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Benjamin Stanley HODGSON

Main CPGW Record

Surname: HODGSON

Forename(s): Benjamin Stanley

Place of Birth: Shipley, Yorkshire

Service No: 10971

Rank: Private

Regiment / Corps / Service: Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)

Battalion / Unit: 2nd Battalion

Division: 5th Division

Age: 37

Date of Death: 1915-02-23

Awards: ---

CWGC Grave / Memorial Reference: Panel 20.

CWGC Cemetery: ---


Non-CWGC Burial: ---

Local War Memorial: SILSDEN, YORKSHIRE

Additional Information:

Benjamin (born 15 December 1877) was the son of David Duckworth and Mary Ann Hodgson, née Hillary. David was born at Windhill and Mary at Bingley, Yorkshire.

1881 Keighley, Yorkshire Census: 66, Mornington Street - Benjimin [sic] Hodgson, aged 3 years, born Shipley, Yorkshire, son of David D. and Mary A. Hodgson.

1891 Idle, Yorkshire Census: 16, Castle Mill Yard - Benj. S. Hodgson, aged 13 years, born Shipley, Yorkshire, son of David D. and Mary A. Hodgson.

Benjamin was married to Annie Tillotson in 1895.

1901 Silsden, Yorkshire Census: 13, Bridge Street - Benjamin Hodgson, aged 24 years, born Bradford, Yorkshire. [Benjamin and his wife Annie were living with her mother Arabella Tillotson, widow.]

1911 Silsden, Yorkshire Census: 13, Bridge Street - Ben Hodgson, aged 34 years, born Bradford, Yorkshire, husband of Annie Hodgson.

The British Army Service Record for Benjamin Hodgson (5765) exists but may be incomplete. [Benjamin served with the West Riding Regiment from 1 February 1898 to 5 April 1898, when he was: 'Discharged in consequence of his having been claimed by the Parish Authorities for wife desertion'.]

British Army WW1 Medal Rolls Index Cards: Pte Benjamin Harrison, 10971, W. Rid. R. Theatre of War first served in: (1) France. Date of entry therein: 30.11.14. Died 23.2.15.

British Army WW1 Medal and Award Rolls: Pte Benjamin Harrison, 10971, 2nd W. Rid. R. K. in A. 23.2.15.

Army Registers of Soldiers' Effects: Pte Benjamin Harrison alias Hodgson, 10971, 2nd Bn W. Riding Regt. Date and Place of Death: 23.2.15. In action. To whom Authorised/Amount Authorised: Widow - Mrs. Annie Hodgson. £5 16s. 2d.

Benjamin served as Benjamin Harrison. His name was corrected by the CWGC on 26 March 2020. Unfortunately, as there is not sufficient room on the panel at the Menin Gate to add his true name, an amendment to the panel will be made when it is next replaced naturally.

Data Source: Craven’s Part in the Great War - original CPGW book entry

View Entry in CPGW Book

Entry in West Yorkshire Pioneer Illustrated War Record:

HODGSON, Ben, [Silsden], aged 37, Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, killed in action Feb. 23, 1915.


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Private Benjamin Stanley HODGSON

Private Benjamin Stanley HODGSON

Regiment / Corps / Service Badge: Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)

Regiment / Corps / Service Badge: Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment)

Divisional Sign / Service Insignia: 5th Division

Divisional Sign / Service Insignia: 5th Division

Data from Soldiers Died in the Great War 1914 - 1919 Records

Soldiers Died Data for Soldier Records


Forename(s): Benjamin

Born: Listerhills, Yorks

Residence: Silsden, Yorks

Enlisted: Skipton, Yorks

Number: 10971

Rank: Private

Regiment: Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment)

Battalion: 2nd Battalion


Died Date: 23/02/15

Died How: Killed in action

Theatre of War: France & Flanders


Data from Commonwealth War Graves Commission Records

CWGC Data for Soldier Records

Surname: HODGSON

Forename(s): Benjamin Stanley

Country of Service: United Kingdom

Service Number: 10971

Rank: Private

Regiment: Duke of Wellington's (West Riding Regiment)

Unit: 2nd Bn.

Age: 37


Died Date: 23/02/1915

Additional Information: (Served as Benjamin HARRISON). Son of David and Mary Ann Hodgson; husband of Annie Hodgson, of 3, Bridge St., Silsden, Keighley, Yorks.

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View Additional Text For Soldier Records

'Keighley News' (15 April 1911)








Extraordinary scenes were witnessed at Silsden from about eleven o’clock on Saturday night until nearly two o’clock on Sunday morning – scenes probably unparalleled in the history of the town, and such as it is hoped it may never witness again. Recently a large section of the townspeople had disapproved very strongly of the police methods of maintaining law and order, and the crisis was apparently reached on Saturday last, when the Skipton Justices sent to prison for three months a Silsden man named Ben Hodgson, for an alleged assault upon Constable Henthorn, an officer who had been in the town only a few weeks. It was alleged that the constable was proceeding to a disturbance on the 4th inst. Hodgson and another man began prancing about in front of him. Hodgson endeavoured to trip the constable, and it was alleged that the other man seized the officer by the throat from behind and kicked him in the back.


A scuffle followed, and when the constable appeared in court at the first hearing his face bore evidence of rough usage. In order to effect Hodgson’s arrest the police had to force an entrance to his house at one o’clock on Thursday morning last week. On that day Hodgson was brought up and remanded until Saturday last, when, despite the fact that he was defended by Mr. Willey, of Leeds, he was convicted. Hodgson denied having been in any way concerned in the assault, and stated that he was at his mother’s house at Utley, two miles away, twenty minutes after the time at which the constable alleged he was attacked. In connection with the affair a warrant had been also issued against Edwin Dawson, the well-known Hunslet and Keighley footballer, but Dawson had left the district. Between the arrest of Hodgson and the trial on Saturday the case had been keenly discussed, and in view of the feeling it aroused it was not surprising to find a strong force of Silsden residents present at the hearing. Once during the trial some of the people applauded, but a threat by the Superintendent to have the court cleared in the event of a repetition of the applause prevented any further outburst.


Feeling against the police was very pronounced while Hodgson was incarcerated at Skipton, and only a spark was needed to set the wrath of the townspeople ablaze. The conviction of Hodgson served to fire the train, and before the midnight hour had struck the pent-up fury of the populace had expended itself on the police station abutting on the Steeton and Addingham main road, and on the residence of Constable Henthorn, at the road end of the next street to the police station, nearer the river. The grey light of Sunday morning revealed the fact that practically every window in the police station and Constable Henthorn’s dwelling had been smashed; pictures and furniture in the two places has suffered, tiles and slates had been broken on the roof of the police station, and on the road lay hundreds of the missiles which had wrought the destruction. The trouble apparently began at the end of Bolton Road. Here, a few minutes after eleven o’clock – after the public-houses had closed – congregated a group of men. There were not many of them, but they were a lively lot, and judging from their conversation it would not have taken much to have started an open conflict between them and the police there and then. Some of them began trundling stones in the direction of Sergeant Bell and Constables Barton and Cook, who were standing a little lower down the road. Obviously their intention was to irritate the officers and induce them to retaliate, but instead of doing so the three moved down to the bridge spanning the canal, no doubt thinking that the men would get away to their homes.


But the men followed, and within a moment or two the fire buzzer on Airedale Shed was started. Whether or not this was a prearranged signal for the commencement of a general row is not quite clear. A crowd of several hundred people quickly assembled in the vicinity of the fire station, the members of the fire brigade turned up and, it is said, actually got ready for turning out, but in very quick time it was ascertained that there was no fire. Then the police-officers left the bridge and proceeded in the direction of the police station, and though the crowd followed, evidently on mischief bent, the officers appeared altogether unconcerned. From what we have been able to gather it could not be said that any one of the officers gave the slightest provocation to the crowd. While they were standing near Beck Mill, someone threw a missile in the direction of the officers from a field. Again the officers took little heed of the crowd, and eventually disappearing from view – probably into the police station. Then commenced a regular brawl. One or more of the public lamps in the vicinity of the police station were extinguished preparatory to an attack on the police station; people clambered over the wall into the field opposite, and securing a plentiful supply of missiles from the beck running close to the road began a terrific bombardment of the police station and the dwelling occupied by Constable Henthorn.


In the police station were the wife and family of Sergeant Bell, the sergeant in charge of the station, and though Constable Henthorn had not returned from Skipton, his wife and children were at home, the children being in bed. If the besiegers were aware of this fact it certainly did not weigh with them in the slightest degree. They attacked the buildings with a fury that nought save the military could have checked; oaths were uttered, and shouts of veritable joy went up as one by one the windows went crashing in. It was a terrible sight – a sickening sight to those who gave a thought to the possibility of human life being jeopardised. And so the riot to avenge what was thought to be an outrage on a fellow citizen continued. The police were helpless. To have appeared in front of the building would probably have meant death, so furiously did the missiles rain over the road in the direction of the building. It is said that a well-known local gentleman sought to restrain the mob, but reasoning was of no avail. One eye witness states that when the attack had been in progress a few minutes a bull’s-eye lantern flashed from inside the police station across one of the windows in the side street, and in an instant a missile was sent through the glass. One man, bolder than the rest, even went into the roadway close to the police station and threw stones which had fallen short of their objective into one of the rooms.


