Stanley Dobson

Area: Outwood, Wakefield
Born: 1897
Died: 30.4.1917
Service number: 200809 (2983)
Rank: Private
Regiment / Service: Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Son of Edwin and Bertha Dobson of Blacker Lodge Cottages, Outwood

War Service

Stanley Dobson was still working at Lofthouse Colliery when he enlisted in the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, joining the 4th (Reserve) Battalion. Later the battalion became the 2/4th Battalion, KOYLI and was brigaded with similar Territorial units in 2/3rd Brigade, West Riding Division
On 13 January 1917, Private Stanley Dobson and the 2/4th KOYLI, along with the 2/5th KOYLI, left Wellingborough by train for Southampton, from where they sailed for France. Landing at Le Havre, the 2/4th KOYLI, along with the 2/5th KOYLI, formed part of the 187th Brigade, 62nd Division.

After a month of railway construction work and trench familiarisation exercises, on the 20 February, the 187th Brigade went into the line, with the 2/4th KOYLI in reserve. At this time the weather was very bad and ground conditions atrocious, such that relief from the front line was taking place every 48 hours.

On 25 February, the brigade began a forward movement, towards Puisieux and Beauregard Dovecot, with the 2/4th KOYLI in support of an attack by 2/5th KOYLI, east of Serre. The enemy artillery was at this time causing problems for the forward battalion and the 2/4th KOYLI was ordered forward. Three companies moved to support the 2/5th KOYLI but progress became very difficult due to heavy enemy shelling, and the two KOYLI battalions were ordered to hold the line they had gained. For much of the following day, the 2/4th KOYLI was pinned down, but at 17.00 hrs. both battalions were relieved and returned to Mailly-Maillett.

Pursuit of the German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line was a slow job, as there was constant firing from the enemy artillery, machine-gunners and snipers. In addition, the enemy was setting booby traps and destroying everything useful in its path.

The Battle of Arras started on the 9 April 1917, and though the 2/4th KOYLI was sent forward to Sapignies, as reserve troops, they were not required. On 15 April, after a two day tour in the line, the 2/4th KOYLI returned to Ervillers, having incurred 8 casualties. The 2/4th KOYLI spent the rest of the month between tours in the line and practicing for the forthcoming attack at Bullecourt.
Stanley Harper Dobson, attached to the battalion’s Light Trench Mortar Battery, died on 30 April 1917, shortly before the renewed attack at Bullecourt. He was buried in the Military Cemetery at Ervillers, a small village between Arras and Bapaume. This cemetery had been established by the German army, prior to their retirement to the Hindenburg Line. The cemetery now contains 67 Commonwealth burials from World War One, of which 15 are unidentified. 

Stanley Harper Dobson is also remembered on the war memorials at both St Mary Magdalene Church and Parkside Methodist Church, at Outwood. At the time of his son’s death, Edwin Dobson had re-married and was living at New Hall, Burton on Trent.

Family Life

Stanley Harper Dobson was the third child of Edwin and Bertha Dobson of Blacker Lodge Cottages, Outwood. His father’s occupation was that of colliery banksman. Stanley Harper was baptised, on the 28 April 1897, at St Mary Magdalene Church, Outwood. In the summer of 1902, when Stanley Harper was only five years old, his mother Bertha Dobson died a few weeks after giving birth to a baby girl, Blanche Irene Dobson. She was buried after a service at St Mary Magdalene Church, Outwood, on 3 September 1902, aged 34 years. At this time the family was living at Greenfield Place, Springfields, Outwood. At the age of fourteen, after leaving school, Stanley Harper Dobson was working underground as a trapper at Lofthouse Colliery.

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