006 – Private Russell Harry Aubrey Dawson

Private Russell Harry Aubrey Dawson Killed in action
29 July 1917

Like Crole, just what motivated a 41 year old married father of four children to enlist is unclear. It is quite possible that he felt if enlisted he would be able to keep an eye on his two sons who were in uniform (12th Battalion) and at the Front already. He also had at least one step-son at the front also serving in the Field Artillery Brigade.

Russell Dawson, whose nickname in the AIF was ‘Jumbo’ was a carpenter having learnt his trade in Western Australia. He later returned to Tasmania and was living at Scottsdale with his wife and two of his four children when he made the decision to volunteer for enlistment.

As an older man, it would appear that the decision was made for him to join the medical corps of the newly formed 40th Battalion. It was common for members of the 40th Battalion Band also to be part of the medical corps. Apparently Private Dawson was also a dab hand at playing the kettle drums and a useful addition to the band. He was also appointed batman to Captain Wendell Inglis Clark, the Regimental Medical Officer for the 40th Battalion. On 29 July 1917, the Battalion was at Messines Ridge in Belgium. According to eye witness accounts provided to the Red Cross Wounded and Missing Bureau, Private Russell Dawson was standing near the dug out when he was hit by a 5.9in shell and was killed instantly. His body was later carried out by two or three Pioneers and was buried in Kandahar Farm Cemetery,

A photograph of his original beautifully made grave marker was published in the Weekly Courier in February 1919. See No. 89. This has since been replaced. By the time of the Armistice in 1918 Mrs Dawson had lost her husband, a son and a daughter (Nurse Mary Dawson aka Grosvenor). Another two sons also served but survived to return to Australia.