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William Hodgson

Date of birth: 1916
Date of death: 31.10.1944
Area: Brotherton
Regiment: Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Family information: Husband of Audrey Joyce Hodgson
Rank: Aircraftman First Class
Service number: 1066939

War Service

William enlisted in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve which had been formed in July 1936 to provide individuals to supplement the Auxiliary Air Force (AAF) which had been formed in 1925 by the local Territorial Associations. RAF. The object was to provide a reserve of aircrew for use in the event of war.
When war broke out in 1939 the Air Ministry employed the RAFVR as the principal means for aircrew entry to serve with the RAF. A civilian volunteer on being accepted for aircrew training took an oath of allegiance ('attestation') and was then inducted in to the RAFVR. Normally he returned to his civilian job for several months until he was called up for aircrew training. During this waiting period he could wear a silver RAFVR lapel badge to indicate his status.
The records currently available do not allow for a definite date for when William volunteered or when he entered active service, however, by the end of 1941 more than half of Bomber Command aircrew were members of the RAFVR. Most of the pre-war pilot and observer NCO aircrew had been commissioned and the surviving regular officers and members of the RAFO filled the posts of flight and squadron commanders. Eventually of the "RAF" aircrew in the Command probably more than 95% were serving members of the RAFVR.
What we do know is that William was involved in RAF operations in what used to be the Dutch East Indies, now known as Indonesia. From 1944 to 1945, during the final stage of World War II, the Allies undertook the strategic bombing of South-East Asia. The main victims of Allied air raids were Japanese-occupied Thailand and Indochina.
William was an Aircraftman First Class (AC1) - Service Number 1066939.The ranks of AC2, AC1 and LAC (leading Aircraftsman) were trade classifications denoting the holder's current standing according to successful trade testing results. Being an AC1 would indicate that William was ground based rather than being involved in operational flying. This could have been one of a variety of jobs all of which were vital to ensuring the success of airborne missions e.g. Mechanic, Bomb loader etc.
Again, at an unknown date William was captured by the Japanese and interned in Ambon POW Camp.
Being ground crew it is possible that William was in the Far East early in the war, being captured when the Japanese over ran the area as during the later campaign bombers would be based outside occupied territories. A large number of POW’s perished in Japanese prisoner of war camps.
For his book ‘Ambon POW Camp‘ the Australian author Roger Maynard, who has a special interest in Ambon, researched from the historical records and interviewed several living survivors of the Camp. The detailed text is supported by many photos and in it he states –
“They were subjected to some of the most sadistic brutality of all WW2 prisoners, suffering starvation and diseases such as malaria, which all took their toll, but there was also much savagery by Japanese guards including so called medical “experiments”.
William Hodgson was one of the PO’s who died at Camp Ambon and his body is now interred in the Ambon War Cemetery which is sometimes referred to as the “Australian Cemetery” in view of the large number of antipodean occupants.. Many of those commemorated there died in the defence of Ambonia in the early months of the war against Japan and others were killed in the Allied assault on Japanese air bases established on Ambonia and Celebes.

Family Life

William Hodgson was the cousin of George Rockett Hodgson. Consequently they share a common family history. William’s father, referred to in some sources as ‘Jack’, was John William Hodgson, brother of Rockett and son of Emmanuel and Annise.
He married Mary Eleanor Thomas in the parish church on 27th July 1900. She was the daughter of William and Rebecca Thomas of Brotherton. Mary had been employed in 1891 as a domestic servant for Edward Wales and family who lived on Cross Hill and was described as a ‘general Medical Practitioner.’
In 1901 John W was employed as a ‘Coalminer’ and living on the High Street with Mary and daughter Ambrozine aged 3 months. In 1911 they were living in Nancy Taylor Yard and had added 2 more children to the family - Benjamin Thomas (1903) and Emmanuel (1906).
In 1916 William Hodgson was born. In 1940 William married Audrey Joyce Smith. It is not thought that they had any children.

Ambon War Cemetery Ambon War Cemetery

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