Dobbins, Francis Leo

Francis Leo Dobbins was born in Rhyl, Flintshire during 1895.

The 1901 Census shows that the family lived at 7 South Kinmel Street, Rhyl, Flintshire.  The head of the family was John Dobbins aged 38, a General Dealer.  His wife Bridget Dobbins aged 35 and their four children – Catherine Dobbins aged 8, Justin Dobbins aged 7, Francis Leo Dobbins aged 6 and Winefride Dobbins aged 5 years.

By 1911, Bridget now 46 was a widow and still living at the family home was Justin Dobbins aged 17, who was employed as a Carriage Cleaner with London and North Western Railways, Francis Leo Dobbins aged 16, a General Post Office Messenger and Winefride Dobbins aged 14 years.


Headstone of Francis Leo Dobbins in Rhyl Town Cemetery.

On Tuesday 4 August 1914, Francis enlisted at the Drill Hall, Rhyl as a Trooper with the Denbighshire Yeomanry.  He died of natural causes some weeks later at the Cottage Hospital (Military Wing, Ditchingham, Norfolk.  His body was returned home and he was buried in Rhyl Town Cemetery.

Denbighshire Free Press – 10 October 1914 – Death of Trooper Francis Leo Dobbins.   We have received the following communication respecting the death of the above gallant young soldier.  We regret to announce the death, at the early age of 19, of Trooper Francis Leo Dobbins of Rhyl, whilst serving with the Denbighshire Hussars Yeomany in East Anglia.  The deceased was not in his usual state of health when he left Denbigh, and when he came to Norfolk it was found he was suffering from typhoid fever.  He was removed to the Cottage Hospital at Ditchingham, where he received every attention and care, but he passed away on the evening of September 30th.    

‘B’ Squadron, to which the late soldier belonged, arranged, at the request of his parents, to convey the body by rail to Rhyl.  The whole of ‘B’ Squadron, with Major Wrigley, Captain Griffith, Captain Platt (the adjutant). Captain Howell-Evans and Lieutenant the Honourable E Mostyn, marched to the hospital and escorted the coffin to the station, the charger of the deceased being led immediately behind.  On arrival at the station, a short but impressive service was held, at the end of which the Squadron sang a Welsh Hymn. The deceased always bore an excellent character, and will be much missed by all ranks.

The funeral took place at Rhyl on Monday. The deceased was a Post Office Clerk, and with a number of staff from Rhyl Post Office, volunteered for active service.  The funeral was largely attended, the deceased being the son of a well known former resident of the town. The Denbighshire Yeomanry was represented by a party from Wrexham, and members of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers Territorials were in attendance.  Wreaths were sent from the Yeomanry camp.    

‘Dulce Et Decorum Est P{ro Patria Mori’    The coffin, crowned by a Union Jack and beautiful wreaths was carried from the residence of the deceased’s widowed mother, on the shoulders of Postmen and Territorials, while members of the Post Office Staff and Territorials lined the street. There was a large gathering of friends amongst whom were parents of several members of the Denbighshire Yeomanry.  The service was held at St Mary’s Church and the Reverend Father Ashton delivered a very touching address, in which he paid a warm tribute to the memory of one who had gone forth ready to do battle for King and Country in a worthy cause.  Although he had not fallen in battle he was none the less a hero, as he had responded to the call of duty.  In taking his place amongst the defenders of the Empire, he had defended those who were at the service, and in that way he was their friend.  He asked the congregation to remember the deceased and others who had fallen, as well as those who were now fighting, in their prayers.  At the graveside there was a large assembly, including Captain Gribbon the old Balaclava hero, who was in company with Councillor R Hanlon.  

On 23 February 1915, payments of £1.3s.7d were made by the War Office to Bridget Dobbins, Justin Dobbins and Winefride Dobbins, being monies owed to Francis Leo Dobbins.

There is a Flintshire Roll of Honour Card for him at the County Archives Office, Hawarden, dated 12 September 1919.

Francis Leo Dobbins is also remembered on The North Wales Heroes Memorial Arch, Deiniol Road, Bangor, North Wales and on a Remembrance Plaque at The Royal Alexandra Hospital, Marine Drive, Rhyl, Flintshire. He is also remembered on the Prestatyn War Memorial.


Learn more about the other soldiers on the Rhyl Memorial

Back to top