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Capt Arthur de Bells Adam (MC)
1885 - 1916

CPL David Wallace Crawford
1887 - 1916

Lce-Corpl John Joseph Nickle
1894 - 1916

Pte 17911 Morton Neill
1897 - 1916

Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft
1883 - 1918
Lieut Edward Stanley Ashcroft

Pte 22675 John James Dobson

  • Age: 20
  • From: Bootle, Liverpool
  • Regiment: The King's (Liverpool Regiment) 20th Btn
  • K.I.A Tuesday 11th July 1916
  • Commemorated at: Thiepval Memorial
    Panel Ref: P&F1D8B &8 C.
Pte 22675 John James DOBSON, 20th Battalion KLR.

John James (known as Jack) was born on the 2nd Sept 1895, he was the eldest son of seven children born to Thomas Dobson and his wife Edith (nee Marsden) who were married on 09th June 1890 in Parbold, Lancashire. He was baptised at St Winifrede, Liverpool on the 8th Sept 1895. His siblings were May, Annie, Agnes, Thomas, Edith and William.

In 1901 the family were living at 55 Canal Street, Bootle.
Jack is 5 years of age and lives with his parents and three siblings. His father, Thomas, is a 38 year old ships carpenter born in Liverpool, whilst his mother, Edith is 35 years old and was born in Parbold. Jack's siblings are shown as; May aged 9, Annie aged 7 and new born Thomas. Also declared are two boarders. 

At the time of the 1911 Census the family were still living at 55 Canal Street, Bootle.
His father is shown as a 48 year old canal boat builder and his mother is 45. They have been married for 20 years and have had seven children all of whom have survived. John, as he is recorded is now aged 15, and is an office boy in a canal boat builder’s yard. His siblings are shown as; Annie, a 17 year old dressmaker's apprentice, Agnes is 13, Thomas is 10, Edith is 8 and William aged 4. 

On 09th November 1914 John enlisted in Liverpool joining the 20th Battalion as Private 22675. He gave his age as 19 years 2 months and was born in Bootle. He was described as being  5’7” tall with a 34½” chest, weighed 116lbs and had a fresh complexion, brown eyes and dark brown hair. He had been employed as a clerk.

Formed in November 1914 the 20th Battalion were originally billeted at He arrived in France on 7th November 1915.Tournament Hall, Knotty Ash before on 29th January 1915 they moved to the hutted accommodation purposely built at Lord Derby’s estate at Knowsley Hall. On 30th April 1915 the 20th Battalion alongside the other three Pals battalions left Liverpool via Prescot Station for further training at Belton Park, Grantham. They remained here until September 1915 when they reached Larkhill Camp on Salisbury Plain. 

He arrived in France on 07th November 1915.

He was killed in action at Trones Wood on 11th July 1916.

The murderous fighting that went on inside Trones Wood rendered it impossible to put specific dates on some of the casualties which is why many of the 17th Battalion losses have been bracketed as killed in action between 10th – 12th July 1916.The conditions are best described in the following passage from Everard Wyrall’s book The History of The King’s Regiment (Liverpool) Volume II. 

The remembrance of Trones Wood in July 1916 to those who passed through it is of a noisome, horrible place, of a tangled mass of trees and undergrowth which had been tossed and flung about in frightful confusion by the shells of both sides. Of the ghastly dead which lay about in all directions, and of DEATH, lurking in every hole and corner with greedy hands ready to snatch the lives of the unwary. The place was Death trap, and although the attacks were made with great determination,   the presence of snipers who could not be detected and often fired into the backs of our men made the clearing of the wood impossible.

His death was reported in the Liverpool Daily Post  on 24th July 1916:

DOBSON - July 12, killed in action, aged 20 years, John J. (Jack), "Pals", eldest son of Thomas and Edith Dobson, 55 Canal Street, Bootle. R.I.P.

DOBSON - July 12, killed in action, Jack (Pals), the dearly loved nephew of Mr and Mrs Dobson, of 82 Jubilee Drive, and Rangoon. R.I.P. (Sadly missed by all.)

On 26th July 1916 his father, still living at 55 Canal Street, returned to Preston a “Form 7”, a record of his son’s death, pointing out that the form had not been signed and “has caused us great trouble”.

