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Webmatters : Francis Dodgson Memorial at Contalmaison

Captain Francis Dodgson

Location

Contalmaison is a village about 6 kilometres north-east of the town of Albert and south of the main road from Albert to Bapaume.

From the village centre turn down past the church and the Monumental Cairn to the Royal Scots in the direction of Fricourt (D 147).

About 500 metres along the road you will see a track leading off into the fields on your right. The small white pillar is about 300 metres along the track which is not suitable for vehicles.

If you reach Peake Wood Cemetery (On the bend a little further along)
you have missed the track.

It is possible to park at the entrance to the track in dry weather.

Peake Wood Cemetery, Fricourt

The memorial from Peake Wood Cemetery
Just visible to the left of the earth mound

 

Background


Captain Francis Dodgson monument at Contalmaison

The memorial to Captain Francis Dodgson

On the 10th July 1916 the 8th Bn Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards) was tasked along with the 9th Green Howards (Both in 69th Brigade, 23rd Division) to capture Contalmaison.

They were assembled in the recently captured Horseshoe Trench about 1,500 metres short of Contalmaison. From the pillar look towards the right of Peake Wood Cemetery and consider about the same distance again on the far side.

Two companies from the 11th Bn West Yorkshire Regiment were sent forward on the left to Bailiff Wood to attack the village from the western flank — a tactic that proved successful.

At 1600 hours a thirty minute bombardment of the German positions was begun and the infantry then moved off towards the village.

Under machine gun and artillery fire the Yorkshiremen swept into the outer trench system and pushed the Germans back into the village. The 8th Green Howards had taken very heavy casualties and were reduced to 5 officers and 150 men.

They captured 8 officers and 188 men of the 22nd Reserve Infantry Regiment.

 

The memorial to Captain Francis Dodgson

Captain Francis Dodgson monument at Contalmaison

Contalmaison in the background

Amongst the officers of the 8th Green Howards who fell was Captain Francis Dodgson, aged 27.

This private memorial was originally placed about 50 metres further out into the field (away from the village).

Toby, as he was known to his family and friends, was originally posted as being amongst the missing (he is amongst those named on the Thiepval Memorial) and then declared as having been killed. His body was eventually recovered and buried, at the original site of the memorial stone.

The CWGC then decided to bring the body into Serre Road Cemetery No.2 (Grave XXVIII K 8) against the wishes of the family who wanted him left where he was — the reburial took place and the family placed the stone to mark the original grave site.

Following the sale and division of the land in 1962 it was decided to move the stone to its current location.

Son of (the late) Henley Dodgson, of Bovingdon, Herts and Helen Fulton. Educated at Marlborough College and Trinity College, Cambridge.

 


2nd Lieutenant Donald Bell VC of the 9th Green Howards was killed shortly after Dodgson during one of the German counter attacks. His monument is a sixty second drive away back towards Contalmaison, turning immediately right towards Mametz as you enter the village.

Bell was the only professional footballer to be awarded the Victoria Cross.