Spr George Hodgson, 10th Fd Sqn 26 May 1944

Spr George Hodgson's headstone in the Cassino Commonwealth War Cemetery

Sapper George Hodgson was born in Easington, Durham, England to William and Mary Hodgson.  His family immigrated to Canada in 1927 and settled in Tawatinaw, Alberta. He had been working as a logger in Edson, AB when he enlisted directly into the Royal Canadian Engineers at A6 Canadian Engineer Training Centre in Camp Chilliwack, BC on 21 December 1942. He immediately received a qualification as a Motor Transport Driver and shortly afterwards qualified as a Group ‘C’ Engine Hand.

Sapper George Hodgson arrived in the UK on 2 September 1943 as a reinforcement and two months later he was on a ship heading for Italy with the 10th Field Squadron. On the way, his convoy was attacked from the air on 6 November, sinking one of the ships carrying Canadians. No lives were lost, but Vern's ship was delayed for a day as it split from the convoy to help pick up the survivors.  The ship was unsuccessfully torpedoed the following day.

Once ashore in Italy, the Squadron took over well-used equipment and vehicles from the British 7th Armoured Division who were returning to England. The Squadron was moved over 200 miles southeast to the Taranto area and attached the 2nd New Zealand Division. Despite having to complete a great deal of vehicle and equipment maintenance, they immediately got to work on bridging and route repair and construction tasks. As the 5th Armoured Division gained strength in Italy, the Squadron moved closer and closer to the front relieving other Eighth Army formations. He qualified Carpenter Group ‘C’ in January 1944, which meant a pay increase of ten cents a day. Their first action came on 17 January 1944 supporting the Perth Regiment in an attack in which four NCOs and two sappers were wounded. The Squadron then moved back towards Naples to the city of Caserta. Again, bridging and mine training, rest and maintenance, as well as planning for the Liri Valley operation occupied their time. In mid-May, the 5th Armoured Division started moving forward to the Hitler Line in anticipation of pushing forward to establish a crossing over the Melfa River.

During the day of 26 May, the infantry of the 5th Canadian Armoured Division had crossed the Melfa and reached the upper parts of the Liri River. They consolidating on high ground opposite Ceprano with parties of the 10th Field Squadron in support. After two days of intense fighting, the Squadron was showing its fatigue.  Nonetheless, the work continued. They opened a two-lane road to allow wheeled traffic to move forward - two diversions and four culverts. Engineer reconnaissance found a crossing site just south of Ceprano. Casualties for the day were two killed, three wounded and one man missing. Sapper George Hodgson was one of those who was killed.  He was 31 years old and is buried in the Cassino Commonwealth Cemetery.

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