Dudley was born in Napier, 21 March 1922, the oldest of three sons of Alex and Hetty Lean.
His childhood was spent in and around Hastings and he attended Hastings Central and Hastings High schools.
His favourite subject was Maths.
In 1931 the family was living in Garnett St, Hastings and on 3rd February, the day of the Hawkes Bay earthquake, Alex was away droving. Hetty and the boys had to cope with the chimney ending up in the fork of the plum tree, a cupboardful of preserves in a broken, sticky mess on the kitchen floor and the house generally in an unlivable condition. They moved into a tent in the back yard and cooked over an open fire until the damage could be repaired-a period of some weeks.
As a child he showed sporting ability, being a good athlete, rugby and cricket player and joined the amateur boxing association.
When he left school, he joined the staff of de Pelichet Mcleod, Stock and Station agents, as a clerk, using his mathematical ability. He worked for them for 21 years, excluding his time in the army in World War 2. During his teenage years, he was very involved with the Hastings Baptist church, including their Boys’ Brigade unit and cricket team.
In 1941 he was called up to do 3 months basic army training at Waiouru. They travelled to Waiouru by train and as they arrived it started to snow. Their accomodation was in tents.
In December 1941 when the Japanese entered the War, he became part of the 1st Hawkes Bay Regiment and was sent to Woodville where a camp had been set up at the racecourse. So began a 59 year relationship with Woodville. While in Camp, he became friendly with one of the local lads and when they were supposed to be on all-night patrol would make their way to the mate’s home, have a good feed, bath and sleep and in the morning would catch up with their mates and return to Camp.
On another occasion, their weekend leave was cancelled at the last minute, quite unjustly according to Dudley and his Hastings mates but they left Camp and caught the train home anyway. When they arrived back at the Woodville Railway station on the Sunday night, the Military Police were wating [waiting] for the [them] and his Army record shows he was fined and given extra duties for being AWOL.
He was in camp in Woodville for 10 months, then Linton, Masterton and Waiouru. In 1943 he celebrated his 21st birthday while on final leave and sailed for New Caledonia. He was a poor sailor so it wouldn’t have been an