Saturday, 4 January 2020

William Noel Hodgson, MC (1893 – 1916) – British soldier poet

William Noel Hodgson, MC was one of the poets featured in an exhibition of Poets of the Somme 1916 held at the Wirral's Award-winning Wilfred Owen Story in 2016

William was born on 3rd January 1893 in Thornbury, near Bristol, UK.  His father, Henry B. Hodgson, was an Anglican Bishop.  The family relocated to Berwick-on-Tweed soon after William’s birth.  William was educated at Dunham School and went on to study at Oxford University.

In 1914, William volunteered to join the Army and was commissioned as a junior officer into the 9th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment.   He was posted to France in July 1915 and was Mentioned in Despatches and awarded a Military Cross at the Battle of Loos. 

Promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, William was posted to Fricourt on the Western Front in February 1916.  He was sent to Mametz in April 1916 and was killed in action on 1st July 1916 while attacking a German trench.  He was buried in the Devonshire Cemetery in Mansell Copse, 80300 Carnoy-Mametz, France.

William’s First World War poetry collection “Verse and Prose in Peace and War” was published by Murray, London in 1917. 

“Reverie” by William Noel Hodgson

At home they see on Skiddaw
His royal purple lie,
And autumn up in Newlands
Arrayed in russet die,
Or under burning woodland
The still lake's gramarye.
And far off and grim and sable
The menace of the Gable
Lifts up his stark aloofness
Against the western sky.

At vesper-time in Durham
The level evening falls
Upon the shadowy river
That slides by ancient walls,
Where out of crannied turrets
The mellow belfry calls.
And there sleep brings forgetting
And morning no regretting,
And love is laughter-wedded
To health in happy halls.

The Military Cross (MC) aaward was created on 28th December 1914 for commissioned officers of the substantive rank of Captain or below and for Warrant Officers of the British Army. The first 98 awards were gazetted on 1st  January 1915, to 71 officers, and 27 warrant officers. The MC is the third-level military decoration awarded to officers and (since 1993) other ranks of the British Armed Forces, and formerly awarded to officers of other Commonwealth countries.

The Wilfred Owen Story, winner of the 2018 Wirral Horn Award for historical research, has moved from its original address in Birkenhead and iis now in West Kirby Arts Centre, 29 Brookfield Gardens, West Kirby, Wirral CH48 4EL website

A book of the exhibition held in 2016, entitled "Poets, Writers & Artists on the Somme 1916" is available from