DAWSON, Robert William Palliser (Lt Col)
Officer Commanding No 4 Commando from 1943 until 1945.
Lt. Robert Dawson was one of the first subalterns to join No 4 Commando in 1940, later taking part in the Dieppe raid as Captain of 'C' troop. The following year he was promoted Major and 2 i/c No 4 Commando when the then 2i/c, Major Derek Mills-Roberts, left to take over as OC No 6 Commando.
In late April 1943, Lord Lovat, left No 4 and Major Dawson was promoted OC No 4 Commando. With the planned increase in the the number of Commando units, Lord Lovat was to raise and then command the new 1st Special Service Brigade.
Lt Col Dawson was awarded the DSO for "gallant and distinguished services in Normandy." He was wounded twice during he action at Ouistreham on the 6th June 1944 but continued to lead the attack. The citation adds that "It was due to his leadership and direction that the attack was successfully pressed home.
In 1945 Lt Col Dawson received a MiD for "gallant and distinguished service in North-West Europe."
Post war Lt Col Dawson was a regulat attendee at remembrance events in France and Holland. He was awarded a CBE in the 1959 New Years' Honour List, and was President of the Commando Association in the years 1959/60 and 1978/9.
He was honoured by the French Government with the award of the Croix de Guerre. (Source: National Archives WO 373/185)
The death of Lt Col Dawson was announced in Commando Assocition Newsletter 87 where the then General Secretary, Henry Brown OBE, wrote:
"Much has already, and rightly, been recorded of Robert Dawson's tuly sterling service as a Troop and later the Commanding Officer of No. 4 Commando. The men of this Commando Unit, both French and British, at all times followed him willingly and with devotion, having full confidence in his wise and fearless leadership. All were proud and privileged to serve under his command. One cannot adequately describe in words Robert Dawson's true worth to our Association, or the degree to which he will be greatly missed.
In particular, we shall treasure the memory of his two terms as an outstanding President, and the many years he served as a Trustee of the Commandos' Benevolent Fund. Whenever we sought his wise counsel, which was often, this was always forthcoming and there was never any doubt that the opinions he so kindly expressed had originated only after much careful thought. We will never forget his charm, kindness and understanding, and will always feel very privileged to have known him. We deeply mourn the passing of a very dear friend and comrade, and a very staunch supporter of our Commando cause.
Our very deep and sincere sympathy goes out to his dear widow, Jean and her lovely family, in the irreparable loss thet have sustained".