An FID DSO from the next Morton and Eden auction
QSA (2) CC OFS (Capt: J. Q. Dickson, D.S.O., F.I.D.); officially engraved;
KSA (2) (Capt: J. Q. Dickson, D.S.O., F.I.D.); officially engraved;
DSO LG 31 Oct 1902: ‘In recognition of services during the operations in South Africa’
MID Lord Kitchener’s Despatch in London Gazette, 23.06.1902
John Quayle-Dickson was born 20 November 1860, the son of Major General E.J. Dickson (91st Foot, late 75th) of The Green, Castletown, Isle of Man and Lucy Mylrea Quayle, and elder brother of Graham Joseph and Reginald (see preceding two lots). Educated at King William’s College, Isle of Man, he served in the Boer War initially as a Lieutenant with Nesbitt’s Horse between May and August 1900, but then, presumably having shown talent as a scout and guide, he joined Colonel David Henderson’s Field Intelligence Department in September that year, which recruited largely from the various mounted regiments. As an Intelligence Officer, he would have been attached to a particular column, and given a small team of native scouts for reconnaissance and information gathering. He remained with the F.I.D. until the 22nd of July 1902, when he was discharged, and was awarded the DSO for his services. In this war in particular, the role of scouts and Field Intelligence began to properly be recognised, and sowed the seeds for the eventual development of large-scale Military Intelligence in WWI.
Having picked up some useful language skills, and having come to know his team of native scouts well, Major Dickson was soon after made a member of the South Africa Native Affairs Commission, 1903-5; an Adviser in Native Affairs to the Orange River Colony Government, 1903-9. Considered a ‘haughty old man from the Veldt’ by some, he later took the position of Resident Commissioner to the Gilbert and Ellice Islands Protectorate between 1909 and 1913. In this role he struggled to strike what was considered an ‘appropriate’ balance between giving genuine support and technical advice to the local Banaban inhabitants concerning the new interest in phosphate mining taking place on the island, and promoting the commercial interests of the Crown and other agents. While Dickson received some strong treatment as detailed in books such as ‘Cinderallas of the Empire’ by Barrie Macdonald for other administrative failures regarding local taxation management of funds, he does appear to have had unusually modern and progressive attitudes towards assisting and protecting the long-term natural and economic interests of the local inhabitants, much to the displeasure of the British Phosphate Commission and the Colonial Office. This point is raised in ‘Consuming Ocean Island’ by K. M. Teaiwa, who writes that both Dickson and his successor E. C. Elliott had ‘challenged the British government and the Company on what they saw as a very raw deal for Banabans.’ Dickson’s concerns appear to have been very well-founded, as legal challenges regarding the wholesale exploitation of the island of Banaba by the BPC would continue well into the 1960s and after.
In the context of these struggles, he was soon after posted to become Colonial Secretary of the Falkland Islands in 1913-14, and was for a time Administrator (essentially Acting Governor), but again ruffled the feathers of local characters of influence in the Falkland Island Volunteers and elsewhere. Returning home during the Great War, he served as Sub-Commandant at the ‘Aliens Detention Centre’ at Knockaloe, Isle of Man, at the rank of Temp. Major, where he eventually relinquished his commission upon demobilisation in 1922, and died in Kent in January 1945. In 1888 he married Annie, daughter of William Hyde, of Grahamstown, and had two daughters. His only son, Captain Edward John Quayle- Dickson M.C., was killed in action in the Great War.