Lieut. General Sir William George Shedden Dobbie, GCMG, KCB, DSO, was converted on November 1, 1893.
“It was the first Sunday in November, 1893”, he writes, “when I was spending a half term holiday at Blackheath (England). I realized for the first time, although I had often heard it before, that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, had come to this earth for the express purpose of laying down His life as the atonement for my sin, in order to deliver me from its penalty and power, so that I might go free! I then and there accepted Jesus Christ as my Saviour, on the grounds that by His death He had settled my debt once for all…”
Dobbie was born in Madras, India on July 12, 1879. When he was only nine months old he was left in England to receive a proper education, which he achieved with success being a top-ranking classical scholar and a keen student of ancient military campaigns. He went on to graduate from the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich.
He was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers at the age of 20 and then served with distinction in the South African Boer War, winning the rare honour of the Queen’s Medal with five clasps, indicating further awards.
In 1904 he married Sybil Orde-Browne and in time that union provided them one daughter and two sons.
In World War I Dobbie not only won the D.S.O. but has the unique honour to have been the officer who issued the order to the British armies to “Cease Fire on Armistice Day, November 11th, 1918.
In 1940 Dobbie was called out of retirement to take on the role of Governor of Malta, which role called heavily on his military skills and his faith in God during World War II.
In his book, A Very Present Help, Dobbie gives gratitude to God for the deliverance He wrought during those incredibly dark days (1940-1942). In 1945 he toured the USA speaking to large audiences about the battle for Malta and always giving high praise to God.
His second order to the people and forces on the tiny island of Malta said, “I call upon all officers and other ranks humbly to seek God’s help, and then in reliance upon Him to do their duty unflinchingly.”
Dobbie was not alone in his strong faith in God. He received a telegram form the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, General Sir Edmund Ironside, as the siege of Malta began and the wording was: “Personal from the C.I.G.S., Deuteronomy Chapter Three, Verse Twenty-Two”. Dobbie looked up the verse in his Bible and found: “Ye shall not fear them; for the Lord your God, He shall fight for you”.
Malta endured more than 2,300 air raids and was so vulnerable that its ability to remain in British hands is truly amazing.
Dobbie summarised it: “The whole thing is a miracle–a long drawn out miracle. The siege lasted for two and a half years, and the odds against us, especially in the early days, were enormous. In the latter days the dangers were equally great but of a different kind. Our food supplies very nearly ran out and it was desperately difficult to get the food through the Mediterranean to Malta, but we just got enough through to enable Malta to turn the corner.”
Dobbie received many honours during World War II, including from the French and Belgiums. However his eldest son, a Major in the Royal Engineers, was killed in Italy in the latter stages of the war.
Lieut. General Sir William George Shedden Dobbie died in 1964.
This post is based on the work of my late friend Donald Prout whose love for books and Christian history led him to collate a daily Christian calendar. I continue to work with Don’s wife, Barbara, to share his life work with the world. I have updated some of these historical posts and will hopefully draw from Don’s huge files of clippings to continue this series beyond Don’s original work. More of Don’s work can be found at www.donaldprout.com. I am indebted to Don for awakening in me an interest in Church History, which I previously considered to be a little stuffy and of little practical value. I find in the process of updating Don’s Christian Diary that I am being constantly refreshed, illuminated or challenged by the lives of those who have gone before.