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Alfred Dawson

From the National Archives at Kew

Alfred Dawson attended preparatory school in Malvern Wells, May 1895 to July, 1900. The school was run by G E Follard, Esq., at May Place. He left there for Clifton College, Bristol, in 1900.

Army record of personal details. Next of kin, Mrs M Dawson, 67 George Street, Portman Square, London, W1 and 78 North End Road, Hampstead.

Telegram to his father, Colonel Dawson, of Etwall Hall, dated 10th October 1916. "Regret to inform you that Captain A Dawson R F A was wounded Oct 7th and admitted to Red X hospital Le Touquet Oct 8th. Gas poisoning shell wound jaw severe."

There was no corresponding telegram to his wife, Martha, in these papers.

I had been hoping to find the specific action for which Alfred was awarded the Military Cross, but that was not to be. However, the citation was for "Distinguished service in the field" and was announced in the London Gazette on the first of January 1917. "His Majesty the King has been graciously pleased to approve of the under mentioned awards for distinguished service in the field," dated 1 Jan 1917. There were many names in the long list, not all of them military. It was, in fact, the New Year's Honours List.

When Alfred was killed in May 1917, Martha applied for a pension, but there was no more correspondence about that. However, there was an appeal for money from Alfred's groom, Bombardier Frazer, who wrote to say that he had not been paid since the war started. Colonel Dawson, of Etwall Hall, Alfred's father, sent the solicitors a cheque for £50, to pay his son's debt to his groom.

The saddest remittance of all was the following package of effects of the deceased to his pregnant young widow. "2 tobacco pouches, 1 match box cover, 2 wrist watches, (one damaged), 1 cigarette case, 1 photo in leather case, 1 pipe (damaged) 1 treasury note case, 1 leather belt, 1 small note book, letters, one whistle, I cheque book, 2 pencils, 1 handkerchief."

Derby Daily Telegraph, May 30th 1917

 Major Dawson killed

Passing out of Woolwich into the Royal Field Artillery in 1906, the deceased had gained his Captaincy in October, 1914, in which month he was mentioned by Lord French in dispatches and had the knighthood of the Legion of Honour  conferred on him by the French President. Further promotion came in November last, followed by the award of the Military Cross.

ADawsonSainsenGoelleFrom the MAGIC ATTIC, Swadlincote. Burton Mail

Major Dawson, M C killed

Major A Dawson, Royal Field Artillery, Chevalier de la Legion d'honour, M C was killed in action on May 20th. He was the only son of Lieutenant  Colonel and Mrs M S Dawson, of Etwall Hall. He was 30 years of age, and passed out of Woolwich into the Royal Artillery in December, 1905

He had his Captaincy in 0ctober 1914, and his Majority in November, last year.

Major Dawson served with great distinction in the War. He was mentioned in dispatches from Viscount French in October, 1914, and the French President conferred on him the knighthood of the Legion of Honour. His award of the Military Cross was in last year's Honours List. Recorded in the Times list of Military Crosses, January the first, 1917.



From the Times Friday May 20th 1921

"DAWSON In memory of Major A Dawson, M C Chevalier de la Legion d' Honneur, RFA. Killed in action 2nd May, 1917. Also in honorable memory of this gallant men who fell with him." 

His father, Colonel Mathew Smith Dawson, served in the South African War 1900-1902, with the Imperial Yeomanry, was an honorary major in the Army in 1902, Major in command of the Notts (Sherwood Rangers) Yeomanry from 1904 to 1913. He was Lieutenant-Colonel (temporary) in 1914, was Lieutenant-Colonel Res. Officers (Brevet Colonel) in 1917, the year his son was killed. He came from an illustrious military family.

VITAI LAMPADA written in June, 1892 by Sir Henry Newbolt.

There's a breathless hush in the Close tonight­
Ten to make and the match to win­
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it's not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season's fame,
But his Captain's hand on his shoulders smote­
"Play up! Play up! and play the game!

The Close of Clifton College became famous when this poem was published, for Henry Newbolt had been a pupil at Clifton from 1876 to 1881, leaving to read Classics at Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

Less than twenty years later, in 1900, young Alfred Dawson came to Asquith's House, Clifton College, and played cricket for his House, and sometimes for the School First Eleven.

Alfred would have listened to the stirring words of this poem, which in the following verses goes on to talk about a young soldier at war.

Clifton is a College which has produced many thousands of military men, and Alfred Dawson was following in his father's footsteps in going on to a military career. He won tenth place at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, for which he was mentioned in the school Honours list of 1904

Five hundred and seventy eight Old Cliftonians died in the 1914-1918 War, and during that terrible conflict Clifton provided the Commander in Chief, Douglas Haig, an Army Commander, William Birdwood, twenty three Major generals, fifty two Brigadier-generals and a young lieutenant, later Major, Alfred Dawson.

Alfred Dawson passed out of the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, in 1906, while still in his late teens, and served in the Royal Field Artillery. In that year his parents came to live in Etwall Hall. At the beginning of the Great War he was promoted Captain, and was immediately honoured for his bravery by being mentioned in despatches by Viscount French, and awarded the French Legion of Honour.

In 1915, in the Marylebone District of London, he married Martha Brook. In November 1916, he was promoted to Major, and on the first of January, 1917, he was awarded the Military Cross. Alfred was killed in May 1917, and in August 1917, Martha gave birth to twin daughters, Alfreda Mary Dawson, and Alfreda M V Dawson, named for their father.

They were born in the Golder's Green District of London.