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Dr Joseph Espie DODS DSO MC

Rank Reg/Ser No DOB Enlisted Discharge/Death Board
Lieut Col 29 Jun 1874 40y3m 1915 28 Apr 1917 4

Lieutenant Colonel Joseph "Espie" Dods (1874-1930)    


Family background and early life

Dr Joseph Espie Dods, DSO MC, was born in Kensington, London on 29 June, 1874 to Elizabeth Gray Stodart and her first husband Robert Smith Dods.  Elizabeth Gray Stodart was born in Edinburgh in 1851 and emigrated to Melbourne with her family in about 1856.   At the age of 15 1/2, in 1866, she married Robert Smith Dods, a Dunedin wholesale grocer and moved with him to New Zealand.  Her first child Robert (Robin) Dods, born in 1868, was later known as one of Queensland's most celebrated architects.

The family returned to Edinburgh, where the next two children were born - James Stodart ('Stod') Dods and Joseph Espie ('Espie') Dods - before moving again to London where Elizabeth's husband Robert died in 1876.

In 1879, mother and children returned to Australia, this time to Brisbane.  The family's long association with medicine began with a shipboard romance between Elizabeth and a doctor, Charles Ferdinand Marks, which led to their marriage in Brisbane soon after their arrival.

Elizabeth Marks, her husband Charles and her children moved to the inland town of St George for a time before returning to Brisbane for the birth of their first son, Alexander Hammett Marks, in 1880. (Lt Col Dr Alec Marks DSO is listed on the Honour Boards.)  They rented "Carlton" in Wickham Terrace which was later numbered 109 and then later renumbered to 101 Wickham Terrace in 1900. (Photo in gallery.)  The house remained the home of the Marks family until 1982.

Joseph Espie Dods attended Brisbane Grammar School and was a Junior Cadet at the school in 1885. (See gallery photo.)  Espie, as he was known, later studied medicine in Edinburgh and Public Health in Dublin, before returning to Brisbane in 1899 where his mother still resided. 

Service in the Boer War

He joined the Army Medical Corps in Brisbane, serving in the Boer War as a Captain. He was awarded the Queen’s Medal with four clasps.

Government Medical Officer

On his return to Queensland, he was appointed Queensland Government Medical Officer in 1905 and was living at 101 Wickham Terrace, Brisbane.

In 1906 he married Anna Ruth Walker (sister of Philip Cunningham Walker and Leonard Reid Walker) in Victoria and they lived most of their lives at 'Callender House' later 97 Wickham Terrace, Brisbane which was designed by his brother, Robin Dods.

Enlistment in the Army Medical Corps

At the outbreak of World War I, he signed up for military service in the Army Medical Corps attached to the 5th Light Horse Regiment. Dods served at Gallipoli from May to August 1915, when he was badly wounded by shrapnel. He returned to the lines of battle a couple of months later. He was awarded the Military Cross, with the citation reading:

"Since his arrival on the Peninsula on the 20th May until his departure (wounded) on the 29th August, he has carried out his duties as Medical Officer with conspicuous gallantry. Our reserve camp has been shelled on many occasions, resulting in casualties. Captain Dods has never waited for these to be brought to him, but has gone into the open to attend to them at personal risk from continued shelling.

On 28th June, when the Regiment had many casualties, Captain Dods attended to all the wounded, himself being under heavy shell fire the whole of the time. On 29th August when our camp was being heavily shelled, Captain Dods left cover to attend to a wounded man and was immediately struck down with shrapnel.'"

1916: Battle of the Somme

He later served in France at Pozieres in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and by the end of the war was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel.  The notes from the citation for the DSO read:

"In the Battle of the Somme. During the period the 1st Australian Division was in action at Pozieres between 22/7/16 and 28/7/16. As DADMS was indefatigable in the collection of wounded and meeting the heavy demands on the bearers at Divisions.

The clearance of wounded from the collecting zone was attended with great difficulties and was always carried out under fire. An excellent organiser. This Officer's services deserve bringing to notice.’"

Return to Australia

He returned to Australia on 12 April 1917 on the Ulysses and resumed work in general practice. He was president of the Queensland branch of the AMA, the Medical Defence Society, and the Queensland Club.

Tragic passing

Despite his successful career, and for unknown reasons, he tragically ended his own life in 1930, at the age of 56.    He was buried at the Dutton Park Cemetery, Brisbane.

He was survived by his wife, Anna Ruth Dods (a talented singer who was a frequent soloist at Saint Andrew’s Church), a daughter, Margaret (Peggy) Ruth Espie Dods (born 1907), and three sons - William Stodard Espie Dods (born 1909), J. Dods and Robin Espie Dods (died in 1988).

Note: Joseph Espie Dods’ brother, Robin Dods 1868-1920 (Robert Smith Dods) was a well-known and highly respected Australian Architect who began his practice in Brisbane. There are many journal articles and books written about his work which include St Bridgid’s Church at Red Hill, the TC Beirne building at Fortitude Valley, the old Mater Misericordiae Hospital at South Brisbane. He designed the house at 97 Wickham Terrace Brisbane shown in the photo gallery for his brother, Espie Dods, as a surgery and residence. 

Select Bibliography
• Australian Light Horse Association.
• Australian War Memorial
• Digitised newspapers, Trove, National Library of Australia
• Likeman, Robert. ‘Tis but the Time'. 
• National Archives of Australia. Discovering Anzacs 
• Queensland War Memorial Register 1
11th Lighthorse Warwick Montrose Troop -
• John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland
• QUT, Marks Family Collections Online, SLQ, 
• Victoria Barracks Museum, 
• Queensland Military Memorial Museum

Researched and written by Miriam King, April 2014 ©



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