALLEY
(b) Trench from T.20.a.1.6. to T.14.a.2.3. and the portion of the road between T.20.a.1.6. and T.20.a.1.5.
On the left were the 1st Bn RWF [ROYAL WELCH FUSILIERS] on the right 20th Bn Manchester Rgt. 2nd Bn R War R [ROYAL WARWICKSHIRE REGIMENT] were in close support and 2nd Bn R Irish in Bde reserve followed the R War R until they occupied our old front line when the four guns of No 3 section were withdrawn to FOLLY TRENCH.
The company was to have been employed in the consolidation of GINCHY when captured 1st RWF were caught by heavy rifle and M.G. (Machine Gun) fire from the E corner of DELVILLE WOOD and ALE ALLEY which definitely checked the left of the attack in the vicinity of BEER TRENCH and VAT ALLEY.
The 20th Bn Manchester Rgt reached GINCHY.
At 4pm two guns of No2 section from MONTAUBAN were moved to FOLLY TRENCH under Lt Hardy.
In view of the check on the left the 2nd Royal Irish were ordered to attack ALE ALLEY from the S at 5pm and to consolidate VAT ALLEY . Two guns of No1 section supported this operation from the E of DELVILLE WOOD – however they came under heavy fire and 2/Lt DAWSON having been killed they were  separated. One under Cpl SWINSON withdrew to trench running SE from DELVILLE WOOD late in the evening and the other under L/cpl HENLEY  occupied a position W of GINCHY with a small detachment of the 2nd R Irish and withdrew when the Royal Irish were relieved on the morning of Sept 4th.
At 4pm the enemy made a strong counter attack from the NE and the 20th Manchester Regt withdrew towards out old front line.
At about 9pm 4 guns of No4 section were moved from MONTAUBAN o the trench running SE from DELVILLE WOOD (S.18.B.6.0) and 2 guns from No2 section were ordered to 22 trench. 6 guns of Nos 1 and 3 sections remaining at FOLLY TRENCH fired indirect fire to the E of GINCHY.
The line then occupied was substantially that from which the attack commenced but out troops in isolated patches remained on the W outskirts of GINCHY.
Late at night orders arrived for the relief of the Coy by the 20th M.G. Coy
Killed: 2/Lt Dawson
2 other ranks
Wounded 6 other ranks
Missing 5 other ranks

His family had the following notices printed in the Liverpool Echo:
12th September 1916KILLED IN ACTIONDAWSON – September 3, killed in action, Second Lieutenant Allan Dawson (Machine Gun Corps). Son of the late James Naismith and Mary Dawson, and the dearly-beloved brother of the Rev. Colin T and Nora Dawson. 88 John and James’s Vicarage, Linacre-lane, Bootle.

To commemorate his connection with the Boys Brigade his family donated a cup, the Allan Dawson Trophy, which was first awarded in 1917 (as reported in the Liverpool Daily Post 26th May 1917).

CHURCH LAD’S BRIGADEALLAN DAWSON TROPHYThe final round for the Allan Dawson Memorial Trophy took place between teams of six cadets from four home companies of the 3rd Liverpool Cadet Battalion Church Lads Brigade on Thursday. The earlier round deciding the teams to take part in the final shoot had been decided in four wing competitions. The results was that Southport Holy Trinity Company were the first winners of the trophy; Christ Church, Sefton Park Company were second; St Philip, Litherland third and Wavertree fourth. Cadet Williams of the Sefton Park Company was the winner of the prize offered for a best individual score. The fine cup presented for this competition has been given by the members of the family of the late second-lieutenant Allan Dawson (/Machine Gun Section of the Liverpool “Pals” Regiment) to commemorate his connection as a cadet officer of the Church Lad’s Brigade.

Second-lieutenant Allan Dawson's remains were exhumed after the war and reburied in Delville Wood Cemetery, Longueval grave reference XIV.H.2. The Rev C.T. Dawson of 42 Huskisson St, Liverpool had these words inscribed on his brother’s headstone:

“In courage and in gentleness, in honour and clean mirth.”

Probate records show that Allan Dawson left effects of £109 to his brother Rev. Dawson.

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