Second World War - Lynsted Memorial Project
Robert Richard HODGES (of Norton & Teynham)
b. 26th April 1911
Corporal, Service Number 6296100
Born on 26 April 1911 Robert was the son of William and Elizabeth Hodges. In 1937 he married Edith May Holdstock of Teynham. At the time of the 1939 Register they were living at 30 Arthur Road, Gillingham, where Robert was working as an Omnibus Cleaner.
The 7th Battalion, The Buffs, was converted to the 141st Royal Armoured Corps to train for and take part in the D-Day landings. They won a fine reputation during the advance into Germany. The regiment landed on the beaches of Normandy in June 1944 and fought as part of the 79th Armoured Division throughout the Battle of Normandy and the subsequent campaign in Northwest Europe until the end of the war in Europe in May 1945.
It is hard to trace Robert's service as the 79th Armoured Brigade did not operate as a single division. Their armoured vehicles were distributed as small units across the divisions as required. The units of the 79th were distributed as short term assets to a particular operation or battle and once complete returned to the 79th; the liaison officers of the 79th having the power to recall the vehicles. It is recorded that they did encounter difficulties in persuading infantry commanders to use their specialised vehicles to best effect.
On 6 June 1944, "Operation Overlord", the codename for the Battle of Normandy, saw the 79th Armoured Division land on Gold, Juno and Sword beaches.
After this day we know that during June the Allies faced a stalemate because of the difficulty of the landscape of dense hedgerows and flat land (the bocage). Efforts to break out were frustrated by fierce German resistance and counterattacks, particularly around Caen. A British armoured thrust at Villers-Bocage was defeated on June 13. A large-scale infantry offensive west of Caen, called Operation Epsom, was also defeated on June 25–29.
On 28 July 1944, Robert was posted as "Missing, believed Prisoner of War on 26 June 1944". Over a year later on 15 October 1945, he was presumed "killed in action on 26 June 1944".
Robert has no known grave and is remembered on the Bayeux Memorial that bears the names of more than 1,800 men of the Commonwealth land forces who died during the landings in Normandy; during the intense fighting in Normandy itself; and during the advance to the River Seine.
Edith was left widowed with their two young children. She never remarried.