Dodd, Harold

I found Harold when I added “Saltney” to the search field on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website, and his mother’s name, Mary Dodd from Saltney, came up.   The citation also gave the the personal inscription from his mother – GOD REST YOU, MY SON YOU GAVE OF YOUR BEST. NEVER FORGOTTEN BY MOTHER, HILDA AND KATHLEEN.   I do not think he is on any memorial and he must be remembered.

I believe that Harold Dodd was born in the September quarter of 1918 (Chester  Vol. 8a Page 522), the son of Edwin & Mary Dodd (nee Worrall), who, I believe, were married in a Civil or Register attended ceremony in Chester in 1915 (Chester   Vol. 8a Page 1021).

I also believe that Edwin died, age 38 years, in the June quarter of 1926, (Chester Vol. 8a Page 448), leaving Mary with 3 young children.  Hilda, born in the December quarter of 1915 and Kathleen, born in the June quarter of 1921 as well as Harold, now age 7, were very young.   Any help telling their story would be appreciated.

I do not know anything about Harold when he was very young but the Chester Observer, dated the 24th April 1943, tells us, when they recorded Harold’s death, that he was educated at George Street Council School and was later employed in the bakery department of the Chester Co-operative  Society, then he was later employed at the Williams & Williams Reliance Works.    He enlisted in the Army shortly before the outbreak of WW2 and served with the British Expeditionary Force in France and then was in the Dunkirk evacuation, escaping without injury.

This information confirms why Harold was not on the 1939 National Register, which was taken on the 29th September 1939.   His mother Mary and sister Kathleen are, and we see them living at 21 Sycamore Drive, Chester, Cheshire.   This source also gives us the dates of birth, Mary Dodd being born on the 5th March 1889 and as most married or widowed women, who did not have a job, were described as doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.”   Kathleen Dodd had been born on the 14th or the 16th May 1921and she was single and a Hostel Kitchen Maid.   There was also Joyce Tyers, born on the 1st February 1922, single and a Shell Case Worker and Nellie Worrall, born on the 6th October 1913, who was single and a Domestic Maid.

This source also tells us that Kathleen, Harold’s sister, married a gentleman named Williams and I found their marriage in the March quarter of 1940 and the entry in the Cheshire BMD website tells us that he was Joseph P. Williams and they married in St. Mark’s Church, Lache cum Saltney (Cheshire West CE35/3/187).

I also believe that Mary Dodd met and married Jabez Deakin in the June quarter of 1958 in a Civil Marriage or Registrar Attended            ceremony (Cheshire West ROC/8A/67).

We know by the newspaper cutting that Harold was in the Army before the war and he was to find himself in the 2nd Bn. Cheshire Regiment and as you can see below and from the newspaper cutting he was at Dunkirk:-

Second World War – 2nd Battalion was evacuated from Dunkirk (1940) before fighting in North Africa (1941-43), Sicily and Italy (1943-44). It then landed on D-Day and fought in the North West Europe campaign. (Sadly, Harold had already been killed by the D-Day landings on the 6th June 1944)

The regiment raised several other units during the war, including the 6th and 7th Battalions that fought in Italy (1943-45).

Excerpt from Harold’s Citation from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission:

In May 1943, the war in North Africa came to an end in Tunisia with the defeat of the Axis powers by a combined Allied force. The campaign began on 8 November 1942, when Commonwealth and American troops made a series of landings in Algeria and Morocco. The Germans responded immediately by sending a force from Sicily to northern Tunisia, which checked the Allied advance east in early December. Meanwhile, in the south, the Axis forces defeated at El Alamein were withdrawing into Tunisia along the coast through Libya, pursued by the Allied Eighth Army. By mid April 1943, the combined Axis force was hemmed into a small corner of north-eastern Tunisia and the Allies were grouped for their final offensive.

Casualty List 1112 (Page 7) tells us that Harold was reported missing on the 23rd March 1943.

Casualty List (page 2) tells us that Harold had been previously reported missing, now reported Killed in Action, date not reported.

Casualty List 1141 (Page 31) tells us that Harold has previously reported missing on the 23rd   March 1943, now reported Killed in Action, date not reported.  (Date of Casualties should read 23/24 March 1943. – Please click on the link to read Winston Churchill’s stirring speech.

Excerpt from the above:-

The Mareth Line, on the Tunisian frontier, had been built by the French to shield southern Tunisia from the Italians. It was the most formidable set of defences encountered since El Alamein. The 7th Armoured Division was involved in the German counter-attack at Medenine, but not in the latter battles that took place between 18th and 30th March 1943. 

Taken from the website –

Battle – Operation Pugilist

On 19 March 1943, XXX Corps under Lieutenant-General Oliver Leese of the Eighth Army commenced Operation Pugilist. The 50th (Northumbrian) Infantry Division of Major-General John Nichols managed to penetrate the line held by the 136th Armoured Division “Giovani Fascisti” near Zarat. [10] Rain, and the nature of the terrain prevented the deployment of tanks, aircraft or anti-tank guns, which left the infantry isolated. A counter-attack by 15th Panzer Division and the 136th Armoured Division “Giovani Fascisti” on 22 March recaptured much of the bridgehead, capturing 35 British tanks and 200 prisoners. British forces held their positions until darkness. On 24 March all the British attacking forces were recalled.[11] XXX Corps prepared a new attack towards Tallouf, in which Major-General Francis Tuker’s 4th Indian Infantry Division would make a night attack on 23/24 March, around the inland end of the line, coinciding with a wide left hook manoeuvre by Montgomery.[12]

Taken from a conversation on WW2talk:-

As you perhaps know – the Cheshires were a Machine Gun Battalion and as such gave support to anyone in the Division who needed more than just rifles – They were then attached to 56th Division – which joined 8th Army at Enfidaville in Tunisia – didn’t do so well then after some training Monty sent them off to X Corps which landed at Salerno where they did better in the capture of Naples and area and ended up at Anzio where this chap was killed as they broke out – they then went off to Egypt and returned to Italy in time for the very harsh battles at Croce and Gemmano and took part in the final battle for Italy at the end of that Campaign…. (Gooogle for Croce / Gemmano ).

 Cheers – Trooper Tom Canning: BBC People’s War page

Harold was loved and missed by his family, as can be seen by the inscription on his grave, he must not be forgotten.

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