Lieutenant Alban John Benedict Hudson

'B' Coy, 3rd Bn formerly 'A' Coy, 11th Bn, The Worcestershire Regiment, 7th Brigade, 25th Division, B.E.F.

Malvern Commemoration: The Priory Church of St Mary and St Michael,

Burial/Commemoration: Lone Tree Cemetery, Spanbroekmolen

Nature of Death: Killed in action during the Battle of Messines, France 7/6/17

Age: 23

Next of Kin: Son of Revd and Mrs C H Bickerton Hudson of Holy Rood, St Giles, Oxford.

Education: Summer Fields Preparatory School, Eton College and Magdalen College, Oxford

Previous Employment: Undergraduate at Oxford

Alban Hudson

Early Years

Alban Hudson was born in 1893, the son of Reverend and Mrs C H Bickerton Hudson of Holy Rood, St Giles, Oxford. The Hudsons were an old land owning Worcestershire family. 

He was educated at Summerfields, Eton College and Magdalen College Oxford.  He was captain of his house at Eton, and was well-known on the river as a promising oar, stroking the record Magdalen II Torpid of 1913 and the second eight of 1914.  As the Oxford Chronicle reported:

“He had, moreover, gifts as a musician, but his friends will remember him by his lovable nature, his keenness in everything he undertook, and his strong sense of duty, which alone made him leave unfinished his University career in order to go and fight for King and country in the cause of justice and humanity.

First World War

Alban Hudson served was a member of the Oxford University Officer Training Corps when war was declared in August 1914.  He left his studies and was commissioned in the newly formed 11th (Service) Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment in November 1914.  While in training in UK, Alban was promoted Lieutenant in July 1915.

Officers of the 11th Worcestershire Regiment prior for embarkation for Salonika in September 1915.

Officers of the 11th Worcestershire Regiment prior for embarkation for Salonika in September 1915.  Alban Hudson is among them.

The battalion landed in Boulogne in September 1915 where it underwent further training north of Amiens.  In October, Alban contracted rheumatic fever and therefore was unable
to embark with his regiment for Salonika in November 1915.  He was treated in hospitals in France and England and eventually rejoined his battalion in Salonika in April 1916. He  served there until July when he again fell ill and returned to England for further sick leave and convalescence.

Although the 11th Battalion remained in Salonika until the end of hostilities there in 1918, Alban himself did not re-join them but was posted to the 3rd Battalion in France in February 1917.

Conspicuous gallantry

The Birmingham Mail reported that “…in a letter alluding to him his colonel states he had recommended for a Military Cross for the part he had taken in a most gallant raiding enterprise by his company.”  On 2nd June, during the run-up to the battle, the Battalion War Diary describes a reconnaissance raid on enemy trenches by some 80 men under Alban’s command. This resulted in the capture of a German machine gun.   Alban’s citation read:

“…during a raid on upon enemy trenches, he kept in touch with the various parties, and maintained direction throughout with great coolness and skill, thus ensuring the success of the raid.”

The award was announced just a week before the Battle of Messines.  He received the personal congratulations of his Brigadier and his Divisional General.

Battle of Messines Ridge

This battle began in earnest on 7th June 1917, but had been preceded by 18 months of tunnelling to place thousands of tons of explosives under the German positions. At 3.10am on 7 June simultaneous explosions, which could be heard as far away as London, shattered  the area, allowing infantry assault troops to achieve a tactical and operational advance.  The 3rd Worcestershire Regiment charged forward and captured its main objective, Hell’s Farm, but with heavy casualties – 10 officers and 239 men: Alban was killed leading his company within an hour of the explosions.

A brother officer, Lieutenant R.C. Perry, who survived the war and was with Hudson when he died, later described the events in a letter to Hudson’s parents:

The attack commenced at 3.10 AM in the dark, & on dawn breaking I found myself with about a dozen men in the German third line. Here your son appeared with a few men, whereupon we joined forces and pushed on to the next trench. On gaining it we found ourselves swept by the fire of a machine gun in our right rear and which had either been passed unnoticed by the troops on our right, or had not been [noticed] by them.

