John was known to everyone as "Cobbler". He had been born locally in December 1883 and had been living at 40 Bulkeley Road, Cheadle with his father. He had played semi-professional football for Edgeley, Stockport County, Grimsby and Nelson. He enlisted at Burnley, within a couple of days of the outbreak of war in August 1914, having served previously as a part-time Territorial soldier.
The Battalion left Bury for Southampton on the night of 8 September 1914, embarking for Egypt the following day. They arrived at Alexandria on 25 September and reached their destination of Cairo on the 28th. The Regimental history notes that "although it was late in the summer, the weather was still hot - decidedly hotter than full summer heat in North Lancashire." The winter was spent in training, drill, route marches across the desert and digging trenches - all designed to improve the physical fitness of the men. By 5 May, 1915, the whole of the East Lancashire Brigade (126th Brigade) embarked to go into action at Gallipoli. They landed at Cape Helles, on the 9th, under fire from the Turkish Army, which occupied strong defensive positions nearby. They went into the front line for the first time on 11 May and would stay there for the next week, suffering four killed and 25 wounded, before they were relieved back to a support position.
On 4 June, the Third Battle of Krithia started with an attack on the Turkish positions. Neighbouring battalions would be in the front line of this advance and John and his comrades would be in support. Enemy machine gun fire was devastating but the leading troops of the 1/4th East Lancashires charged and captured the first three lines of enemy trenches within a few minutes. Further small advances were made later in the day but, along other parts of the front, the attacks had faltered. Gradually, Turkish artillery started to shell the East Lancashires and it became necessary to withdraw to the area of the first line of the captured trenches. They then prepared for defence against the expected counterattacks, which came throughout the night and the next day. During the evening of 6 June the men were relieved. The 1/4th battalion had borne the brunt of the casualties, but amongst the 1/5th, 2 soldiers were known to have been killed and another 33 had not returned to the trenches and were listed as "missing". John Hodgkinson was one of the 33.
The Stockport Advertiser, 9 July 1915 stated that "We are requested to state that he has not, as unkind rumour has had it, been reported killed, but was officially reported as "missing"."
Cobbler's body was never recovered and identified and he is commemorated on the Helles Memorial to the Missing.
(NB: Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)