Dodd, Arthur James. Died 1st Dec 1915

Arthur James DODD was born in about 1885 and was baptised at St. Andrew’s, Rugby, on 2 October 1885.

His father was William Dodd, born about 1851 in Rugby, who had married Selina Reeve, at St. Andrew’s, Rugby on 7 November 1881. She was born at Hinton, Gloucestershire in about 1863. In 1891 William was auctioneer’s assistant living at 19 Pinders Lane, Rugby.

In 1901, Arthur was the oldest child, aged 15, and working as ‘Lamp Lighter Gas’. His two younger sisters, [Alice] Elsie and Mabel, were then aged 6 and 4. William Dodd died in 1902, and in about 1905, Selina apparently ‘married’ a mechanic, George Bradley, who came from Leicestershire, although no record has been found,[1] and they lived then at 19 Alexandra Terrace, Pinders Lane, Rugby. By 1911, they had had two children: one, probably George whose birth and death were registered in Q4, 1905; and a daughter, Norah Georgina, born 1907, who was now 3 years old.

Well before the war, and apparently very soon after that 1901 census,[2] Arthur became a soldier and joined the 1st Battalion, the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. The two ‘peace-time’ Warwickshire Battalions would alternate between the UK and an overseas posting, and in 1911 Arthur was enumerated with the 1st Battalion in ‘Ceylon and India’. He was 26 and had been promoted to Lance Corporal.

The 1st Battalion sailed from India in December 1912, and arrived back to the UK in early January 1913. They were initially based at Shorncliffe, near Folkestone, with 10th Brigade, 4th Division. On 8 August 1914, amid fears of a German invasion of the East coast, the 4th Division was held back from the original British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and sent by train to Yorkshire in a last minute decision to defend England against a possible German landing. Almost immediately this fear was seen to be unfounded: the fate of the BEF in France and the lack of any move by the enemy to cross the Channel, reversed this decision and they were sent back to join the other units of the 10th Brigade, 4th Division of the BEF at Southampton. There they boarded the SS Caledonian on 22 August 1914 and landed at Boulogne in France the following day, arriving in time to provide infantry reinforcements at the Battle of Le Cateau.[3]

They were subsequently in action at the Battle of the Marne, the Battle of the Aisne and at the Battle of Messines in 1914. In 1915 they fought in the Second Battle of Ypres and later in 1916 they would move south to the Somme.[4]

Arthur did not accompany the Battalion to France in 1914, possibly being held back, as an experienced NCO, to assist with the training of the large numbers of new recruits.   Certainly his Medal Card shows that before later 1915, he had been promoted: first to Sergeant and then to Company Sergeant Major, Warrant Officer Class 2, No. 9393, in the 1st Battalion.

His Medal Card shows that he finally went to France on 2 May 1915. This would have been during the Second Battle of Ypres which was being fought from 22 April to 25 May 1915.

In August 1915, the 1st Warwicks were sent to the Redan Ridge/Mailly Maillet sector, where they took over the French trenches.[5]

On 1 December 1915, Arthur Dodd was shot by mistake by a sentry. The Rugby Advertiser reported:

‘Sergeant Major Dodd reported killed – Mistaken for a German Sniper.

News has just been received through a comrade, that Company Sergt-Major A J Dodd, of the 1st Royal Warwicks, whose home is at Rugby, has been killed at the front through a regrettable mistake. It appears he was leaving a trench, and the sentry, mistaking him for a German sniper, fired and shot him in the groin, with the result that he died from loss of blood before he could be carried to the dressing station.   Sergt-Major Dodd had put in 14 years of service.’

Another note on the 1914-1918.invisionzone forum stated:

On 1 December, CSM Arthur Dodd was killed coming from the trenches when a sentry mistook him for a German sniper. He came from Rugby and had been in the army for 14 years. It seems that the idea of holding the front line ‘by posts’ only because of the conditions was not just a 48th Division idea used by the Warwicks Territorials, as the 1st Battalion did the same from at least 8 December. …’.[6]

Arthur was buried in Grave Reference:III. E. 5. in the Sucrerie Military Cemetery, Colincamps – a village about 16 kilometres north of Albert.

Sucrerie was originally called the ‘10th Brigade Cemetery’ and was near the front line. Indeed, in the period when Warrant Officer Dodd was killed, the great majority of casualties buried there were from the 10th Brigade: from the 1st Bn. Warwickshires and the 2nd Bn. Seaforth Highlanders, as well as the 1st Bn. Royal Irish Rifles. Between August 1915 and the end of the year, 22 men from the Royal Warwickshire Regiment were buried at Sucrerie.

The cemetery was begun by French troops in the early summer of 1915, and extended to the west by British units from July in that year until December 1918.   Until the German retreat in March 1917, it was never more than a 1.6 kilometres from the front line. The cemetery was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield.[7]

His family inserted an ‘In Memoriam’ notice in the Rugby Advertiser.

‘Dodd – In loving remembrance of my dear son, Company Sergt.-Major Dodd, who was killed in France, December 2, 1915.[8]

“In a soldier’s lonely grave,
Beneath France’s blood-stained sod,
There lies my dearest son, Resting in peace with God,
Though rolling seas divide us,
And he sleeps on a pitiless shore,
Remembrance is a relic
That shall live for evermore.”

‘- Never forgotten by his loving mother, sisters, and step-father.’

 

He was awarded the British War and Victory Medals and the 1915 Star. He is remembered on the Rugby Memorial Gates.

 

RUGBY REMEMBERS HIM

 

= = = =

 

This summary was prepared for the Rugby Family History Group by John P H Frearson in November 2015.   Thanks are due to other members of the Group for copying data in the local newspaper.

 

 

 

[1]       This may have been because any ‘pension’ may have been lost if she re-married; or merely that the record of the marriage has not been correctly recorded.

[2]       He was said to have served for 14 years when he was Killed in Action in December 1915.

[3]         http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/battalion.php?pid=7339#sthash.t1U5l8Vp.dpuf

[4]         http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/greatwar/allied/warwickshirregiment

[5]       http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=145645

[6]       http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=145645

[7]         Commonwealth War Graves Commission, http://www.cwgc.org/

[8]       It seems that there is a discrepancy between the date given to the family and that used by the CWGC.

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