M.C., (GV)., with Second Award Bar, 1914-15 Star (2 Lieut., R. War. R.); British War and Victory Medals, M.I.D. oak leaf (Major)
M.C. L.G. 4/11/1915.
‘For conspicuous gallantry at Vermelles on 25 September 1915. Although almost in a state of exhaustion, he led a party of bombers down a German communication trench, thus considerably aiding the attack which was then made by another battalion. 2nd Lieutenant Dibben’s gallant conduct was first brought to notice by the Officer commanding that Battalion.’
Bar to M.C. L.G. 21/1/1920.
‘He was instrumental in patrolling and breaking up by conspicuously good work the enemy’s second attack force which was forming up in rear of the woods. His conduct all through this campaign has been marked for initiative and gallantry under fire.’
William Leslie Dibben, B. 1895 educ. at Monkton Combe, Somerset. Comm'd as a 2nd Lieutenant 1st R. Warwickshire R. served France from May 1915 . Also three times mentioned in despatches (L.G. 1/1/1916 and 22/5/1917, 30/5/1918 (Italy),
In May 1919, Dibben volunteered for service in a company formed out of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Warwickshire Regiment, which was attached to the 1st Battalion, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, for service in the North Russian Relief Force, and it was in this capacity, as cited above, that he won his second M.C., not least for his part in breaking up an enemy attack in the woods located at Mala Bereznik on 31 August 1919. Of this action the regimental history states:
‘The morning of the 1st [September 1919] dawned crystal clear, silhouetting the deep, dark pines against a turquoise sky. All was quiet during the hour of standing to arms, and there was no sign to presage the future. But at 9. 15 a.m. out of the silence a bugle sounded at Mala Bereznik; then a roar of voices, closely followed by a shrieking salvo of shells and a barrage of machine-gun fire. A second later the answer came. The guns opened rapid fire on the S.O.S. lines, and above the reverberating crashes of battle could be heard the unmistakable pop and blast of trench mortars, also firing rapidly. The yelling mob of about four hundred Bolsheviks of the 156th Regiment were by this time out in the open making for the wire round the Pimple, Banya and Summer House posts. But their barrage was poor; and machine-guns and Lewis guns accomplished what their own guns and our barrage had left undone. The roar faded out and the attack failed hopelessly.
About half and hour later Summer House post reported that there were about two hundred Bolsheviks in the forest, “jabbering and arguing the toss.” Soon after, Captain Peck sent out Lieutenants Dibben and Clews with patrols to locate the enemy. Lieutenant Dibben found the enemy in the dead ground in front of Pimple, digging in like rabbits. The patrol, charging, chased the enemy into the forest and took one man prisoner. Pursuing to the edge of the forest, Lieutenant Dibben spotted about two hundred of the enemy forming up for a second attack and much shouting. Returning hastily to the trench-mortar battery, he gave the exact position of the enemy and waited for the bombs to do the rest. Fifteen rounds rapid fire straight into the enemy’s demoralized mob produced the desired effect and the enemy dispersed to a safer distance.’
On his return from Russia, Dibben served on attachment to the King’s African Rifles 1920-25, in which period he was advanced to the substantive rank of Captain, following which he returned to regular employment in the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and served in India with 2nd Battalion – the regimental history noting he ‘dealt very effectively’ with a riot in Delhi in November 1927.
Major in June 1934 , Lieutenant-Colonel on taking command of the 1st Battalion in 1938, Brigadier commanding 114 Inf. Bde. March 1941. He was dismissed the service by sentence of General Court-Martial in June 1944, while still serving in the temporary rank of Brigadier as C.O. of 114 Infantry Brigade (L.G. 3/11/1944). Died in Bournemouth in January 1962.
MIC entry which states that his B.W.M. & Victory were claimed 6/1920, forwarded to the Colonial Office ad not re-issued to Dibben until 1923 but that his right to wear these and the Star was forfeited in April 1950 – probably on account of his earlier dismissal from the service. We have been unable to find the cause of his dismissal at this time. A somewhat remarkable group.