The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (NX21756) Lance Corporal George William Dodd, 2nd/17th Australian Infantry Battalion, 2nd AIF, Second World War.

Accession Number AWM2019.1.1.288
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 15 October 2019
Access Open
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
Copying Provisions Copy provided for personal non-commercial use

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by , the story for this day was on (NX21756) Lance Corporal George William Dodd, 2nd/17th Australian Infantry Battalion, 2nd AIF, Second World War.

Speech transcript

NX21756 Lance Corporal George William Dodd, 2nd/17th Australian Infantry Battalion, 2nd AIF
KIA 27 October 1942

Today we remember and pay tribute to Lance Corporal George William Dodd.

George William Dodd was born on 3 April 1918 in Bradninch, Devon, England, the son of Herbert John and Annie Dodd. He and his family emigrated to Australia and took up residence in the Sydney suburb of Blacktown, where George he worked as a poultry farmer.

In May 1940, Dodd volunteered to enlist in the second Australian Imperial Force. He joined the 2nd/17th Australian Infantry Battalion and after training in Australia for several months, in mid-October 1940 he embarked at Sydney on the transport ship Queen Mary, bound for the Middle East. After a six-day stopover in India, the unit arrived in Palestine.

In March 1941, Dodd’s battalion moved to Libya to relieve Allied units east of Tripoli. Large numbers of German troops and vehicles began arriving at Tripoli soon afterwards and the Allies were forced to retreat eastwards to the port city of Tobruk.

The conditions of the retreat lowered the morale of the men of the 2nd/17th Battalion. The unit diary records the cold of the nights, and the miserable state of the men, who wanted to stand and fight against the advancing Italian and German forces. By early April, the battalion had made it to Tobruk. Having established a defensive position, they successfully fought off a heavy initial attack by Axis forces. During this fighting, Dodd was severely wounded by gunfire.

He recuperated in hospital for two months, and then spent a further month in a training unit to fully recover. He rejoined his unit towards the end of July 1941.
Having failed to defeat the Allies, the Axis forces laid siege to Tobruk, a situation that lasted for over eight months. In October, the Australians were relieved by the 70th British Division.

During the first half of 1942, the 2nd/17th Battalion moved to Syria and Lebanon to continue training. In July, the battalion travelled to Alexandria, Egypt, and from there deployed west of the city in readiness for a showdown with the Axis forces. Having shown promise as a soldier, Dodd was appointed lance corporal in September 1942.

Following their withdrawal from Libya, the British-led Allies defended a line between the Mediterranean Sea in the north and the impassable Qattara Depression in the desert to the south. Allied units took up positions around the tiny desert locality of El Alamein. The 9th Australian Division, of which the 2nd/17th Battalion was a member, was on the right flank of the Allied position, on the coast.

In October 1942, preparation began in earnest for an Allied attack. The men of the 2nd/17th Battalion trained alongside tanks and anti-tank guns, so that they knew how to work together on the battlefield. There was still time for recreation, however, and the battalion diary notes that the men played cricket and held a surfing carnival.

In late October 1942, the Allies launched what became known as the Second Battle of El Alamein. After a supporting artillery barrage, the men of the 2nd/17th Battalion crossed a minefield strung with barbed wire to engage the German positions. Some days later, on 27 October, the Axis forces launched a counter attack in the battalion’s sector. The unit managed to stop the attack, but in the fighting, Dodd was killed in action. He was 24 years old.

George Dodd was originally buried near where he died, but with the end of the war, many of the Allied graves were consolidated. Dodd’s remains were reburied at El Alamein War Cemetery in Egypt, along with over 7,000 Commonwealth burials from the Western Desert campaign. His inscription reads simply: “He died for his country”.

George William Dodd’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among almost 40,000 Australians who died while serving in the Second World War.

This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Lance Corporal George William Dodd, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.

Thomas Rogers
Historian, Military History Section

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