The outlook became so grave shortly before twelve o’clock that telephonic messages were sent to Keighley and Skipton police stations asking for assistance. While the stone throwing was at its height a rumour spread that plain-clothes officers were among the crowd, and suddenly the attack ceased. Then a taxi-cab drove up, the crowd making way for it, and instantly there jumped out of it six or eight police officers from Keighley in charge of Inspector Steele. It is stated that the men instantly drew their batons and charged back the crowd, more than one person being struck, but the police deny that they ever had recourse to their batons. How many received the unwelcome attention of the reinforcements is not known, but at least two persons suffered – Mrs. Barker, wife of Mr. Fred Barker, insurance agent, Bolton Road, and Mr. Abraham Haworth, though whether they were stuck by the police or by stones flung by the rioters it is difficult to determine. In an interview Mrs Barker stated that she was struck by a baton on the back of the head. At the time she had hold of a neighbour’s arm having been drawn to the scene by the sounding of the fire buzzer. She would be nearly 100yds. From the police station at the time, and had in no way participated in the disturbance. She was stunned by the blow, and after being assisted into a relative’s house she fainted. She had not recovered from the effects of the blow on Sunday. Mr. Haworth was saved from actual injury by a cane running round the inside of his cap. Our representative was informed that a lady visitor who was on her way to the railway station was struck on the head by someone while endeavouring to force her way through the crowd.


In the course of the melée two young men – Oswald Firth, tripe dealer, Tufton Street, Silsden, and Walter Hindle, weaver, Greengate, Silsden – were taken into custody, ostensibly on a charge of doing wilful damage to the windows of the police station. According to an eyewitness, the men were got away so quietly that few in the crowd realised what was actually going on. Had the fact of the arrests been known to the several hundreds present, in all probability the disturbance would not have ended so quickly as it did, for many persons present appeared ready to go to almost any length. About this stage Superintendent Colley, of Skipton, appeared, and standing in the middle of the road made an appeal for order. He advised the people to go to their homes, adding that it would be better both for the police and the people if they did so. The superintendent adopted a decidedly pacific tone, and his few tactful words undoubtedly did a good deal towards putting an end to the night’s brawling. How different the attitude of a constable who, when he came across a group of three spectators – among them ‘The Keighley News’ representative – remarked, “Now then, get off; only rogues and policemen are out at this time of the night.” On the whole, however, one could not help being struck by the tact displayed by the police in inducing the people to leave the scene. Gradually the fury of the people subsided, and when the Skipton batch of constables arrived shortly before one o’clock – in a kind of float – all was comparatively quiet. For a time groups remained discussing the stirring incidents of the night, and it was close upon half-past one ere the last few stragglers departed for home – perhaps to ponder over the folly of that violent half-hour before midnight. When the riot was in full swing there would probably be 400 or 500 people present, among them a good proportion of women. One shawl-clad woman said that before the trouble began a “mob prayer meeting” was held – whatever that may be. Another seemed to be concerned lest Sergeant Bell’s beautiful sideboard should have been demolished.


The women and children in the two buildings bombarded had a terrifying experience. In Constable Henthorn’s house glass from one of the windows actually fell on a bed which children were sleeping, and when the mother sought refuge with her three bairns downstairs a stone crashed through a window quite close to them. Several stones the size of a man’s fist were found on the bed on which Mrs. Henthorn and one of her children were sleeping when the attack commenced. Happily no one was harmed, and on Sunday Mrs. Henthorn and her family went away to Skipton. At the police station Mrs. Bell and her children had also an anxious time, and they were afforded protection in the cells until the stone throwing had ceased. In both houses damage was done to furniture, yet it was incredibly small in extent considering the vigour of the fusillade. A large mirror in a sideboard opposite the main window in Sergeant Bell’s house was left intact, but the top of the sideboard was damaged, and ornaments and pictures suffered – indeed, a stone which went through one of the pictures made a hole in the wall nearly one inch in depth. A piano was untouched. More than one constable was struck, but only one – Constable Firth, of Addingham – was injured to any appreciable extent. A stone struck Firth’s chin strap and the impact against the side buckle caused a wound. This, however, was not sufficient to cause him to go off duty. As already stated, windows were smashed in wholesale fashion, and the police station lamp was put out of action very early. Damage was also done to the taxi-cab which conveyed the Keighley police to the scene, one of the lamps being smashed and damage done to the paint on the body of the car.


The allegation so freely made during Saturday night and Sunday that the police used their batons is stoutly denied by the police authorities. They maintain that any persons in the crowd who received injury suffered consequent on the throwing of stones at the moment the taxi-cab conveying the Keighley police appeared on the scene. A number of missiles were hurled from the back of the crowd in the direction of the police and it is thought that some of the civilians must have been struck by missiles which fell short of their object. It was during this stone-throwing that Constable Firth received a nasty wound on the side of the head, which necessitated medical attention.

On Sunday night a crowd assembled at the Bolton Road End, a quarter of a mile from the police station, but although some members of it became rather demonstrative and freely expressed indignation at the arrest of the two men on Saturday night there was no breach of the peace. A number of well-known songs, including ‘Auld Lang Syne,’ were sung. A local minister appeared on the scene and his influence had a decided effect on the gathering and they quickly dispersed. On Monday and Tuesday all was quiet. Major Atcherley, Chief Constable of the Riding, visited Silsden on Sunday. The broken windows had then been boarded up.

The two men arrested on Saturday night and another man who was summoned, all appeared at the Skipton Police Court on Wednesday charged with doing wilful damage to the police station windows. After a four hours hearing the two men arrested were discharged and the third was fined £2 and costs, and ordered to pay damages.




At the Skipton Petty Sessions on Saturday last a Silsden labourer, named Ben Hodgson, was charged on remand with having been concerned with another man in an assault on Police-constable Henthorn, stationed at Silsden. The court was crowded – mainly by Silsden residents. Mr. J.C. McGrath, solicitor to the West Riding County Council, appeared for the prosecution, and Mr. Arthur Wiley, of Leeds, defended. Major Atcherley, Chief Constable of the West Riding, was also present.


Mr. McGrath, in opening for the prosecution, said that a warrant had also been issued against a man named Edward Dawson, a warpdresser. Both men were accused of having assaulted a police constable at Silsden whilst in the execution of his duty. Shortly after eleven o’clock the preceding Tuesday night Police-constable Henthorn was on duty in Bridge Street, Silsden, when he heard a number of people shouting at the top of their voices. Shortly before this the constable passed the King’s Arms Hotel, near to which he saw the prisoner Hodgson, and Dawson. He saw the two men enter a urinal, situate only a few yards away from the King’s Arms Hotel. He (Mr. McGrath) mentioned that fact because there might be some question about the prisoner being there at the time of the assault. A few minutes afterwards the constable proceeded up Skipton Road, and saw three men, one of them being in advance of the others, coming down Bridge Street. The first man passed the constable, but the police were by no means sure who that man was. The two men behind who were making the noise were Dawson and Hodgson. Constable Henthorn approached and flashed his light on them to see who they were, telling them at the same time that they had better go home. Immediately he put his light on them he saw that Hodgson had a grey muff on his left arm, and he began sparring in front of the police officer. The constable told him he had better go, as he did not want to have any bother with him.


The constable was turning away to go up Bridge Street when Hodgson endeavoured to trip him up. The constable said to Dawson, “Now, Dawson, you had better get off home.” Thereupon Hodgson placed his arms round the constables legs, whilst Dawson seized him from behind, and putting his knee in the middle of his back, flung him to the ground, saying “Give the ------ some Cook; we have quietened one ------ (referring to an assault made some time ago upon Constable Cook, stationed at Silsden), and we will quieten another.”

Mr. Willey: That can have no relevance to my client.

Proceeding, Mr. McGrath said that Hodgson then went for the constable’s face, and Dawson kicked him twice in the face. The constable would have something to say about his injuries. The police officer had to release his hold on Hodgson in order to protect his face, and Henthorn would tell them that he was very badly used by both men. Immediately he got up the two men ran away. Constable Henthorn, together with two other officers, endeavoured to secure the arrest of the two men that night. They visited their respective homes at different times up to four o’clock in the morning, but neither of the men had returned home. The man Dawson had not been seen since. The only communication the police had received regarding him was a statement from his learned friend’s (Mr. Willey’s) clerk that he (Dawson) would surrender that morning. He thought Mr. Willey had done his best to have him at court that morning.


Mr. Willey: He would be of great assistance if he were here.

Mr. McGrath: I dare say he would. Proceeding, Mr. McGrath said that Hodgson was not arrested until Thursday. When the warrant for his arrest was read to him, he replied, “Can you prove it?” When remanded by one of the magistrates (Mr. J. Plews) the other day, he said, in answer to the charge, “I was not there; I was not in Silsden at all that night.” If that was Hodgson’s line of defence the case would very largely turn on the question of identification. He (Mr. McGrath) would call the landlord of the King’s Arms Hotel, who would say that on the Tuesday night in question – from tea time until eleven o’clock – Hodgson and Dawson were together in his kitchen, with the exception of a short interval about seven or eight o’clock. In regard to Hodgson, the servant maid at the King’s Arms would say that Hodgson and Dawson left the King’s Arms kitchen at eleven o’clock, and that Hodgson, as he passed through the kitchen, picked up off the dresser a grey muff belonging to her, and that the muff, which the officers found on the road near to a policeman’s helmet, had been identified by the girl as her property. If that evidence was accepted it seemed that there would be some difficulty in coming to the conclusion that the statement made by the prisoner Hodgson, when remanded, was true.

