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Now it says in the records, that James Hodgetts was born in Rowley Regis, and so he was, but in part that you wouldn't today suggest still is. Upper Chapel Street, Tividale, in September 1873, was indeed listed as Rowley Regis. It's quite close to the site of the old Boat Inn, the scene of a terrible wartime accident in the 1940s, and close to William Hodgetts work as a Moulder in an Iron Works. Some years later, James lost his father, and his mother, Agnes Hodgetts, soldiered on so to speak. The family moved to first 25a, Grout Street, West Bromwich, and then in 1888, to 22 Cape Street, Greets Green, West Bromwich, where young James was a Labourer in the local Tube Works. Not especially tall or strong, never the less, he found time to join the 3rd Battalion, South Staffordshire Militia, a fact which came to light when on 22nd August,1891, at 18 years and 1 month old, he enlisted in the Ist/29th, Regiment of Foot. This of course meant a journey to Worcester, for this name was later changed to The Worcestershire Regiment. It seems that the military way of life was what James Hodgetts desired, for he had made an earlier attempt, and had been refused because he was underweight. Sadly, all to often the case with the young of the period. After his medical, he was accepted into the Regiment, signing on for the full term of 12 years, 7 under the colours, and 5 in reserve. For the next 4 years and 55 days, he was stationed on home ground, even gaining a stripe in 1893, only to infringe the rules in 1895, and lose the extra pay. He was about to see a bit more of the world later this year, when the Regiment was posted for garrison duty, to sunny Malta. He got his stripe back as well, and spent the next 1 year and 324 days soaking up the sun. ( The Army counts everything ) Even more good news at the end of this tour, the Regiment was sent to garrison another island, this time Burmuda. Not so long in the sun thais time though, for trouble was brewing in the empire, and after 1 yaer and 103 days, they were on the way back home, where they landed on 15 January,1899. The trouble of course was in South Africa, and after almost a year of training and preparation, off on another journey they went. They arrived on 17th January, 1900. James Hodgetts was to spend the next 2 years and 243 days in South Africa. The Worcestershire Regiment serving in several areas of conflict. Orange State and the Transvaal, and on to Cape Colony, were just some of the places he served, reflected in his medals. The first, was accompanied by a clasp, and the second, The Kings South Africa Medal, 1901-1902, also came with a clasp. He was back home in August, 1902, and married Mary Ann Edwards, on November 2nd 1902. Not before time some would have said as he already had two children. ( well thats Soldiers for you.) They were living at Number 2 Court, 4, Bangertons Buildings, Dudley Port, Tipton, and his time in the Army was nearly up. He was discharged, having completed an eventful 12 years service, on 21st August,1903. Two more children would be born, before War clouds again began to gather, and the storm broke in 1914.
With the declaration of War just a few days old, James Hodgetts set off for Wolverhampton, from his home, at No.1, Station Cottages, Dudley Port, and on 19th August,1914, enlisted in the South Staffordshire Regiment. A man determined to do his duty no matter what, was our James. His age possible prevented him from going out to France and Flanders a bit earlier than he may have hoped for. Weapons had changed though since his last experience under fire and a period of training was required. So as a Private, on the 14th July, 1915, he set foot in yet another foreign clime, this one though had a few more bullets and shells flying around. The Army counted his time in the war zone as 2 years, and 114 days. After some heavy losses. he was transferred to the Hampshire Regiment, and at the end of November 1917, transferred to the new Labour Corps, and finally back home. He spent a short time in a reserve unit, and was discharged on 8th August, 1919. He had earned those 5 medals, two from the Boer War, and 3 from World War 1, for in total, he had served 16 years and 355 days in the ranks. Truth be told though, James had a few upsets in his family as well, for in 1904, his son William Henry, suddenly died. This was followed in 1917 by the death of his daughter, Winifred, who was just 11 months old. James Hodgetts died in March,1952, aged 79, peacefully in his bed in West Bromwich I hope. He had certainly earned a rest, for I believe he also did his bit during the next war as well. You can't keep a good man down can you, especially a tough old Black Country one like Jim.
A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day. ( See my Blog entry )
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