Orders, Decorations and Medals (25 September 2008)

Date of Auction: 25th September 2008

Sold for £2,100

Estimate: £1,400 - £1,600

Military General Service 1793-1814, 7 clasps, Egypt, Vittoria, St. Sebastian, Nivelle, Nive, Orthes, Toulouse (W. Dodds, Serjt. Royal Sappers & Miners) very fine £1400-1600


Only 7 clasps for Egypt were issued to the Royal Sappers and Miners who also only received 4 medals with the maximum of 7 clasps.

William Dodds was born in 1781 at Duns, to the west of Berwick-upon-Tweed. He enlisted in the Corps as a Wheeler on 20 March 1798 at Edinburgh, and joined the sapper company at Portsmouth/Gosport under Lieutenant-Colonel J. Evelegh RE.
In April 1800 Dodds joined a special detachment of 33 sappers, under Major Mackerras RE, accompanying the 17,000-man expeditionary force to Egypt (for services of the Royal Sappers and Miners in Egypt see Lot 389).

In March of 1809 the French were building docks at Antwerp to provide a base for expeditions against the English coasts, to counter which a joint British naval and military operation was planned to capture the island of Walcheren in the Scheldt estuary, and to demolish the new docks. In July 1809, William Dodds sailed with this expedition consisting of some 40,000 troops under the command of Lieutenant-General the Earl of Chatham. Flushing and the islands of Walcheren and South Beveland were captured by 15 August, the French retiring to the mainland. By 20 August, nearly 1,600 British troops were ill with Walcheren fever (malaria) and a week later the number of sick had risen to 4,000. On 28 August, Chatham decided to abandon the expedition and by the time evacuation was in progress, the number of sick had doubled to 8,000. The effects of the Walcheren fever were long-lasting, and four months later about a third of the troops who had taken part in this unfortunate operation were still unfit for active service.

During the war in the Peninsula, Dodds served with the 8th Company 2nd Battalion, and was promoted Corporal in December 1811 whilst he was stationed on the defence lines of Torres Vedras, near Lisbon. In 1813, his company was attached to the Light Division in Northern Spain. He was present at the battle of Vittoria on 21 June, and shortly after this at the siege of St Sebastian from 11 July to 8 September 1813. Here his company occupied the Chofre Hills, where they constructed batteries and trench communications. During the siege, there were present 5 Sub-lieutenants and 305 NCOs and men of the sappers. The severe casualty rate suffered by the Corps was more than 21%, including 14 NCOs and sappers killed, 2 died-of-wounds, and more than 50 wounded. The casualty list included another William Dodds, a member of the 7th Company/2nd Battalion, who died at Bilbao on 13 September 1813 of wounds received at St Sebastian.

After the siege the company moved on into France, and Dodds was present in the actions at Nivelle, Nive, Bayonne, Orthes and Toulouse. The company left France in June 1814, bound for Portsmouth and New Orleans, arriving at Dauphinée Island on 28 February 1815, just at the end of the war with the United States, and Dodds returned to Woolwich in early June. On 10 June 1815 the company was rushed to Ostend and the Netherlands where, under Sub-Lieutenant P. Johnson, the company left Antwerp at 2am on 18 June, and Dodds arrived with his company at the Battle of Waterloo on the same day having done a forced march of 28 miles.

Dodds was promoted to Sergeant in January 1816 when he was then stationed in Paris with the Army of Occupation. Throughout 1816 he was stationed at Cantaing, and in January 1817 he returned to the UK, and was discharged on 23 January 1817, suffering from rheumatism. He received War Prize Roll payments for Egypt, Walcheren, Peninsula and Waterloo. He was pensioned at 1s. 3d. per day, having completed 19 years service. He returned to Edinburgh, his place of enlistment, and later settled in Suffolk, in the Ipswich area, where he continued his trade as a Carpenter, becoming a Tower Master. He died in Aldeburgh of bronchitis on 6 April 1859, aged 77. Sold with full research.