It was evident from the evidence put in his hands that the assault was a savage one. It might be said that the constable had no right whatever to flash his lamp into the prisoners face, but that, to his (Mr. McGath’s) mind was absurd. If people were bawling at the top of their voices as the prisoners were in this case they were inviting attention of the police, and a policeman would be lacking in duty if he did not speak to men who were acting in that manner and order them away to their homes. Some people said the policeman was too vicious, but it was no good having a policeman if he could not speak in an authoritative tone. He meant to say that in Yorkshire it would be absolutely futile to walk up to a man and say, “Will you kindly retire to your bed?”


Police-constable Henthorn, who bore sign of rough handling, then gave evidence. He stated that on the evening of Tuesday, the 4th inst., he was on duty in the vicinity of the King’s Arms Hotel a few minutes after eleven o’clock, when he saw Hodgson and Dawson. He proceeded up Skipton Road, and whilst there heard shouting and singing and bawling in the vicinity of Bridge Street. He went in the direction of the noise, and saw three men walking – one slightly in front of the other two. He had known the men very well ever since he went to Silsden, and on flashing his light on to them had no difficulty in recognising Hodgson and Dawson. He said to them, “Now, lads, get away home; let’s have less of this row.” Hodgson had a grey muff on his left arm, and commenced dancing about in front of witness.


The latter told him he had better get away, as he did not want any bother with him. Witness then turned to leave them, when Hodgson tried to trip him up. He asked Dawson to get Hodgson away home, and turned to go away again, but Hodgson seized him by the legs and Dawson by the throat from behind, the latter putting his knee into the middle of his back and throwing him to the ground. Dawson then said to Hodgson, “Give the ------ some ------ Cook; we have quietened one ------, and we can quieten another.” Hodgson then struck witness in the face with his fists, and Dawson kicked him twice in the face – once on the bridge of the nose and once on the left cheek bone. Witness was compelled to let go his hold of Hodgson in order to protect his face. He shouted for help, but there was no response. Eventually witness managed to roll Hodgson off and get on his knees. Hodgson and Dawson then jumped up and ran away. Witness followed them through the Punch Bowl yard into Bridge Street, whence Dawson turned in the direction of Skipton Road, and Hodgson doubled back into Bridge Road. He followed Hodgson, but lost sight of him in Bridge Road. Here he saw a man pick up his helmet and a muff, which were handed over to him. Witness, describing his injuries, said his face was bleeding profusely and his clothing was covered with blood.


He went home and had his injuries attended to, and it was found that he had a lump on the left side of the head; the left temple and cheek were swollen and bruised, the left thigh was turning black, his nose was cut and scarred, and his top lip split. Subsequently he met Sergeant Bell and Constable Cook, and made a complaint to the former. Together they went to Hodgson’s house, arriving there shortly before twelve, but prisoner was not at home. His wife, however, was upstairs fully dressed. Between midnight and four o’clock they paid four visits to Hodgson’s house, but the man had not returned. The following night at 11.30 witness, along with Sergeant Bell and Constables Cook and Barton, went again to Hodgson’s house. He knocked at the door, but there was no answer. Outside the house was a flight of steps, from the top of which it was possible to reach the bedroom window, and witness mounted these and knocked at the window, making a statement to the prisoner’s wife. He then flashed his lamp through the window, and saw the prisoner sat up in bed with his wife. Immediately Hodgson saw the light he ducked under the bed clothes. Witness informed prisoner that he had a warrant for his apprehension, and that he would break into the house if he did not come down. Witness and the other officers remained until one o’clock in the morning, when they forced an entry by means of the back window and arrested Hodgson in his bedroom. When the warrant was read over to him, Hodgson replied, “Can you prove it?” Witness was present at court when prisoner was remanded on the previous Thursday, and heard Hodgson inform the magistrate when asked if he had anything to say, that “he was not there; that he was not in Silsden at all that night.” Dawson had not been seen since.


Cross-examined by Mr. Willey: You are the only person who can identify the two men whom you allege assaulted you? – Witness: “Yes.”

How long have you been a policeman? – Fourteen years.

I think you have been a sergeant and have been reduced? – Yes.

How long were you a sergeant before you were reduced? – Seven years.

How long is it since you were reduced to an ordinary constable? – Two or three years.

Am I rightly instructed that not very long ago in Silsden there was a complaint as to your conduct? – Not that I am aware of.

Do you know a man named Dugdale? – Yes.

Are you aware he has made a complaint as to your conduct? – I cannot take it in the nature of a complaint.

Are you aware that he has complained to a magistrate? – I cannot say.

Has he complained to you? – He wrote me a letter.

Have you got it? – No.

How long is that ago? – The first week I came to Silsden.

Will you tell me what his complaint was? – His letter stated that he was passing through Silsden when he heard me make a remark to the sergeant about him which he thought was offensive. He demanded an explanation, failing which he would report me to the superintendent.


Did you reply to his letter? – No.

Did you report it to your superior officer? – Yes, the sergeant.

Did you report it to the superintendent? – Yes.

Do you mean to say that you did not regard it as a most serious complaint from a respectable man whom you knew nothing wrong about? – I dealt with it in a proper way.

You are sure Hodgson was the man? – Positive.

Had you spoken to him? – Yes, several times during the day.

I think this was a dark night, was it not? – It was not very dark.

Was there any light? – There was a light at the street end, but it did not shine where these men were.

You shone your lamp in their faces, and had a momentary glance at them? – Yes.

And you are sure you recognised them? – Yes.

You had an equal opportunity of recognising all three? – I did not shine my lamp on the third man.

Will you swear that that night in the presence of the sergeant you did not want to lock a man up as being that third man? – I went up to see a third man, and asked him where Hodgson and Dawson were, and also told him I thought he was one of the men.

Although you were not sure? – I was not sure.

Did you think it an honest thing to say, “You are one of them,” when you were not sure? – I cannot say.

You told a lie in order to get hold of another man? – I did not tell a lie.


You admit to telling that man he was one of them and that he would have to go with you? – No. I said, “Where are your mates Hodgson and Dawson; you had better tell me the truth or you might get into trouble.”

What trouble might he have got into? – I wanted to get to know where his mates were.

You were certain that this man was one of the men. Were you anxious to get Hodgson that night? – I was.

You suspected a man named Shuttleworth, and it was a fishing expedition to get to know where the men were who had assaulted you? – No.

Did you look into a cab Shuttleworth was driving? – No.

Did the sergeant? – I believe he did.

Did Shuttleworth insist on wanting to know what you wanted him for? – No.

How far is the King’s Arms Hotel from Keighley? – Four and a-half miles.

You did not find Hodgson home on the Tuesday night? – No.

I think you had three or four policemen went for a crowbar on the night he was arrested? – Constable Cook fetched one.

What for? – We fetched it when we were refused admittance.

Who fetched Hodgson out of bed? – Sergeant Bell and Constable Cook.

On the way to the police-station there were four of you, and he was handcuffed? – Yes.


Did he show any resistance? – I thought he would.

I suggest you have no right to handcuff a man who is going to go quietly? – He can run faster than I can.

Was Hodgson shouting murder on the way to the police station? – Yes.

Did he get this black eye on the way to the police station? – No.

Did you think he was going to run away with a pair of handcuffs on and four policemen round him? – He struggled hard.

Did you not say “You will have to do as we want you now, you dog? – No.

He had a black eye? – Yes.

Had he that before you arrested him, or do you know how he got it? – He might have got it when he was fighting with me.

You have not had any trouble with this man? – None whatever.

Do you suggest that these men were drunk? – I say they were under the influence of drink.

Re-examined by Mr. McGrath: You had been violently assaulted by two men, and in your opinion Hodgson was one of them? – Yes.

Was there anything extraordinary in your putting handcuffs on the prisoner? – It would have been extraordinary had I not done so.


Mr. McGrath at this point read the letter, which had been referred to by Mr. Willey. It was dated 2nd March, and was as follows:– “In passing the Town Hall to-day at five minutes past one you made an offensive remark to myself to your sergeant. I heard part of the remark, and came back towards you and inquired at the same time what you meant? You took no notice of me, and went on with the sergeant. I demanded an explanation of your conduct towards me, failing which I will report the matter to your superintendent.” – Signed “Wm. Dugdale.”

Fred Carter, landlord of the King’s Arms Hotel, Silsden, said that both Hodgson and Dawson were in his house on the night of the 4th April from six or seven until eleven o’clock. He did not see them go out. Both men were in the habit of attending his house, which was a short distance from Bridge Road.

Cross-examined by Mr. Willey: How long have you known Hodgson? – Witness: Four years.

Have you seen him assault anyone or kick up a row? – He is a very quiet customer.

You would not like to say that these men left between 10.20 and 10.30? – I did not see them go out.

There was no reason why you should notice Hodgson more than any other member of the company? – No.


