William Dodds was born at Collingwood, Victoria, in February 1895 to parents James and Catherine, née Scott. He was the youngest of eight children, with five brothers and two sisters. At the age of 19, he was living at Brunswick, Victoria, and working as a labourer. As part of his compulsory militia service in 1910 under the terms of the Defence Act 1909 , Dodds served for three years as as a Senior Cadet and three years in a Field Artillery unit.
Dodds enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in June 1916 and was attached to the 9th Reinforcements, 12th Field Artillery Brigade. At the time of enlistment, he was working as a public servant. In December 1916, Dodds passed a Non-Commissioned Officer’s course for promotion to corporal, as well as achieving a 100% pass in a signalling course. In November 1916, Dodds was promoted to Acting Corporal and embarked from Melbourne with his unit on the troopship Orontes, arriving at Plymouth, England, in February 1917. In March 1917 he was taken on strength in the 338th Siege Battery and reverted to the rank of gunner. He went to France in July 1917 and was attached to the 36th Heavy Artillery Group (HAG). In August 1917, Dodds attended a signalling school in France; in October he was taken on strength as a sapper in the signal sub-section of the Australian Engineers for the 36th HAG.
A concert was given by the Headquarters Staff, 36th Australian Brigade, Royal Garrison Artillery, in the field, on 27 June 1918. Dodds participated in this concert, singing “Trumpeter” followed by an encore, “Come Sing to Me” in the first part of the program. In the second part of the program Dodds sang a duet with Sapper Patten, “The Trail that Leads to Home”. Dodds also assisted with piano accompaniment for this concert. as did Gunner Gooch (#1383). The final rendition in the concert probably also included Dodds, as it was sung by “The Boys” of his signal subsection.
Dodds remained with his unit until he was scheduled for return to Australia in March 1919, embarking on the troopship Boorda from England on 11 May 1919. He disembarked at Melbourne on 27 June 1919, and was discharged as medically unfit due to defective vision on 6 September 1919.
After the First World War Dodds married Ida Martha Taylor at Abbotsford, Victoria, in October 1920. Dodds was employed by the Australian Tax Office for some of his remaining working life.
William Dodds died at Glenhuntly, Victoria, on 29 January 1971 at the age of 75; all of his brothers and sisters had died before him.