Alexander Middleton DOBBIE

              Royal Highlanders (Black Watch), 6th Btn.  

Rank & Number:    
2nd Lieutenant  

June, 1898; Bangor, Flintshire  

13 April 1918; France (died of wounds)  

Buried Pernes British Cemetery, Pas de

was born in June, 1898 in Bangor, Flintshire, to parents James J. (later Sir James), Chemist & Principal of the Government Laboratory, London, and Violet Chilton.  

He died on 13 Apr 1918 in France, at No. 4 Canadian Casualty Clearing Station, from wounds received in action.  He is buried at Pernes British Cemetery, Pas de Calais – the inscription reads “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God".  He is also commemorated on Fairlie War Memorial, and on his father’s memorial in Largs Cemetery – “Alexander Middleton Dobbie, 2nd Lieut. 6th The Black Watch, died in France 1918, aged 19; In short measure, life may perfect be”.  In 1919 his parents commissioned a stained glass window to be installed in Fairlie Parish Church in his memory.  

In the 1901 Census, Alexander, aged 2, is living Bangor St. Deiniol and St. Mary, Bangor, Caernarvonshire with parents James J (48, Professor of Chemistry) and Violet (37), and siblings Violet C (4) and Mary W (6).  

In the 1911 Census, aged 12, he is living 4 Vicarage Gate, Church Street, Kensington with parents James Johnston (58, Chemist, Principal Govt. Laboratory) and Violet (47, m 23 years) and siblings Mary Wilkie (16), Violet Chilton (14) and James Chilton (8) and servants.  

In the Valuation Rolls of 1905, 1915 and 1920, Sir James J. Dobbie is the owner/occupier of Fairlie Cottage.    


He enlisted in the Black Watch in London on 30 Dec 1916, and was gazetted 2nd Lieutenant on 26 Apr 1917.  The Largs & Millport Weekly News reported his departure for France in Aug 1917.  On 11 Apr 1918 he was badly wounded in the leg and it was found necessary to amputate the limb.  It was thought possible that he might recover, but he succumbed to his injuries two days later.  His medal index card shows that he received the British War and Victory medals.

Extracts from the Largs & Millport Weekly News:-    

18 August 1917          

2nd Lieutenant Alick Dobbie, Black Watch, eldest son of Sir James and Lady Dobbie of Fairlie Cottage, has been home on leave prior to leaving for France at the end of this week.  Bon Voyage! and a safe and speedy homeward journey is the sincere wish of his many Fairlie friends.  

27 April 1918  

The Toll Of War; Died In Hospital:  News reached Fairlie at the end of last week of the death in Hospital in France of 2nd Lieut. Alexander Middleton Dobbie, eldest son of Sir James and Lady Dobbie of The Cottage, Fairlie.  Lieut. Dobbie was educated chiefly at Westminster School, having gone to London when he was quite young when the family removed from Edinburgh.  From an O.T.C. he was gazetted in 1917 to the Black Watch.  He had been in France since September last, and was engaged in the recent severe fighting.  On the 11th inst. he was brought in badly wounded in the leg and it was found necessary to amputate the limb.  It was considered possible that he might recover, but the brave young officer succumbed on the 13th inst.   
The chaplain, in forwarding particulars to his parents, states that the sister in charge remarked – “He was just the same bright, brave, courageous soul until the end,” and those of us who knew him best can well believe it.  As a boy in the village he was a prime favourite, and his periodic visits will be sadly missed.  Much sympathy is felt for Sir James, Lady Dobbie and the family in their irreparable loss.

Extract From “The Quest For The Grail:  Arthurian Legend in British Art, 1840-1920” by Christine Poulson:-

“On 13 April 1918 at Pernes in northern France, Alexander Dobbie died of wounds which he had received in action two days earlier fighting with the 51st Division.  He was nineteen years old.  The following year his parents, Sir James and Lady Dobbie, commemorated his death by commissioning a window from Morris and Company depicting Sir Galahad’s Vision of the Holy Grael after G.F. Watts’s painting, Sir Galahad.  A scroll running along the bottom of the window is inscribed with lines from Tennyson’s ‘The Holy Grail’: ‘SO NOW THE HOLY THING IS HERE AGAIN / AMONG US BROTHER, FAST THOU TOO AND / PRAY, AND TELL THY BROTHER KNIGHTS / TO FAST AND PRAY, THAT SO PER-CHANCE / THE VISION MAY BE SEEN BY THEE AND /THOSE, AND ALL THE WORLD BE HEAL’D’.  The window also contained the crests of his regiment (the Blackwatch) and his school (Westminster).  It was installed in St. Paul’s Church, Fairlie, on the bleak Ayrshire coast.  There are here several layers of irony.  The most obvious and familiar is that of applying chivalric imagery to the trench warfare in which almost a whole generation of young men perished in conditions of the utmost squalor and brutality.  ……..”

  Pernes British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

                               Window in Fairlie Parish Church in memory
                                                of Alexander Dobbie                                                             

Headstone and Cemetery Images © TWGPP
Window Memorial © Nick Grigg

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Fairlie Community Association SCIO
Scottish Charity No. SC028785