2/Lt. Robert Jacomb Norris Dale

Robert Jacomb Norris Dale was born in Kensington on November 13, 1884 and was the oldest of four children. His father, Bernard Dale, was a successful solicitor and managing partner in the firm of Dale & Company of Cornhill. Robert was educated at Haileybury College (1900-02) and later joined the Inns Court O.T.C. (popular with lawyers and others in the legal profession) in 1910, when he was 26, where he served for two years. By 1911 he was working as a solicitor in his father’s firm and living with his parents and two domestic servants in Wimbledon.

Robert Jacomb Norris Dale
Robert Jacomb Norris Dale with Father in the Background

But by 1914, apparently having now forsaken his father’s business and profession, Robert was working as a designer printer for Thomas Russell of Clun House, London a noted Commercial Advertising expert who was President of the Incorporated Society of Advertising Consultants and former Advertising Manager of the London Times.

The day after the outbreak of war, (August 5, 1914), he joined the 28th (County of London) Battalion, The London Regiment (Artists’ Rifles), as a Private (#1656). The Artists’ Rifles was a popular choice for volunteers of public schools and universities and as a Territorial Force battalion eventually provided a substantial number of officers both for the London Regiment and other Territorial Force regiments. After a very short period of training Pte. Dale embarked for France from Southampton on October 26, 1914 and was deployed with the British Expeditionary Force. He remained in France until June 17, 1915 when he left the Battalion at St. Omer to return to England upon being granted a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the 2/9th Battalion Manchester regiment (Territorial Force), dated June 18, 1915.

Interestingly, on his application for a commission he now described his occupation as: “Scholar; Author; Painter”.

He joined the 2/9th Battalion, Manchester Regiment while they were at Pease Pottage Sussex engaged in basic training. The battalion moved to Burham Camp, Kent on September 22, 1915 and around 3 weeks later, on October 13, 1915, he embarked on His Majesty’s Transport Ship Scotian at Devonport for Gallipoli with 10 other Officers, arriving at Mudros on October 24th and joined the 1/9th Battalion on Cape Helles on October 26, 1915.

He survived Gallipoli unscathed and sailed with the Battalion to Egypt, arriving on January 18, 1916. He was sent sick to hospital on May 2, 1916 and remained there for 12 days. Two weeks after his return he attended a 10-day course of Instruction and on September 15 was attached to the Royal Flying Corps for instruction in Aviation at 22 Reserve Squadron, Aboukir where he remained for a little over 2 months after becoming sick while with the RFC.

On February 22, 1917 he took 19 days leave in the UK, where he married the 24 year old Irene Rose Mawer, rejoining the Battalion in France on March 13. On April 8 he attended a course of instruction at the Army Telescopic Sights School rejoining the Battalion 9 days later. He was promoted to Lieutenant on July 1, 1917 and took an 11-day leave in the UK on July 28, 1917. On August 29, 1917 he was accepted to the Royal Flying Corps and was struck off the strength of the Battalion.

He was accepted as a Balloon Observer on Probation on September 24, 1917 and was attached to No. 33 Kite Balloon Section (9th Balloon Company) on October 20, 1917. He took another home leave in the UK from December 8-22, 1917.

Lt. Robert Jacomb Norris Dale was killed in action on January 31, 1918 in Italy when his balloon was attacked by an enemy aircraft and he was shot whilst in the basket. He is buried at Giavera British Cemetery, Italy and remembered on the Haileybury College Cloister Wall Memorial, Hertford Heath. He was 33 years old.