Royal Highlanders (Black Watch), 6th Btn.
Rank & Number: 2nd
1898; Bangor, Flintshire
April 1918; France (died of wounds)
Other: Buried Pernes British
Cemetery, Pas de Calais
MIDDLETON DOBBIE 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.
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).
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)
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:-
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