Charles Richard Edmond Dobney

Known to all as Charlie he was born 9.2.1927 in Stepney in the East End of London. He attended primary school and there won a scholarship but war broke out and as the family refused to be split up Charlie and his sister Irene (well known to many of us) stayed in the East End, his schooling being reduced to just half a day a week. Having been bombed out twice the family moved to west London where Charlie’s father worked. They were again bombed and moved to Boston Manor Road in Brentford, which remained Charlie’s home until last year.

Charlie started work at Siemens before joining his father’s textile firm. He joined a local detachment of Middlesex Cadets reaching the rank of corporal before joining the 6th Bn Middlesex Home Guard when old enough.

Charlie volunteered for active service in May 1944, aged just 17. He was enlisted into the 29th Training Battalion at Blackdown Camp, Surrey. From there he was transferred into the Highland Light Infantry and was further posted to the 10th Battalion Cameronians for battalion training and then to the 9th Seaforths for further training before returning to the Cameronians. Whilst serving as coy duty clerk he intercepted a call from Bn HQ calling for an overseas draft. The CO was not amused to learn that Charlie had put his name top of the list. He was promoted to acting Sergeant to supervise the draft. He boarded a train to Newhaven and from there a ferry to Dieppe and another train to Toulon. Then a ship to Port Said and a further train to Cairo where he saw the war out. Following evacuation from Cairo he was posted to No. 1 MCC at Sidi Bashir, Alexandria where he joined the MT section and reverted to private. He was again promoted sergeant but unfortunately contracted enterick fever typhoid and was in the General Hospital at Amiria for 6 months where he was attended to by German POW’s. Once recovered he returned to the MT section and then to 156 Transport Camp, Port Fuad as Transport Sergeant where he remained until demobbed in April 1948. However, notwithstanding his various secondments, he considered himself first and foremost HLI. 

Back in civvie street he began working for a company extending the chassis on former military vehicles for use as mobile homes. He was then offered a job in Brentford Market where he reached the position of transport manager before establishing his own retail business, ending up with a greengrocers, a delicatessen and an off licence. He retired from business in 1994.

In 1961 he saw a recruiting poster for the London Scottish. Missing the Army life and being a Londoner who had served in Scottish Regiments he thought this would be a perfect fit and so it most certainly was. He was put in the 3” Mortar Platoon, Support Company where he saw out most of his London Scottish service, reaching the rank of sergeant. Graham Kellas recalls one weekend motoring around the southeast English countryside on a map-reading radio type exercise foraging for fresh food (e.g. spuds). They discovered a pile of what they thought were fresh onions on a compost heap close to a house. Charlie, being a greengrocer, intervened before they cooked and ate them declaring them to be gladioli! Charlie remained with the old 1st Battalion until the TA reorganisation of 1967. He was transferred to TAVR3 for a short while before retiring from the TA in 1969.

In many respects that was only a mere turning point in his life as a London Scot. He was always an active member of both the Regimental Association and Sergeants Mess, attending every event he could. His membership of and support for, virtually every body with the wider Regimental family was manifold. His very considerable contribution to the London Scottish was formally acknowledged when he was awarded the Jock Anderson Trophy at Halloween 2009.

Charlie was an ardent supporter of the Children’s Party ensuring a plentiful supply of apples every year.

He was invited to become a Glenworple Highlander at the March 2002 meeting in recognition of his service to the Regiment. As a long time member of the Ancients he was elected Mine Ancient in May 2006 holding that office from October 2006 – October 2007. He was also a co-opted member of the Regimental Benevolent Fund.

Having served in the London Scottish when it was designated The Gordon Highlanders he also joined the Gordon Highlanders London Association attending annual reunion lunches and dinners.

He was initiated into the Regimental Lodge on 20 January 1972 remaining one of its most regular attenders until his deteriorating health prevented him attending meetings. He was Worshipful Master in 1983/84 and then spells as Assistant Secretary, Assistant Director of Ceremonies and Lodge of Instruction Preceptor. His contribution to Freemasonry was rewarded with his receiving Senior London Grand Rank. He was also a member of the London Scottish Riffles Chapter and after serving as MEZ was awarded London Grand Chapter Rank. He was made an Honorary Member of the Lodge in March 2013.

Perhaps most significantly he was the Honorary Treasurer to the Regimental Association for 15 years from 1994 - 2009. At the AGM in 2009 The Regimental Colonel, David Rankin-Hunt, presented Charlie with a fine Glencoe glass obelisk engraved with the Regimental badge together with a Regimental plaque both recording his years of service. Even when standing down he continued as Assistant Treasurer until 2013 to offer support and assistance to his successor, Tony Rawlins. As Treasurer he was responsible for introducing the now annual Association battlefield tours in between the 5 yearly pilgrimage to Messines and organised many trips to pay homage to our Regimental fallen in Italy and on the Western Front as well as adding variety by visiting Arnhem, Waterloo and Normandy. He also breathed new life into the Ceilidh organising it for several years. His sister Irene and her friend Dorothy were regulars on the trips and at the ceilidh.

