William Dodson.

. William was born in Hemingford, Huntingdonshire in October 1889 and enlisted in the 2/1st H. C. B. on the 1/10/1914 at their H. Q. at St. Mary's Street, Huntingdon being given the number of 523.  On his enlistment he gave his home at the time as Little Stukeley, Huntingdonshire and his occupation as a Labourer / Farm hand.

He was then given the cycle with the number 43 with a rifle number 440 - he also used a bayonet with the number 1481739.

Initially he would have been sent to the East Coast of  Yorkshire and his family remember him talking of being at Bridlington, Filey and Scarborough, as well as being in tented camps often on the cliffs near these places. 

Incidents also being recalled to his family are the of going over the cliffs in springtime, with a basket, controlled by two ropes from above, to collect seabirds' eggs - and for many years he had two seabirds shells mounted and presented on lounge mantle shelf.

He was also aware of the shelling of Scarborough by two German warships.

In 1916 he was transferred 1/7th Royal Warwickshire Regiment (T.F) where he was given the new regimental number of 268487.

He served as both a private and was promoted to the rank of Corporal and later still Sergeant.

He was awarded a D. C. M. for bravery on 1st July 1916 for 'Brilliant work in circumstances of great danger in the field' - the rest of his unit were killed.  He was wounded in this action during the battle on the Somme  For this action, he was recommended for medals, the V C being talked of, but he was eventually awarded the D. C. M .

He specialised in Stretcher Bearing.  The diary states that he enlisted 10/10/14.  He also undertook a bombing course.   Some sources indicate that he also went to Italy ??? Padaua then after November 1918 went onto Egypt for a short period.

Information also indicates that he was discharged as Z18 on the 12-12-1919 - at the time he was a Sergeant.

The notebook of Sergeant Sidney Woods (ref 482) indicates that he was one of 15 men in No. 5 and 6 section of No. 6 platoon. The notebook also gives us the following information about this man. Religion C of E ; Boot size 7" ; Cap size 7"; Height 5'-2" ;Chest 34". He was listed as Single. He had been vaccinated and inoculated with the rest of the men in his platoon. He specialised in ; He was given a full set of equipment that included, pouch right and left, 100 rounds of ammunition, back pack, strap support, braces, cape straps, 2 boots, 3 blankets, waterproof sheet, bolster, paliase, field dressing, identity disc, mess tins, haversack, cycle, whistle and waist belt. The notebook also indicates that he joined the imperial force for a period of 4 years.

In later years when the family resided at Kings Ripton where he was the founder of a thatching business that is still going strong in the area.

During WW II he was a Company Sergeant Major in the Home Guard, Kings Ripton section in Huntingdonshire.

Extract from a local [unidentified] newspaper cutting sent to me - originally dated 17/4/1985 - [transcribed by others].

A further Instalment in the story of the Hunts Cyclist Battalion written by Buckden author and war historian Geoffrey Moore.  William Dodson of Little Stukeley enlisted into the Hunts Cyclists on October 2 1914, and was allotted the number 523.  He was later to become one of the Hunts Cyclists' heroes for he won the Distinguished Conduct Medal while attached, to the 1/7 Royal Warwickshire Regiment Which, in common with the Huntingdonshire Regiment, was also part of the pre war Territorial Force. 

William Dodson's eldest son Jack of St. Peterís Road, Huntingdon and, like his father a Thatcher by trade, showed his father's medals to me together with the Queen's South Africa medal with clasp Cape Colony won by Williamís, father 855 Pte J. Dodson Bedfordshire Regiment and probably a member of the Militia Battalion which sent a company to the Boer War in 1900.  Jack Dodson junior (though he is 60, I must call him that because of his grandfather) told me a piece of family legend he remembered often hearing as a boy. TOO YOUNG "My father used to say that he walked all the way from Little Stukeley to Bedford to join up but the recruiting sergeant turned him away on the grounds he was too young. So my father walked him which he reached exhausted.

This fact did not save his father from giving him a good hiding for being missing all day. Jack Dodson had it lodged in his mind that this happened in 1914 but much more likely it happened in about 1905, because William Dodson was born in 1889 and would hardly have been rejected as too young at the age of 25.

Even if his description was given as 5 ft 31/4 in tall, fresh complexion, hazel eyes and dark brown hair. William Dodson joined the Hunts. Cyclists at Scarborough and remained with them throughout 1915 when they were employed on coast defence. This is evident from his lack of a 1914 -15 Star though of course he had the British War Medal and Victory Medal.   He was promoted Corporal with the Royal Warwicks and held that rank when his decoration was gazetted in the London Gazette March 20, 1918.,' His number then was 268487. 

The citation read: "For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. When all NCOs in his platoon was held up by enemy machine gun fire, he kept the enemy engaged by well directed fire which enabled the flank to advance. He then rushed the post and captured it, afterwards advancing and taking his objective. He set a splendid example." William Dodson was promoted Sergeant before disembodied on January 8, 1920. However, before or after this time he proceeded with the Royal Warwicks and served in Egypt. He was a section D Reservist until discharged on June 8, 1926. But he retained a strong link with the successors to the Hunts Cyclists, the 5th (Huntingdonshire) Battalion, the Northamptonshire Regiment.

His son Jack says: "My father used to garden for Lieut. Col W. E. Green who commanded the 5th Northamptonshire (he was a well known local dentist) and was killed with the Battalion at Dunkirk. Col Green won the D F C in 1918. William Dodson used to act as Col Green's batman at TA camps ar6und 1930 and always took what the Army used to call affectionately 'his chokhra' or small son. So Jack taste for powder and khaki at an early age. William Dodson provides another link in the chain of the story of the Hunts Cyclists. Knowing both his regimental number (523) and his date of enlistment (2.10.14) helps to estimate what is still an unknown figure, the exact strength of the Hunts Cyclists before the outbreak of war on August 4, 1914.

All those who already belonged and, in common with most Hunts Cyclists did not hear a shot fired in anger before 1916, qualified for a prized medal (which CPL Jowett possessed), the Territorial Force War Medal. Qualification for this also entailed the subsequent act of volunteering for active service overseas. MEDAL The highest number of any wearer of this medal so far known to me is that o Pte F. Whitney 385. So a least 385 men were potentially qualified and there could hardly have been less than 100 men volunteering in the six weeks or so before William Dodson.

The medals of the Dodson family are so far incomplete, though Jack Dodson has been set to work to rectify this situation. He has a medal entitlement, too. It is so far unclaimed and resents rather a problem. Did he gain his World War II medals with the RAF for the Royal Army Service Corps (Water Transport)? First he was sent to Canada to train as an air Navigator, but before the training was complete, the RAF decided they did no need so many and sent a whole batch of trainees Jack among them, home.

He then joined the R A S C being made a navigator on landing craft and like his father, he was promoted sergeant. The RAF and the Army are now being asked to sort out between themselves, which gives him his medals.

Many thanks for family members for supplying all the background information on William.

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Andy Dodson, his Great Grandson, has now been promoted to the rank of Sergeant and has both added and enhanced the family tradition.

  

If you can help with any data on this Huntingdonshire Cyclist please contact me at huntscycles@btinternet.com

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09/04/2012

. .. Martyn Smith ©