This week, whilst driving through the Vale, I went in search of the memorial for the first local man to be killed far away from home on the Western Front.
Thanks to the researches of Rob George from the Evesham Observer, we know that this man was Lieutenant Aubrey Wells Hudson, of the 5th Battalion attached to the 2nd Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment. He was killed at Aisne on 20 September 1914 at the age of 31.
He was the son of Lieutenant Colonel and Mrs AH Hudson, of Wick House, Pershore. The family lost two other young men during the war: another son, Aubrey’s brother, Captain Arthur Cyril Hudson of the 7th Royal Fusiliers, died of his wounds in October 1916 at Boulogne and is buried there; and a nephew, Lieutenant Alban Hudson, who was killed at the Battle of Messines and buried in Flanders in June 1917. However, Col and Mrs Hudson’s other son Major William Warren Hudson of 11th Worcesters survived and returned home.
Lt Aubrey Hudson was a member of the regular army, having originally enlisted with the Cape Mounted Rifles in South Africa. He transferred to the 5th Worcestershire Battalion in 1909. According to Rob’s article in the Evesham Observer, Lt Hudson was at Croome Court on the day war was declared, to receive the regimental colours from Lord Coventry.
By September, he and his men were in Aisne, having set off for France on 13 August and travelled up by train and on foot from Boulogne. These ‘Old Contemptibles’ of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) fought at the Battle of Mons before they arrived at Aisne where Lt Hudson was killed.
According to the Commonwealth War Graves site, Lt Hudson has no grave. So ferocious and chaotic was the fighting that many officers and men of the British Expeditionary Force who fell at the battles of Mons, Le Cateau, the Marne and the Aisne between the end of August and early October 1914 have no known graves.
Lt Hudson, along with 3,739 other officers and men killed at this time, is commemorated on the La Ferté-sous-Jouarre Memorial in Seine-et-Marne, France.
The family made sure that despite having no grave for them to visit, Lt Hudson was well commemorated. A joint memorial service for Lt Hudson and his brother, Capt Hudson was held in the Wick parish church in October 1916.
Both men are remembered on the Wick parish war memorial, the war memorial in Pershore Abbey, and, more personally, on a commemorative plaque inside Wick church, raised by the family in memory of Aubrey and his brother Cyril.