|Mabel Theresa Dudson and Joseph Alfred Dudson had eleven children in total, seven sons and three daughters. The family were a devout Roman Catholic family and during World War One five of their sons served with the NZ Army. The Dudson family should have been proud of their contribution. However as with many families in New Zealand their contribution came at a cost.|
Initially 3 sons volunteered for active service. Firstly Walter Francis Dudson who was a teacher before enlisting and during his service earned a commission being promoted to a Lieutenant. Secondly Louis Chanel Dodson enlisted also earning a commission eventually becoming a 2nd Lieutenant and was mentioned in dispatches:
Mentioned in Field Marshall D. Haig's despatch of 7 November 1917 for
distinguished and gallant services and devotion to duty during the
period February 26th to midnight September 20-21st, 1917. London
Gazette 28 December 1917, p13575.
Then thirdly Paul Huett Dudson who before enlisting had been a civil servant working in Gisborne for the Maori Land Board and like his brother's also earned a commission becoming a 2nd Lieutenant.
The fourth brother to enlist was Stephen John Dudson who was called up for service in the first Ballot. In January 1917 he unsuccessfully appealed his call up citing that it would be hard on his parents who already had 3 sons serving and he embarked on 13 August 1917. After Stephen two further brothers were called up namely Alfred Joseph (the eldest of the 7 sons) in the seventh ballot and then Oliver Huett who was only 20 years old. In June 1918 their father Joseph appealed to the Military Board that they be excused from service, stating he already had four sons serving at the front. His appeal was held over until the following month. In July 1918 the Board decided that Alfred should go to camp (although he only served with the reserves in NZ) and that the younger brother could appeal again. As the appeal was brought in the middle of 1918 it seems that the war ended before the younger brother's appeal was heard again and he never served.
One cannot help but feel sympathy for the parents as they tried to avoid risking the lives of a further sons by appealing their call up. Life must have been full of worry having four sons on active service, every knock on the door must have been full of trepidation.
Although unaware that the war was coming to an end as the end of October 1918 approached the Dudson family must have thought themselves fortunate that their sons serving were still alive. The family would have been witness to the heartbreak other Carterton families suffered as they received the devasting news over the years that their sons had been killed.
Sadly as ever during this war the family did not escape unscathed. Louis Chanel Dudson who had been Mentioned in Dispatches for his distinguished and gallant service was killed in action on 28 October 1918 and Le Cateau in France.
Below are the Auckland War Memorial Museums Centotaph database links to the information held on all 5 Dudson Brothers.
Alfred Joseph Dudson
Louis Chanel Dudson
Paul Huett Dudson
Stephen John Dudson
Walter Francis Dudson
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