Love and war shaped family

Paul Hodgson who has shared the history of his family's involvement in the First World War
Paul Hodgson who has shared the history of his family's involvement in the First World War

GENEALOGIST Paul Hodgson has achieved a milestone in his quest for knowledge about his ancestors. His research back to the 1700s has led him to a family history which originated in the Yarm area and on to Hartlepool where an ancestor found love. CHRIS CORDNER reports.

PAUL Hodgson had always wanted to find out more about his past.

And after months of a quest for more on his ancestral research, he has decided to share it with us.

He was spurred to find out more after the death of his grandfather George Thomas Hodgson, 89, who had been a Home Guard in the Second World War.

When he passed away in January last year, Paul decided to find out more about the people who had shaped his life.

Investigations have got him back to the 1700s.

Paul, who works as a regional sales manager and lives in the Grayfields area of Hartlepool, said: “I have lost count of the hours I have put into this.

“It has been many hours of research.”

He now knows that his ancestors, certainly in the 1700s, were from Aislaby, in the Yarm area.

As the years passed, the links to Hartlepool began to emerge even more, through Robert Hodgson, who met a girl from the Seaton Carew area. They married and Robert came to Hartlepool to look for work. A family of nine children were raised in the following years.

One of Robert’s many children was George Hodgson – Paul’s great-great-grandfather who gave service to the Seaton lifeboat.

Paul’s great-grandfather was Thomas Hodgson, born in 1892 and who served his country in the First World War. He signed up in 1916 with the 8th regimental of the Durham Light Infantry (DLI).

He was 24 years and two months when his country came calling.

Paul has his First World War joining-up and service records.

Yet within 159 days, he was medically discharged – dubbed no longer physically fit to serve his country – and left the Armed Forces to become a chemical labourer.

He lived for another 28 years before he “dropped down dead” at the bus station, in Seaton Carew, in 1944, said Paul. He was buried in Holy Trinity churchyard, at Peterlee.

Thomas was married with one child called John, born in 1915.

His wife Ida’s brother was Joseph Thomas Leslie Atkinson who also fought during the First World War and was also from West Hartlepool. His war record was somewhat different to Thomas.

On February 28, 1914, his story made the pages of a London Gazette supplement.

The brief mention said that His Majesty was “graciously pleased” to confer the Military Medal on Sgt JTL Atkinson of West Hartlepool for bravery in the field.

Paul, whose partner is Leisha Cawley, 28, a funeral care worker, has a military background himself.

He served with the Royal Navy from 2004 to 2009 when he was medically discharged with a knee injury. He was an electronic warfare specialist who patrolled in Iraqi waters and was part of boarding teams.

Our thanks to Paul for sharing his family history.

We want to hear from even more people willing to do the same, especially those with links to the First World War. Get in touch by emailing chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk