Commander of the Order of the British Empire, C.B.E., Distinguished Service Order, D.S.O. GV, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal, General Service Medal, bar Kurdistan, Belgium Order of the Crown, Officer breast badge with palme, silver, France Croix de guerre 1914-18, with bronze palme, Belgium Croix de Gueere 1914-1918.
The fantastic Somme ‘Battle of Bazentin’ D.S.O. group of 8 awarded to Brigadier General Herbert Thomas Dobbin, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, 1/4th Gloucestershire Regiment and Commandant of the Iraq Levies, a truly gifted Infantry Commander, gaining almost an endless string of promotions, he was awarded the D.S.O. at Ovillers on 17th July 1916 as Temporary Commander of his battalion for capturing the enemy trenches, thrice awarded foreign decorations and about 25 years after joining the DCLI as a young officer, had the ultimate honour of being made Colonel of the Regiment.
Herbert Thomas Dobbin was born on 27th May 1878, in Northern Ireland.He was the son of Lieut-Colonel G.M. Dobbin of the Bombay Artillery.
He was privately educated at Bedford School, followed by a Commission in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry in January 1899, he was then advanced to Captain in July 1904 and served in the Gambia Company of the West Africa Field Force from January 1908 to January 1913.
With the outbreak of the war he embarked for France during December 1914, serving in the 2nd Bn DCLI until June 1915, during which time his unit took many casualties at the Battle of Ypres.
He was promoted to Major in September 1915 and had quickly shown his excellence in war, being made Acting Lieutenant Colonel holding a succession of Battalion Commands.
He was the man to rely on to be given command of a unit and have them flourish in action.
His first appointment was with the 1st 4th City of Bristol Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment, during the bloody battle of the Somme period of June to September 1916, where he won the D.S.O. for Ovillers on 17th July.
He took command on 29th June 1916, as part of the 144th Brigade, 48th South Midland Division.
They first began with the Battle of Albert from 1st to the 13th July.
The Action he shined in was at Ovillers, the Battle of Bazentin.
The 1st Battalion entered the Somme offensive on the night of 16th July during the Battle of Bazentin, following a push by the 21st Division into Bazentin le Petit Wood on 14th July, the 3rd Brigade advanced from Contalmaison in an intricate night attack which occupied the German front-line and support trenches Northwest of the wood, and strong-posts were established in the communications trenches (one of the latter being named Gloster Alley), for the loss of the Battalion of three killed and 25 wounded.
As 1st Battalion consolidated its position, the regiment’s three front-line territorial battalions were moving into the line 4 miles to the west.
First into action, Commanded by Dobbin was the 1/4th Battalion, which for the next two days fought alongside the 1/7th Battalion Worcester Regiment to capture the German Trenches west and Northwest at Ovillers at a cost of 275 men.
At the head of the attack the 1/4th did great work, warranting a D.S.O. for Dobbin which was swiftly approved and awarded, being announced in the London Gazette of 20th October 1916 with the following citation;
“For excellent handling of his battalion while temporarily in command, notably on two occasions, when he captured, respectively, 500 yards and 400 yards of the enemy’s trenches.”
Having consolidated their positions in the former German trenches north of the village, the territorials made local attacks against strong points to the North and Northeast. The intention was to gain ground towards Pozieres Ridge in anticipation of the attack on Pozieres itself.
This led up to the Battle of Pozieres, the Territorials had taken a three-week rest, returning to the line and pressing northwards, initially without success, but on the 21st august an attack by the 1/4th Battalion succeeded in occupying the first two lines of the Leipzig Redoubt about 1.5 miles west of the farm.
The various battles to hold Pozieres lasted until 22nd September 1916, Dobbin, having gallantly led his men, including the costly attack on ‘Skyline Trench’ on 16th August when enemy bombs and heavy rifle and machine gun fire made it ‘impossible to advance or withdraw.’ He ended his command on the 6th September 1916.
He was then transferred to the Command of the 1/8th Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, from the 7th September 1916, which he commanded until 25th February 1917.
He then made Commanding Officer of the 1/8th Ardwick Battalion, Manchester Regiment during March 1917.
He led the battalion into action at Havrincourt Wood until July 1917, after which he was appointed as Commandant of the 4th Army Military School.His final appointment of the war was having reached the heights of command as Temporary Brigader-General in command of the 75th Brigade.
During the war he was mentioned in despatches 3 times, not including his D.S.O., once in the L.G. on 1st January 1916, having seen service as Captain with the 2nd Battalion DCLI at Ypres.
Followed by 4th January 1917, likely for his excellent command on the Somme.
His last Mention in the L.G. on 5th July 1919, the war being rounded off with his Command of the 75th Brigade as Brigadier General.
Additionally he was honoured by the Belgians twice and the French one, awarded the French Croix de Guerre on 19th June 1919, the Belgian Order of the Crown as well as the Belgian Croix de Guerre both awarded on 24th October 1919.
With the war over, he relinquished his lofty role as Temporary Brigader General, being appointed as Lieutenant-Colonel serving with the West African Frontier Force from 1920-22.
He was then once again needed in command, being appointed as Colonel Commandant of the Iraq Assyrian Levies in October 1922.
He commanded a column in the operations against Kurdish Chief, Sheik Mahmoud from March to April 1923, The Sheik having installed himself at Salaimaniyah, in the north-east of Iraq, with the assistance of a Turkish force at Rownaduz.
He remained in command of the levies until April 1926, being awarded the C.B.E. in the London Gazette of 3rd June 1925, and awarded the General Service Medal with bar Kurdistan.
Having returned home and back on English soil he warmly welcomed to command the 2nd D.C.L.I. in Jersey in 1926, he was made Colonel of his original regiment, the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry in 1930.
In 1931, at the age of 53 likely tired of war or just with none left to fight, he was made Officer in Charge of Record and Pay Officer in Exeter.
After 4 years he retired and was placed on the retired list as Brigadier General in 1935.
He died after enjoying ten years of retirement, and was unmarried, unfortunately involved in a car accident in 1936 from a reckless driver, noted in the newspapers as enjoying playing plenty of golf in Devon. Having seen the end of World War 2 as a spectator, probably not of his choosing, he died in his home at Devonia, Knowle-road, Budleigh Salterton aged 68.