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George Ernest DODDRIDGE
Private George Ernest Doddridge
10th Battalion, The Australian Imperial Force
George Ernest was known locally as Mick or sometimes as ‘Pegleg Doddridge’ because of his wooden right leg, the result of his War injury.
After his War service, he married Adel (nee Lane) and they had six children: William, David, Ian (Jocky), Rosemary, Josephine and Robert. The
latter four are still living and have grown up families.
In the late 1940s, Mick had bought a fruit block at Keyneton, Southern Australia, and tried to work it but, as he grew older, it became difficult and he sold it and was successful in tendering for a school bus run from his home town of Keyneton to Eden Valley, Angaston, and to Nuriootpa High School. He also spent time doing odd jobs at Nuriootpa.
At that time, motor vehicles were hard to come by and the best he could find was a Model T Fordone ton truck fitted with a two speed rear axle that made it much faster than his old Model T which was good for about 10-15 mph. The new vehicle was fitted with a canvas canopy and two rows of seats long ways on the tray of the truck. Mick was afraid to drive the new vehicle which was faster than his old one and enlisted the help of his cousin Harold Doddridge who had the pleasure of claiming that he started a bus run with a Model T Ford truck.
After the first week, he was made familiar with the new vehicle and drove it himself for a while. Then he purchased another truck, an International D30, which was more suitable and much quicker. After several years, he was able to purchase a Diamond T40 passenger bus from the Nuriootpa Community which he drove until he could no longer manage it because of his health. Despite his disability, his driving record was really excellent: over the years, he never had a vehicle accident.
After he purchased the D30 and the Diamond T, he often got weekend trips and charter work and his cousin did the driving for him while he occupied the passenger seat.
Friends often asked how he managed to operate the foot brake since it was his right leg that was missing. The answer was simple: he had a long lever fitted to the brake pedal and operated it by hand.