Lance Corporal Alan Heaton Hodgson
Alan was educated at Oakworth School, Holycroft School and Keighley Technical College. When he left school he worked as a shop assistant in the Lidget Co-op stores, Oakworth. Alan's one ambition in life was to be on stage as a comedian. In the early 40's an impresario named Carroll Levis used to tour round the provincial theatres looking for talent. The chosen ones were featured in a radio programme called Carroll Levis' Discoveries. When it was advertised in the local paper that Carroll Levis was coming to Keighley Theatre looking for talent, Alan applied to be considered and after an audition, was accepted to appear before Carroll Levis. When the date was fixed for Carroll Levis to be at Keighley Alan was sent an invitation to appear on stage before the "talent spotter". But Alan had been called up a month before and therefore could not attend. What a huge disappointment! On the very few occasions Alan came home on leave, in co-operation with one of his Oakworth friends, Allan Parker, he always put on a concert in the local assembly hall in the New School at Oakworth - These concerts were always called "Private Hodgson Entertains" Alan was only 20 years old when he was killed in action - What a waste of life and a waste of talent.
Alan's sister, Freda Hodgson.
Alan enlisted on December 17, 1942, and his early service was with the East Yorkshire Regiment. He later transferred to the 1st Battalion, Gordon Highlanders, and was taking part in their attack on the German Army in Goch a town in the district of Kleve in Germany, when he was killed in action on 20th February 1945. He was buried nearby along with a number of his comrades but due to the grave location being difficult to care for, their graves were moved to Rheinberg Cemetery in 1946 and remain in the care of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Alan wrote what was to be his final letter home on 16th February and he was killed just four days later. We have transcribed this letter in full here:
14391326 L/C Hodgson A.
18 Pln D Coy
1st Bn. Gordon Highlanders
B. L. A. 16/2/45.
Dear Mum, Dad and Freda,
I'll bet your face has lit up like a car head-light since you pulled this out of the letter box with being such a long time without one, don't think I have forgotten about you, I've been trying to get a few lines in every day for over a week but have had no time at all until now, I suppose you would have guessed why there was no letters with the news on the wireless & you weren't far off right for we've hardly had time to read letters never mind write them for over a week.
I hardly know where to start on this letter because I have received 6 from you since last time I wrote, also all the newspapers so I am quite up to date with the incoming mail.
The places you mentioned near Halifax called Ovenden & Staincross* aren't the place where Alf lived, I've thought many a time since what the name of the place was & although I ain't too sure I think it begins with El or Hel - is there a place called ELLAND or something like that.
You will be surprised to see a few strange faces in the envelope but I've been changing a few. They are both out of my platoon in the E. Yorks & Ronald is the chap I go about with the most, I came on leave with him from Croyden every time & he has been in the same platoon as me through 3 regiments up to when I came to 18 Pln & he is still in 17 Pln. Albert has also been not far off me all along & he got his stripe the same time as me & is not in the same platoon as me, he was one of the old soldiers who came to us in Blighty from India & out of all the lot he is the only one that is still pegging on, both the lads come from Hull.
I have got the old watch going again & it is now telling the time as good as ever once more, I fancy it wants a good clean with having a life in sand and dust so I can get that done when I come home.
You mention in one of your letters that in future days and in happier circumstances I might be able to visit some of the civvies I have been billeted with, but that won't come off for there's nobody will get me to step off Blighty's shores again all my life after this lot, I've seen enough of foreign countries & once I see home again it's home for good for me.
I saw it in the Keighley news about the suicide & the engagement & also the photos of the Dodgson brothers at Silsden, it is the same family as the lad I was with at Richmond but that particular lad hasn't his photo in, it must be two of his brothers, there was no reading under the photos as the week before there was the reading in but no photos.
It will be one year ago in three days time that I last went home for 10 days leave & don't I wish I was going again in 3 days time, my leave seems about as far off as it did the day I came back from home last time but it will come sometime. The odd night that I had at home on the escort was Sat May 6th. That wasn't long but it has come into my mind a thousand times since as my last glimpse of home.
I haven't forgotten that it was Feb 14 a few days ago Freda & although I am a bit late I wish you many happy returns of your birthday. The next time we go out of the line I'll see if I can get you something as I am next on the list for Brussels, Albert went about a fortnight ago & I should have gone with him but I couldn't as he was on jankers so with a bit of luck I will be going together next time we get out of the line. I did post one parcel to you so I hope you have received it by now, the pullover is what we got from Jack's box at Xmas & I haven't room for it & the little wooden shoes (clompers) are what all the lads seem to be sending home for souvenirs, there is some small pot ones all painted to be got but I haven't seen any of those in the shops yet.
So you have got the Tiger at last at no. 7 and made a good job of it in buying Harry Roy's composition, I'll bet there isn't half some twiddly bits in if he's written it.
I think that is about all for now, I could write a lot more but I'll save it until the next letter which should not be more than 3 or 4 days ahead, so I'll get this in the post & then it will at least be on it's way so here's hoping you haven't been worrying at all because there is nothing to worry at, whoever the unfortunate person may be who falls in the smoke screen you will always see yours truly come out at the other end as I always have done & always will do.
Cheerio & Love from ALAN.
*This is probably Stainland, which is near Halifax.
Keighley News March 3, 1945. [Page 66 of the Keighley War Scrapbook in Keighley library, which includes his photograph] Mr and Mrs J. W. Hodgson, of 7, Myrtle View, Oakworth, have received official information that their son, Lance-Corporal Alan H. Hodgson, serving in the Gordon Highlanders, has been wounded in Western Europe. Lance-Corporal Hodgson, who is aged 20, was before joining up two years ago, employed in the grocery department of the Oakworth branch of the Keighley Co-operative Society. He formerly attended Keighley Technical College.
Keighley News March 10, 1945. [Page 66 of the Keighley War Scrapbook in Keighley library] Lance-Corporal Alan H. Hodgson, son of Mr and Mrs J. W. Hodgson, of 7, Myrtle View, Oakworth, who was reported wounded in last week's issue of the "Keighley News," is now known to have been killed in action. He was formerly employed in the Oakworth branch of the Keighley Co-operative Society and had been in the Army two years.
An account is available here of: The Capture of Goch by the 1st Gordon Highlanders by Martin Lindsay.
He is named on the WW2 Oakworth War Memorial in Holden Park, Oakworth and on the Bogthorn Methodist Sunday School memorial in Oakworth Community Hall.
The personal effects of Lance Corporal Alan Heaton Hodgson were donated to us in the will of Freda Hodgson after she died a couple of years ago. Some of these items are contained in a framed display about Alan which we use when attending events and local history exhibitions.
England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005
England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007
1939 England and Wales Register
Freda Hodgson (Alan's sister)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Keighley News archives held at Keighley Library
Keighley War Scrapbook
West Yorkshire, England, Electoral Registers, 1840-1962
Martin Lindsay - (Capture of Goch account - linked above)