An engineering student when the war began, Robert Dodds enlisted on 3 January 1916. After serving overseas with the Canadian Expeditionary Force, he transferred to the Royal Flying Corps in October 1916. Posted to 48 Squadron on 12 July 1917, Dodds flew Bristol Fighters and won the Military Cross for an attack on an enemy aerodrome. In May 1918 he returned to Canada where he served as an instructor at Camp Mohawk. In latter life, Dodds played a prominent role in the development of Canadian civil aviation. He was head of the civil aviation division of the defense department from 1930 until he retired in 1957 at age 65.
According to his nephew, Robert Dodds requested his uniforms and other war memorabilia be donated to the local Hamilton Military Museum. He was a signatory to the creation of Trans-Canada Airlines, the forerunner of Air Canada. In the 1960s, he and other WWI veterans were interviewed by Frank Lalor of the Canadian Broadcast Corporation for a radio documentary series called In Flanders Fields.
Lt. (T./Capt.) Robert Dodds, Cent. Ont. R. and R.F.C.
For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. He has destroyed or driven down eleven enemy machines. On one occasion while on a one-machine patrol he attacked three enemy scouts, but owing to his gun jamming he was forced to withdraw from the attack. Though under heavy fire from the pursuing enemy he succeeded in remedying the defect, and then turned and attacked the enemy again. He destroyed one of them and drove down another out of control. Later, he led a bombing raid on an enemy aerodrome, and under intense machine gun fire from the ground dived to within 100 feet of the hangars before releasing his bombs. Though his machine was damaged he remained at a height of 200 feet until the rest of his formation had dropped their bombs. His magnificent example of pluck and determination was of the greatest value to the squadron.