A detailed report on his death appeared in the Bootle Times on the 11th August 1916.


Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Dobson, of 55, Canal-street, Bootle, have received intimation that their eldest son, John J. (Jack) Dobson, of the King's Liverpool Regiment (Pals), had fallen in France. Dobson attended St.Winefride's School, was an altar boy at the church, and later became a member of the Young Men's Society. He joined the Army in September, 1914, and was sent to France last November. Within the last few weeks his parents had a letter from him stating that he had got through the Great Push without a scratch, and that he and his comrades were then resting. Recently, however, they heard from his officer, Second-Lieut. Baker - who has since been badly wounded - that their son was killed. At Mass on Sunday, Father Blanchard made sympathetic reference to the loss, citing the young soldier as a worthy example to his many friends. Deceased was only 20 years of age. Prior to joining the service he was engaged in the office of Messrs Langstaff, Pollard and Co., forwarding agents, Liverpool.

Lieut. Baker, in his communication, said:- "It is with great regret that I have to tell you that your son was killed in the trenches two days ago. We are all very sorry - the platoon because they have lost a friend and I because I have lost a cheerful and capable soldier. Always cheery and willing to undertake any duty, your son died thinking of others and not of himself, and his last words were those urging his fellows to get cover from the shell which caused his death. He suffered no pain, for his death was instantaneous. He was buried just behind the line, and an officer was present at the funeral, which was as reverent as circumstances would allow. May God help you and give you comfort in your trial, which I know must be very great."

A number of the young soldier's comrades in the same section, in a sympathetic communication to Mrs. Dobson, state that her son was always cheerful and most willing, and his loss is felt by the whole platoon. Pte. Mangan, an old friend, writes that his chum was killed instantly and suffered no pain. He adds, "We attended Mass and received Holy Communion together prior to going in the trenches, which is a great consolation."

In November 1916, his father received his son’s personal effects - 1 shrapnel bullet, a pipe, cigarette case, letters and photographs. He later received his son’s 3 medals.

Jack's grave must have been lost in subsequent actions as his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial.

The Thiepval Memorial, the Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, bears the names of more than 72,000 officers and men of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in the Somme sector before 20 March 1918 and have no known grave. Over 90% of those commemorated died between July and November 1916.

On 01st August 1932 the Prince of Wales and the President of France inaugurated the Thiepval Memorial in Picardy. The inscription reads: “Here are recorded the names of officers and men of the British Armies who fell on the Somme battlefields between July 1915 and March 1918 but to whom the fortune of war denied the known and honoured burial given to their comrades in death.”

Ormskirk Advertiser 3rd Aug 1916 

PTE. JNO. DOBSON of the Liverpool Pals, who was recently killed in the big advance. He was the son of Mr Thos. Dobson, formerly of Burscough where the deceased had a large number of relatives, and where he was well known. He was 20 years of age. 

Jack was remembered on the first anniversary of his death in the Liverpool Daily Post on 11th July 1917:

DOBSON - In loving memory of John J. (Jack) Dobson, K.L.R. (Pals), the dearly beloved eldest son of Mr and Mrs Dobson, of Canal Street, Bootle, killed in action, July 11, 1916. R.I.P.

Jack is also remembered on the following Memorials:

Hall of Remembrance, Liverpool Town Hall, Panel 6

Bootle Civic Memorial.

Soldiers Effects to father Thomas, and pension to mother Edith. 

The family gravestone at St John the Evangelist Roman Catholic Church, Burscough, it records a different death date and reads:- 





Beloved husband of Edith Dobson died 19th Jan. 1931 aged 68 years  

Sacred Heart of Jesus have mercy on him  

Also JOHN JAMES son of above  

Killed in action 16? July 1916  

Aged 20 years  


Also the above EDITH DOBSON died 24th January 1941 aged 75 years 

We currently have no further information on John James Dobson, if you have or know someone who may be able to add to the history of this soldier, please contact us.         


Killed On This Day.

(108 Years this day)
Tuesday 18th July 1916.
Pte 27346 John Mawdsley
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(106 Years this day)
Thursday 18th July 1918.
Cpl 106108 William Alexander Unsworth
38 years old