Mabel Rook, who up to the previous day had been a servant at the King’s Arms Hotel, said that on the night in question she had been out, and returned about ten minutes to eleven. There were eight or nine men in the kitchen, among them Hodgson and, she believed, Dawson. She went into the private room for a cup of tea, and when she returned she found that her grey muff, which has been left on the dresser in the kitchen, was missing. The muff produced was her property.

Sergeant Bell stated that on Tuesday last he was in Keighley Road about 11.25 p.m., when he met Constable Henthorn, who was bleeding profusely from the nose. His overcoat was also covered with blood. The constable made a complaint to him, and witness went with him to wash his face, and then he and Constables Cook, Barton, and Henthorn proceeded to Hodgson’s house, but Hodgson was not found there. They visited the house on four occasions, the last time being at 3.45 a.m., but he had not returned home. They also went to the house of Dawson, making the same number of calls. He also had not returned home. Witness afterwards executed a warrant for the arrest of Hodgson. He and Constables Barton and Henthorn went to his residence about midnight on Tuesday on learning that prisoner was in the house. His wife told them they had better come in the morning. They asked several times to be admitted, but their request was refused.


They remained for three-quarters of an hour, and as they were still refused admission they effected an entrance through a window which was unfastened, and Police-constable Barton found the prisoner in bed. He was arrested and taken to the police station. On the way prisoner shouted “Murder” four or five times, and witness at once got hold of him and asked him what he meant. Prisoner then asked if he could smoke a cigarette, and he did so on the way to the police station. When the warrant was read over to the prisoner by Constable Henthorn he replied, “Can you prove it.”

Cross-examined by Mr. Willey: When on the way to the police station he seemed to enjoy himself? – Witness: He did.

Shouts of murder one minute and enjoying himself the next? – Yes.

Was there any object in waiting until midnight to arrest this man? – We did not learn that he was in the town until eleven o’clock.

Did you see Shuttleworth? – Yes.

Did Constable Henthorn say that Shuttleworth was one of the men? – He said he knew he was present and that he knew where Hodgson and Dawson were.

Did he say there was a third man present whom he thought was Shuttleworth? – Yes.


Who asked Shuttleworth to open his coat? – Constable Henthorn.

Why did he ask him? – To see if it was Shuttleworth (laughter).

The officer appealed to be in grave doubt whether he was the man? – He saw him in the dark.

When you got to the house on Thursday night did not Mrs. Hodgson say “Come in the morning? – She did.

I think it was on your instructions that the handcuffs were put on to the prisoner? – It was.

Had he shown any resistance? – No.

Did he ask you not to put the handcuffs on? – Yes, he did.

I think there were four of you along with that implement of war – the crowbar – in charge of him? – Yes.

Were you shown the letter the constable received from Mr. Dugdale? – Yes.

What did you do in the matter? – I reported it to the superintendent. I also made a report stating that I was present with Police-constable Henthorn, and was certain he passed no offensive remark regarding any person whatever. I also stated that I did not know the writer of the letter and had not seen him since the letter was received.


Mr. Willey, in his statement for the defence, said that if his instructions were correct the charge against his client was a false one, and he would call a number of witnesses who would prove that the officer had made a mistake as to the identity of his client. He (Mr. Willey) had nothing to do with Dawson, although it was true that he had advised his client and hid friends to do all they could to get him to appear at the court that morning. If Dawson was one of the men who attacked the officer, and if his (Mr. Willey’s) instructions were correct, Dawson would relieve his client at once of the charge of assault on the policeman. It was absolutely necessary that Dawson should be there; in fact, it was idiotic on his part not to appear. They had done all they could to try and get to know his whereabouts, but in vain. However, he had nothing at all to do with Dawson. In the first place, there had been no evidence in support of the constable’s story as to what took place on the night in question. It was a dark night, and the assault took place at the back of the public-house, where there was no light save from the constable’s own lantern. They had only the constable evidence for it. Here they had a police officer who had been fourteen years in the force. He was a sergeant for seven years, but had been reduced to an ordinary plain constable. It was a severe punishment to reduce a sergeant of standing and start him as ordinary policeman. It not only meant a lowering of rank, but a very considerable reduction in his pay.


Other incidents had also occurred. Some time ago a decent citizen who had never been in trouble in his life, complained by letter that the police officer in a public street had passed an offensive remark to the sergeant regarding him. He (Mr. Willey) said that he was entitled to criticise the reputation of the officer, because they (the Bench) were going to be asked to believe the officer against his client. With regard to Shuttleworth, he would go into the box and say he was charged with being present when the assault was committed, and that he was told by the constable that he was one of the men who had committed the assault on the policeman. There was not only doubt as to Shuttleworth’s identity, but also to the identity of the other men. The officer has sworn that he thought Hodgson was the man. It might have been an honest mistake, and he (Mr. Willey) would presume it was. He would not be the first officer that had made a mistake in the case of identity. The young lady who had been called for the prosecution had stated that she did not know her muff had been taken out of the house. His (Mr. Willey’s) defence was a very remarkable one.


When Hodgson was charged with the assault he replied, “I was not there that night,” and on another occasion he said, “You will have it to prove.” Hodgson was in the King’s Arms Hotel until 10.30 p.m. on the night in question, and at that time left in order to go to his mother’s house at Keighley. His mother had an allowance of 10s. per week from Hodgson and the other members of the family, and it was the custom for Hodgson to take the money each week, either on the Monday of Tuesday. When he arrived his mother had only just retired to bed, and she would state that her son (Hodgson) was in her house at 11.30 p.m. he stayed there all night, which was nothing unusual. He returned to Silsden in open daylight the following day, after finishing his work in Keighley, and passed two police officers on the way. He (Mr. Willey) would also call a witness who saw the incident from a distance, and would say that Hodgson was not the man who ran away. After hearing the evidence, he thought the Bench would conclude that the police had failed to prove their case.


Ben Hodgson, the prisoner said he had not previously been in trouble with the exception that when a boy he was charged with embezzling money. He had never been charged with assault by the police or anyone else. He was employed by Mr. Blakeys, cab proprietor and carrier. Between seven and eight o’clock on the Tuesday evening he went to the King’s Arms Hotel, and left again at 10.30 p.m. It was not true that he left in company with another man, and he was perfectly sober when he left. While in the hotel he was in the kitchen along with other men, but he never saw Dawson. When he left the public-house he went to his mother’s at Keighley, three or four miles away, in order to take her weekly allowance of 10s. It was customary for him to go either on the Monday or the Tuesday. He had told his wife before leaving that night that he was going to his mother’s house at Keighley. He stayed there all night, as he had done many times previously. There was no truth in the statement that he picked up a muff that night and that he saw the policeman. The following day he waited for the waggon coming from Silsden to Keighley, where during the day he carried on his employment. He returned to Silsden between six and seven o’clock, and on his way he passed along the main street delivering parcels. He had not the slightest idea what had happened until a man named Herbert Laycock informed him that he was wanted by the police. He passed Constables Barton and Cook, but they did not say anything to him.


He went to bed about eleven o’clock, and the police afterwards came to his house. His wife told them to come next morning. If they wanted him why did they not arrest him before that time of night? When he was arrested the handcuffs were put on him, and the officers freely gave his hand a twist round, causing him to go to the ground. He shouted “Murder!” and the officer made the reply, “Get up you dog.”

Mr. McGrath: Have you said to your solicitor or anyone else that Henthorn said, when he had you in custody, that he was going to have his revenge? – No, I have been locked up.

You are suggesting that the constable made a mistake? – I am sure he made a mistake.

Was your wife expecting you home that night? – She was not.

Do you know that Barton left for Keighley in plain clothes by the 6.25 train for Keighley that night? – I know I passed them going through the street.

I think on two occasions you have been convicted of neglecting your wife and children? – No; not neglect.

Were you not before the Court some time ago? – Yes, for desertion.


How did you become possessed of that muff? – I never saw the muff.

Constable Henthorn said he saw you and Dawson that night, and that you had a muff on your left arm? – He says so, but I say I was not there at all that night.

You know that the muff was found on the ground? – I know nothing at all about it.

Did you say when you were remanded the other day, “I was not in Silsden at all that night”? – No; I said “I was not there at the time.”

Do you know that a report was taken of what you said? – No.

Mr. Edgar Wood (clerk) said he understood Hodgson to say “I was not there at that time.”

Suppose you were at this place at 11.10, could you not be in Keighley in twenty minutes? – It is no use supposing, because I was not there.

If you had been there could you have been in Keighley in twenty minutes? – I could not do it.

Mr. Willey (to Mr. McGrath): You are supposed to be an athlete, and you could not do it. (Laughter.)

Mr. McGrath: How did you get there? – I walked by way of the fields immediately after I left the public-house. It was 10.30 when I was passing the church clock.

Do you know anything about Dawson; I think you are frequently together? – No; we are not frequently together.

Is he a mate of yours? – No. I am away from Silsden every day, and I might see him about once a week.


Do you really mean to say you are not friendly with Dawson? – Only the same as any other man. I am friendly with everybody.

I am told that you and Dawson are seen frequently walking about together in Silsden? – It is not so.

When you were arrested, did you say “Can you prove it?” – Yes, I did.

