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George Rocket Hodgson

Date of birth: 1914
Date of death: 3.11.1944
Area: Brotherton
Regiment: Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire
Family information: Husband of Mary Kathleen Hodgson nee Spedding
Rank: Private
Service number: 1659611

War Service

There are no details of when George actually enlisted. However, he was given the service number 1659611 and served as a Private in the 2nd Battalion of the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Regiment.
The 2nd Battalion formed part of the 4th Infantry Division. They were part of the British Expeditionary Force dispatched to France in September 1939, and evacuated in 1940. It took part later in the Western Desert Campaign in 1941 – 1942, the Tunisia Campaign in 1942 – 1944 and the Italian Campaign in 1944.
The 4th Infantry Division was deployed from Egypt and arrived in Italy on 21st February 1944. It took part in the second battle for Cassino between the 11th and 18th May 1944, under the command of XIII Corps. It participated in the battle for the Trasimere Line between the 20 and 30 June 1944, the advance to Arezzo between the 4th and 17th July 1944 and the advance to Florence between the 17th July and 10th August. On the 11th August 1944, the division transferred to V Corps and then to I Canadian Corps on the 7th September 1944 for the battle of the Rimini Line which commenced on the 14th September. The battle concluded on the 21st September and the division returned to V Corps on the 1st October 1944.
The period after the capture of Rome in June 1944 is after the front opened in France, Consequently, most history books do not cover the last year of the war in Italy and it became known as the "forgotten front".
In late 1944 the poor winter weather, which made armoured manoeuvre and the exploitation of overwhelming air superiority impossible, coupled with the massive losses suffered to its ranks during the autumn fighting, the need to transfer some British troops to Greece (as well as the need to withdraw the Canadian I Corps to northwest Europe) made it impractical for the Allies to continue their offensive. Instead, the Allies adopted a strategy of "offensive defence" while preparing for a final attack when better weather and ground conditions arrived in the spring.
On the 3rd November 1944 George was killed. He is buried in Forli War Cemetery.

Family Life

George Rocket Hodgson acquired his unusual second name because it was the family name of his mother - a not unusual tradition at the time. The Hodgsons and the Rocketts had been inhabitants of Brotherton since at least the mid 1700s.
On the Hodgson side the great great great grandfather of George was John Hodgson (1747 – 1818). His son William (1) Hodgson (1785 – 1871) married Sarah Wadsworth in 1806. She was born in 1786 in Monk Fryston but was no doubt related another old Brotherton family of the same name. It appears that William (1) was a ‘Labourer ’most of his life and after being widowed was listed in Census data as a lodger with the Burton family. His daughter Sarah had married Joseph Burton in 1840.
One of William and Sarah’s sons was also called William (2) (1814 – 1899) and it is here the link with the Rockets occurs as he married Harriet Rockett in 1839 in St Edward’s Church. Like his father he seems to have been employed as a ‘Labourer’ and in 1871 was living close to the Wesleyan Chapel on Gauk Street.
Harriet’s parents were Richard Rockett (1780 – 1854) and Charlotte Joliffe (1786) another old Brotherton name. In 1851 they were living down Pasture Lane. By 1871 Richard, described as a ‘Blacksmith’ was widowed and living with his son Henry. Richard’s father had been John Rockett (1778 – 1843) from Birkin.
William (2) and Harriet Hodgson had a son called Emmanuel (1848 – 1932) and he married Annis Rockett, the daughter of Harriet’s first cousin John Rockett. Emmanuel was employed as a ‘Coal miner’ and lived most of his life on High Street. They had several children including John William (1873 - 1856), Rockett (1877 – 1955), George (1879), Sarah (1887), Smith (1892) and Mary Jane (1890). Rockett Hodgson married Harriet Holroyd (born 1883 in Durham) on Christmas Day 1902. This was a popular day for marriages and christenings on account of it being a holiday and also due to the fact that in many areas it was traditional not to conduct such services during Advent.
Rockett was also a ‘Coalminer’ and spent his married life living in Funiss Yard off the High Street near Watmough’s shop. In 1910 it would seem that his ‘landlord’ was Colonel Gascoigne of Parlington Hall, Aberford. Rockett and Harriet had 5 children - Emily (1904), Annise (1906), Mary (1907) Ethel (1909) and George Rockett (1914).
George Rockett married Mary Kathleen Spedding (1916) on April 4th 1938 and it appears they had one son called Barrie (1939).

Forli War Cemetery Forli War Cemetery

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