Queen’s Sudan (4034. Pte. J. Nicholson. 1/Northd: Fus:);
QSA (6) Belmont, Modder River, Relief of Kimberley, Paardeberg, Driefontein, Transvaal (4034 Pte. J. Nicholson. North’d Fus:);
KSA (2) (4034 Pte. J. Nicholson. North’d Fus:);
1914-15 Star, unnamed;
British War and Victory Medals (3-8913 Pte. J. Nicholson. North’d Fus.);
Khedive’s Sudan (1) Khartoum (4034. Pte. J. Nicholson. 5th. Fusers.) Regimentally engraved naming
John Nicholson attested for the Northumberland Fusiliers, and served with the 1st Battalion in the Sudan, where he was present at the Battle of Omdurman, and in South Africa during the Boer War. He was taken Prisoner of War at the Battle of Sanna’s Post on 31 March 1900, but later released.
He subsequently served during the Great War on the Western Front from 16 January 1915.
E&W Africa 1887 (1) Sierra Leone 1898-99 (Capt. Arthur. F. Dawkins. W.A.R.);
QSA (3) Transvaal, South Africa 1901, South Africa 1902 (Major A. F. Dawkins. North'd: Fus: M.I.)
Arthur Frederick Dawkins was born on 31 December 1865 at London and educated at Cheltenham College. Dawkins was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment from the Royal Military College on 25 August 1886. He transferred to the 1st Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers on 12 October that same year. He took on further training, passing in Riding at Woolwich in July 1891 and Mounted Infantry at Aldershot in September 1894.
Proficient in French and German, Dawkins was promoted Captain on 27 January 1895 and was seconded for special service with the West African Regiment in 1898. He is previously recorded as having been joint Acting Imperial Secretary together with Albert Browne C.M.G. from March-August 1896 (Colonial List, refers). The unit had only been formed prior to the Benin expedition in 1897, so his service must be regarded as one of the 'founding fathers' of that distinguished Regiment. It was during the operations that he cut his teeth and certainly gained plenty of fighting experience. His service was summarised by Colonel E. R. P. Woodgate, C.B., Commanding Troops, in his enclosure to the Governor and Commander-in-Chief, Sierra Leone (T.N.A. CO879/58 En.2 in No.17 refers):
'Proceeded in May to Bonthe at the commencement of the Mendi rising, and, with a few men of the 1st Battalion West India Regiment, took steps for the security of that place and of York Island, until the arrival of Lieutenant-Colonel Cunningham. He was entrusted by that Officer with the clearing, from the banks of the Jong river, rebels, whose fire had caused loss to parties going up and down the river. He afterwards remained in charge of the base and communications.
In October he proceeded with Lieutenant-Colonel Cunningham to the Karene district, and, working under Captain Goodwyn, took and active and effective part in the operations, which ended with the capture of the rebel leader.'
Lieutenant-Colonel Cunningham in his own report makes further note of the good service of Dawkins during the Mendi operations (T.N.A. CO879/54 refers):
'10. Next day the boats were sent back to Bonthe in charge of thirty men of 3rd Battalion, W.I.R. being fired on at intervals from both banks of the river Jong. Notes were taken by Captain A. F. Dawkins, of the places where the insurgents had mounted guns, with a view to capturing them on the journey up.
27. Meanwhile Captain Dawkins has been engaged in the clearing the neighbourhood of the base at Mafwe of insurgents. On 27 May, Tihung was destroyed, and a gun being captured, these operations had such good effect that Chiefs and headmen from the district round about Mafwe now began to come in and beg for peace.'
It was during those operations that Lieutenant-Colonel Cunningham submitted the following report of the engagements at Ronthe and Kissy in early 1898. The latter included a hair-raising hand-to-hand combat for Dr. Berkeley (Medal sold in these rooms, April 2019) who came face-to-face with a naked warrior brandishing a sword. The Doctor fired his pistol - which misfired - and he then slipped whilst trying to flee. It took a pair of shots from Lieutenant Steward (Second-in-Command to Dawkins) and Lance-Corporal Brimah Windai to fell the warrior who was seconds from decapitating Berkeley:
'Bonthe - 8 May 1898
I have the honour to report that in accordance with orders issued [to] him Captain Dawkins - Northumberland Fusiliers proceeded with a force as per margin (Dawkings, Lt. Steward & 25 N.C.O. + men, 1/W.I.R., Captain Wallis & 25 N.C.O. + men S.L.P.F., Surgeon Capt. F. Smith, A.M.S., Dr. Berkeley M.D., S.L.F.P.) to attack the village at Ronthe about 1pm where they were received with a hot fire from guns and a small brass cannon. The latter, which was subsequently captured, burst at the first discharge. A stockade composed of timber and corrugated iron was destroyed. The enemy was driven back and pursued into the bush, 10 being killed.
At the village of Kissy which was then attacked, further opposition was encountered. Here also a gun was captured, missiles from which struck Lieut. Steward's boat. Dr. Berkeley had a narrow escape here in a hand-to-hand encounter, owing to his revolver missing fire three times in succession.
No casualties on our side. The party returned to Bonthe at 8pm having inflicted considerable damage on the enemy.'
Dawkins was duly mentioned in Colonel Woodgates' despatch of 9 January 1899 having been 'brought to notice at various times for good services performed in suppression of the recent rebellion' (T.N.A. CO267/451 refers). His name appears on the nominal Medal roll dated 17 October 1899 as being on extension of sick leave from Africa - no doubt on account of the sapping tour of action - with him resident at his mother's address, 60 Pont Street, London.
Further campaigns - journey's end
Recovered from his sickness and returned to the Active List, Dawkins served with the 18th Battalion, Mounted Infantry in the Transvaal from March 1901-February 1902 (Medal & 3 clasps). His Medal is inscribed as the senior rank to the unit. Having been promoted Major, Dawkins married Lady Bertha Mabel Bootle-Wilbraham, third daughter of the 1st Earl of Lathom in 1903. With issue of a daughter, Dawkins died at Vaccar, Mauritius on 27 March 1905. She survied him and lived at Kensington Palace as a Woman of the Bedchamber to The Queen. Dawkins is commemorated with a plaque in Newcastle Cathedral; sold together with copied service record, campaign reports and research, besides email correspondence with the great-nephew, Professor Richard Dawkins.
Dawkins is mentioned on three occasions in The Advance of Our West African Empire.