James Atkinson DODDS had attended Bunbury State School in his formative years, however his father’s occupation as a Stevedore and Marine Surveyor meant re-locating to other Coastal Ports , as years passed. James chose a Banking Career , and at the time of his enlistment on 27th March 1916, he was working at the Meckering WA Branch of the Union Bank. His father, John George DODDS was then based at Busselton WA.
James was identified early as having leadership qualities, and attended the NCO School at Belmont WA. He was posted to the 16th Battalion, quickly being promoted to Corporal in May 1916, followed by promotion to Acting Sergeant in late July 1916. He embarked Fremantle for England on 10th October 1916, disembarking at Plymouth on 2nd December 1916.
Although James was promoted to EDP Sergeant at the training Battalion Codford England on 13th December 1916, he reverted to the ranks as Private on arrival at the 4th Australian Division Base Depot at Havre France two weeks later. He spent almost three weeks in the Segregation Camp, before transfer to the Etaples Base Depot on 25th January 1917. James joined his 16th Battalion mates in the field in France from 11th February 1917.
On 11th April 1917, James was one of many Aussie diggers reported as Missing in Action. Although there was no Official word for quite some time, James had been Captured and taken as a Prisoner of War at Reincourt France, being interned at Limburg Camp in Germany. His family were informed of the capture by one of James’ Battalion mates as follows:- Letter dated 20th April 1917 from Pte. W.E INGLIS – ” Captain DODDS, Dear Sir, I am afraid the news I have to impart to you are not of the most favourable nature, but as far as I can ascertain, quite correct. On the 11th inst. our Battalion ( 16th ) went into action and were badly cut up , a lot of the men being taken prisoner and amongst them was your son Jim. He was a great pal of mine and I was awfully sorry when I heard the news. Perhaps you have already heard, but I thought you would like to know “.
Captain John George DODDS ( James’ father ) wrote the following letter to the officer in Charge Base Records Defence Department Melbourne on 4th July 1917- ” I enclose copy of letter received by last mail which after my explanation speaks for itself. My son, James A. DODDS No. 6212 D Company , 16th Battalion , went into action as described in letter from France on the 11th April, and according to Pte. INGLIS and from other private sources was taken prisoner at that time. Up to the time of writing no intimation whatever has been received from the Military Authorities, almost three months after the time of this happening. The last letter received from him was dated the 4th April, and previous to that his letters came along each mail regular. There appears to be great negligence on the part of the authorities responsible in this case by not advising us that he was either missing or prisoner of war. His Mother and myself are naturally very anxious for news and will be pleased if you will make the necessary enquiries at once and advise us accordingly “.
James had written a letter dated 21st January 1918, which was documented by Red Cross London on 7th March 1918 – ” I have been in hospital for the past four months with a poisoned leg and am in a very weak state, but am gradually getting stronger. I received my first three parcels in October while in Hospital in France , where our address was Limburg. Yesterday I got two more . I need all the nourishment I can get. The parcels you have sent I am delighted with “.
James wrote again on 9th August 1918 ( documented by Red Cross London on 14th October 1918 ), when he indicated he was no longer an invalid , he was quite strong again, and in the best of health. He arrived in Dover England on 21st December 1918, as a Repatriated Prisoner of War. He was admitted to the 1st Australian Aux Hospital Harefield England on 23rd December for treatment to a Septic Leg. Following three months of treatment, James embarked from England on the ” Koroa ” for Return to Australia.
The Negligence of the Authorities was to rear its ugly head again !!!!- Pte. James DODDS wrote a letter from his ward at the 8th Australian General Hospital Fremantle WA 0n 20th November 1919, addressed to Officer in Charge Base Records A.I.F Headquarters Melbourne – ” I have been referred to you by the officer in Charge of Invalids and Returned Soldiers of WA ( 5th M.D. ) in a matter of Extra Duty Pay. I returned to Australia from Liverpool by H.M.T. ” Karoa ” leaving on 29th March and arriving in this State on 30th April. During that period I acted in the capacity as a Clerk in the Ships Orderly Room under the Adjutant , Capt. L.G. ALLEN, 28th Battalion of Western Australia. The work I was doing was by no means light and was made no better by being under medical treatment with an open wound in the leg. The Adjutant promised before our disembarkation to have this matter fixed up upon the Ship’s arrival in Melbourne. Since then I have had no further advice in the matter. Capt. ALLEN , I understand is still on Transport Duty between England and Australia . The amount in question will approximately be Six Pounds Eight Shillings. Your attention in this matter will greatly oblige “.
On 2nd December 1919 the Officer in Charge Base Records Melbourne sent the following reply to No. 6212 Private J.A. DODDS – ” With reference to your communication dated 20th November – there is nothing on your records or the Ship’s Papers of the ” Karoa ” to show that you carried out ” Extra Duty ” as a Clerk on the voyage to Australia “.
James Atkinson DODDS was discharged from Army Service on 12th March 1920, as being Medically Unfit.
AUTHOR NOTE :-
James DODDS would have been rightfully aggrieved to have suffered at the hands of either Clerical Ommisions from his File, or that he had been ” dudded ” by Capt. ALLEN. No doubt there would have been some powerful correspondence from James’ father Captain J. G. DODDS, should he have become aware of this further infraction against his son.