Did you not remonstrate with the officer and say “You have got the wrong man”? – He said “Get your boots off and get in there” (meaning the cell).

You were pulled out of bed, and according to your own tale you were ill-used? – Yes, and the constable knows it if he will speak the truth.


Mrs. Mary Ann Hodgson said she had lived at Keighley for about seven years, and she was kept by her children, prisoner being one of them. She got a weekly allowance of 10s. from them, and it was generally brought to her by the prisoner. On the Saturday previous her daughter brought her a message, and in consequence of that message she looked out for someone calling at her house the following week. On the Tuesday night she retired to bed about 11.15, her reason for being so late being that she was expecting her son coming with the money. She had not been in bed more than a few minutes when her son came with the 10s. He stayed at her house all night, as it was customary for him to do. She was positive that she stayed up until 11.15, and that her son was in her house at 11.30. When he arrived there was nothing the matter with him, and he did not show signs of having run four miles in twenty minutes.

Mr. McGrath: Have you had any conversation with your son regarding the time when he came to your house that night? – Witness: No.

Have you had any talk with anyone else? – No.

What time does you son generally come to your house? – Generally in the evening. Sometimes it is eleven o’clock.

Do you know how he got to Keighley? – No.

Mr. Willey: He would have had to go in an aeroplane to get there at your speed.

Mr. McGrath: When did he leave your house? – Witness: In the morning about nine o’clock. He said he was going into Keighley to do the carrying.


Mary Inman, wife of Joseph Inman, Bridge Street, Silsden, said that on the night in question when in bed she heard a noise, and looking out of the kitchen window saw something happening ten of twelve yards away. She saw two men running away. They seemed to have been knocking something about on the floor. She afterwards saw a policeman rise from the ground. She had known the prisoner for sixteen or seventeen years, and was familiar with his general appearance and walk, and, in her opinion, neither of the two men who attacked the constable was Hodgson. They were taller than he. She thought she ought to be able to recognise a man whom she had known for so long a period.

Mr. McGrath: We have had it suggested that the night was so dark that the policeman’s only means of recognising the men was by flashing his lantern upon them. – Witness: I do not say so. I should have recognised Mr. Hodgson had he been there.


David Hindle, general dealer, stated that at the time of the assault he was residing in a caravan situated on the Punch Bowl Hill, Silsden. He came there a fortnight before Christmas, and knew Hodgson, having frequently seen him. On the Tuesday night in question while in his caravan about 11.10 he heard a row about forty or fifty yards away. He saw two men run away, but neither coincided with Hodgson’s description; the men were very much taller than Hodgson. He was sure neither of the men who ran away was the prisoner.

Mr. McGrath: Were you asked by Constable Henthorn when the affair happened, whether or not you had seen anything of the affair? – No.

Did you say you never saw anything of the assault? – No. When I went to him and asked him what was the matter, he replied “Nothing. I thought it was you” (meaning witness).

Did you pick up the muff? – I picked up the constable’s hat and then the muff, and handed them to him.

What is the distance between this place and the Silsden railway station? – About a mile.

If a person were at the scene of the assault at 11.10 could he catch the 11.26 train by running? – I should say so.

Mr. Willey: That is another suggestion. A moment ago it was suggested that prisoner could run four miles in twenty minutes. The next thing will be flying machines. (Laughter.)


Throup Shuttleworth, of Silsden, employed by Messrs, Blakey & Shuttleworth, of Silsden, said on the Tuesday night, the 4th instant, he met the 12.7 train to drive Mr. and Mrs. Spencer to Bleak House. Previous to that he had been at home and had had to turn out in consequence of the order. He had not seen the prisoner at all that night, nor had he been in the King’s Arms Hotel. He conveyed Mr. and Mrs. Spencer to their residence, and as he was returning he met three policemen. Sergeant Bell said he would like to have a few words with him. Witness replied, “I expect you will wait until I close these gates.” The sergeant then said they had no time to wait while the gates were closed; they had something more important on. Constable Henthorn then flashed his lamp on to him, and said he was one of the men. The sergeant then said to him, “Will you loosen your coat and let me have a right look at you?” Witness did so, and Police-constable Henthorn then said he was the man, and if he did not tell where his pal “Ned” was he would get locked up. By “Ned” he meant Dawson. The constable never breathed a word to him about Hodgson, but he charged him (witness) with being one of the men. He informed the officer that he had no pal called “Ned.” He then told witness he could take his horse out, as they wanted to have a few words with Mr. Blakey privately. When Constable Henthorn said he was one of the men, and he wanted to know where his pal “Ned” was, he made the remark, “Lock him up, sergeant.”

Mr. McGrath: You have been convicted ten times previously, I think? – Witness: Yes, I have.

Mr. Willey: You were quite respectable enough to be a witness for the police if you would have said what they wanted you to say? – Yes. (Applause from the court.)

Superintendent Colley: If there is any more of that sort of thing the court will be cleared.

Mr. Willey then read a letter, which had been received from Mr. E.G. Spencer, testifying to Hodgson’s character. The letter stated that Hodgson was in the employ of Mr. Blakey, and had driven Mr. Spencer and his wife on many occasions. They generally asked that if Blakey could not attend Hodgson should be sent.

The Bench retired, and after a short absence, the chairman (Mr. T.H. Dewhirst) announced that the Bench had found the prisoner guilty of a very serious assault, and he would have to go to prison for three months.



A petition has been prepared and is being extensively signed by Silsden ratepayers for presentation to the Home Secretary – probably by Mr. William Clough, M.P. for the Skipton Division – calling attention to the conduct of the police, alleging that they were responsible for “an outrageous assault” and “deliberately ignored the command of their superior officer.” It is further pointed out that the origin of the disturbances was what was considered an unjust decision of the Skipton Bench in the matter of the assault of the constable. The petition adds that in connection with the baton charge two men were arrested, and their only crime was that of trying to get away from the members of the police force. The petitioners humbly appeal for the immediate release of Hodgson, and ask the Home secretary to institute a public inquiry, as no redress could be obtained by the public by appealing to the local authorities.

It was in the year 1826 that the first mob of any serious dimensions paraded the streets of Silsden. On that occasion the mob came out of Lancashire over the newly-made road over the Moss through Glusburn, Eastburn, Steeton, and Silsden, gathering adherents on the way with the object of destroying the power-looms. Addingham was the first place in the district in which power-looms were introduced, and there opposite Christ’s Church they smashed up a quantity of machinery. Seventeen or eighteen years later plug drawing riots occurred in Silsden.

[Edwin Dawson, who is named in the article above, was never found by the police at the time and went Canada. Not long after the court case, Constable Henthorn was transferred away from Silsden.]

[See also: View Additional Image(s)]

View Additional Image(s)

Additional Photo(s) For Soldier Records

Birth Certificate for Benjamin Stanley Hodgson

Birth Certificate for Benjamin Stanley Hodgson

Copy (9 March 2020)

Silsden Police Station

Silsden Police Station

Photograph taken on 10 April after the disturbances of the 8 April 1911 [See also: View Additional Text]

Kindly supplied by Brian Sunderland, Silsden

Private Benjamin Hodgson

Private Benjamin Hodgson

Kindly supplied by Brian Sunderland, Silsden

View Craven Herald Articles

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Craven Herald and Wensleydale Standard Logo

05 March 1915


In a recent letter to his brother, Mr. Arthur Baldwin, 1, Albert Square, Silsden, Private J. Baldwin, of the 2nd Battalion West Riding Regiment, who is at present fighting in the trenches at the Front, says:–

"Just a line in answer to your welcome letter. We are getting plenty of hard work, and trench fighting, but I think we are getting the better the Germans all along the line and it might not be so long before the war is over. We shall be glad, I can assure you, to get back to the dear homeland again. I am not allowed to disclose the place where I am, but if you take notice of this letter you will be able to guess, for you have some of the people in Silsden. It is simply awful to see this place, for every town and village nearly are blown in bits. We have just had a very bad hour of it; the Germans have been bombarding our trenches and because of that I had to stop writing this letter as the shells were flying all around us and they have knocked the front of the trench in where I am. I have not seen Ben Hodgson for about a fortnight as he does not belong to my company; therefore, we seldom get together. I see W. Broadhead pretty often, and he is getting along all right."

The names referred to are of other Silsden soldiers who are fighting at the Front.

12 March 1915


The death of Private Ben Hodgson is the first casualty in the ranks of Silsden soldiers since the war broke out. He was just that type of fellow who feared no danger, and upon whom the community of Silsden relied on doing a good share of work in thwarting the efforts of the enemy wherever he was located. He was ever brave and courageous to a remarkable degree: his untimely death is mourned by one and all. The major portion of his life after reaching manhood has been spent in seafaring, and it has been said that he has travelled round the world twice on his various journeys. He has often related stories of exciting experiences on his voyages, and no one more thrilling than when on one occasion his ship was passing trough the Bay of Biscay during a raging storm. He joined the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment, after the outbreak of the present war. On some former occasion he was associated with the Gordon Highlanders.

12 March 1915


Mrs. T. Watson, of St. John's Street, Silsden, has received a letter from her brother Private T. Heptenstall, in which he states that Private Ben Hodgson, of the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment, who resides at 3, Bridge Street, Silsden, has been killed in action. Private Heptenstall's letter adds as follows:–

“I am sorry to say I have lost my pal Ben Hodgson. I know his wife and family will take it very hard. We used to talk of what we would do when we got back, but I am sorry to say it is all over. You must tell Mrs. Hodgson how sorry I am for her and her family and if I get home safe I will make it my first duty to see her. I had a look through his kit but there was nothing I could save for her. We lost 8 killed and 10 wounded the same day, so you will see we are having a rough time, but we are all hoping the war will soon end.”

The last letter Mrs. Hodgson received from her husband was dated February 18th, in which he states:–

“I received your box this morning and was very pleased with its contents. I should have written sooner, but I have been very ill for the last fortnight, but I am feeling all right again now. I have not missed any duty through it but I could have done with going in hospital. Everybody is suffering more or less out here as the weather is awful. We are all hoping for better weather so that we can make a move and shift the Germans out of it. I don't think it will be long when we get the weather, for when once we get them on the move again they will not get to stop until it is all over.”

Mrs. J. W. Baldwin, of 8, Chapel Lane Silsden, on Monday received a letter from her husband, Private J. W. Baldwin, of the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment, who is at the front, in which he says:–

“Just a few lines hoping they will find you all well as I am at present. I have removed to another place since last I wrote to you, but not to a better - far from it. I think it is one of the worst paces of the whole line. We had a good reception last night on coming in the trenches, but we got in all right for it was very dark and the enemy could not see us. I wrote this yesterday, but had to give up as we had plenty to do to watch ourselves, but now I [have] time to finish the letter. It is sorry news that I have to write, but it has got to be done. Poor Ben Hodgson was killed yesterday morning (February 23rd) in the trenches by shell fire. How you will break the news to his wife I don't know, but it must be done somehow, for she will be getting word from the War Office and it might come sudden, so it will be better if you can do it some way or other, or get someone else to do it for you. I was with him an hour or two before, and he was then in very good spirits. I did not hear until night, and I was then very much cutup, I blazed away on the Germans all night long, and I only hope I revenged him. I did my best. I could not get down the trench to see him as I should have liked to, he belonged to another company. I don't know how Will Broadhead went on, but I know his company lost very heavily. I hope, however, he is all right. I hope if it should come to my turn you will be prepared and think of the children. I will write again as soon as I come out of the trenches.”

Mrs. Hodgson on Monday received word from the War Office confirming the death of her husband.
At a service of the Silsden Conservative Club Committee held on Monday evening a note of condolence was passed with the widow and family of the late Private Ben Hodgson, the latter having been a member of the club for some years.

19 March 1915


On Sunday morning a memorial service was held at the Parish Church in memory of Private Ben Hodgson who was killed by shrapnel at Ypres on February 23rd. There was a large congregation, including a number of soldiers who were on furlough. The Vicar (Rev. John Berry, M.A.) took for his text St. John XV., 13., “Greater love hath no man than this, that no man lay down his life for his friends.” In making reference to the deceased soldier, the Vicar said that everyone in the Parish for some days past had been touched with sadness, still moved by deep regret at the death of their first soldier who had given his life in the fighting line of our brave and gallant soldiers in the war. They could not, therefore, let that morning pass without marking the event in Church, and in their worship before God in memory of a brave and gallant soldier, Ben Hodgson, whose life was crowned by the glory of his death for King and Country. Known and unknown to him as British people might be he had laid down his life for friends and had proved his love for King and fellow countrymen. Whatever his failings - and he was not without them any more than each one of them had failings and individual characteristics - he never came across anyone who had not a liking and a fond liking for Ben. He was open and generous, and he believed he had lots of friends without a single enemy. A fine nature, he loved activity, variety, romance, and scope for fine energy and ability. The love of adventure, the spirit of daring and enduring, of life in its human fullness fired him and put him in the forefront of difficulty or danger of desperate doings and risks which were a necessity of life to him. He was the right man for a soldier - no melancholy, no hesitation, no fear, no thought of danger, no cold calculation. As to what the future might have been, whether death, or crippled and suffering body, or years of weakness; no, the duty; the danger, the glorious struggle, the honour of England and its safety, that was enough for him and he enjoyed it and glorified in it. Ben Hodgson would not return to his earthly home in peace, for he had gone to his last and final home, and yet how he lived and would live for many years in Silsden. He had lived and given his life and now lived in honour for his heroism in the hearts of many so long as their own lives lasted. If they mourned, they wore proud; if they were sad at the tale of Silsden’s first one to die for his country, they were glad that he had died for glory. Better, far better, to have done that than think of his own safety or of his own comfort in ease and pleasurable surroundings, better by far the hardship of the campaign and the certainty of death than the selfish clinging to a good home, safe employment and paying work, and all the failings that the unpatriotic and cowardly fainthearted and selfish young men sheltered their shunned faces and timorous heart behind. It was the highest form of love that a man lays down his life for his friends, and for King and Country, for hearth and home, wife and children. He did not know if that was the first case of a soldier from Silsden who had been actually in battle and killed outright by the enemy. Silsden had never until the past year contributed very many to the service of the Army, but he believed it had always had a few representatives in the forces.

In the burial register in 1794 was the entry John, son of John Lunn and Hannah his wife, Silsden, soldier.” The entries in those days were expressed just as the parson thought fit, and as no age was given whether the son was a child or a man. It was next to impossible to say whether the son or the father was the soldier. In 1801, March 3rd, was “Isabella, daughter of Abram A. King, and Rose his wife, Silsden soldier.” In 1805, “Mary, daughter of John Junn, and Susannah his wife, Silsden, soldier.” In 1812, “Jane, wife of --- Wilson, Silsden, weaver, soldier.” So in those days Silsden was not, without a few men who had served their country, and in those days of long service they were almost sure to have in the constant wars our country was engaged in and possibly bearing scars and wounds, honourable signs of patriotism and devotion and loyalty to our country. If they gave not their lives, they had at least risked them and endured hardships - for soldiering meant that in days past - for their country. That first death in actual warfare of a gallant soldier they had known helped to bring home to them the sadness and sorrow that was brought because of its bereavements. Think, however, of the thousands and thousands of grieving hearts over young lives lost, and the bereaved mothers and wives and children. They could not be pleasure seeking in these present days. Was anything more sad and grieving than to see the pages of newspapers week by week of the flower of England’s young manhood who had finished their course here through the war? Let them humble themselves under the mighty hand of God, and commend to His mercy and to His eternal keeping the souls of those men who had laid down their lives, and let them not forget to plead for God’s pity and loving care for those who were left to mourn and to feel their loss. Special hymns were sung during the service.

26 March 1915


The parents of Private J. W. Baldwin, of the 2nd Battalion, Duke of Wellington's West Riding Regiment, who reside as 16 Daisy Hill, Silsden, have recently received a letter from their son which reads as follows: –

“Just a few lines in answer to your welcome letter hoping to find you all well. I am at present in the best of health, and we are just now 11 miles back from the trenches on a 6 days’ rest after being in them 16 days. You will therefore see that I have not had much time lately to write to you. We go back in the trenches on the 14th of March, so I shall be back before you receive this letter. We have had it very rough this last week or two but I have come out again without a scratch. I suppose you will have heard about poor Ben Hodgson; I was very much upset about it; but poor Ben, he never felt it, for was shot in the head and was dead when he fell. I was not so far away at the time, but I could not leave my post to go down or I would have assisted in his interment - or at least have been there. I have just received a letter from Mr. C. H. Fletcher in which he asks for any photo, but I have not got it, so I will send you the letter, and then my photo can be given to Mr. Frank Driver. I would not like to be left out of the group as I think I have earned being on it.”

The reference to the photo is in regard to a collection of all Silsden soldiers which is being undertaken, and it is proposed to have them retaken in group form.

The Horrors of Shell Fire

In a letter to Mr. George Bradley, of Daisy Hill, Silsden, Private Baldwin says:–

“I should like to get through all right now after I have gone through so much, but you know if it is God's will that I should be hit, well I shall just have to put up with it. As you know duty is duty, and I try my best to do my bit as well as I can. I just pot away at the Germans as quick as I can and to hit as many as I can, for you know the more we hit the sooner will the war be over. I shall not be sorry when it is over, for I have had enough fighting. This war is not like the South African War: it is a cruel war, and I cannot make you understand what it is like being under shell fire. It is simply awful. It is very doubtful whether it is possible to get used to shell fire: I cannot, and I have not come across one who has yet. I should very much like to have been at the Memorial Service at the Silsden Parish Church for Ben Hodgson who died like a soldier and without pain.”

26 March 1915


Mrs. Ben Hodgson of 3, Bridge Street, Silsden, wife of the late Private Ben Hodgson who was recently killed in action, has received the following letter from Private T. Heptonstall, comrade of Hodgson:–

“I received your letter relating to your husband, and I am sorry to say I was not present when he fell. I made inquiries about him as soon as I heard of his end. They tell me he was shot by a sniper and his death was instantaneous. He never spoke. They also tell me he was buried alongside the trench. Whatever he had in his pockets will be sent to you. I have had a letter from Mr. C.H. Fletcher, of Silsden, and the sergeant who was with Ben when he was struck informs me that he is going to write and tell you how it happened. Ben has told me all about going sea, and what a time he used to have. He intended coming out here when the war was over and escorting parties over the battlefield. But that is all over now. They have placed a Cross on his grave so it should be easy to find if there is anyone who wants to come when the war is over. I may say everyone in our company is deeply sorry for you. He was liked by all of us, because he never flinched from doing his duty. Hope you are bearing the troubles like a true Englishwoman.”

