King Edward’s School and the Great War

Memorial Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918


Hudson, John William Willoughby

Lieutenant ▪ 5th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment

John William Willoughby Hudson, born on 11th June 1895, was admitted to King Edward’s School in September 1907, having been educated earlier at Greenhill School, Moseley. He was the elder son of Percy, owner of a printing firm, of Salisbury Road, Moseley.

The School records suggest that John was not the most academic of boys, nor the most athletic. He was, however, a marksman in the School Officer Training Corps, and was described as a “crack shot.” After School, John worked for the family business, Messrs. Hudson & Son of Edmund Street, and also joined the Territorial Force.

On 19th October 1914, John was gazetted as a Second Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. In March 1915, upon his arrival in France, he was promoted to Lieutenant. John was engaged in night work between the lines, often in charge of working parties and often on duty as a sniper. With tragic irony, while on observation duty near Gommecourt on 30th November 1915 and pointing out a German trench mortar battery to one of his officers, he was shot in the head by a German sniper, dying without regaining consciousness. He is buried in Foncquevillers Cemetery and is also commemorated on St Mary’s Church Memorial, Moseley. Surviving letters suggest that Lieutenant Hudson was held in high esteem, “both as a leader and a gentleman.” His Major wrote of him: “His comrades are left to mourn the loss of a brave young soldier…a good officer and companion.” His platoon Sergeant wrote: “After being in hourly and daily contact with him, I have lost one whom I have felt honoured to be commanded by.” Among other tributes was that of Brigadier-General Sir John Barnsley, who was instrumental in raising the first Birmingham City battalions.