DICKSON, Cyril Garlies (formerly COUPER)

Dickson, CGLieutenant, 2nd Bn., The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

Born

17th April 1890 at “Tintagel”, East End Road, East Finchley, London.
Son of James John Garlies Couper (Tea Buyer) and Emilie Blanche Couper (nee Moore)

Education

Blundell’s School, “Westlake”. Entered at the age of 13; January 1904 – Summer 1909.
He was a school monitor during his last two years in Blundell’s and a Head of School in his final year. The Blundellian wrote of him, “He was a valuable member of the Cadet Corps and the Choir, as well as of the excellent Westlake Choir. His strong and warm character was combined with a good deal of sound sense, and he left an enduring mark on his House.” He was captain of the gymnasium from 1906 – 1908 and won, with another student, the Public Schools’ Shield. He obtained the cup and silver medal for best individual. On leaving Blundell’s he obtained a scholarship for Sidney Sussex College in 1909.

Family Name

His parents changed their name by Deed Poll through their solicitor on 7th April 1904. Notification was printed in “The Times” on 9th April 1904.

Service

In 1914 he was based in Bangalore where problems with his teeth required extensive dental surgery. The dentist sent a detailed estimation of work required which survived with his service records. Also during service in India, he stood guarantor for Lt. K D Harris (qv) on his hire purchase of a bicycle for which he had to pay when both the bicycle and Lt Harris went missing. When he went to Africa he took his Indian servant Mahote with him.

The Offensive

At the outbreak of the First World War Tanzania was the core of German East Africa. From the invasion of April 1915, Commonwealth forces fought a protracted and difficult campaign against a relatively small but highly skilled German force under the command of General von Lettow-Vorbeck. When the Germans finally surrendered on 23 November 1918, twelve days after the European armistice, their numbers had been reduced to 155 European and 1,168 African troops. The Indian Expeditionary Force "B" arrived on the coast of German East Africa on 1 November 1914, and on the next morning they demanded the surrender of the Port of Tanga. They attacked it on the following night, but the German garrison, hastily reinforced, compelled them to retire. The renewed attack on 4 November was unsuccessful, and the force was re-embarked with 800 casualties. The 2nd Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, the 13th Rajputs, the 61st King George's Own Pioneers, the 63rd Palamcottah Light Infantry, the 98th Infantry and the 101st Grenadiers sustained most of the casualties; the 2nd and 3rd Kashmir Rifles and the Gwalior (Imperial Service) Infantry also took part in the operations. Tanga was eventually occupied by a Commonwealth force almost without opposition on 7 July 1916.

Death

4th November 1914.
Killed in action during an attack on the German garrison at Tanga. His family were informed by telegram on 9th November 1914.

After Death Administration

He died intestate as a bachelor with significant debts due to the misappropriation of his pay (seemingly, by his father) for some while. Included amongst these debts was a cheque apparently written on 1st Dec 1914 (Over two weeks after he was killed) to the Hon. Secretary of Bangalore United Services Club for 166 rupees and drawn on his bank Cox and Sons of Bombay which was ‘returned to drawer’. A committee at Nairobi met to consider his estate and to make a list of the available property to sell by auction those articles which in their opinion should be sold. The charges from the sale went to pay his regimental debts. Two gold rings held at the Military base in Mombassa and other items of a personal nature including silver cups won at Blundell’s School, were returned to his family. His father began the legal process to administer his estate but died before this was complete in January 1915 so his eldest sister, Miss Catherine B. S. Dickson and his only brother Charles Couper Dickson (aged 14 in 1918) obtained administration over his estate. His personal servant, Mahote, returned to India on the SS Bharta sailing to Bombay on 8th February 1915.

Burial/Commemoration

Tanga Memorial Cemetery, Tanzania.

Memorial

Tanga is on the coast of Tanzania, 56 kilometres south of the border with Kenya. Tanga Memorial Cemetery is south-west of the town. When Tanga was finally taken on 7th July 1916 the bodies of 270 officers and men who had been killed in the November 1914 attack were reburied in Tanga Memorial Cemetery. It was not possible to identify the bodies, and the graves are therefore recorded as those of 270 unidentified British and Indian soldiers. It is known, however, that these unidentified soldiers are among the 64 British and 330 Indian officers and men who died in the attack and whose graves are not known, and these 394 names are engraved on a screen wall in the cemetery.

Research

Commonwealth War Graves Commission - www.cwgc.org
Public Record Office, National Archives, Kew WO339/8559 and Medal Rolls: WO372/
“The Blundellian”
“The Register of Blundell's School, Part II 1882 – 1932” (1932) MAHOOD, A.S., Ed. Entry No. 4968 (Couper)

 

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