For many years Charlie owned and managed a delicatessen in Teddington. When Bryan Alderson worked at Hampton Court Palace he used to buy his lunch there. Charlie had amongst his regular customers Benny Hill, who lived in Teddington, and Arthur Lowe who had a boat moored on the river nearby. Charlie told Bryan that one day Arthur Lowe came to the shop and told him he was going away filming for a few days, his daughter would be looking after his boat and anything she wanted just put it on ‘his tab’. This Charlie did, the daughter ran up a bill for about a hundred pounds. Unfortunately, Arthur died on location and Charlie never got his hundred quid, which was a lot of money then. Ripped off by Captain Mainwaring!!

In later years Charlie too invested in boat ownership, in partnership with Nobby Foulis. They bought the first of 3 boats in 1999. This gave him much enjoyment especially tinkering with the engines and instructing Nobby and Liz how to open locks while he remained at the wheel. Lizzie’s response on one hairy moment in a lock is not printable. Nobby tells the story of the day the steering linkage ‘thingy’ came loose and the boat started drifting towards Southwark Bridge. Charlie fixed it in the nick of time to avert disaster. Charlie took David James, Helen and myself on a lovely trip down the river to Hampton Court showing he was quite skilled as the ‘skipper’. Unfortunately dodgy knees and boats don’t go together and Charlie was eventually forced to sell it.

Sadly his declining health, combined with mobility problems, meant that Charlie’s attendance grew less and less frequent until he was unable to attend 95 at all, a source of great frustration to him. In 2016 he finally left his old house in Brentford to take up residence in warden-controlled accommodation just outside Reading. He celebrated his 90th birthday with a party organised by his son Richard and partner Christine at that home in February 2017 attended by family and friends including several members of the Association. He was delighted when a large birthday cake depicting the Regimental badge, baked by Christine, was brought in (see the last Gazette).

Charlie had married Jean in 1953. They had 2 children, Patricia and Richard. Very sadly Patricia died from severe medical problems aged just four and a half months. Jean died in May 1997. Charlie then met Maureen who accompanied him to many Regimental events. Maureen died in 2011. It was Charlie, along with Mark Ormiston, who encouraged me to stand as Chairman in 2002. I am indebted to Charlie for the support, advice and help he gave me in that role. He had been a huge part of Regimental life for over 60 years and his contribution was immense Good-bye old friend.

Yours aye

Steve Lovelock

Peter Brodie-Fraser

Most sadly, I have to report that Peter died, at home, on June 18th, aged 84.

His military service commenced with training in the cadets at Emanuel School, Battersea. Soon a er, he started his two year National Service commitment in The Black Watch. His primary training was at Fort George, Inverness, and he later saw active service in the Korean War. Perhaps understandably, he spoke seldom of this period, but mention was made of one particular night spent soundly asleep in his tent while the Battalion position was overrun by the Chinese and then retaken by his comrades before dawn.

On discharge, he commenced a career in advertising and soon gained a reputation for meticulous work, and always being willing to ‘go the extra mile’ for his clients. He joined the London Scottish (A Coy) in ’53 and was first mentioned in the Gazette as a “pillar of strength” in the same year. Hardly surprising, as he was a most regular attendee at drill night and week-end training. Through the years he also took part in Battalion rugger, shooting and basket-ball matches (this last somewhat reluctantly when cajoled into participation by yours truly). He was also a staunch supporter of the Regimental Reel Club, and it was there that he met Pat in ’57. In ’63 they celebrated a marriage that was to last 53 years. By ’55 he was a L/Cpl, Signals Cpl in ’57, Signals Sgt in ’63 and CQMS. HQ Coy in ’65. In ’67, along with so many other excellent London Scots he was transferred to AVR III, City of London Yeomanry and served until their eventual disbandment in ’70.

However, this was by no means the end of his ‘service’ in the London Scottish. In the same year he was persuaded to ‘volunteer’ to assist at the Annual Children’s Party, not as a clown, but as the rear half of Spider – The Wonder Horse. This entailed squeezing into a very uncomfortable ‘skin’ and being molested by some 2-300 children whilst endeavouring to dance the Highland Fling. Astonishingly, he performed this very demanding annual chore right up to ’89.

All this time he continued to visit HQ from his home on Walton-on-Thames, and was elected President of the Sgts’ Mess in ’68. In 2005 he was elected to both The Ancients and the Glenworple Highlanders. Even after he and Pat moved to Baschurch, near Shrewsbury, in ’09 – in order to be near his daughter, Fiona, son-in-law David and their three grandchildren, Peter continued to attend our functions right up until recently, when the journey just became too much.

Our thoughts go out to Pat, Fiona and son Alastair and their four grandchildren.

Altogether, Peter was a very good example of a true London Scot – through and through. One of those who have kept the London Scottish Family together for so many years. He will be greatly missed by his peers – especially me.

Alan Morris

The funeral was held in Shrewsbury on July 5th.

Andy Parsons was the piper and six Ancients attended their presence being greatly appreciated by Pat and the family.

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