In answer to a letter from Mr. C.H. Fletcher, the military representative for Silsden, Sergeant C. Scurry, writes as follows:– “Re your inquiries regarding the death of Private Ben Hodgson. I may inform you that he was shot by a rifle bullet whilst going to the trenches. He was shot through the head and died immediately. He was buried by myself (Sergeant Scurry, ‘D’ Company, Duke of Wellington's Regiment) and Private Blackburn, of the same Company. We laid him to rest where he died three miles south west of Ypres on the Menim road. I would thank you if you would just give Mrs. Hodgson and her son a message from the Company which Private Hodgson served in and tell her that he was liked by all the men of the Company. We all felt the loss of him as a comrade very much, and we hope that she will accept our deepest sympathy, and that it will be some comfort to her and her son to know that he suffered no pain whatever.”

It is understood that Mr. Fletcher has written in reply asking Sgt. Scurry if he would accept a cross to be placed on Private Hodgson’s grave.

09 April 1915


Pte. W. Boardman, Junction, Crosshills, of the 2nd Duke of Wellington's Regiment, who has been fighting at the front since the commencement of the War, writing to a friend at Eastburn, says:– “We are going away in the trenches again tonight for three days and will not be able to write in there, but as soon as we come out I am going to send you my ‘bacca’ box and jack knife, and the Christmas present we received from the Queen. The knife was in a belt, and the 'bacca’ box in my pocket, and a piece of shell went straight through my box, broke my knife, and went about half an inch in my thigh. However, I was not much the worse, as I was only three days in hospital: but if it had not been for my knife the piece of shell would have gone into my body. I was next to Ernest Cooper in the trench at the time, so I suppose you will have got to know by now. He had just come up and it was the first time in the trenches for him.”

A further letter dated March 2nd says:– “There was a Silsden man killed the other day here. You will know him - Ben Hodgson was his name. Fred Simpson (of Junction) does not come back. I have not heard of him for about three weeks. He might have been sent home for anything I know, as they said he was bad when he got sent away. He had looked bad for many weeks, though he did not go on sick. I had a letter from Ernest Cooper the other day, and he says he as all right where he is until the war is finished, if they will let him stop. He was sent down to the base owing to his deafness. One of our chaps had to go with him when he was on sentry duty.”

14 May 1915


In reply to enquiries made by Mr. C. H. Fletcher- (military representative for Silsden) in respect to the burial of Corporal Emmott, of Addingham, and the placing of a cross on Private Ben Hodgson’s grave, Sergeant Scurry writes as follows:– “I am sorry I have not been able to answer your enquiry before, but no doubt you will have read about the busy time we have had lately. Corporal Emmott, of Addingham, is buried in the Brick Kiln Yard in the village of Zillebeke, and as to that cross you intended to send out to place on Private Ben Hodgson's grave, I am sorry to say we never know when we shall pass that particular spot again. Still, his grave is not without a cross. He has one made of wood put on, and also a bottle and note telling who he is and his regimental number, etc.”

17 September 1915


On Sunday morning a memorial service was held at the Silsden Primitive Methodist Church in memory of the late Gunner Edward Lund, of the 90th Heavy Battery, Royal Garrison Artillery, who died from wounds sustained at the Dardanelles. Gunner Lund, who formerly resided at 67, Bolton Road, Silsden, was wounded on August 10th, and died in No. 15, General Hospital, Alexandria, Egypt, on the 17th of August. There was a good congregation which included a number of deceased’s relatives, Mr. C.H. Fletcher (military representative at Silsden), and Privates J. Brear, J. Bond, J. Gill, T. Hardcastle, Sheldon, junr., Sheldon, sen., Whiteoak, W. Summerscales, C. Summerscales, J. Inman, W. Clarkson, W. Tillotson, Calvert, Locker and Atkinson, of the various West Riding Regiments who were home on leave.

Rev. Wm. Dickinson (pastor) during the service said he was sure he voiced the feelings of the members of the congregation when he said it was with deep regret that they had received the sad intelligence during the last few days of three of their townsmen who had died on the battlefield. They were all exceedingly sorry to hear of the death of Gunner Edward Lund, who died as a result of receiving severe gun shot wounds. Gunner Lund was associated with that Church, and they sympathised with his relatives and friends and prayed that they might be comforted in that their time of great sorrow. He, with others, had laid down his life for his King and Country. There was now a loss of seven brave men from Silsden who had given their lives for the defence of our home and country. The first one was Private Harold Snoddin, [Snowden] who was killed on guard duty, and then followed Private Ben Hodgson, Private Isaac Wade, Private Rhodes Spence, who died on the field in Flanders, and now they had in addition to Gunner Edward Lund, the loss of Private Ernest Hustwick and Private Wm. Gill. The above had been either killed in action or died of wounds. The latter three had been at the Dardanelles. And in addition to those whom they knew who had gone from that little town of Silsden, we had very many brave men who had laid down their lives for King and Country. Some had found a grave in the waters of the great deep, and there could be no marked places as to where they had gone down, and many were laid in unknown graves on the Gallipoli Peninsula, and also on the fields of Flanders. We were thankful for their devoted and self-sacrificing services, and very gratefully paid honourable homage to them as true warriors for their King and for their country.

The hymns, ‘Jesus lover of my soul,’ ‘Just as I am,’ ‘Rock of ages,’ and ‘O God our help in ages past,’ were sung, and the choir sang the anthem ‘Pass thy burden upon the Lord.’ At the close of the service the organist (Mr. Bernard Longbottom) played the ‘Dead March,’ while the congregation remained standing.

24 December 1915


Information has been received of the death of Private Nelson Holmes, of the 6th West Riding Regiment, and son of Mr. Timothy Holmes, of 67, Aire View, Silsden, which took place on the Western Front on December 14th. Second-Lieut. F. Longdon Smith, in a letter received by his father on Monday, states:– “I am very sorry to have to write and tell you that your son Private N. Holmes, of D Company, 6th West Riding Regiment was killed about noon on the day of December 14th. He was on periscope duty at the time, and was fixing his periscope, and must have exposed himself for a second or two and was shot in the head by a sniper. He lived for a few minutes and the stretcher-bearer dressed his wound, but he was never conscious, and from the first we knew there was no hope. On behalf of the Officers, N.C.O.’s and men, I wish to express to you my deepest sympathy in your great loss. Since your son joined us out here he has always shown plenty of pluck and fearlessness, and we are all sorry to lose him.”

Private Holmes, who was only eighteen years of age on the 14th of July last, enlisted on the first day of December of last year. He served a period of training at Skipton, Derby, Doncaster, York, and Thorseby Park, leaving the latter place along with about half-a-dozen Silsden soldiers to go to the Front at the end of June last.

Private Holmes has a brother serving in the same regiment, he going out to the Front along with him. The deceased was a former member of the 1st Silsden Troop of Boy Scouts. This makes the ninth Silsden soldier who has given his life for his country.

The names of the remaining eight are Private Harold Snowden, Private Ben Hodgson, Private Isaac Wade, Private Rhodes Spence, Private W. Gill, Private Ernest Hustwick, Gunner Edward Lund, and Private Jobey Faulkner.

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12 March 1915

Death of a Silsden Soldier at the Front

We regret to announce the death of Private Ben Hogdson of the 2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment on February 23rd at a place not stated, but probably Ypres. He was struck with shrapnel in the trenches when another eight were killed and 16 wounded. Pte. Ben Hogdson was a man of fine physique, and altogether a fine British soldier. He served for two years in the Gordon Highlanders some time ago, and when the call came for men in Silsden in August he was amongst the first to give his services for his King and country. He went out to the firing line on November 27th. He has died a honourable death, and the people of Silsden are proud to honour his memory. He was in his 38th year, and leaves a widow and one son to mourn their loss.

09 April 1915


Private W. Boardman (Crosshills) of the 2nd Duke of Wellington’s Regiment, who has been at the Front since the war commenced, has sent a number of interesting letters to a friend at Eastburn. He says:– “Just a few lines to let you know that I am keeping as well as possible under the circumstances. We are going away in the trenches again tonight for three days, and will not be able to write in there, but as soon as we come out I am going to send you my bacca box and jack knife and the Christmas present we received from the Queen. The knife was in a belt and the bacca box in my pocket, and a piece of shell went straight through my box, broke my knife and went about half an inch in my thigh. However, I was not much the worse, but if it had not been for my knife the piece of shell would have gone into my body. I was near to Ernest Cooper in the trench at the time, so I suppose you will have got to know by now. He had just come up and it was the first time in the trenches for him. Tell Will I would sooner sweep chimneys all night than be stuck in these trenches with guns going all day and rifle fire all night.”

