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  • Christina Drummond

Captain Edward Charles Dimsdale, 2nd Battalion, The Rifle Brigade

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1915 Captain Edward Charles Dimsdale, 2nd Battalion, the Rifle Brigade, attached to 1st Battalion, The Monmouthshire Regiment, was killed in action on the Western Front during the Second Battle of Ypres.

At the height of the fighting that day, the troops who were facing severe attack had become cut off from battalion headquarters. The officers moved forward to the front line in an effort to gain some control. Attacked from the front and right flank, the battalion was in what was described as a desperate situation – a German machine gun situated on a farm was the cause of much devastation. Captain Dimsdale made the decision to organise an attack on the farm in order to silence the gun.

A letter written by Rifleman David John Jones tells the story: “The brigade which was supposed to relieve us failed to come up in time last Thursday. As we were in support we had to go back to the trenches. Early on Friday we went into the first line dug-outs. We stayed there all day and at night took our place in the trenches. Half had to go in the firing trench while the other half went into the reserves trenches, about 20 yards behind. Just after daylight the Germans opened a very heavy fire on us which lasted all morning. The shelling was awful and they blew in every parapet along the trenches. We realised that the position was serious about noon when the order came, ‘All support into the firing trench.’ Just as we started the Adjutant [Captain Dimsdale] came and said, ‘About turn; the Germans are charging. They have got the farm on the right. Who’ll volunteer for a charge and drive them back?’ Harry, Jack, Alf and myself at once sprang forward with fixed bayonets together with all the platoon. When the adjutant saw the response he said, ‘That’s right boys, come on.’ Just then he fell dead. But we kept on and when we came to the barn we made the charge. We were outnumbered by great odds. As the regiment we were supporting had been gassed, they could do nothing. We had to retire again….when we retired we got mixed up with some other regiments. When we got back to the trenches, we held on with the pluck which always characterises a British soldier. We suffered heavily but the Germans have suffered more so. As last when there was only a handful of us left and the Germans were coming on again, we had to retire a little way back, as the heavy firing which was going on stopped re-inforcements reaching us. We got the trenches back at the bayonet point. We have now been relieved after nearly a month of trenches and supports and are on the way back for a rest.”

Captain Dimsdale was the eldest son of The Seventh Baron Dimsdale of Meesden Manor, Hertfordshire. His body was not recovered and he is memorialised on the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial at West-Vlaanderen in Belgium. Within a year of his death his younger brother, Lieutenant Reginald Thomas Dimsdale, was killed while serving as commander of submarine E22, which was torpedoed in the North Sea by German U Boat UB18 commanded by the German U Boat ace Otto Steinbrinck.

Edward, from Chelsea, was 31 years old.

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