b. 01/01/1885 Barton, Gloucestershire. d. 26/06/1940 Chatham, Kent.
Claude Congreve Dobson (1885-1940) was born on 1st January 1885 in Barton Regis, Somerset, the son of Nelson Congreve Dobson, who hailed from Holbeach, Lincolnshire, and Louisa Alice Pierce, who hailed from Bristol. By 1901, Claude was a naval cadet based at Dartmouth. Dobson was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant on 30th March, 1906. After appointments in Niobe, Vengeance and Illustrious, he was appointed to Mercury on 12th January, 1907 for instruction in submarines.
Dobson was admitted to Plymouth Hospital on 19th August,1909 to be treated for syphilis, being discharged on 17th September. In 1911, Dobson was informed that he was to blame for a collision between B 5 and the Lily of Devon. He received the customary mild rebuke that he was to "be more careful in future." He was appointed to Monarch on 27th March, 1912.
Dobson was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander on 30th March, 1914. Dobson was appointed in command of the submarine C 27 on 7th April, 1914. On 20th July, 1915, C 27 sank U 23 off Fair Island. Dobson was awarded the D.S.O. for this success, being decorated by the King on 14th October, 1915 at Buckingham Palace.
Dobson was promoted to the rank of Commander on 30th June, 1918 and was superseded in command of the K 10 on 15th August, having been hospitalised two days previously, suffering from neurasthenia (a common consequence of syphilis, given the treatments available in the age). Given four weeks to recover, he was still unfit when discharged on 19th September, but on 10th October was deemed fit for shore service.
Dobson was appointed to Osea on 17th July, 1919 to command a flotilla of Coastal Motor Boats, and was awarded the Victoria Cross "for most conspicuous gallantry" when on 18th August, 1919 his C.M.B. 31BD was credited with scoring two torpedo hits on a Russian battleship in Kronstadt harbour during a raid that Dobson was commanding. Dobson was re-appointed to Osea for command of a C.M.B. flotilla on 18th December, 1919. His work with these small vessels would take him have to Haslar C.M.B. Base for command of a flotilla on 19th April, 1921. He was superseded on 15th December, 1921.
On 19th Octoberr 1920, he married Edith Archibald MacMechan at Emanuel Church, Clifton, Bristol. In 1921, she gave birth to twins. Dobson was loaned to the R.A.N. on 20th January, 1922, coming back on 9th January, 1925 for an appointment to Victory, additional for U.T. (unpaid time) no in excess of six months while he battled health and vision problems that rendered him fit for harbour but not sea duty. On 3rd March, he was appointed to Centurion, being promoted to Captain on 31st December, 1925 and being superseded on 5th January, 1926.
Dobson was appointed in command of the light cruiser Colombo in October, 1927. In October, 1931, he was appointed in command of the light cruiser Cambrian. Dobson was placed on the Retired List at his own request on 1st January, 1935 and promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral on the Retired List on 19th July, 1936.
Claude Dobson died on 26th June 1940 in the Royal Naval Hospital in Chatham, Kent. He was buried in Woodlands Cemetery, Gillingham, Kent. His medals including the VC, DSO, 1914-15 Star, British War Medal 1914-20, Victory Medal 1914-19 with Mentioned in Despatches oakleaf, and King George VI Coronation Medal 1937 are held by the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: NATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM, GREENWICH, LONDON.
BURIAL PLACE: WOODLANDS CEMETERY, GILLINGHAM, KENT.
Claude Dobson's medals including his VC and DSO from the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. (Jan 2015)
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
Courtesy of Stewart May
Freemason's Memorial, London (Brian Drummond)