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BEFORE ACTION
(The Devonshire Cemetery continued)

 

While thinking of the casualties, it should be remembered that for every soldier killed there would have been two or three wounded, and some bodies would not have been recovered. Some of the wounded would have "died from wounds" later.

The History of the Devonshire Regiment records that as a result of action on the 1st of July, the 9th Devons lost 18 out of 19 officers of which 8 were killed. Other ranks suffered 141 killed, 55 missing and 267 wounded. The total was 463 in all  from the 775 officers and men involved in the action. The 8th battalion suffered 2 officers killed and 47 men killed or missing plus 7 officers and 151 men wounded.

 

Among the dead were Captain Martin and Lieutenant William Noel Hodgson, one of the War Poets who wrote under the pen name of "Edward Melbourne". He had a foreboding and shortly before the attack wrote his last poem - "Before the attack" in which he seems to predict his own death.

William Noel Hodgson was born in the March Quarter of 1893 in Gloucestershire at Thornbury and at the time of his death, his father was the first Bishop of St. Edmondsbury and Ipswich. Known as "Smiler" by his friends, he was only 23 when he was killed but had already published "Verse and Prose in Peace and War" using the pen name "Edward Milbourne". He received the Military Cross for his bravery in action.

William Noel Hodgson

William Noel Hodgson

9th Battalion, the Devonshire Regiment

Killed 1 July 1916 aged 23

 

BEFORE ACTION

By William Noel Hodgson 

(“Edward Melbourne”)

By all the glories of the day, 
And the cool evening’s benison: 
By the last sunset touch that lay 
Upon the hills when day was done: 
By beauty lavishly outpoured, 
And blessings carelessly received, 
By all the days that I have lived, 
Make me a soldier, Lord. 

By all of all men’s hopes and fears, 
And all the wonders poets sing, 
The laughter of unclouded years, 
And every sad and lovely thing: 
By the romantic ages stored 
With high endeavour that was his, 
By all his mad catastrophes, 
Make me a man, O Lord. 

I, that on my familiar hill 
Saw with uncomprehending eyes 
A hundred of Thy sunsets spill 
Their fresh and sanguine sacrifice, 
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword 
Must say good-bye to all of this:— 
By all delights that I shall miss, 
Help me to die, O Lord.

 

After his death, a senior officer wrote:

"Lieutenant Hodgson, the Bombing Officer, was a particularly fine officer, a most inspiring personality with a great hold on his men, and nearly as much liked and respected by the 8th, as by his own Battalion. His loss was severely felt."

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