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Dadson, Leslie (1884–1961)

by N. S. Foldi

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

Leslie Dadson (1884-1961), soldier, was born on 6 March 1884 at Sidmouth, Tasmania, son of John Dadson, farmer, and his wife Emily, née Flood. Educated at Bangor State School, he took up farming in the district. For nine years before 1914 he served in militia units, attaining the rank of sergeant.

Dadson enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force on 25 August 1914 and embarked in the Geelong with the 12th Battalion on 20 October. He became a corporal on 9 February next year while training in Egypt. The battalion landed at Gallipoli on 25 April and on 12 May he was promoted sergeant. In the bitter fighting at Lone Pine he led a platoon and on 16 August, while in hospital at Alexandria, was appointed second lieutenant, though he had earlier declined a commission, 'as he did not want to leave his cobbers'. After the evacuation from Gallipoli he remained with the 12th Battalion and moved with it to the Western Front, taking part in its major actions during 1916. He was promoted lieutenant on 25 May.

On 9 April 1917 the battalion attacked in the village of Boursies, which screened the Hindenburg line. Dadson led forward two platoons under heavy fire and captured two machine-guns; his bravery and initiative won him the Military Cross. On 15 April the enemy counter-attacked at Lagnicourt where he commanded 'B' Company. He took a small party forward to form a defensive flank and, though hard pressed, refused to abandon his position, while narrowly escaping capture; he won a Bar to the M.C. for his fine example of tenacity and pluck.

After eight months as an instructor with a training unit, Dadson returned to his battalion in March 1918 and on 10 May was wounded in action. On 11 August the enemy line in the Lihons vicinity, near Auger and Crépey Woods, was heavily defended, but Dadson's company, led with great dash and courage, captured fifteen machine-guns and three field-pieces. Commended for his conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty, he was awarded the rare distinction of a second Bar to the M.C. He sailed for Australia on 13 October with other 1914 men on 'Anzac leave'. On 23 February 1919 his A.I.F. appointment was terminated, though he continued militia service until country units were disbanded in 1924; in 1928 he was awarded the Volunteer Officers' Decoration.

Dadson returned to his farm at Bangor and in 1922 was appointed inspector to the Closer Settlement Board. He was the first president of the local sub-branch of the Returned Sailors' and Soldiers' Imperial League of Australia, and in 1921-24 was on the Lilydale Municipal Council. On 30 October 1923, at the Anglican Christ Church, Essendon, Melbourne, he married Margaret Ann Vaughan, of Oswestry, England. From about 1929 they lived in Launceston, where he was employed by the Agricultural Bank of Tasmania, retiring in 1950. In 1943 he was made a justice of the peace.

Survived by his wife and one of his three sons, Dadson died on 5 May 1961 at Launceston.

Select Bibliography

  • C. E. W. Bean, The Australian Imperial Force in France 1916, 1916, 1917, 1918 (Syd, 1929, 1933, 1942)
  • London Gazette, 18 June 1917, 1 Feb 1919
  • Reveille (Sydney), 1 June 1932
  • R. Clark, ‘Australian winners of the Military Cross and two Bars’, Sabretache, Apr 1976
  • Examiner (Launceston), 10 May 1961.

Citation details

N. S. Foldi, 'Dadson, Leslie (1884–1961)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/dadson-leslie-5861/text9967, published first in hardcopy 1981, accessed online 16 October 2018.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 8, (MUP), 1981

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