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Charles Neville Bruce Dawson

Servicenumber : 69165
Rank : Major
Regiment : Royal Berkshire Regiment
Unit : Attached to 4th Parachute Brigade
Date of Death : 20-09-1944
Age : 27
Grave : Plot 6. Row C. Grave 11.
Charles Neville Bruce Dawson was a son of Edward Elliot Neville Dawson and Muriel Simpson Dawson. He was born in august 1916. He was married to Sheila Mosley Dawson (nee Mayne), of Guildford, Surrey. They had two children.
Dawson was commissioned to the 1st Battalion Royal Berkshire Regiment in august 1936. When the Second World War broke out he was a Lieutenant and was send to France. In may 1940 he was awarded the Military Cross (London Gazette 22 october 1940). Dawson was injured to the foot and he was evacuated from Dunkirk. He was recommended for the Military Cross by Major F.N. Elliott who wrote on his recommendation: "This officer while in command of a coy on 27 May was wounded in the foot and unable to walk. He refused to leave his coy remaining with it during the morning and afternoon while the coy was in continuous action. His action as a Coy Comd throughout the period 11-27 May was exemplary and very gallant.
During the war Dawson developed a friendship with Brigadier Hackett and in late 1943 he volunteered for the Airborne Forces and in april 1944 he joined the 4th Parachute Brigade as Deputy Assistent Adjutant and Quartermaster General. In september 1944 he had become the Brigade Major. 
On 17 september 1944 Dawson landed on Dropzone X, near Wolfheze. He was part of the advance party of 4th Brigade and together with the 7th Battalion The King's Own Scottish Borderers he had to prepare the landing of his brigade. Dawson was involved in the fighting with the Germans on Dropzone Y, the Ginkel Heath, prior to the landing of the brigade. Not long after the brigade landed Dawson had to inform Brigadier Hackett about the situation and about the change in the overall plan, namely that Brigadier Hicks was now commanding the Division and that he decided that 11th Battalion would be removed from Hackett's command to reinforce the 1st Parachute Brigade in Arnhem.
On 19 september the Brigade tried to reach Arnhem, but was stopped at the Dreyenseweg at Oosterbeek. A lot of men were killed or wounded and eventually it was decided to retreat towards Wolfheze and then move to the Divisional area at Oosterbeek. The Germans were attacking the retreating Brigade and they were coming dangerously close. John O'Reilly, author of the book 'From Delhi to Arnhem' wrote about the German attack on page 179: "An attempt to stop the German advance was made by Captain James and Lieutenant Colonel Heathcote-Amory, leading men largely from 4th Brigade HQ defence platoon. This inflicted casualties on the enemy, but several Airborne men were killed and wounded, including Private Donnelly. However, Brigade Major Bruce Dawson rallied a strong force of men from different units and led a spirited attack, which surprised and stopped the enemy. "
A large group of men of the Brigade, including Brigadier Hackett and most of Brigade HQ, managed to reach the south side of the railway line and moved to Oosterbeek. Hackett wanted to bring the remnants of his brigade into the Divisional perimeter as soon as possible, but Divisional HQ advised him to wait with the move until first light on 20 september. During the fighting in the woods between Wolfheze and Oosterbeek Dawson was wouned in the right shoulder. Captain Hubert Brian "Jasper" Booty, also serving with Brigade HQ, made a couple of pictures during the fighting in the woods. Dawson can be seen on two of these pictures. On the first picture he is smoking a cigarette after having been wounded and one the second he is lying on the ground, looking up to Booty. Only seconds (or minutes) after the second picture was made, Dawson was killed by a sniper's bullet to the head. 
Major Dawson was given a field burial in a mass grave near Van Tienhovenlaan, west of Sportlaan, Oosterbeek. He was reburied in the Airborne Cemetery on 1 august 1945. In september 1945 he was awarded a Mention in Despatches for his actions in Arnhem. David Truesdale, author of the book 'Steel wall at Arnhem' wrote about Major Dawson on pages 198 and 200: "It was the opinion of Hackett that the behaviour of Charles Dawson was 'beyond praise'; that he was 'a tower of strenght' and did much to ensure the continued cohesion of the brigade the previous afternoon. In fact, from the outset of the operation, Dawson had performed with outstanding devotion to duty. Even at the moment of his death, he had been attempting to rally men of Brigade Headquarters, who were being scattered by the arrival of more German tanks. In view of this, it seems the posthumous award of a Mention in Despatches was quite paltry."
Sheila Mosley Mayne remarried Owen Walker and died on 6 december 2005.
Picture: 18-10-2015
Greater love
Hath no man than this. 
Dawson after he had been wounded Dawson shortly before he was killed
Sources: Website CWGC, website www.pegasusarchive.org, website www.paradata.org.uk, 'From Delhi to Arnhem', 'Operation Market Garden, Then and Now', 'Steel wall at Arnhem', National Archive and Roll of Honour


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