The War and its consequences for the Dodson family A story of courage, dignity and sorrow
Herbert Dodson and Mabel Robinson, lived in Sheffield from 1915 to 1932 & had 5 children Herbert Edward(Eddie), Margery Florence, Arthur Frederick, George(died in infancy) and Muriel Vera. Herbert worked as a bricklayer on furnaces and contractred silicosis. The family moved south to Slough and then to Southall London in the 1930’s because of Herberts silicosis of the lungs. He could do very little work and consequently the burden of providing for the family fell largely on Mabel.
Eddie Dodson: Trained as a millwright and worked in a munitions factory with his dad. He also joined the Home Guard. After the war he married Helen and after she died he later married Vera. He did not have any children. He died in 1998.
Margery Dodson: Tells of the horror of living and working in London during the nightly bombing. She recalls the many nights the family spent in the bomb shelter wondering if they would see daylight in the morning. She worked at Canadian Army HQ where she met and fell in love with Milton Paige, a Canadian Air Force pilot. His plane was shot down & he was killed while on a bombing raid. Margery was devastated. She subsequently married his brother Blackie in July 1943 and moved to Canada with their daughter Arlene at the end of the war.
Muriel Dodson: Worked in the office at Wimpeys where she met Robert a war refugee from Belgium. They married in Sept 1944, had two daughters Jacqueline & Anita and moved first to South Africa and then to British Columbia, Canada.
Arthur Frederick Dodson : Studied accountancy and worked in an accountants office in 1939. Also working there was Irene Smith. She was 16. They were both juniors in the office. He was outgoing, loved music and dancing. She was quiet and shy. They would meet in the filing room and their friendship and love for one another grew. He brought her home and she became one of the family. Remarks made in the office resulted in Arthur joining the Army at 18yrs in 1940. They were engaged and got married in April 1942. Irene spent a last weekend at the end of May 1942 with Arthur before he left for the Western Desert. This was when I was conceived. I was born on 7th March 1943 and named Ian Arthur Dodson.
Arthur was in the Royal Engineers in a bomb disposal unit. He was wounded twice at the Battle of El Alemain in the Western Desert and recovered and rejoined his unit in Sicily. He was killed on the back of a motorcycle in an accident behind the front line in April 1944. He is buried in the war cemetery in Bari Italy.My grandfather Herbert and grandmother Mabel were grief stricken and Margery says that Herbert never really got over the loss of my father. My mother shut herself away from family and friends for months while living at home with her parents. Many nights were spent in the bomb shelter in the garden of the house next door as the buzz bombs rained down on London.
Irene went to work as a bus conductress on London Transport often walking in front of the bus with a lamp to guide the driver during dense fog and the blackout. During the war my mother and I lived with my grandparents Harry Charles Smith and Elizabeth Jones in Hayes Middx. The Smith and Jones families originated in East London. My mother’s grandparents George and Emma Jane Jones lived for many years in Forest Gate London.
After the war Irene trained in teleprinter operation and then worked in Heathrow Airport. She was in regular contact with Ballygireen Radio Station near Shannon Airport in Ireland. She conversed with a radio officer Terry Lehane. They became friends. He visited London. She visited Ireland. Despite strong opposition from her family she converted to the Roman Catholic religion and married Terry in Dublin in 1951. She brought me to Ireland where I live today.