This blog was produced in collaboration with the students and Christine Ritsma of Stratford Northwestern Secondary School, and the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies.
By Cameron Wiickhorst, Masen Ankenmann and Cooper Moorehead
Frank J. Hodsoll was among many of the local Stratford men who enlisted to fight for Canada during the First World War. Hodsoll was born on 23 June 1881 in the borough of West Ham in London, England. He was baptized an Anglican and sometime between his birth and the early 1900s, relocated with his family to Stratford, Ontario. His address at this time was 9 Victoria Street, and this would have been in a working class area of the city during this period. Hodsoll served twelve years with the Royal British Artillery where he was given the rank of Corporal. He took up the call to arms and enlisted at Stratford in September 1914. Hodsoll would have been older compared to his comrades being thirty-three years of age.
When Hodsoll enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force, he was placed in the 1st Battalion. His regimental number was 6636. Some of the Battalion’s significant deployments were in the Second Battle of Ypres, St. Julien, Mount Sorrel, Somme, Givenchy. The Battle of Givenchy, dating 18-22 December 1914, was also significant for Private Hodsoll, as it was where he was injured. Private Hodsoll was buried in debris after a manually-detonated mine exploded. There was a suspected fracture in his spine, and he was also diagnosed with varicose veins in his legs. After a lengthy stay in hospital, he was discharged in June 1916.
After his discharge, Hodsoll returned to Stratford and married. But he and his wife fell on rough times with Hodsoll being diagnosed with a cancerous tumour. Treatment was expensive, leaving them with little income as his wife was also recovering from a broken hip. To help pay for their expenses, they began renting out the upper half of their house for $22 per month. Unfortunately, there is little documentation on Hodsoll′s fight with cancer.
Due to Hodsoll’s difficulty assuming erect posture due to pain in his lumbar muscles, a disability pension was assigned in April 1917. He received $8 per month and was re-examined a few years later to see if further payment was warranted. Indeed it was and he received a one-time $100 gratuity in June 1920. When he returned home, Hodsoll was unable to stand for long periods of time or lift heavy objects. His injuries affected his ability to work; however, he applied for a vocational training course in acetylene welding through the Military Hospitals. Reading through the files, many letters are exchanged between Hodsoll and the Minister of Pensions to plead for his pension. After many letters, Hodsoll was finally given a pension in 1931.
After some time, the Hodsolls decided it was time to relocate to Toronto. He and his wife lived at two addresses in Toronto: the first one at 1061 Shaw Street and the second at 646 Crawford Street. They remained in Toronto for the remainder of their lives and is where Frank would peacefully passed away on 17 September 1961.
To View Frank Hodsoll’s military service record at Library and Archives Canada, Click Here