INSIGHTS ON IVOR
The blinding snowstorm on the night of December 17th 1931 had no mercy on the lone cyclist battling his way on a two mile journey through the dark; far from leafy, deserted lanes from the small village of Bettws Cedewain in Montgomeryshire (now Powys) in Mid Wales. The blinding snow covered ghostly figure thinking –what-a-night-to-have-a-snow- blizzard, was my father Herbert Hodgson, frantically striving to keep his bike wheels upright and rotating in a straight line. His desperate battle against the elements was to inform the local midwife that his pregnant wife had gone into labour earlier than expected, and therefore her services were urgently required. Within minutes there were two determined cyclists battling through the snowstorm on this labour of love back to Bettws and thankfully they made it just in time for my arrival. Thus I became the fifth and last child, four boys and one girl, born to Herbert and Rebecca Hodgson.
My eldest brother was christened Herbert (Bert) after Dad, my sister Lillian (Lily) came next followed by Bernard and as the fourth child of the family, born eighteen months before me also in Bettws, was given the Welsh name of David (Daffyd) it was decided that I should follow the same pattern hence Ivor (Ifor)
The village of Bettws Cedewain (pronounced Bet-us-cur-dow-N) is set in idyllic surroundings amidst the welcoming singing hills of Mid Wales. At the time of my birth the village consisted of about a dozen houses, two inns, two shops (one a Post Office), a working mill, a blacksmith, a tailor’s workshop, a cobbler’s shop, a wheelwright’s shop, a stone church dominating the village, a school, a village hall, a small workshop-garage with one petrol pump, a stone bridge over a river. The two inns, the New Inn and The Talbot were run by two villagers, one of whom was the wheelwright and the other worked in the mill.
The reason I was born in Wales will become apparent later in the story. So, I’ll start now by telling you that my parents were both Londoners, father from Camberwell and mother from Peckham. My father Herbert John Hodgson (1893-1974) served his apprenticeship as a machine minder in the printing trade and worked as such up until the outbreak of the First World War. Like thousands of others he immediately joined up and became a soldier in the 1/24th (County of London) Battalion of the Royal West Surrey’s (The Queens). After initial training he was sent to France and despite serving on the Western Front he somehow survived the war and returned to London and his printing work in 1918.
He always considered himself just an ‘Ordinary bloke’ and ‘one of the lucky ones’ to survive but unfortunately he, like thousands of others, would have horrific memories of trench warfare lying dormant, ‘entrenched’ in his subconscious mind only for them, in later life, to occasionally resurface and invade his sleep with the terrifying sounds and vivid images of the death and destruction he witnessed. These nightmares haunted him for the rest of his life.
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