6/3683 Private Sydney (Sid) Reid Dodson – Canterbury Infantry Regiment

Sydney Reid Dodson was born in Nelson on the 11th December 1884[i] to Henry and Ellen Susan Dodson. He was the
third child, second son, in a family of seven; three girls and four boys.

He may have been named Sydney as his father was born in Sydney[ii], Nova Scotia, Canada prior to the family in 1852 immigrating to New Zealand.

Sydney and his siblings were raised by their mother as their father Henry was unwell in the 1890’s dying in 1895 at the age of 45. They lived at The Hill, Cleveland Road Nelson, with the children going to Central School.

On 20th October 1915 Sydney was working as an orchardist for Mr Frederick Edgar Nottage, Aporo, Tasman when he enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force (NZEF). Two other men from the Aporo orchard also enlisted, Norman James Adamson and Donald Burley Nottage[iii].  Donald Burley Nottage was the younger brother of Frederick Edgar Nottage.

The men attended medical examinations in Nelson and 6/3683 Private Sydney Reid Dodson’s medical on 4th September
1915 indicates that he was a 30 year old single man,  5’ 2” tall
with black hair and blue eyes.

At the start of WW1 up to 50% of otherwise healthy men were
rejected because of the state of their teeth. Sydney was passed
as fit but with a note on his form that[iv]

‘Promises to have teeth attended to if accepted.’

Sydney was fortunate that a younger brother Herbert John
Dodson was a dentist and could perform the required repairs
and he left Nelson in November 1915 with the 65 men that
made up the quota of the 9th Reinforcements.

9th Reinforcements farewelled in Nelson October 1916

Prior to departing Nelson for Trentham Military Camp, the reinforcements had been split into groups, 45 men being allocated as reinforcements for the Canterbury Infantry Regiment. The men were housed in tents at Trentham at it was here that the photo of the “Tasman Boys” was taken. Private Sydney (Sid) Reid Dodson is 3rd left, Private Frank McKee 2nd left and Privates Nottage 4th left and Private Norman J Adamson 5th left. It is possible that Privates L C Hurley and C V Townshend also form part of the 'tent.' 

The Tasman Boys - November 1915

'these fellows are all in the same tent 
and come from Tasman - Sid'

Following basic training 6/3683 Private Dodson left
New Zealand on 8th January 1916 as part of C Company,
9th Reinforcements, Canterbury Infantry Battalion. In Egypt
the reinforcements were allocated to the main body of the
NZEF which was retraining and re-equipping following the Dardanelles Campaign. Private Dodson, Lance Corporal
Nottage and Corporal Adamson were allocated to the 12th (Nelson) Company, 2nd Battalion, Canterbury Infantry Regiment and sailed as part of this Company for service in France. 
On 15th September 1916 the Canterbury Regiment, as part of the New Zealand Division, would go “over the top” for the first time in the Battle of the Somme. On the first day of the New Zealand assault Lance Corporal Nottage was killed and Private Dodson was wounded. The wound cannot have been serious as four days later Private Dodson rejoined the 12th Company. On the 23rd September Corporal Adamson was wounded seriously enough to be evacuated to England for treatment. Private Dodson was again wounded on the 1st October 1916 ‘gunshot wound to the head’ and was evacuated
to the rear and treated in St John’s Hospital, Etaples, France before a month later rejoined the 12th Company.

On the 7th June 1917 the New Zealand Division was committed to the Battle of Messines. This was a carefully prepared assault and commenced with the explosion of huge mines under the German lines. Considered a striking success there were still 3700 casualties with 700 killed, the majority in the holding of captured territory. On the 14th June 1917 the 12th Company, 2nd Canterbury Battalion was holding a sector of the line between St Yves and Ash Avenue, approximately a
mile south east of Messines. It was during attacks in the vicinity of Au Chasseur Cabaret and La Truie Farm that Private Dodson was officially reported missing.

There was a court of inquiry held on the 27th October 1917 that confirmed that:

‘6/3816 Private Sydney Reid Dodson - killed in action in field France or Belgium.’

The main evidence was from 6/327 Corporal E G Pope, 2nd New Zealand Machine Gun Corp:

‘On 16th June I was in a new trench near Au Chasseur Cabaret when I came across the body of a dead man
which I identified as that of Pvt Dodson S. R. I removed the identification disc and paybook and buried the body.’

6/38 Private Sydney Reid Dodson’s body was never identified after the war and he is remembered on the Messines Ridge (New Zealand)  Memorial and the Tasman War Memorial.

Sydney’s service record, medals, memorial plaque and scroll were mounted on the wall of The Hill, Nelson for many years and now hang on the wall of his great-nephew.

Sydney Reid Dodson purchased land in Tasman in 1912 as part of the development of the apple orchards in the area. 
Two of Sydney’s brothers also served in WW1
46227 Corporal Harry (Reg) Reginald Dodson – Canterbury Infantry Regiment
54019 Rifleman Harold Percy Dodson – New Zealand Rifle Brigade

NZ BDM Online
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Records: 6/3618 Private Sydney Reid Dodson
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Records: 6/3816 Lance Corporal Donald Burley Nottage
Archway Archives New Zealand Military Records: 6/3594 2nd Lieutentant Norman James Adamson 
Dodson family archives

9th Reinforcements Postcard - Dodson Collection
'Tasman Boys' - Dodson Collection 

[i] NZ BDM 1885/2608 Births
[ii] Oral history – JR Dodson & family
[iii] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Records: 6/3618 complete reference
[iv] Archway Archives New Zealand Military Records: 6/3618 Private Sydney Reid Dodson​​