Private 39083 William Hodson

Hodson William 96 400x600

Killed in Action on Wednesday, 10th April 1918, age 24.
Buried in Grave VII. Q. 3. at Strand Military Cemetery, Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium.

4th Bn., South Staffordshire Regiment. 7th Brigade of 25th Division.

Son of Samuel Hodson.
Born: Wednesbury, Enlisted: Tipton, Resident: Unknown.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the Tipton Library, and St. John's memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/165230/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
1 House 1 Court, Lloyd Street, Wednesbury, Staffs.
Samuel Hodson (46, Widower, General Labourer, born Wednesbury), and his 4 children: Susan (12, born Wednesbury), Esther (11, born Wednesbury), Eliza (8, born Wednesbury), and William (7, born Wednesbury).

1911 Census
23 Albert Street, Princes End, Tipton, Staffs.
Samuel Hodson (58, Iron Puddler, born Wednesbury), his second wife Phoebe (58, born Tipton), and Samuel's son: William (18, Iron Moulder, born Wednesbury).

Personal Data

This man is the only William Hodson associated with South Staffordshire Regiment, so this is almost certainly the correct one. He was born in Wednesbury, but by the time of the 1911 census was living in Princes End, this is the correct locality for his entry on the St. John's War Memorial. The release of the Soldier's Effects papers has now confirmed that this is the correct genealogy, as his will named his sisters Susan and Esther which matches the 1901 census.

After WIlliam's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £9/10/5d (9 pounds, 10 shillings and 5 pence), this was split 50/50 between his sisters Susan Cleaver and Esther Hodson, in December 1919. His War Gratuity was £5/0/0d (5 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his sisters in December 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that William had enlisted in approximately January 1917.

Action resulting in his death

In the early morning of 9th April the German Fourth and Sixth Armies launched the Flanders offensive, Operation "Georgette", the second in the planned series of attacks on the Allied Front for spring 1918. In the south of the Ypres Salient sector the British Second Army was pushed westwards, losing its hold of the Messines Ridge, Wytschaete and Messines villages which had been captured from the German Army in June 1917. This was the second phase of 4th Ypres (the Battle of the Lys), and is known as the Battle of Messines.

The 4th South Staffs, one of the Battalions of 7th Brigade of 25th Division, was to the north east of Ploegsteert manning the front line opposite Warneton. They held their position with severe loses during the morning, but were forced to pull back to Hill 63 (The Catacombs), just to the north of Ploegsteert village.

War Diary 10th April 1918
Enemy attack opened about 3.30am by heavy shelling of back area by Gas Shells. At 5.30am he opened his barrage on front and support lines lasting about an hour, then lengthened to Reserve on line about GREY FARM. "C" Company in front line wiped out. No. 6 platoon "B" Company withdrew to WATCHFUL POST owing to severity of shelling, ordered to retake USEFUL POST at all costs, platoon moved forward but was unable to re-occupy the position. The Gloucesters on the left and 10th Cheshires on the right having withdrawn, orders issued to withdraw to WATCHFUL POST. Battalion withdrew to Catacombs. At 2.00pm order to re-occupy old positions, re-occupied 5.00pm Bosch attacked 7.00pm, GREY FARM garrison stood fast, remainder of battalion withdrew to HILL 63 position isolated. Battalion withdrew to NEUVE EGLISE.

61 men of the 4th Battalion, South Staffs were killed on 10th April, 3 were from Tipton: Hodson, Keeting and Titley. Hodson is buried in Strand Military Cemetery, the other 2 are commemorated on the Ploegsteert Memorial.

Newspaper Cuttings