Friday, 29 August 2014

Alan Hodgkinson, kia 1st July 1916 and WW1 poet Rex Friston

In a slight departure from my usual postings, I share with you below an e-mail received from David Coleman who has a very interesting weblog about WW1 poet Rex Freston.  David is trying to find information about, and a photo of, Alan Hodgkinson - all fascinating and WW1-related, so please  read on and if any of you can help please contact David directly via his weblog:

"Hodgkinson, Alan from Farnham, Surrey

Lieutenant, acting Captain, Alan Hodgkinson,  the Royal Warwickshire Regt, killed in action, first day of the Somme 1 July 1916

Cemetery: Dantzig Alley British Cemetery, Mametz
 A Tribute to a local Farnham soldier

My father-in-law, Russell Markland, poet R M Ingersley, was Lt. Hodgkinson's cousin;  Russell was also chronicler to the works of H Rex Freston, more of whom later.

Deeply moved by his cousin's death Russell Markland published a booklet in his memory "Ultimate Light" one poem called 'To Forget' can be seen on my blog, and below.

To Forget

How can a thing so perfect die
When the rapture lingers yet
As the Love of youth and its faith and truth?
How can a heart forget?

Never shall fade the joy divine
When lips and true hearts met.
This will I keep till the last long sleep,
And beyond - I will not forget.

But O to forget how a glance could change,
How the sun of love could set!
And the nameless pain of a sweet thing slain
Oh God ! to forget ! to forget !

My weblog is about H Rex Freston and contains a trail to the events which led to my researches, ending with a reference to Chris Gardner's evening of Music to the Fallen in Alton, due in October later this autumn...

Within the blog  is reference to Russell's handwritten diaries, which I possess, and significantly with regard to Farnham and Hodgkinson, Russell recalls on 21 July 1919 on arrival in Farnham  "a taxi waiting which took us up to" Bradshaigh" - Uncle Alex and Auntie Lillie, were waiting for us (Dr and Mrs Hodgkinson) - we had tea and saw "Queenie" playing tennis with a Captain Bobbie Travers". 

After walking around the garden, Russell comments  " great improvement since I was there Dec 1915, when dear old Alan was alive - the place seems full of his personality. "

I have since traced Alan's grave in Mametz and found pictures on the Web of Farnham's  memorial stone.

It feels strange that my trail started from my wife's home in the north of England begins with Rex Freston's death in January 1916 should then proceed via Alan Hodgginson's in July 1916 and end up so local to where we have lived for the past 50 years, as both Farnham and Clewer, Freston' s home, are so close to where we now live.  

I feel a word about Russell Markland might be appropriate. A deeply sensitive young man, deemed not robust enough for military service, watching his contemporaries go off to war, he threw himself into organising the war effort locally in Wilmslow and Lytham. Through his poetry anthology, "The Glory of Belgium", he supported the Belgium Repatriation Fund, which attempted to care for the needs of the 250,000 Belgian refugees that arrived here in Britain. To read "The Glory of Belgium", open it on Google or try to open the link to California that I have embedded, key in the query box "The Glory of Belgium Russell Markland" and the book will appear. In the left hand margin click 'read on line' and then on the riight you can click and read page by page. Magic, if it works for you: California Digital Library

More details can be found in my aforementioned blog, including his requiem to Freston. 

A chilling Pathe news video -' the day that shook the world' - about the first day of the Somme is on UTube.

If anyone can add to my knowledge of Alan Hodgkinson, or perhaps know of surviving family, I would be pleased to hear from them. I would particularly like to see any photos of him.

With regards, David Coleman."  See David's weblogs: