05 Apr Harry Arnold Dodd – 1916 -2016
Harry (or Arnold as he was better known) was born on August 5th 1916 at the Egerton Nursing Home in Hoole, Chester, the only child of Harry & Elizabeth (Lily) Dodd. At the time, the First World War was in mid-term and Arnold’s father, Harry, was a serving army officer in the Royal Artillery (Welsh Division).
Arnold’s early life was spent in and around Chester, and at the age of five, he attended Arnold House School (the rather aptly named primary department of the Kings School) based in Walpole Street Chester. At the age of nine he transferred to the senior school, then based next to the Cathedral (now Barclays Bank) where he showed a keen interest in sport particularly athletics, frequently winning the 100yds, 220yds and 400yds flat races and achieving records as a high jump competitor. He also excelled in cricket and football becoming house captain, and on leaving school continued his interest and played for Chester Nomads Football Club First 11 and Boughton Hall Cricket Club Second 11.
During his school days, young Arnold would spend time with his many friends and join his parents on family holidays to North Wales, Somerset, Dorset and Kent. His keen interest in travel was noticed by his grandfather, who invited Arnold to join him on a cruise to Norway in 1929 aboard the Cunard ship RMS Carinthia. A full account of the voyage exists, as Arnold recorded every stop of the journey, something that became his trademark of recording and archiving everything – including diaries from his early childhood!
On leaving school in 1934 Arnold intended to join his father’s accountancy business and become an accountant, but there were no vacancies in the firm at the time, so he decided to apply for a job with the British Law insurance company in Liverpool, until one became available.
In 1938, Arnold was called up to do his National Service and was enlisted into the Cheshire Yeomanry who were at the time a TA regiment still training with horses. On the Friday night he signed on the dotted line and by Sunday he was in uniform being taught how to ride a horse. That tuition extended to Cumberland where he was billeted between 1938 and 1939.
With the declaration of war in September 1939, Arnold was enlisted into ‘B’ Squadron and during the harsh winter that ensued, they were transferred to the Middle East along with the horses – travelling by train to Dover, then across the Channel, continuing by train again through France to Marseilles and departing by ship through the Mediterranean to Haifa on the coast of Lebanon.
On the 8th June 1941 axis forces comprising Vichy French, French Foreign Legion, Italian and Turkish soldiers were engaged by Number 2 Troop of B Squadron and the ensuing combat became what is considered to be the last cavalry action in anger in British military history. Luckily for Arnold, the sight of all these horsemen with lances and swords at the ready, charging at them, caused the enemy to make a hasty retreat, which avoided a potential bloody encounter.
In 1942, the Cheshire Yeomanry swapped their horses for motorised armoured personnel carriers and became part of the Royal Signals, responsible for maintaining effective communications throughout the Middle East. Late in 1944, Arnold returned home to Chester, only to find that after a few weeks he was recalled to serve in France, Belgium and later Germany, as allied troops pushed back the occupying forces which then led to the final surrender of all axis forces in Europe.
After being demobbed in 1945, Arnold returned home and back to his job with the British Law insurance company in Liverpool, only to be asked if he would set up a branch office in Chester – which he duly accepted. During his daily journey to work, he met his future wife, Kathleen, and they were married on 8th September 1947 at All Saints Church, Hoole. Nearly a year later, the couple had a son, John, and they settled down in Chester as Arnold began his new career challenge.
In the process of establishing business contacts, Arnold became interested in local politics and joined the Chester Young Conservatives later to become its Chairman.
He also continued his interest in sport and supported the Chester Nomads Football Club and became their Vice-President, as well as being a supporter of Lancashire County Cricket Club, attending many matches at Old Trafford.
During the 1960’s and 70’s Arnold’s business career went from strength to strength as he built up a strong local client base around Chester, Cheshire and North Wales – one such being Working Men’s Clubs – which Arnold would visit in the evening to discuss their insurance with the local ’committee’. After several mergers and acquisitions, Arnold retired from the then Royal Sun Alliance as Assistant Branch Manager in 1979, after completing 45 yrs service.
Unfortunately, Arnold’s retirement was not as happy as he and Kathleen had hoped, and in 1987 Kathleen succumbed to a battle with cancer and died at the age of 71. Arnold, being the self – determined man that he was, picked himself up and got in touch with his circle of friends and joined many charitable organisations, clubs and social groups and became committed to supporting many national and local charities and organisations wherever his skills and knowledge could be of help.
Arnold was a Freeman of the City of Chester and Senior Alderman of the Cappers, Pinners and Wiredrawers Company of the Chester City Guilds, and Past Master and Treasurer of the Belgrave Lodge of Freemasons. He was also a long standing supporter of CAOKS, regularly attending their Annual Dinners and other fund raising events. He was also a member of Chester Probus Club and the Cheshire Yeomanry Association, which he helped set up their museum and archives at Chester Castle. His charitable and volunteer work included being a Chester Cathedral Welcomer, National Trust Guide, Treasurer of the English Speaking Union (Chester Branch) and member of the British Legion Upton Branch.
Arnold remained staunchly independent and self- sufficient throughout his latter years, managing to remain at his home in Chester until shortly before his death on April 5th 2016 at the age of 99 years. He is survived by his son John, daughter-inlaw Ann, grand-daughters Joanna and Sarah, and greatgrandchildren Harry, Farah and Beatrice.
07.07.16 © John Dodd