Hugh Whitmore Dodson

14 Aug 1898 – 11 October 1918

 Hugh W. Dodson was born at Sherman in Grayson Co., Texas on 14 August 1899 to James S. Dodson and his wife Lida W., nee Barton.

Grayson County raised the Ninth and the Eleventh Confederate Cavalry during the War Between the States, was on the Butterfield Stage Route and seemed generally to be “in the mainstream of Texas history”.

His siblings were: Leon H. and James P. Dodson. James S. Dodson had died by 1910, as Lida is listed as a widow

On the 28 March 1918 Hugh attested into the Canadian Expeditionary Forces, namely into the 7th Draft 1st Depot Battalion of the Western Ontario Regiment at the Windsor Ontario Mobilization Centre. He signed on though under the name Jack Wilson.   (No one has come up with a reason for Hugh signing on under an assumed name. There are no news stories in the Sherman Democrat that would indicate he was “running from the law”. Our brief contact with his ancestors, reveals nothing to have motivated him to sign up with a Canadian unit. What he was doing in Windsor seems strange too. By this time the USA had joined the Allies in the war and so that even adds more to the mystery of Hugh Dodson aka Jack Wilson

He was assigned registration number 2356592. He gave his residence as Windsor Ontario and showed his next of kin as Claude Hanna (friend) of Howe Texas. A later note on the attestation paper says to notify Mrs L. W. McMaken of P O Box 345 Howe Texas.

He showed his occupation as Ranch Foreman and his religion as Church of England.

On the 28th April 1918, he landed in England from the SS Scotian. He was taken on strength in the 4th Reserve Battalion at Witley. On May 10th he was admitted to hospital with suspected measles and diphtheria although this was later changed to Tonsillitis.

On the 28 Jun 1918, he was discharged to duty and on the 29th Sept 1918, he was taken on strength with the 21st Battalion CEF.

The 21st Battalion War Diary, indicates that the 21st, under command of L Col Harry E Pense, DSC, MC, was “the right attacking battalion of the 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade on Avesnes-Le-Sec on October 11th. The 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade Operation Order No. 24 of October 10th was received at 0045 hours. A meeting of Unit Commanders was held at Battalion Headquarters at 0100 hours when the operation was discussed and details arranged. Position was reconnoitered by Lieuts. A Cockeram DSO and G W Trollope, MM and the Battalion moved at 0200 hours to its assembly position in sunken road from T.10.b.10.20. to T.12.a.40.90 (map location).   The assembly was complete at 0330 hours and Brigade Headquarters notified at 0350 hours. The 20th Canadian Battalion (left attacking Battalion) assembled immediately in rear of the 21st Canadian Battalion. Zero hour had been set for 0900 hours. From 0530 hours onward the enemy shelled the assembly area, intermittently with H. E. and Gas but few casualties was sustained. The hostile shelling had no effect upon the jump off at 0900 hours. The 146th Brigade attacked immediately on the right of the 21st Canadian Battalion. The Battalion commenced its operations promptly at Zero. The enemy’s retaliation was prompt, and his machine gun fire from the right caused many casualties in the first thirty minutes of the advance, but the attack continued unbroken until the advance of the whole line, right and left, was held up on the high ground south-west of Avesnes-Le-Sec. The enemy’s counter measure was an attack of the units on both flanks to the sunken road in 0.31.c and d. and later reorganized in the sunken road in U.1.a and T.6.b. Fifty percent of our Officers, N.C.O.s and Lewis Gunners became casualties during the first half hour of the action.”

A tally of the losses during this action, while they do not mention any names, includes 39 other ranks, killed. Presumably, Hugh was one of them. His service record says he was killed in action 11 Oct 1918 and buried at Niagara Cemetery Iwuy France. His Canadian grave marker, pictured above, contains both names. 

In July 1922, his name was officially changed in the record to read Hugh Witmore Dodson. His Victory Medal, British War Medal, Death Plaque and Scroll were sent to Mrs L. W. McMaken in Howe Texas. She also was sent the Memorial Cross sent to mothers of soldiers killed in the war.  

Joyce Lane, one of Hugh’s family descendants, contributed the following news article from the Sherman Democrat.


Sherman Democrat

Some time in 1919


(Transcriber’s note: clipping sent by ancestor of Hugh Dodson which had no date or no record of the newspaper. However the Democrat was the only newspaper in Sherman TX at the time. The article is also published with reference to Hugh’s brother Leon who was returning with the Rainbow Division after the war so we presume the article was sometime in 1919) 

          A message was received from H Leon Dodson, member of the 42nd (Rainbow) division this afternoon informs relatives in Sherman that he has just arrived in Hoboken N J and expects to be mustered out of service within the next few days, when he will return to his home at Howe. 

          Word has just been received in Sherman of the death of Hugh W Dodson of Howe, who was killed in action Oct 11, 1918. The young man volunteered when only eighteen years of age and joined the Canadian A E F ( Transcribers Note: There was no such thing as the Canadian AEF, probably meant CEF ) and was in France early in the war. (This is probably the American entry time to the war not the Canadian)  He was a son of Mrs Lida McMakin of Howe and a nephew of Bert Dodson and Miss Ida Dodson of this city and a grandson of the late James M. Dodson. A brother, H. Leon Dodson, is a member of the Rainbow Division. He was also wounded in the fighting on the Western Front but is reported to be improving.


The lawn of the court house in Sherman Texas has a memorial to the Men of Grayson County who served in World War 1 1917-1918.


Hopefully Hugh is included in that remembrance.


Compiled by John Sargeant


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