Colonel Vernon William Frank Dickins DSO VD was a silk merchant, Freemason and Army Officer.
He was born in 1867 the son of Henry Francis Dickins and Lucy Catherine Tavener. Henry was a Sergeant and later Quartermaster of the Regiment and is shown in the 1863 engraving of the Regiment.
He had three brothers, two of whom were all members of the Lodge and the Regiment: Major Wyndham Harold Dickins and Major Henry Percy Tavener Dickins. His cousin Henry Percy Faulkner Dickins also joined the Lodge. Wyndham was sadly killed in the War.
Initiated into Victoria Rifles Lodge No 822 in November 1894 at the age of 27, on the same day as his brother Wyndham, he held all the progressive offices, being installed in the Worshipful Master’s Chair in January 1904. He elected to progress through the offices once more after the Great War, becoming Master for the second time in October 1924. He presented a set of silver Working Tools to the Lodge at the end of his second term as Master, before becoming Treasurer from 1926 to 1938. He was exalted into St Albans Chapter No 29, along with many of the Brethren of the Victoria Rifles.
Grand Lodge appointed him Past Deputy Grand Sword Bearer in 1929.
Militarily, he was equally committed to the Victoria Rifles. Gazetted as a subaltern on 10 May 1890, he had risen to the rank of Major by the outbreak of the Great War.
Having gone to France as the Second in Command to Lt Col Shipley CMG TD, he was promoted half Colonel on 8 June 1916 and succeeded Shipley in command of the Battalion, and led them through the remainder of the War, notably during the Somme. In fact he kept a daily record of events especially during this time of “The Great Push” on the Somme which was largely drawn upon for the Regimental History compiled by fellow Regimental CO and Lodge Member Col Keeson.
He was also a Liveryman, a member of the Worshipful Company of Tylers and Bricklayers. The Dickins family are one of seven families that have supported that company for many generations. Vernon was Upper Warden in 1936/37 but never became Master, however the family can point to members of the family being Masters on the Company in 1885, 1910 (his brother Henry), 1959 and 1994.1
After the War Dickins became a Director of his friend, brother and predecessor as CO of the Regiment, Col Shipley‘s brewery business, Burge & Co, succeeding him as Chairman after his death, and shepherding the business through to its sale to Meux in 1931.
He died in November 1942
The family was one part of the Dickins and Jones retail business.
- Company Newsletter (page 5)