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Petty Officer 1st Class Albert George Hodder

Petty Officers Accidental Death At Great Yarmouth

On a visit to Lyme Regis Cemetery I was walking along the lower pathway and noticed a lone CWGC headstone inscribed to the Royal Naval petty officer, A.G. Hodder who had died in February 1915 whilst serving on HM Submarine E11. This prompted me to try and find out how he had died and came to be buried in Lyme Regis Cemetery .

Albert George Hodder was born on the 27th December, 1878 and he was the son of George and Mary Hodder of Mill Green, Lyme Regis. He joined the Royal Navy at Portsmouth on the 7th August, 1894 as a Boy 2nd Class aged 15 years. He was described as being 5ft 4ins in height, with brown hair, grey eyes, a ruddy complexion, had no distinguishing marks and gave his occupation as that of an Errand Boy.

He had begun his Naval career on the training ship HMS Boccawen at Portland where he signed on for a twelve year engagement from the age of eighteen. Within a year he had progressed to Boy 1st Class and was advanced to Ordinary Seaman in December 1896 and to Able Seaman in January 1899 when he was serving in the 7,700 ton cruiser HMS Gibralter. In May 1903 he was serving on the 3,500ton Apollo class light cruiser HMS Brilliant when he was rated Leading Seaman. He joined Submarines on 18th July 1903 when he was drafted to the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Latona and then to HMS Thames on 20th July 1903. Whilst serving in HMS Thames he was advanced to Petty Officer 2nd Class on 1st April 1905. Albert Hodder joined the Submarine Depot Ship HMS Mercury on 11th July 1906 where he was rated Petty Officer 1st Class on 14th May 1907. He returned to General Service on 1st Oct 1908 and served in HMS Victory, HMS Vernon, the 10,500 ton Cruiser HMS Roxburgh and the 13,550 ton Cruiser HMS Duke of Edinburgh.

Albert Hodder returned to Submarines and HMS Mercury on 18th May 1911. He also served in HMS Bonaventure and HMS Arrogant before joining HMS Maidstone (8th Submarine Flotilla) on 15th October 1912 where it is understood that he served in D Class Submarines. He joined HMS Dolphin 'for Submarine E11 'as the Coxswain – Standing By whilst Completing' at Vickers in Barrow on 28th March 1914. On the outbreak of the First World War E11 was based at Harwich with the 8th Submarine Flotilla .

On the 4th February 1915 E11 was berthed at South Quay, Great Yarmouth and, during the evening, Albert Hodder went ashore to buy some food. He returned at approximately 2100 and was crossing over to E11 from one boat to another via a plank when he stumbled and fell into the water. The evening was very dark and there was a strong current flowing past the boats and Albert was swept away. The alarm was raised that a man has fallen overboard and a Petty Officer from the adjacent boat hurried on to a collier which was berthed astern of the submarine. From the stern of the vessel he saw a dark object float by. He then boarded a tug boat but was again thwarted in effecting a rescue. It was fortunate that a rowing boat used as a ferry was in the vicinity. The ferryman, who had heard the alarm that a man was in the water, rowed to and fro, saw the man and managed to grab hold of him. With one oar he paddled the rowing boat alongside the quay. There, the Petty Officer helped to get Albert Hodder on to the quay .

Artificial respiration was applied and a doctor attended to Hodder until his breathing became normal. He was then taken to the shore-side sick bay on a stretcher and put to bed with hot water bottles and warm blankets and left in the care of a medical orderly. Later he doctor was again sent for and on arrival he found that Albert Hodder had died. He was thirty-six years of age .

An inquest was held on the 5th February 1915 in the Town Hall at Great Yarmouth into the circumstances surrounding the death of Albert Hodder. It was established that no one had actually seen Albert fall into the water. The ferryman, Mr Albert Childs stated that he had been close to E11 and heard the shout that a man had fallen overboard. Dr J. Sankey attended Hodder and applied artificial respiration with the help of police constable. Taken to the sick bay he was put to bed and later died due to 'asphyxia from drowning'. The jury returned a verdict that deceased accidentally fell into the water and died from the effects of his immersion .

The Admiralty offered to bury Albert Hodder with full military honours at Great Yarmouth or they would return his body to Lyme Regis for private burial. His mother chose have her son buried in Lyme Regis Cemetery.

On the day of the funeral, 14th February, the town paid its respects by flying flags on prominent buildings at half-mast. The coffin, draped with the Union Jack was borne on a hearse from his mother's house to the parish church. A muffled peal was rung as the cortege approached St Michaels', where a large congregation had assembled. Albert Hodder's father had died a few years previously and his mother, who had re-married, was accompanied by her other son, stepsons, nieces and cousins. The Mayor and town officials were also present as well as Naval personnel who had served with Albert and many local friends. After the funeral service the coffin was taken to Lyme Regis Cemetery, where a short service was conducted before Albert Hodder was interred. After the burial a large number of floral tributes were arranged over the grave. A wreath was laid by the Officers and Crew of E11.



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