Seaman William Thomas Dodge of Hillview

Reprinted from The Packet, August 16, 2016
by Lester Green

William enlisted with the British Royal Navy at St. John’s but spent his entire career with the Royal Canadian Navy at Halifax.

Seaman William Thomas Dodge. (Photo courtesy of Jehu Dodge)

William Thomas Dodge was the son of James and Jessie Dodge of Northern Bight. He enlisted with the Royal Naval Reserve three years after his step-brother Walter Critch. His naval application could not be located among Naval records but his ledger indicates that he was first assigned to HMS Briton on January 15, 1917.

Source Evening Telegram January 1, 1917

An article entitled “Offered for Service” that appeared in the Evening Telegram on January 27, 1917 confirms that he had enlisted sometime between January 1-15. Three other individuals from the Southwest Arm area were also mentioned in this article: J.T. Langdon and A. Peddle of Hodge’s Cove and J. Price of Southwest Arm.

Seaman Dodge spent 10 months completing his naval training at St. John’s and was transferred from the Royal Navy to the Royal Canadian Navy at Halifax on November 14.  He reported to the depot ship, HMCS Stadacona, where he spent the next five months. He was drafted to the ship CD 28, a coastal drifter that patrolled the waters surrounding Halifax and the Strait of Belle Isle.

He was then transferred to HMCS Seagull, located at Sydney, Nova Scotia. The HMCS Seagull was the shore base structure for the Royal Canadian Navy between May 1, 1918 to December 10, 1920.

Coastal Drifter CD-28. Source For Prosperity Sake

William continued to sail on CD 28 which became part of a flotilla of ships made up of patrol vessels and minesweepers that protected the water of the Gulf region. He received orders on December 4, 1918 that he was being transferred to Halifax.

On December 5, he reported to accounting base, HMCS Niobe, at Halifax where he waited for his transfer orders to the Royal Navy. He spent 20 days at Halifax before sailing to Newfoundland and reporting to the HMS Briton on December 26.

Seaman William Thomas Dodge ship/base service record. Source TRPAD_ GN 182.7

Seaman Dodge’s final three months were spent at HMS Briton base where he had begun his naval career. His orders for demobilization were received on March 31, 1919. He returned to his home at Hillview for a short period of time.

He left for the United States from Saint John, New Brunswick on August 5, 1923 and arrived at the port of Vanceboro, Maine. He applied for his citizenship shortly after marrying Helen Isabella Hiscock and was granted it on January 26, 1929. They had four children, all born at Everett, Massachusetts where he had settled down. His wife passed away in 1965 and was buried at Everett.

After his wife’s death, William returned to Hillview area and purchased a trailer. He settled at Adeytown where he remained until his death in February 1975. He is buried at St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Cemetery, Hillview next to his parents.

Hilliew                                                                                                                                                                                            

Hillview. (Photo courtesy of Janet Churchill)

The communities of Northern Bight and Dark Hole collectively became known as Hillview in 1913 but older residents still refer to these names. The area was permanently settled by the late 1860s but was also visited years earlier by families from Grates Cove. These families used tilts as wintering shelters to harvest the forest in the region and construct small schooners that were known as “bullies”. Eventually these families remained and included the surnames of Benson, Frost, Stoyles, Martin, and Brewer.

The early settlers etched their living from lumbering, shipbuilding, and the schooner fishery. Records indicate that there were as many as 20 schooners leaving the community at one time to participate in the Labrador fishery. The community received an economic boost with the arrival of the railway because all freight, including the mail, was unloaded at the Northern Bight train station. The goods were then sent to the community of Northern Bight for distribution by coastal/mail boats to communities around Southwest Arm.

When the war was declared in 1914, seven men enlisted in his Majesty’s service with the Royal Armed Forces. Five men joined the Royal Naval Reserve and two enlisted with the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. The men who served with the Royal Naval Reserve include William Thomas Dodge, Eliol Baker, Solomon Green, Samuel Martin and George Walter Critch.