By lying flat and keeping quiet, the group managed to deceive the enemy machine-gunners, allowing some of its number to scramble from cover while avoiding the enemy fire. But one of the bullets hit Hudson in the head and emerged from his left temple, wounding him mortally at about 03.45–04.00 hours. Because attacking troops were under strict orders not to stay with wounded during an attack, Perry had to leave Hudson where he lay, but assured his parents that his “wound was such that he was spared all pain and consciousness”.

Alban Hudson was buried at Lone Tree Cemetery, close to the Lone Tree Crater, one of the nineteen which were made immediately before the infantry attack. Nearly all the graves in the cemetery are those of soldiers who fell on the first day of the battle.

Alban Hudson's grave at Lone Tree Cemetery, Spanbrokemolen.

Alban Hudson’s grave at Lone Tree Cemetery, Spanbroekmolen.

“He was a devout and thorough Churchman, and he with others of his Regiment received the Holy Communion on the very day before he went into battle in which he lost his life.” (Oxford Chronicle 15/6/1917)


It is not clear why Alban Hudson is commemorated at the Great Malvern Priory, although this memorial was erected by subscription and remembers a number of officers and men only distantly related to the town.   He is however commemorated in several places in Oxford – St Barnabas Church and St Giles Church as well as the private chapel at Wyke Manor, Pershore and St Mary’s, Wick. 

Shortly after the news of death was received in Oxford, a solemn requiem was held at St Barnabas Church, celebrated by the Vicar, Rev H M Noel, who was Alban’s godfather.

Two of his cousins, Arthur and Aubrey were also killed in the Great War, with the 2nd Worcesters in September 1914 and with the 2/7th Royal Fusiliers in July 1916 respectively. They came from Wick, near Pershore where Alban Hudson’s father owned a considerable amount of land.

Musical tribute – Alban Hudson’s bequest

On 5th February 1918 an organ recital was given by Dr C H Lloyd (Organist of HM Chapels Royal) at St Barnabas Church, Jericho in Oxford in memory of Alban Hudson.  His father had been Vicar of the Oxford church. 

St Barnabas Church, Oxford

St Barnabas Church, Oxford

As the Oxford Chronicle reported:

“The occasion was the dedication of an additional stop on the organ, the gift of the deceased officer, who made the bequest to the church in the following terms: ‘In the even of my death in the present war, it is my wish that out of any sum of money that I ma have at that time, whatever is most needed at the time in the Church of St Barnabas may be paid for as a memorial and token of my love for that church, and that, if nothing especial is there needed, the money may be spent in putting the remaining [solo] stop, a viol d’orchestre … in the organ.

Dr Lloyd was Precentor and musical instructor at Eton College at the time Alban Hudson was a student there, and was his tutor in organ playing.  He took a great interest in his pupil.  This organ, which dated from 1872, was replaced in 1975.

Lasting legacy

Alban Hudson’s parents had wanted a permanent memorial to their only child that would benefit others and this was achieved after Mrs Hudson’s death in 1949 (her husband had died in 1938), when her will created a memorial trust.

The Memorial Trustees were given property and endowment of £12,000 on trust for disabled ex-servicemen, giving priority to men of the Worcestershire Regiment. Two houses and two bungalows were duly built and the first tenants moved in in 1955. The Trust continues today, 100 years after Alban’s death, as the A J B Hudson Memorial Trust and is still providing for the needs of ex-service personnel.

Commomwealth War Graves Commission 2001
Berrow's Worcester Journal Picture Supplement 14/7/1917
Birmingham Mail 16/7/1917
Oxford Chronicle 15/6/1917, 8/2/1918
St Barnabas Oxford Parish Magazine. June 1917

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