David Dobie

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David Theodore Dobie

(1912-10-21)October 21, 1912
Tynemouth , England
DiedDecember 12, 1971(1971-12-12) (aged 59)
Nairobi, Kenia
Cause of deathHeart attack
CitizenshipUnited Kingdom
OccupationArmy officer
Years active1936-1971
AwardsMilitary Order of William (1947)

David Theodore Dobie (Tynemouth (Engeland), October 21, 1912 – Nairobi (Kenia), December 12, 1971) was a British Army officer who fought during the Second World War. He had a leading role during the Battle of Arnhem (Operation Market–Garden) and he was the architect of Operation Pegasus I, successfully evacuating a large group of men trapped in German occupied territory who had been in hiding since the Battle of Arnhem.

Early military career

Dobie joined the British Army in 1936. When the Second World War began Dobie was a lieutenant in the 50e infantry division. In January 1940 the division was sent to France. In June 1940 the British Army, with Dobie, was evacuated at Dunkirk.

Operation Torch (November 8–16, 1942)

Next year Dobie was promoted to Major. He volunteered for the new to be formed airborne division. In September he was appointed company commander of B-Company of the 3th Battalion. He was then sent to Tunisia and participated in Operation Torch. For this action he was awarded his first Distinguished Service Order (DSO) on April 1943. Dobie was sick when he returned to England.

Battle of Arnhem (Operation Market-Garden)

After his recovery Dobie joined the British 6th Airborne Division. Early 1944 he returned to the 1st Airborne Division and commanded the 1st Battalion of the 1st Brigade in the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. The 1st battalion was deployed during the Battle of Arnhem. After landing on the Ginkelse Heide near Ede on September 17, 1944, it was ordered to advance through the Ede-Arnhem road and to occupy the high, northern part of Arnhem, in order to protect the 2nd and 3rd battalion with the Arnhemse Rijnbrug as objective.[1] The 2nd battalion led by John Frost was the only one to reach the Rhine Bridge. German opposition was much tougher than expected, cutting him off from the rest of the division.

On the way to Arnhem, Dobie's battalion met with fierce resistance at the Amsterdamseweg near Wolfheze. Dobie led his men off the road and tried to head towards the bridge in a circumferential motion. However, the British did not make much progress.

The 1st battalion suffered heavy losses on 19 September during fighting in Arnhem, where they got stuck on the way to the Rijnbrug near the Elisabeths Gasthuis. Dobie was injured and captured by the Germans, but later managed to escape.[2] He was taken to the Sint Elisabeth hospital. Dobie ran away when a German confiscated his watch and showed it to a nurse. He found shelter with a Dutch doctor who lived near the Sint Elisabethgasthuis. After two weeks, he was smuggled out of the city. He then independently attempted to cross the Rhine, but failed due to the strong German presence near the riverbank. He was then picked up by Elisabeth Spies while he was roaming the Ginkelse Heide. She brought him to Ede, where on 16 October he came into contact with Menno de Nooij, one of the leaders of the Edese resistance.[3]

Operation Pegasus I

Through De Nooij, Dobie got back in touch with his immediate superior Gerald Lathbury, who was in hiding in Ede, and Derk Wildeboer, leader of the Domestic Armed Forces in the Ede region. After the battle, many British soldiers remained in occupied territory. Dobie was housed with resistance fighter Henk Wildenburg at 16 Korenbloemstraat in Ede.[4]

Together with the Dutch resistance, Dobie developed a plan to get them behind Allied lines. Dobie himself was progressing. Via Maurik he was taken by bicycle to Tiel by Joop Meier, a member of Johannes van Zanten's gang, where he found shelter with the Noordzij family.[5] In the night of 19 October he was transferred by Frans de Vilder in a boat up the Waal. An oar broke in half, after which Dobie broke a bench in half and used that plank as an oar.[6] After safely reaching the Allied lines, he consulted with Lieutenant General Miles Dempsey in Eindhoven, agreeing to a rescue.[7] On the night of 22 to 23 October, one hundred and forty soldiers were successfully transferred across the Rhine. Dobie received the Military Order of William in March 1947 for his role during Operation Pegasus I.

Post-Second World War

After the war, Dobie started the company DT Dobie. It became the dealer for Mercedes-Benz in East Africa, later supplemented by the Nissan brand.[8]

Personal life

Dobie had two daughters and a son with his wife Rex. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack in Kenya on December 12, 1971.[9]


  1. Ryan, Cornelis (1977). Een brug te ver. Bussum: Van Holkema & Warendorf. p. 207. ISBN 9789026945168.
  2. Ryan, Cornelis. Een brug te ver. pp. 310–311.
  3. Heaps, Leo (1976). De gans is gevlogen: de opzienbarendste massale ontsnapping uit de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Bussum: Van Holkema & Warendorf. pp. 116–119. ISBN 9789026945397.
  4. Haverhoek, Cees (2008). Pegasus. Ede: Gemeente Ede. p. 24. ISBN 9789079623020.
  5. In the night of October 22 to 23, Maarten Noordzij together with Piet Oosterlee and Geurt van der Zalm were catched by the Germans while they were preparing crossing the river. Oosterlee was shot when he tried to escape. Noordzij and Van der Zalm disappeared without a trace. Their bodies were never found.
  6. Laurentius, Victor (2002). De Betuwe in stelling. Kesteren: Arend Datema Instituut. pp. 51–52. ISBN 9789080117396.
  7. Heaps, Leo (1976). De gans is gevlogen: de opzienbarendste massale ontsnapping uit de Tweede Wereldoorlog. Bussum: Van Holkema & Warendorf. p. 117. ISBN 9789026945397.
  8. About DT Dobie, www.iko.ke, consulted on August 29, 2020
  9. "David Dobie in Kenia overleden". De Telegraaf. September 20, 1972.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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