P/O William Henry Hodgson, DFC


Pilot Officer William Henry Hodgson 36269, who flew with 85 Squadron RAF, was one of many New Zealand pilots who fought in the Battle of Britain.

He was killed on Thursday 13 Marc 1941 while flying as a passenger on Havoc I BJ500 piloted by Act Flt Lt G Allard, RAF, which took off from Debden at about 1620. Almost immediately after leaving the airfield, the top gun panel detached and lodged against the base of the tail fin, forcing the aircraft to pitch upwards, stall and spin. In the subsequent crash and fire at Wimbish, two miles NE of the base, all three on board were killed. Hodgson was buried at Saffron Walden, Essex. He died age 20 and had completed 503 hours flying and 146 operations. At the time of his death, he had been classified as medically unfit for flying and had gone on the flight for "air experience".


A newspaper clipping announcing his death.

Hodgson is remembered today in the town of Wickford, Essex, on a memorial and a village sign at Shotgate for the feat that earnt him the DFC on 31 May 1940. On this day, Hodgson engaged enemy bombers and fighters over the River Thames and his aircraft was hit in the process. On attempting to return to Debden, with his aircraft on fire, he opted to stay with the Hurricane and crash land in a field rather than bail out and risk the aircraft coming down in a populated area.


A model of an 85 Squadron Hurricane


An image from Google Earth showing Hodgson Way running around from bottom left, along the bottom and up to a
roundabout at top right near Shotgate.



The memorial to Hodgson built on the site he crash landed his Hurricane fighter during the Battle of Britain.

Wickford has "Hodgson Way" and "Hodgson Court" named after him and at Shotgate, two kilometres NE, he is remembered on a sign which depicts his Hurricane VY-T. There is also a street called Hurricane Way.



This sign showing Hodgson's Hurricane is located near Southend Road (A129), Shotgate.


The memorial to Hodgson at Shotgate


The memorial plaque at Shotgate

Acknowledgements:

For Your Tomorrow by Errol Martyn
Photos of memorial: R E Flagg


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