William Herbert Dodd
William was the second youngest child and one of two sons and nine daughters of William (1848-1922) and Sarah Dodd (neé Armitage 1850-1926). William Dodd Senior was born in Moreton, where his ancestors can be traced to at least the early eighteenth century. Sarah’s family were an established Hoylake fishing family. William Junior’s siblings were Harriet (1873); Ada (1875); Sarah Ann (1876); Charlotte (1879); Jessie (1880); Jane (1882); Samuel Armitage (1884); Effie (1886); Hannah Elizabeth (1888) and Frances Margaret (1892). William’s birth was registered in the third quarter of 1890 and he was baptised at Holy Trinity Church, Hoylake on 27th January 1891.
In 1891 the family were living in Market Street, Hoose, as it was then known. William (Snr) was a market gardener and at that stage he and his wife Sarah had eight children, five of school age. William Herbert was just seven months old. Ten years later the family were still living in Market Street and the address was now shown as 79 Market Street, Hoylake. William was still a gardener, as was his eldest son Samuel and by this stage some of the older children had left home. William Herbert was shown as being nine years old, although he was in fact 11. The youngest member of the family was Frances who was eight.
Although William did not marry his wife until shortly before he died, they were living together as man and wife for a number of years before this. The 1911 Census shows that William and Sarah Elizabeth Dodd were living in Birkenhead at 59 Cathcart Street. Both were 21 years of age. They had no children but the record states they had been married for 1½ years. William was employed as a Dock Board labourer and Sarah was born in Wales. They lived in a tiny 2 room house, and Sarah was obviously heavily pregnant, because ten days later on 12th April 1911 at the same address she gave birth to their first child, William Eric Dodd. At some point between 1911 and 1915, William and family returned to Hoylake, his second child, Gladys May Dodd being born at 9 Rudd Street, Hoylake on 6th June 1915.
William was still living at 9 Rudd Street when he enlisted at Chester on 24th June 1916. He was 25 years 330 days old. This would give him a birth date of 29th July 1890. His occupation at this time was a window cleaner. He stated he was married, was 5 feet 5¼ inches and had a chest measurement of 38 inches and he had a scar on his right leg. He states he was married in the Hoylake Parish Church on 25th June 1901, and that his first son William Eric Dodd was born at 59 Cathcart Street, Birkenhead on 12th April 1902. Clearly William was too young to have married in 1901 and the latter two details were later amended in William’s service records. William was posted to the 3rd Bn. Cheshire Regiment. This was a training unit based in Chester providing drafts for other battalions. The Regimental depot remained at Chester while battalion moved to the war station at Birkenhead to play a part in the Mersey Defences. It is not clear whether William moved to Birkenhead with the battalion.
Just under four months after his enlistment, William’s third and final child Marian Armitage Dodd was born at 9 Rudd Street Hoylake on 14th October 1916. Sarah must have found it extremely difficult with three young children to look after with William away at war and with possibly very little income.
Arriving in France in January 1917, William was, for a brief period, transferred to the 10th Bn. He was posted to and proceeded to join the 15th Bn. on 23rd January 1917 and on 28th January 1917 he joined the unit in the field.
On 23rd April 1917 Marion died of Gastro Enteritis at the Union Infirmary, Spital. Her death certificate states that she was five months old and was the daughter of William Herbert Dodd, a Private No 45029 of the 15th Cheshire, and a window cleaner of Hoylake U.D. Her death was registered on 27th April by Charles H Spelman, Master of the Union Workhouse, Poulton-cum-Spital. William was granted leave from 27th September to 7th October 1917. It was during this time that he finally married Sarah Elizabeth Morris, the mother of his children. They were married in the Register Office at Liverpool on 1st October 1917. One month later back in France, William was killed in action.
Of all William’s siblings, the one who possibly grieved the most was his sister Sarah Ann, whose husband, Albert Edwin Jones, a sapper in the Royal Engineers also died just over three weeks later.
The Birkenhead News of 24th November 1917 reported that much regret had been felt by the death in action of Pte William Dodd, a jobbing gardener of Hoylake.
Birth: 29th July 1890 in Hoylake* (based on age at enlistment)
Death: 1st November 1917, killed in action age 26 (27)
Address: Market Street, Hoose (91), 79 Market Street, Hoylake (01), 59 Cathcart Street, Birkenhead (11), 9 Rudd Street, Hoylake (15-16)
Occupation: Dock Board labourer, jobbing gardener, window cleaner
Unit: 15th Bn. Cheshire Regiment
Number and Rank: Private 45029
Medals: Victory, British, Military Medal
Commemorated and Buried: GH, Holy Trinity, Hoylake, Tyne Cot, Belgium, Panel 61 to 63
Sources: CWGC, SDGW, Bpt., MC, SR, BN, Holy Trinity MI’s, Census: 91, 01,11