LEST WE FORGET

Flight Lieutenant William Stodart Espie DODS

Service No: 403725
Born: Brisbane QLD, 22 February 1909
Enlisted in the RAAF: 3 March 1941 (at Sydney NSW)
Unit: No. 461 Squadron, RAF Station Pembroke Dock, Wales
Died: Air Operations: (No. 461 Squadron Sunderland aircraft JM675), Atlantic Ocean, 28 May 1943, Aged 34 Years
Buried: Unrecovered
CWGC Additional Information: Son of Dr. Joseph Espie Dods, DSO, MC, and Anna Ruth Dois, of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Chartered Accountant
Roll of Honour: Brisbane QLD
Remembered: Panel 187, Runnymede Memorial, Surrey UK
Remembered: Panel 108, Commemorative Area, Australian War Memorial, Canberra ACT
Remembered: Rathmines Memorial Bowling Club, Rathmines NSW

Flight Lieutenant W S E Dods, 403725 10 and 461 Squadrons. Accountant; of Brisbane; b. Brisbane, 22 Feb 1909. Killed in action 29 May 1943. Dods joined as an admin officer in 1939 and in March 1941, when a Flight Lieutenant, joined aircrew, reverting to the ranks. Topping his course in Canada he was commissioned as Pilot Officer November 1941. By September 1942 he was again a Flight Lieutenant.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Page 418 Note

A similar mid-ocean rescue was attempted on 28th May by Dods, who in March had shown fine airmanship when forced to make an emergency night landing in the open sea. His present search was for six survivors from a Whitley aircraft. He found the dinghy but in attempting to land cross wind along the heavy swell, the Sunderland was suddenly hurled into the air by an unseen cross-swell and before full control could be regained it dived into an approaching wave. Dods was killed instantly and Gipps (1), who was acting as co-pilot, seriously injured as the aircraft plunged beneath the surface. The crew scrambled out through the astro-hatch only to find that all dinghies except one had been damaged. Gipps was floating helplessly some way from the wreck, but Flight Sergeant
Mackie (2) swam over and supported him for thirty minutes until the remaining dinghy could be manoeuvred over to him. The Sunderland and Whitley crews then joined forces and roped their dinghies together.

Help came at dawn next morning when Pilot Officer Singleton (3) of No. 461 found them at 6:30 a.m., although the cloud-base was only 100 feet above the sea and visibility was less than half a mile. In view of these conditions Singleton determined to land at once before he lost sight of the castaways, and he successfully put his Sunderland down near the dinghies. A bunk was wrenched from the wardroom to make an improvised stretcher for Gipps, and all the men were taken aboard the Sunderland which was now, however, too heavily laden to take off in such a sea. More aircraft appeared overhead and, after a few hours, a French destroyer was homed to the position. All the survivors were transferred to the destroyer which took in tow the Sunderland which was now manned only by a skeleton crew. After four and a half hours, however, the Sunderland broke adrift and Singleton determined to attempt a take off. For three miles the Sunderland battered across the sea, crashing from wave to wave and enveloped in spray, until finally it was flung upwards into the air. Singleton got the machine under control but, as a jagged hole seven feet by four had been torn in the bottom of the hull, it was now impossible to alight on water again, nor could the crew bale out as no parachutes were carried .

In this dilemma Singleton radioed to base that he would attempt to land at Angle airfield near Pembroke Dock. Arriving safely over Milford Haven at 8 p.m. he jettisoned all excess fuel, equipment and inflammable material. Then with his crew at improvised crash positions he made a low approach over the cliff where the airfield adjoined the sea. The keel jarred against earth and cut a shallow furrow through the turf alongside the runway for 150 yards and then the Sunderland lost speed and laid gently over on one float, buckling the wing-tip but without further injury.

(1) Flight Lieutenant Raleigh De Visme Gipps (405404) was discharged from the RAAF on 12 March 1946.
(2) Warrant Officer Wallace Mackie BEM (411354) was discharged from the RAAF on 4 March 1946.
(3) Flight Lieutenant Gordon Oscar Singleton (400841) was discharged from the RAAF on 15 October 1945.

Extract from Herington, J. (John) (406545) Air War Against Germany and Italy 1939-1943, Australian War Memorial, Canberra, 1954 – Pages 434-5

The crew members of JM675 were:

Sergeant Herbert Sydney Dhu (17682) Discharged from the RAAF: 14 October 1944
Flight Lieutenant Dods (403725) (Pilot)
Sergeant Thomas Patrick Druhan (403455) Discharged from the RAAF: 19 March 1969
Flying Officer Vernon Howard Dyason (403568) Discharged from the RAAF: 30 November 1945
Flying Officer Raleigh De Visme Gipps (405404) Discharged from the RAAF: 12 March 1946
Flight Sergeant Wallace Mackie (411354) Discharged from the RAAF: 4 March 1946
Flight Sergeant Rees (1161229) (RAFVR)
Pilot Officer Donald Arthur Sinclair (409326) Discharged from the RAAF: 2 August 1945
Sergeant Alfred Joel Taylor (5942) Discharged from the RAAF: 5 June 1947
Flying Officer Arthur Roy Tegart (411464) Discharged from the RAAF: 27 November 1945
Flight Sergeant Webb DFM (632851) (RAF)

References:

Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour On-Line Records
Commonwealth War Graves Commission On-Line Records
Department of Veteran’s Affairs On-Line WWII Nominal Roll
Register of War Memorials in New South Wales On-Line
National Archives of Australia On-Line Record A9186, 148 (No. 461 Squadron Operations Record Book)

Bibliography:

Ashworth, N. (Norman) The ANZAC Squadron: A history of No. 461 Squadron RAAF 1942-5, Hesperian Press Victoria Park WA 6100, 1994
Baff, K.C (Kevin), Maritime is Number Ten, K.C. Baff Netley SA, 1983
Joubert, P.B. (Sir Phillip Bennet) Birds and Fishes: the story of Coastal Command, Hutchinson and Company London, 1960
Southall, I.F. (Ivan Francis) (418900) They Shall Not Pass Unseen, Angus and Robertson Sydney NSW, 1956
Wilson, S. (Stewart) Anson, Hudson and Sunderland in Australian Service, Aerospace Publications Weston Creek ACT 2611, 1992