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Bethune Town Cemetery, France Bethune Town Cemetery, France
First Name: William Henry Last Name: HODSON
Date of Death: 16/05/1915 Lived/Born In: Barnes
Rank: Private Unit: Royal West Surrey (Queens)2
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Bethune Town Cemetery, France

The Battle of Festubert (15–25 May 1915)

This followed quickly on the heels of  the Battle of Aubers Ridge and was an offensive operation by the British Army in the Artois region of France in conjunction with a French attack further south.  Initial success soon ground to a halt and although there had been an advance of two miles in some places the end result was not the hoped for breakout but merely more muddy trenches which became the front. British casualties over the ten days amounted to nearly 17,000, three times as many as inflicted on the Germans.

The Battle of Festubert was preceded by a three day bombardment of the enemy positions and  at 11.30pm on 15th May 2nd Division and the Meerut Division from the Indian Army  attacked with mixed results. They gained some of their objectives but had met such strong German resistance, that they were unable to participate in the attack by 7th Division  at 3.15am on 16th May.

2nd Royal West Surrey (Queens) and 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers led 22 Brigade’s attack which was immediately met by concentrated enemy fire. 1st Royal Welsh Fusiliers managed to get into the German trenches but 2nd Royal West Surrey, on the outer and more exposed flank, failed to cross no-man’s land. The attack was suspended for 15 minutes whilst a further bombardment took place, after which they moved forward again and took the enemy line in front of them .  This they bombed and cleared for 300 yards and then, supported by 1st South Staffordshire, 2nd Royal West Surrey continued their advance and reached their objective, ‘North Breastwork’ at 6am. However, to the left of 22 Brigade no progress had been made and the Germans had retained possession of their stronghold, the ‘Orchard’ and the farm buildings nearby. As the day drew on and raked by flanking fire from the ‘Orchard’, the position of 22 Brigade became untenable and, despite reinforcements in the shape of 100 men from 7th London and a trench mortar battery, in the evening, they  fell back to positions behind La Quinque Rue. 2nd Royal West Surrey had over 450 casualties on this day. 

Private Hodson died of wounds on this day and the cemetery in which he was buried suggests that he was probably wounded in an earlier action.

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