Occupation: Yorkshire an Lancashire Railway Co, Bradford depot
Rolls of Honour: Eccleshill, Park and St Luke’s
Regiment: Royal Field Artillery
Harold Hodgson was born in 1893 in Bolton, Bradford the son of Thomas Hodgson and Hannah, nee Brownbridge born.In 1891 the family were living at Moor House Cottage, Bolton, Bradford and Thomas was employed as a mason. Four children have been born to them, Alice, Mary Elizabeth, Thomas and Ethel. By 1901 the family had moved to 17 Mount Street and four more children had been born Harold, Alfred, Christabel and Nellie. In 1911 the family were still living
in Mount Street at number 59 but Harold at 17 years of age had left home to work as a cowman on a farm at Thorpe, Pontefract.Harold enlisted on the 7th of September 1914 as Gunner 21397 in the “A” Battery of the 78th Brigade of the Royal Field Artillery. His Unit embarked for France on the 12th of July 1915 under the command of the 17th Northern Division and were put to holding the front lines in the Ypres Salient.
In 1916 Harold was involved in the Battle of Albert and the Battle of Delville Wood – both phases of the Battle of the Somme and in 1917 the 1st and 2nd Battles of the Scarpe during the Arras offensive. It was during the Third Battle of Ypres at the 1st Battle of Passchendaele that Harold was killed in action on the 16th of October 1917. He was 23 years of age.He is buried in Cement House Cemetery, the Military name given
to a fortified farm building. The cemetery was begun here at the end of August 1917 and used by the 17th Division burial officers, by field ambulances and by units in the line until April 1918.Harold left his effects to his mother Hannah who received £14.18s on the 4th of June 1918 and a War Gratuity of £14.0.0d on the 24th of November 1919.
. Researched and written by Jean Britteon, to whom many thanks
10 September 1915SHELLING AND BEING SHELLEDGunner Harold Hodgson, who is with the Royal Field Artillery at the Front writes:We have had a few ‘Krupps’ over here lately but fortunately they have done no damage. If these shells alight within a hundred yards of us we have to get behind sand bags or anything solid because of the flying fragments.By what we hear the Germans are being hard put to it for they are nearly starving their people and they are running short of ammunition.One night our sergeant came to us and said ‘It will be eyes front till Tuesday’ which means we hadn’t to take our clothes off for three days and nights. Deaf for almost two daysWell we only fired a few round the first two nights but on the third we fired like mad. First of all the infantry started and then we followed and within an hour our guns had fired 50 rounds. The noise made me deaf for almost two days.Our lads at home seem to be fortunate about getting their permits. I might say I joined the Forces almost a year ago and the only leave granted me since that time was a few days at Christmas.Our Mediterranean Force seems to be making good progress at the Dardanelles and if they can only keep it up they will able to finish their task by the end of the year.We are not able to obtain daily papers out here so we are unable to follow the war except in our own particular section of it.I am glad to say I am still in the best of health.
We are fortunate to have several reports of Harold’s war, many in his own words, which appeared in the Shipley Times & Express
25 February 1916UNDER FIRE FROM WHIZBANGS AND GAS - AND A REBUKEGunner Harold Hodgson of Mount Terrace, Eccleshill who has now been out fighting in France almost a year without leave home, has written to a friend to say they have been so busy lately that there has been no time to write.The weather has been wretched and the incessant rain has made the roads at least a foot thick in mud. To me the war seems no nearer finishing than it did a year ago so the sooner we make a move the better.When we were up at Ypres we had a pretty rough time. The Huns would cease firing for a few days and then they would pelt us like mad with anything from Jack Johnson’s to wizbangs.Thought I was a gonerWe were in the fight on December 19th and we gave them some stick and proper. We fired at them for four hours without a break and I thought I was a “gonner” through the gas. It is infernal stuff and there is no wanting a second dose.Our lot must have come in for the infantry share as well, for a gas shell struck our gun pit and sent it “west” but fortunately no one was hurt. Kitchener’s men were relieved by the regulars when the gas came over.It is now almost 18 months since I was near home so I am looking forward to my turn of leave and you may guess a week’s rest and peace will be enjoyed after the rough time we have had.I am glad to say I am still in the best of health.Pte W H Wilson of 7th Yorks and Lancs Regt took exception to Harold’s remarks about Kitchener’s Army and on 16 March 1916, the newspaper published a letter from him:‘I consider one observation to be an insult to the men of Kitchener’s Army from the good old Shipley District. I should like to say that I have close on 17 years’ service in the army and at am at present serving with Kitchener’s Army and I find that Kitchener’s Army is equally as good as the regular..‘I do not see at all why the gunner should run Kitchener’s men down who answered the call so nobly without being threatened to be fetched.’
31 March 1916RUMOURS OF END OF THE WAR SOON ARE OPTIMISTICGunner Harold Hodgson who is with the artillery in France, writes: ‘There are rumours that the war is going to end this year but it hardly strikes me that way for the Germans have got both the ammunition and the guns and they might still have the men for aught we know.‘Just recently there was an attack in front of our guns and the Huns lost heavily and we made some prisoners.‘Among these men was a staff captain and he was asked how long the war would last. What do you think he said? “When England is beaten.”‘If that is the spirit of the German nation, the war is not likely to be over yet. All the time I have been out here I have not yet come across any of our Eccleshill lads but they might turn up in time.‘You will no doubt be pleased to know I am still in the best of health and spirits.’
11 August 1916WATCHING ONE OF OUR FLYERS TRIUMPH OVER THE HUNI have been through all the main places since the commencement of the great advance and I saw what havoc our guns have made on the German trenches,An English speaking Hun told me that it was impossible for anyone to live in it and there was more than a grain of truth in what he said.The other day I saw one of our airmen fetch a Fokker down after they had been tackling each other for about half an hour.Our airman looped the loop twice and came down in spirals and we were so certain he was hit badly but as the Fokker was following hard behind him he suddenly pulled his machine up and the Fokker shot past.It was our man’s chance now and he brought down the Hun and his machine.
30 November 1917YOUR SON HAS BEEN KILLED IN ACTIONMr and Mrs Hodgson of 59 Mount Terrace have been officially notified that their son Gunner Harold Hodgson was killed in action on October 16thSgt F J Squire sent a letter of condolence in which he says: ‘I have been his sergeant over two years and always found him a quiet and cheerful lad, who did his duty without any sense of fear.‘All he men were most sorry to hear of his death and wished me to express their sympathy to you. I hope that when all sorrows end that you will see each other again’Gunner Hodgson was 24 years of age and had been in France over two years. He was formerly employed by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company at the Bradford depot.Two of his brothers are serving in France.