Second World War D-Day Veteran Publishes His War Diaries, And Urges Others To Do The Same

Invasion of Normandy, 6 June 1944.
Invasion of Normandy, 6 June 1944.

Now 94 years old, Alfred Hodgson from Scotland was a naval officer who was shot at, bombed, shelled, and participated in many important events during World War Two. He has self-published his diaries from that time.

“That’s the best way to get the real facts of what happened then,” he explained. “At that time everything else was filtered and edited through the Ministry of Information.”

His diaries are real-life accounts of the taking of Antwerp, the D-Day invasion, and stories of the merchant marine convoys that ferried Allied supplies from the United States across the North Atlantic.

He went to war at age 18 in 1941, and for the next five years was attacked almost continuously. For most of the war, he was in the North Atlantic where convoys were frequently attacked.

During September in the first year of the conflict, 41 vessels totaling 30,800,000 pounds or 154,000 tons were sunk.  In addition to the German danger, convoys also had to survive the abysmal weather and sea conditions.

Alfred said the closest he came to death occurred in Antwerp when he was serving on an Admiralty tug as a radio officer as the ship cleared mines, towed, and made personnel transfers.

The campaign to take Antwerp was critical as it was the primary sea port for supplying Allied forces with supplies. But its capture cost the crews dearly. Alfred said that 703 officers and about 12,200 people of various ranks were wounded, killed or lost in action and presume dead, STV News reported.

He served on an admiralty ship during the invasion of Germany and France when gunfire and air raids were constant, as well as serving at D-Day.

Alfred considers himself fortunate to have lived to an advanced age. The idea that he might not have been here today to relate his story was contemplated frequently, he said. His diaries weren’t meant for publication, but his children kept badgering him, so he resolved to group all the stories as one publication.

When one of his grandchildren offered to edit the material, they decided the rest of the world should have the opportunity to read it, too. That was done more for the family. Many people heard of the project and the number who wanted to read it grew.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE