Rank & Name: Cpt. G.B. Hodgson

Date of Death: 13/04/1917


Little is known of Cpt. Hodgson at this time. He was flying in one of six 59 Sqn RE.8's shotdown by Jasta 11 on 13/04/1917. His observer/gunner on this day was Lt. C.H. Morris. They failed to return. They were flying RE.8 A3416.

The Great War Western Front Mentioned in Despatches and ‘Bloody April’ Casualty pair awarded to Captain George Bailey Hodgson, 59 Squadron Royal Flying Corps, who on the morning of Friday 13th April 1917 was the pilot of Royal Aircraft Factory R.E.8, Serial Number A3216, leading six aircraft of his squadron on a photographic reconnaissance mission, when they were engaged in combat with six aircraft of Jasta 11 and one of Jasta 4, led by Rittmeister Manfred von Richthofen (The famous ‘Red Baron’), during which he was shot down near Biache-Saint-Vaast, being the 4th victory of Jasta 11 ‘ace’ and Pour le Merite holder, Oberleutnant Lothar Von Richthofen; brother of Manfred Von Richthofen. All six R.E.s of 59 Squadron were shot down during the action, claiming the lives of 10 of the 12 airmen. Hodgson had been recommended for the award of the Military Cross in late 1916, which was subsequently downgraded to a Mentioned in Despatches.

MiD – London Gazette 4th February 1917; Temp. Capt., Royal Flying Corps (France & Flanders). The original recommendation was for the M.C., which read as follows: Lieutenant George Bailey Hodgson, R.G.A., No. 13 Squadron R.F.C., Period of Service 21st March to 3rd September 1916: Consistently good work by day and night. Assisted No. 23 Squadron in a most gallant manner during a long reconnaissance to CAMBRAI. Carried out a number of long reconnaissances during the winter months.
George Bailey Hodgson was born at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Northumberland, on 3rd June 1895, the seventh and youngest child of hardware factor and bicycle manufacturer John Duncan Hodgson and his wife Mary Hodgson, of ‘Linton Villa’, Grainger Park, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. He volunteered immediately upon the outbreak of war and was gazetted Second Lieutenant in the Royal Garrison Artillery on 1st October 1914. He qualified as a pilot on 29th July 1915 and served as a pilot on the Western Front in 1916 with No. 13 Squadron. He was recommended for the award of the Military Cross near the end of his time with 13 Squadron, which was subsequently downgraded to a Mention in Despatches. He was promoted Captain and Flight Commander on 19th September 1916. Following a period in England, he next joined No. 59 Squadron at the Front on 10th January 1917 as a Flight Commander. 59 Squadron saw much action and suffered many casualties during the period that became known as ‘Bloody April.’

The book ‘Bloody April ….. Black September’ records the events that happened on Friday 13th April 1917:

…….‘Just over an hour later (08.00) RE8s of 59 Squadron, assigned the task of bringing back photos of the rear area around Etaing, also took off (from La Bellavue Airfield; led by Captain G.B. Hodgson, Flight Commander). It was only a week since 59 had taken a drubbing at the hands of Jasta 11, and now they were flying into von Richthofen’s area again. They once more provided their own escort – RE8s escorting RE8s. There were fighter patrols in the general area of the front, but direct escort operations had not yet become a normal occurrence.

Of course, there were some valid reasons why direct escort had its problems. One has to remember that there were no radio communication between aircraft in WW1, so it was difficult to make a rendezvous, and other than hand signals and wing-waggling, no means of making contact with other aircraft when in sight of one another. Different speeds made it necessary for the single-seater pilots to throttle down and therefore become more vulnerable to sudden attacks. Official thinking, by commanders who had never flown a fighter aircraft, preferred their fighters to patrol the area of activity and intercept enemy fighters – and any hostile two-seaters they found – leaving the British two-seater machines to get on with their work unmolested. All very fine, but it didn’t work. The sky is a big place and what is more, the Germans were well aware of the tactic and the more experienced would choose the most favourable moment to pick out a British two-seater.

Generally at this time, German fighters patrolled only in Jasta strength, usually no more than five or six aeroplanes. 59 Squadron may have thought that with a sortie of six aircraft they were more or less equal to any hostile patrol they might encounter. Undoubtedly 59 Squadron were trying to overcome a difficult problem but this wasn’t the answer as they were about to find out yet again……..

Meanwhile six pilots of Jasta 11, led by the Baron himself, with at least one fighter from Jasta 4, fell upon the six RE8s minutes before 0900. The two Scotsmen aboard the photo machine – A3203 (Lt P.B. Boyd & 2/Lt P.O. Ray) – headed for the lines while the other five tried to protect it. There was no contest. First to go down was A3199 (Lt A. Watson & Lt E.R. Law) to Festner, the RE8 falling north of Dury at 0854. Lothar Von Richthofen knocked out two within seconds at 0855, A4191 (Lt H.G. McHorne & Lt W.J. Chalk) hitting the ground north of Biache, A3126 (Capt G.B. Hodgson & Lt C.H. Morris) at Pelves. Then the photo machine fell to Hans Klein of Jasta 4, and A3225 (Lt A.H. Tanfield & Lt A. Ormerod) to Kurt Wolff, both at 0856. Klein’s kill fell south-west of Biache, Wolff’s north of Vitry. Oddly enough, the Baron’s victim was the last to fall, at 0858, A3190 (Capt J. Stuart & Lt M.H. Wood) falling in flames between Virty and Brebieres.’

The attack by Jasta 11 claimed the lives of ten of the twelve R.F.C. officers; the crew of A3199 (Watson and Law) were both wounded and made Prisoners of War.
Captain George Bailey Hodgson has no known grave and is therefore commemorated by name on the Arras Flying Services Memorial, France. source


Further Information

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: Rest In Peace :