Augustus Kenneth Dodge was born in September 1898 to shoe and furniture dealer Augustus William Dodge and his wife Mildred. The elder of two children, Augustus and his family lived on Cheap Street, the main retails thoroughfare of his home town, Sherborne.
Augustus William had been plying his trade for a number of years, having been apprenticed to his father – another Augustus – in Frome and Devizes.
Augustus Kenneth joined the 7th Battalion of the Dorsetshire Regiment, a territorial reserve, which was trained in North Wales and based on a camp in Wool, near Bovington, Dorset. Sadly, I have been able to find little else of his military life, but it is unlikely that he was involved on the front line.
Private Dodge died on 31st March 1917, aged just 18. Nothing in the newspapers of the time suggest an unusual or violent passing, so it can only be assumed that he died from an illness, possibly influenza or pneumonia.
Private Augustus Kenneth Dodge lies at peace in the cemetery of his home town, Sherborne.
I was intrigued that Augustus Kenneth’s gravestone also commemorates his father – Augustus William Dodge – and so I did a bit more research. I found that the 1910s were not a good time for the Dodge family.
Augustus Dodge Sr (Augustus William’s father) died in 1912, at the age of 88. He left his estate – totalling more than £500,000 in today’s money – to his widow, Mary Ann, and two of his sons, including Augustus William.
Mary Ann Dodge passed away in April 1916, as the local newspaper reported:
Mrs Dodge, widow of the late Mr Augustus Dodge [Sr] died unexpectedly at her residence at Butts-hill on Thursday last. Mrs Dodge, who was in her 82nd year, walked down to St John’s Church in the morning and attended a service, and then walked up the hill to her home. She was taken ill at noon and passed away two hours later. On Saturday morning, the family received the news that Mr Hubert Dodge, bootmaker, or Warminster (brother of the late Me Augustus Dodge) had died.Somerset Standard: Friday 28th April 1916
By this point, and within six years, Augustus William Dodge had lost both of his parents and his uncle Hubert. He had also lost his daughter, Ethel, who had died in 1910.
Another of Augustus William’s uncles, Albion Dodge, died in 1917, as did Private Augustus Kenneth Dodge, his son, and the protagonist of this post.
The effect of these losses – particularly that of his eldest son – cannot be underestimated and may well have contributed to his own passing, a year later.
Augustus William Dodge died on 17th June 1918, aged 51.
The Somerset Standard show how much of a businessman he had been, however, with an announcement of the sale of his estate, which included:
LARGE SHOP AND DWELLING-HOUSE, with extensive Premises in the rear, No 3 Stony-street, Frome, in the occupation of Mr Arthur Dodge, at £40 per annum.
SHOP AND PREMISES, No 4 Stony-street, Frome, in the occupation of the Argentine Meat Co. Ltd’, t £25 per annum.
SHOP AND PREMISES, No 13 Market-place, Frome, in the occupation of the National Party, at £18 per annum.
Substantially-built and Commodious TWO-STOREY WAREHOUSE, with Accommodation for Motor Car or Van, situate in the Blue Boar Yard, Frome. The top story is in the occupation of the Frome Town Band, at £12 per annum. The bottom storey is void.
DWELLING-HOUSE AND PREMISES, No 25 King-street, Frome, in the occupation of Mrs Thomas at £13 8s 8d per annum.
DWELLING-HOUSE AND PREMISES, No 1 Willow Vale, Frome, lately occupied by Mr Clarke, a £15 12s per annum.
TWO Substantially-built RESIDENCES with large Gardens, Nos 1 and 2 Hythe House, Rodden Lake, Frome, together with PADDOCK adjoining, in the occupation of Messrs Webb, Golden and Haddrell, at the net annual rental of £37.
FIVE COTTAGES AND GARDENS, Nos 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 Rodden Lake, Frome.
A commodious 3-storey WAREHOUSE, with double-door entrance for vans and side entrance, situate and being No 22 Vicarage-street Frome, in the occupation of Mr E Glass at £8 per annum.
SHOP, with DWELLING-HOUSE AND GARDEN, in Cheap-street, Sherborne, Dorset, in the occupation of Miss Beedell, at £20 per annum.Somerset Standard: Friday 25 October 1918.