The Naval Brigade in Egypt and the Soudan
___________________________________________________________
Naval Brigade at El Teb & Tamaai

PETTY OFFICER 1st cl {CAPTAIN OF GUN} WILLIAM HENRY HODGES
William Hodges was born on 27 Apl 1860 in Houghton, Hamps.
He entered the R.N. as a Boy 2nd cl on 4 June ’75, just over 15 yrs of age. He was literate & had been a farm labourer upon enlistment.
He had several scars, possibly as a result of his farm employment. Perhaps that’s why he joined the RN!

However, he entered HMS Boscowen, went thru St Vincent, & Duke of Wellington, & rec’d a draft to his first seagoing ship; HMS
Alexandra, flagship of the Mediterranean fleet. He was rated Ordinary Seaman on board her 27 Apl 78, his 18th birthday.
He then serves on HMS Flamingo, Urgent, & the Naval Barracks at Portsmouth where he was rated Able Seaman 25 Aug ’80.

Hodges then elects to attend HMS Excellent where he qualifies as a Seaman Gunner 1st cl 1 Apl ’81.

He then is drafted to HMS Inflexible 5 July ’81 for service in the Mediterranean. HMS Inflexible at the time was the most advanced &
heaviest armoured of the Turret Ironclads of the late Victorian navy. She also had the heaviest guns afloat at the time &, as with HMS
Temeraire, her guns were hydraulically loaded.  Inflexible was the first Victorian ship to have electric generators to operate her many
lights onboard. She was commanded by Captain Jackie Fisher, very soon to make a name for himself in the RN.

In her Hodges saw considerable action during the bombardment of Alexandria, engaging the forts of Pharos, Ada, Mex, & Ras-el-Tin.
Inflexible was also the most heavily damaged {received 10 hits} of all the ships present during the bombardment & was laid up in
repairs for some time afterwards.
Whilst on Alexandra Hodges was promoted to Leading Seaman on 9 Jun ’83.

He left Inflexible & returned to Excellent 10 July ’83, to requalify as a Seaman Gunner & Gun Captain. This was necessary due to the
rapid expansion & changes in naval guns of the period.


After Hodges requalified he was drafted on 10 Oct ’83, to HMS Sphinx, a small gunboat, & in her was appointed Gun Captain 1 Feb ’84.  
Shortly afterwards he was promoted to PO1st class (Gun Captain) on 24 Mar ’84. Sphinx saw service in both the 1884-85 Soudan
campaigns, being based at the Port of Suakin during both years.

Hodges was fortunate, possibly in light of his gunnery qualifications, in that the was selected as a member of the Naval Brigade that
was formed to see action at both battles of El Teb & Tamaai in Feb & Mar of 1884.  Only 5 members of Sphinx’s crew participated in
both battles & rec’d the El Teb Tamaai clasp to their Egypt medals.

Sphinx also qualifed for both Suakin ’84 & ’85 clasps, thus giving Hodges a 4 clasp Egypt medal, with 6 of this combination being
possible.






































On 18 Mar ’87  Hodges left Sphinx after her long commission to return to Excellent to requalify in gunnery. He then spent a short time
on HMS Clyde, then returned to Excellent & was confirmed Gun Captain 1 Nov ’88.

His last draft, on 9 Nov ’88, was to HMS Rover, another small gunboat, as Gun Captain.  However, apparently his health had
deteriorated, perhaps from his active service in Egypt & Soudan, & he was invalided out of service on 6 May ’89.

Hodges had 11 years adult service towards his Long Service medal but as he had two conduct infractions during his career, he was
ineligible for the award.  He lost a GCB (Good Conduct badge) on 4 Sep ’82, had it restored, but lost it again on 16 July ’84, finally
having this  GCB restored on 16 July ’85.
He rec’d his 2nd GCB on 16 July ’87, & thus he had both badges when he was invalided.

Hodge’s family:

In the 1891 census Hodges is shown as 30 yrs of age, married to Ellen, a dressmaker aged 32, & with two daughters, Mary Ellen (2),
and Harriet(under1), one son William (1).  The family is living at 3 Tabernacle Lane, Yeovil, Somerset, & Hodges is now employed as a
sausage maker!

In the 1901 census, William is 40, Ellen 42, & children Mary Ellen is now 12 & Harriet is now 10. William is deceased (presumably) & their
son Osman is now 8 yrs of age.  They are now living at 69 Cornwall Road, Handsworth, & Hodges is now a steel rope splicer employed
by a colliery.

Hodges died young, in the spring of 1914, aged 54. Had he lived he likely would have been called up for shore service, but as it turned
out he never saw or experienced the disaster that was called The Great War.
Launch of HMS Sphinx at Green Shipbuilding, Blackwall.





Lower Right: HMS Sphinx
Composite paddle Vessel of 1130 tons.  Armament: 1 -6" & 4 -4"
deck guns. Commissioned Nov 1882, Sold July 1919 in Calcutta.