Roll of Honour

William Dodd

William Dodd was born in Felstead in the Summer of 1881. He was the son of Alfred and Alice Dodd.  By 1901 the family had moved to Gt. Saling:

1901 census entry for the Dodd family at Gt. Saling:
Alfred Dodd, age 49, born Felstead
Alice Dodd, age 42, born Terling
Robert Dodd, age 17, born Felstead
Daisy Dodd, age 16, born Felstead
Emma Dodd, age 14, born Felstead
Rose Dodd, age 12, born Felstead
Ernest Dodd, age 10, born Felstead
Frederick Dodd, age 8, born Felstead
Florence Dodd, age 6, born Felstead
Charles Dodd, age 2, born Felstead

William who would have been 20 does not appear on the census. He had enlisted as Private soldier 4751 in late December 1896. He served in the Boer War with the Burma Mounted Infantry Company, detached from the 2nd Essex and got the Queen’s South Africa Medal with clasps Orange Free State, Transvaal, South Africa 1901 and South Africa 1902. He also served with the Mounted Infantry in Somaliland, gaining the Africa General Service Medal with clasps Somaliland and Jidballi, detached from the 1st Battalion.

He left the army, probably in 1908 after 12 years service, and William Dodd married Annie Dawson, in the Braintree registration district, in the summer of 1908.

He re-enlisted as Private soldier, 3/2387 with the 3rd Battalion, the Essex Regiment in late August 1914, after the outbreak of war. The 3rd Battalion was used as a clearing house for many rejoining soldiers who did not need to be treated as raw recruits. He went on draft to the 2nd Battalion in France on 26 January 1915 qualifying for the 1914-15 Star. He was also entitled to the British War and Allied Victory Medals. He was wounded with the 2nd Battalion in May 1915. After recovering from his wounds he was transferred to the 1st Battalion.

He died aged 35, on 12th October 1916.

At 14:05 hours on 12 October 1916 the 1st Battalion Essex Regiment left their trenches with the Newfoundlanders on their right. They were to advance from their trenches on the northern outskirts of Gueudecourt in an attempt to take the Hilt Trench.  The two battalions successfully gained Hilt Trench and then moved on towards their second objective - known as Grease Trench. Unfortunately, to their left the 35th Brigade had encountered uncut wire and suffered heavy casualties whilst trying to cut through by hand.

The 1st Essex were exposed on their left and were ordered to withdraw despite having at one point gained Grease Trench. The Newfoundlanders had begun digging in and consolidating their new position turning the German trenches around so that the firing positions now faced north east. Later on in the afternoon the Germans launched a counter-attack against the Newfoundlanders who managed to hang on to Hilt Trench with grim determination and also managed to bomb their way up part of the trench system that had been intended to be held by the 1st Essex.  This was the limit of the British advance on the Somme, the weather deteriorated further and the two sides continued to look at each other until the Germans slipped away in February 1917 to their Hindenburg Line.

Like thousands of other soldiers who died on the Somme battlefield and have no known grave William Dodd is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial.

He is not commemorated in Felsted, but is commemorated at Bardfield Saling Church.

His wife is recorded by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission as living in Crows Green, Little Saling.