Provided by Steve Dobson
My name is Steve Dobson and I’m submitting this information on behalf of my Dad.
I’ve just come back from visiting my Father, who from 1944 to 1947 belonged to the HLI, City of Glasgow Regiment. My Dad, who turned 91 in May, still talks about his days in the HLI. He had recorded a programme which had been on the Yesterday Channel as part of a series called “Infamous Assassinations” this particular programme was about the death of Israeli Prime minister Yitzhak Rabin. The programme gives the back story to the setting up of Israel and about 12 or 13 minutes into the programme, it talks about the Peacekeeping Force sent into Palestine to try and keep the Jews out. The camera flickers showing Jews in Jerusalem and pans across to a group of British soldiers stood by a Bren Gun Carrier, with the number 62 on its front. There are five soldiers, all members of the HLI, Tam o’Shanters on heads and rifles in hands. There amongst the group, second on the right, is a 19 year old Charles Robert Dobson, my father. Or at least we’re 98% sure it’s my Dad, who was a Bren gun man. The image only lasts seconds, but we paused it and sure enough it looks like my Dad, or at least photos I have of him at that age. My Dad tells me that the White Triangle on the arms of the soldiers shows that they belonged to 1st Division, and Dad was in A Company of the HLI. However he can’t recall the names of the other guys in the group, apart from he thinks one may have been called Ballantine. I thought that HLI Association members might like to watch the programme as it is bound to be repeated.
My Dad’s details are Charles Robert Dobson, born 27th May 1926, Liverpool, England. Service Number 14986559, A Company, 1st Battalion, Highland Light Infantry, City of Glasgow Regiment. At the time of the photo, which my Dad thinks was in the winter of 1945-46, because their wearing full uniform, if it had not been winter they would have shorts on, my father was a Lance Corporal and by the time he was demobbed in 1947, he was a Corporal.
My Dad was one of only two Liverpool lads in the HLI (at that time) and of course he was known as “Scouse” or as the Scots guys called him “Scoose” in their Scots brogue. His best friend was a guy called Angus McWilliam of Peterhead, Dad is still in contact with Angus. The only other Liverpudlian my Dad can remember was a guy called Charlie Warwick, who was a Bren Gun Carrier Driver and was in S Company.
So how did a lad from Liverpool, with no Scots ancestry end up in the HLI? Well, in 1944, Dad signed up for the Navy, then it was decided that soldiers rather than sailors were needed so he was transferred to the Army, he tells me that the 149 at the start of his Service Number show that he was a transferee. He was send over to Northern Ireland for his basic training, In the County Down area, not far from Newcastle. Whilst there D Day happened, and after training in about August 1944, he found himself amongst a party of 100 soldiers shipped from Tilbury Docks in London on an American Troop Ship to Belgium. Once in Belgium, the 100 were spilt in half, 50 went into the HLI and the other 50 others ended up with another Scots regiment, possibly the Black Watch or Argyle and Sutherlands. My Dad heard that these 50 guys were all killed later in the war.
The HLI were at time part of the 53rd Welsh Division according to Dad and they went into Germany in February 1945 at a place called Goch, which is south east of Nijmegen in Holland. He ended up in Hamburg near the end of April 1945 and he tells a story of being posted on guard duty at Hamburg Cathedral on May 8th, the night the war in Europe ended. The place they were particularly guarding was the wine cellars below the Cathedral; you can imagine the chaos that eschewed with a load of young Scots lads and a Scouser guarding a cellar full of wine!!
After the VE day, Dad was on guard duty at a barracks were Josef Kramer and other prisoners from the Belsen camp where held. Then about July or August they were flown in a converted Stirling Bomber from Brussels to a place called Heliopolis near Cairo, Egypt, for one month’s acclimatisation to the heat before going into Palestine. Dad remembers that VJ day, August 14th, happened whilst he was out there, as he remembers discussing the Atom Bombs etc. Anyway he ended up spending about 2½ years out in Palestine in various locations. Dad remembers the footballer and later manager,Tommy Docherty, joining D company at some point whilst they were in Palestine.
After the war, he was one of many reservists, who were called up because of the war in Korea, luckily he was never sent to Korea and went back to civvy street, working as a tram and bus driver in Liverpool. Dad remained in the TA for many years but was then attached to the Royal Artillery; by the time he was discharged from the TA in 1960 he’d reached to rank of Sergeant.
He was able to put his time in the Army to use, because of an organisation called the Royal Artillery Association. Through which he managed to get a job as a chauffeur to the Managing Director of a shipping company.
Luckily despite being 91, his memory is fantastic, so hopefully he’ll come up with some more interesting stuff.