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2nd Lieutenant John Percival Hermon-Hodge


IWM image

Rifle House Cemetery Grave III.F.1

1/4th Battalion Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry, 145th Infantry Brigade, 48th Division

Age 24

KIA 28.5.15

The sixth son of Sir Robert Hermon-Hodge, 1st Baron Wyfold, Conservative MP for Henley, South Oxfordshire from 1895 to 1906. He lost his seat in the Liberal landslide of 1906. He returned to the Commons in March 1909 elected as MP for Croydon and held this seat in the 1910 General Election standing down at the December 1910 election. In May 1917, Valentine Fleming MP for Henley was killed in action and Sir Robert stood in the by-election in June 1917 and was elected unopposed to his old seat. He retired from Parliament in 1918 and was given a peerage in 1919 taking the title Baron Wyford of Accrington. He married Frances Caroline Hermon in 1877 and they had seven sons and one daughter. John’s brother Guy was killed in action at the Battle of the Somme.

 

Early Life

John was born the sixth son on 18 July 1890. He attended Radley College from 1904 to 1909. On leaving he joined the cotton company of Messrs Watson & Co of Liverpool. On the 3 September 1914 he joined the 1/4th Oxford & Bucks Light Infantry receiving a commission. He went to France on 29 March 1915 with the battalion.

 

His Death

The Battalion was in the line at Ploegsteert Wood, known to the Tommies as Plugstreet,

in the St Yves sector of the line.


Linesman

The War Diary reported that the day was hot and that sniping by the Germans was heavy. John's death is recorded along with two wounded Other Ranks.

War Diary entry for 28 May 1915

The Reading Mercury of 5 June 1915 records John’s death as being ‘… shot through the head and killed instantly by a German in the trench in front..


Captain Jack Conybeare commander of ‘B’ Company wrote in his diary on 28 May: ‘Wakened at 7:30am by a telephone message, asking me to go and see Hermon-Hodge in D Company trench, as he had been shot. Before I could start they telephoned to say that he was dead. A very great loss to the Regiment. He was quite one of the best subalterns and a most excellent fellow.

 

In his book, published in 1935, ‘An Infant in Arms, War letters of a Company Officer, 1914-18’, his friend Graham Greenwell wrote that at around 10am he was walking along the trench when his captain approached him and handed him a bundle of letters that were covered in blood. The captain had assumed that Greenwell had known of John’s death and knowing that he was a close friend of Greenwell’s had given him the letters. Greenwell was unaware of his friend’s death until that moment. He wrote of John’s burial: ‘Yesterday was a terrible day for me: it seems so damned hard to lose a friend like Hermon (John was known as Hermon to his friends) in such a way. I followed him to the little cemetery in the wood, but really the wood is one huge graveyard.’


Rifle House Cemetery today. Authors image

Headstone


Authors image


 


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