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War Memorials

In Memory of
Gunner 201884
10th Battalion Tank Corps
Who was Killed in Action on Friday, 30th August 1918
Age 21

Plot II Row D Grave 20
Bancourt British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour
Bancourt British Cemetery

Bancourt British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France1

Lot Hodgkinson was born in Beeston, Notts in 18972, the youngest of two sons of Harold (b. 1872, Langley Mill, Derbyshire) and Catherine Sophia Hodgkinson (b. 1874, Quorndon, Derbyshire née Thornley)3. Lot was named after his grandfather, Lot Hodgkinson (c1833-1918) who became the manager of Wollaton Colliery. Harold Hodgkinson also worked at Wollaton Colliery while living, after his marriage, in Beeston. In 1901, he was working as a plate layer at the colliery while he and his wife also ran a neighbourhood grocery shop at 87 Wollaton Road, Beeston, on the corner of Clinton Street3. By 1901, he had risen to the level of Colliery Deputy and he and his wife and family had moved to live at 100 Denison Street, Beeston. By that time, the 14-year-old Lot had started work as an assistant in the soap and perfume department with Boots the Chemist, while is 16-year-old brother Harold was working as a butcher's assistant4.

When war came in August 1914, Lot was 17, a year younger than the age that men could join the regular army and some two years short of the age that would permit him to serve abroad. It was, however, possible to join the Territorial Force that provided part time army training. To that end, it appears he joined the South Nottinghamshire Hussars, in all probability its D Squadron, based at Wollaton with a drill station at Long Eaton. In that way, he would have received army training and would be then eligible for overseas duty when he reached the age of 19, early in 19165

The tank had been developed in secret during 1915, encouraged by Winston Churchill who had picked up on the original idea suggested by Lieutenant-Colonel E.D. Swinton. In March 1916, the Heavy Section Machine Gun Corps was established at Bisley under the command of Col. Swinton. It was moved to Elveden Camp, where six companies of tanks were raised. Tanks were used for the first time in action on the battlefield of the Somme in the Battle of Flers-Courcelette on 15 September 1916. Their appearance was a surprise to the enemy and they caused great consternation - although their contribution to the action was very mixed at this stage. These early tanks were slow and often mechanically unreliable and conditions inside for the crew were deplorable. but during the following months and years, the design and reliability was gradually improved so that they became an important component of warfare. The Tank Corps was formed from the Heavy Branch MGC on 27 July 1917 with numbered Battalions adopted replacing the previous letter designations. Each tank battalion had a complement of 32 officers and 374 men6.

Although it is known that Private Hodgkinson eventually served as a Gunner with 10th Battalion, The Tank Corps, there is no known surviving record of when that transfer took place. It is possible that he was involved with tanks from the early days of their deployment but we have no proof. What we do know is that in August 1918, he was part of 10th Battalion and involved in the deployment of tanks in support of the operation then underway in the early days of the Allies' Hundred Days Offensive which was to prove the turning point in the war. Specifically, on that day, the battalion is known to have deployed four tanks from the Bapaume to Cambrai Road, in support of the New Zealand Division advance on Bapaume. During this operation, Fremicourt was captured with 150 enemy prisoners taken and severe casualties inflicted. One of the four tanks was hit several times and burnt out with one on the crewmen killed and the officer in charge and one other man wounded. Although he is not named in the narrative, it is highly likely that Gunner Hodgkinson was the man killed7.

Lot's body was originally buried near where he was killed but, after the Armistice, it was exhumed and reburied in the Bancourt British Cemetery in Bancourt, a village which lies approximately 4 Kms due east of Bapaume. The village was occupied by Commonwealth forces in March 1917. It was lost a year later during the German offensive in the spring of 1918, but recaptured by the New Zealand Division (in particular, the 2nd Auckland Battalion) on 30 August 1918. The cemetery was begun by the New Zealand Division in September 1918; the original cemetery is now Plot I, Rows A and B. The remainder of the cemetery was made after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefields east and south of Bancourt and from certain Allied and German cemeteries8.

Gunner Hodgkinson was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal9. His financial effects of 24 7s 3d were paid to his mother, as his sole legatee, on 22 July 1919 and his War Gratuity of 19 was also paid to her on 11 December 191910.

In addition to being remembered on the War Memorial in Beeston Parish Church, Lot is remembered on the War Memorial to employees of Boots the Chemist who died in the Great War.

His father died in October 1945 aged 73 while his mother lived to the age of 93, both her sons having predeceased her, in December 1967. By 1939, they were living at 94 Denison Street, Beeston where each lived until their respective death. Harold junior, Lot's only sibling, had died in 1963, aged 68.11.

1The photograph of Bancourt British Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Basford Registration District (of which Beeston was part) in Q1/1897 (Ref 7b 211).
31891 Census - 87 Wollaton Road, Beeston, Notts (Piece 3153 Folio 33)
41911 Census - 100 Denison Street, Beeston, Notts (Piece 20427 RD429 SD3 ED2 Schedule 42). It is not clear whether Lot was working a Boots' factory in Nottingham or at its then recently-opened shop in Beeston Square.
5As his Army Service Record has not survived, his month of enlistment has been calculated from the amount of his War Gratuity. His original attachment to South Nottinghamshire Hussars is recorded in his record in 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'. His Service Number was then 1269.
6This paragraph is based on the description of the development of the tank and the formation of the Tank Corps on the Tank Museum website at tank100.com/tankmen/the-formation-of-the-tank-corps .
7Details the battalion's deployment on 30th August are from the sunnary of its war diary at https://sites.google.com/site/landships/home/narratives/1918/100days/the-scarpe-1918---22-to-30-august/10-battalion-30-august-1918 .
8This description of Bancourt British Cemetery is based on that the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
9Details from Lot's Medal Card and his Medal Roll entry - available on ancestry.com.
10Details from his entry in the Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929 - available on ancestry.com.
11Details of the family in the post-war period are derived from standard genealogical sources, including Probate Calendars and the 1939 Registration.

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