Writing under date March 2nd Private Boardman says:– “There was a Silsden man killed here the other day. You will know him – Ben Hodgson was his name. Fred Simpson does not come back; I have not heard of him for about three weeks. He might have been sent home for anything I know, and they said he was bad when he got sent away. He had looked bad for many weeks, although he did not go on ‘sick’. I had a letter from Ernest Cooper the other day, and he says he is all right where he is until the war is finished, if they will let him stop. He was sent down to the base owing to his deafness. One of our chaps had to go with him when he was on sentry duty.”

24 December 1915


Pte. Ben Hodgson, 2nd Battalion Duke of Wellington’s West Riding Regiment, killed in action on February 23rd. Former member of the Silsden Conservative Club. Left a widow and a son residing at 3 Bridge Street, Silsden. He was 37 years of age.

28 July 1916


Since the war commenced Silsden has lost fourteen of her gallant fighting sons while serving their King and Country. Their names are:–Pte. Ben Hodgson, Pte. Rhodes Spence, Pte. Isaac Wade, Pte. J. Faulkner, Pte. Nelson Holmes, Gunner Edward Lund, Pte. Ernest Hustwick, Pte. Wm. Gill, Pte. Harold Snoddin [Snowden] (killed on the railway while on guard duty in the country), Pte. Thomas Stanley Wrigglesworth, Pte. John Gill, Sergt. John Baldwin, Pte. Robt. Reed, and Pte. Herbert Harper.

05 January 1917


An intercession and memorial service for the fallen heroes in the war was held at the Silsden Primitive Methodist Church on Sunday evening last. There was a large congregation, and the officiating minister was Rev. Wm. Dickinson (pastor). During the service the hymns 'O God our help in ages past,’ ‘Lord God of hosts, Whose Almighty hand,’ ‘God the all terrible! King Who ordainest,’ and ‘When wilt Thou save the people’ were sung. Miss Clara Fortune also ably sang the solo ‘O rest in the Lord,’ and at the close of the service the organist (Mr. Bernard Longbottom) played the ‘Dead march’ in ‘Saul,’ and the National Anthem was sung.


Preaching from the text Psalm 46, 9th verse, ‘He maketh wars to cease unto the ends of the earth,’ Mr. Dickinson said it seemed almost superfluous to say in this sad day in which we lived that war was a serious and harmful thing. It was, however, a great outstanding fact. When they looked at the expense even in times of peace, when nations made preparations for war, it was even then a great expense, but in days of actual warfare as to-day, when the nation was spending at least £5,000,000 a day, then it was that they were reminded that war was a serious thing from a financial point of view. They tried to have dreams or visions as to what would have been done with that money for philanthropic purposes and for the social amelioration of the people of this country, but the country had put those dreams or visions in the back ground. Then we had the cruelty of it, and the passions that it excited. It marched to hunger and thirst and wounds and death. Then we had the bereavements. Children were made orphans, women were made widows, and parents mourned over children and many were left childless. Then we also had the deplorable feelings produced by war, feeling of revenge, feelings that produced quarrelsomeness, a desire for power and an unholy lust of ambition. That was seen by the works of the great Napoleon, and also by the Kaiser and the Prussian War Lords. The question that now forced itself to the front was ‘Is all war morally wrong?’ We had a very high ideal, and we believed that war was all wrong. They read in the Old Book that David was not allowed to build the temple of the Lord because his hands had been stained by blood, and he was spoken of as a man of war. But, in these days we had to look at actual facts. What was the actual state today? When one side would prepare for war and was determined to declare war, what then could we do? That great poet in Russia called Tolstoy preached the doctrine of being passive, but when we came to think of it, could we be passive? If our homes were to be destroyed and our wives and children to be taken from us, could we be passive? Did it not arouse within us that spirit of manhood that we must assert ourselves and that we must fight? If we were not prepared to do that, all he could think was that we were cowards. They ought to bury their heads and be ashamed of themselves. In days of peace with one breath they would denounce all war, and yet in the very next breath they would ask the question why the Congo atrocities were not stopped even if force were necessary. To-day they looked upon a devastated Serbia, Montenegro, Belgium, and alas Roumania, and they came to the conclusion that there were worse things than war – Armenia and the Congo, and the slavery of the South Americans; and what would have been the slavery of Europe had it not been for the call to arms in a cause that was just and righteous?


If it were not for that conviction that the cause for which they were at war was just and righteous, many of them would have failed to preach, to pray, or to look to God. But, it was that which gave them strength that they looked to him Who was the present help and refuge in their trouble. In their fight against war whom should they attack? Often in the past the attack was made upon the soldier. They could not do that to-day as far as this country war concerned. They had a great civilian army, and they were fighting for freedom, for righteousness, and for justice. They never wanted to be soldiers, they never wanted to fight, but the call had come and they could do no other. Who made war, and why should there be war? Not the soldier. In the days that were gone, it was more the civilian than the soldier, the civilian because he was represented by his Parliament and that Parliament as the representative of the civilian often made war, because the lust for power and the lust for gold had got hold of them. Then in the commercial world, amongst what was known as the ruling classes, there was generally speaking a disposition to make war because there was the old saying that trade followed the flag. The soldier fought because he was ordered to do. It was neither Roberts, Kitchener, nor Buller who made the Boer War. If anybody made it, it was Kruger, Milner, and Chamberlain, and it was made because they had greed for power, and an unholy ambition and wish for gold. If they went back through the pages of history, they would find that that was the source of war as far as this country was concerned. He had come to the conclusion that the man who shouted for war had an axe to grind. The man who shouted for war ought to be made to go and face the music and not to send others. What did soldiery stand for? Generally speaking it stood for the aggressive, the quarrelsome, the brute force. They could not say that of the civilian army that had been raised by this country. They were not aggressive, they were not quarrelsome, and neither could they say that they were asserting brute force. He was sorry to have to say it of the Central Powers where conscription had been reigning for so many years. It was the brute force and the aggressive power that they would have to abolish. But when they had said that, they were bound to come to the conclusion that


The soldier side by side with the doctor stood to give his life for his country and that was a great deal. He would advise anyone to pause before he sneered at a soldier. He stood between them and the enemy, and if it had not been for the brave men who had stood thus, where would they have been to-day? They had no words too high in their commendation and admiration and love for the civilians of this Empire, who had stood between them and the enemy in this time of crisis. The question came to each one of them what was their position and what were they doing in the national crisis that was before them, and still after all they came to the conclusion that the soldier's life as they saw it to-day was a regrettable necessity, that all those brave men should have to shoulder the musket and defend our shores and fight for the freedom, righteousness, and justice of a cause that none of them disputed. They regretted in this the 20th century that such a thing should have happened. It ought not to have come to pass, and it never would have come to pass if the great Central Powers of Europe had taken heed of the sayings of Christ, and had seen His crucified hands instead of the mailed fist, and if they had listened to His beatitudes instead of the philosophy of the German teachers. How were they to lessen those evils? They must attack the root, that lust for power, that quarrelsome spirit, and that unholy ambition that had dominated the great Central Powers. How were they to attack the root? By educating the people for peace at the proper time, and that perhaps was not just yet. It was an easy matter to give descriptions of the horrors of war, to speak of its abominations, and even to denounce statesmen and people who sanctioned war, but how few people there were who searched for methods by means of which war could be put down and destroyed. When the history of the war and the part which the British Empire had taken in it came to be written – he was not a prophet or the son of a prophet – he ventured to say that the writer would pay a fine testimony to the ex-Foreign Minister of this country (Sir Edward Grey) who night and day at the beginning or before the declaration of war strove with all the brain power he had, and with every ounce of strength, he could put in, to avert this great catastrophe. If to-day he was in the back ground, he would looked upon as one of the finest statesmen this country ever had. On what lines were they to educate people for peace? There was a form of Government not only to arrest this demon war, but to bind him in chains. What was it? A cosmopolitan administration or a great Federal Government of the world. They might be dreamers, but certainly there would come a day either in London, Paris, or New York, when there would be a great Federal Government, and that Government would help them to the day when wars would cease.


Proceeding, Mr. Dickinson said he was sure he was voicing the feelings of all present when he said they sympathised very deeply with the families of Pte. Percy Kellett and Lance-Corpl. T.C. Green, both of whom were in hospital suffering from wounds. They prayed for their speedy recovery, and also that their parents and relatives might he comforted. Then they had Ptes. Bernard Locker and Gannett Longbottom, who were reported as missing, and it was hoped that before long good news would be heard of them. They had to add two other names – Pte. Dan Faulkner and Gunner W.H. Sutcliffe, both of whom had been killed in action – to their list of fallen who had been intimately associated with their church and Sunday-school. Mr. Dickinson then read a list of Silsden soldiers who had died serving their King and Country. They were as follows:– Pte. Harold Snoddin [Snowden], Pte. B. Hodgson, Pte. I. Wade, Pte. R. Spence, Pte. E. Hustwick, Gunner E. Lund, Pte. W. Gill, Pte. J. Faulkner, Pte. N. Holmes, Pte. R. Read, Pte. J. Gill, Pte. S. Wrigglesworth, Sergt. J. Baldwin, Sergt. R. Hill, Pte. Wm. Richmond, Pte. W.H. Teale, Corpl. F. Taylor, Pte. H. Harper, Pte. D. Faulkner, and Gunner W.H.Sutcliffe.

Mr. Dickinson also read the church's roll of honour, which comprised 110 names.

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