Herbert HUDSON
Rank: Private
Number: 28188
Unit: 1st Battalion King’s (Liverpool) Regiment
Date of Death: 25 September 1915
Age: 20
Cemetery: Loos Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

In the early part of 1891, John Hudson, a file grinder, married Alice Maud Clayton at St Mary's Church, Stockport. Herbert was born about 5 years later and, when the Census was taken in 1901, was listed as their only child. The family was living at 38 Brady Street, Portwood. John died in 1907 and, the following year, Alice remarried. Her wedding to Harry Mainwaring was at St Paul's Church, Portwood.

After leaving school, Herbert went to work at Pear Mill, Stockport Road West where, in 1914, he was a piecer. In his spare time, he was a member of the Stockport Junior Conservative Club. He enlisted, at Ashton under Lyne, on 7 August 1914 - just three days after war was declared. He originally enlisted into one of the Territorial battalions of the Manchester Regiment. His service number was 2123 and this is low enough to suggest that he might have been a pre-war Territorial.

Herbert would be killed on the first day of the Battle of Loos - the "Big Push" as it was then known. It was also the day that the British first used poison gas in battle. The Liverpool Battalion was part of the British 2nd Division which was to attack along both sides of the La Bassee Canal.

At zero hour, the men advanced across No Man's Land. "B" and "D" Companies led the Liverpool assault, supported by "A" and "C". Their line of attack was astride the road running between the villages of Cuinchy and La Bassee.

On the south side of the road, "D" immediately came under heavy machine gun fire and found it could not advance as the barbed wire remained uncut by the artillery shelling. They suffered terrible casualties - the Regimental History described the company as being "decimated". On the north side, "B" Company managed to reach the enemy's wire before finding that it could make no further progress.

To make matters worse, the Royal Engineers officer responsible for discharging the poison gas had advised that the direction of the wind was so unfavourable that it should not be released but he was ordered to proceed. It was reported that the British were more affected than the enemy.

At 9am, the British artillery resumed shelling the enemy but, by 9.45, it was clear that attempts to press home the attack would be fruitless. Herbert was originally posted as being missing but his body was never found and identified. It would not be until November 1916 that the War Office made an official presumption that he must have been killed.

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