William Herbert HODGSON
William Herbert Hodgson was born in 1892, his parents were Walter and Emma and he was the eldest of their six children, their only son. The family lived at South Bank, Queensbury and the 1911 census shows that Walter was a plumber and Emma a housewife. William Herbert, aged 19 was an apprentice plumber.
Having attended Bradford Technical School, William Herbert left behind following his father in the plumbing trade and went into the service of the Marconi Company later joining the British Fleet as a wireless operator.
Thanks to the Halifax Courier a a large amount of information is available on the death and the funeral of William Herbert. On his death the paper carried the following:
“Entering the wireless service, he had to join his boat in a continental city and had the happiness to find himself junior to an operator from Halifax. The latter unaware who his assistant would be and going into the Marconi cabin was startled to find a stranger in uniform like his seated reading this journal (the courier). They were soon friends.
With the outbreak of war William Herbert joined the Royal Naval Air Service where his rank was Petty Officer Mechanic/Navigator, he was Stationed at the Royal Naval Air Station, Isle of Grain, on the river Medway, Kent.
On the morning of the 12th October 1916 his seaplane piloted by Flight Sub-Lt. M Lewis set of on routine patrol. The following is taken from the inquest: When the machine raised from the water at the Isle of Grain it started flying at a very steep angle until it reached a height of nearly 100ft. It then side- slipped vertically, and nose-dived. As it reached the water the machine turned right over. Flight Sub-Lt. Lewis was thrown out and fell clear of the seaplane, but Petty Officer Hodgson fell with the machine.
Boats put off from the shore, and rescued Sub-Lt. Lewis, and eventually when the machine was raised from the water Hodgson was found across his seat, entangled with the wreckage. The accident occurred about 7 a.m., and the machine was, flying at less than 30 miles an hour.”
The inquest report also included the following: “Staff-Surgeon Hawkins stated that death was due to drowning, and expressed the opinion that Hodgson lost consciousness in falling. Sub-Lt Lewis was unable to attend the inquiry as he was suffering from shock. A verdict of accidental death was returned.”
The Halifax Courier dated 14th October reported that:
“We regret to announce that Wm. Hbt. Hodgson (24), only son of Mr. Walter Hodgson, plumber, Scarlet. Heights, Queensbury, was killed on Thursday, a seaplane in which he was flying dropping into the sea, nose-diving, close to the English coast.
His body has been recovered, and intelligence to this effect reaching the family yesterday, his mother left for the scene.”
The Courier dated 21 October gives a very detailed account of the funeral of William Herbert:
NAVAL AIRMAN’S FUNERAL, Striking Queensbury Spectacle
“The remains of Petty Officer William Herbert Hodgson, only son of Mr. and Mrs. Walter Hodgson, 6 South, Bank, Queensbury, were interred on Wednesday amid many signs of deep respect. Petty Officer Hodgson though only 24 had since leaving Bradford Technical School an adventurous and useful career and had won the high respect of his comrades and in fact almost everyone with whom he associated.
The remains were conveyed from South Bank to Queensbury Parish Church upon a gun carriage, the outriders and bearers being men of the Army Service Corps (ASC), under Cpls Illingworth and Chatburn ASC, both Queensbury friends of the deceased.
The route to the Church was lined by hundreds of sympathetic onlookers, Messrs. John Foster & Sons closing their mills for the time being, and most other business places were shut.”
From the Courier we know many of those who attended the funeral, and these included a representative of the Navy and also two men from the Isle of Grain air station. The floral tributes were described as “extraordinarily rich and choice”, amongst these were one from the gentleman who was with Petty Officer Hodgson on his last flight, Sub-Lieutenant M. Lewis, who showed his feeling by the gift of a very handsome floral anchor (he was unable to attend, being still in hospital as a result of the injuries he received).
And also: “On behalf of Mr. Percival Denison (Halifax), R.N. Transport Service, now at sea near south-east Africa, an anchor was laid upon the tomb, in affectionate memory of happy hours spent with Petty Officer Hodgson on several voyages across the Atlantic, in serving together in the wireless”.
Research into the pilot Flight Sub-Lt M Lewis leads to Llewelyn Mostyn Lewis, born in October 1889 at Winnipeg, Canada, although from Welsh decent, he enlisted into the Royal Naval Air Service and gained his Royal Aero Club Aviators’ Certificate on 14th March 1916. Llewelyn survived the war and returned to Canada.
William Herbert Hodgson is buried in QUEENSBURY CEMETERY.