Passchendaele – we remember a fallen hero

July 31st, 2017

One hundred years ago today saw the start of what was officially known as the third battle of Ypres, today remembered as the Battle of Passchendaele.  The battle carried on until 6th November and in that time became infamous not only for the number of casualties but also for the atrocious conditions caused by the vast amount of mud.

One of the many Derbyshire casualties was Arthur Hodgkiss of Milford, Derbyshire. Arthur was a Sergeant in the Royal Field Artillery, and lost his life in the battle of Passchendaele Ridge in October 1917 at the age of 23.

Arthur Hodgkiss’ letters are held at the Derbyshire Record Office (D1884/1):

Its just a week since I left England & my word I have seen some sights  France is very old fashioned & not a patch on England….you can’t get decent fags they nearly choke you.

I would sooner be out here than in Milford in a way, there is a bit more doing.  The Germans keep sending over little souvenirs but our chaps soon let ‘em have it back again. 

 The country round here reminds one of home, because of the Pits.  You have just to look out of the window and see the old slag-heaps and you are at home anytime…it does one good to see the colliers with their dirty faces, bent backs & bandy-legs. 

October 13th 1917

I am afraid the Enclosed will be a great shock to you, as it was to us this morning.  It is a copy of a letter, telling us that poor Arty has “gone under”.  It is a terrible blow to us all.

We shall try to get to know where he is buried & will let you know as we get more news.

Can’t write any more just now

With much love

Father

The grave of Arthur Hodgkiss

…he could not have died a better death than fighting for his loved ones at home in that memorable battle for Passchendale Ridge.

Yours very truly

Birnie Reid Lieut R F A (notifying the Hodgkiss family of Arthur’s death).