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Hogben, Henry Francis Thomas

Hogben, H F T , Lieut., 2nd Norfolk Regiment received his early education at Bedford Grammar School and entered Guy's in October, 1909, winning the London University Open Scholarship. He passed his first M.B. examination in July, 1910, and entered the wards in October, 1912. Amongst his appointments he was Medical Ward Clerk to Sir Cooper Perry and dresser to Mr. Steward.

At the outbreak of war he was working for his final examination, but as he already held a commission in the 10th Middlesex, he had to forego his studies and answer to the Mobilisation order.

After training in England for two months, his regiment was ordered out to India, in October, in which country he remained, until August of this year. He was then selected to take a draft from the 10th Middlesex to the Persian Gulf, where he became attached to the Second Norfolk Regiment. He fell in an action in which his regiment was engaged between the days of November 22nd and 24th.

During his life at Guy's, Harry Hogben was a member of the Artists' Rifles, was a keen territorial, whilst his skill as a marksman was envied by all his pals. At Bisley he achieved many successes, and was in the King's one hundred in the years 1913 and 1914. Amongst other sports he represented the Hospital as a "heavy-weight", and was always a regular man, to turn out for a game of "Rugger". And so the Alma Mater has to mourn the loss of another of her sons one who, on the point of qualifying, gave up all - and right willingly too - for his King and Country. Guy's Hospital Reports Vol.LXX, War Memorial Number


First name(s)Henry Francis Thomas
Family detailsSon of Frederick Hogben, 56 Goldington Avenue, Bedford
Previous educationBedford Grammar School
CollegeGuy's Hospital
Dates at college1909 (London University Open Scholarship) to 1914
Dept / courseLondon M.B.
QualificationsFirst M.B.
Military unitMiddlesex Regiment, 10th Bn. Attd. 2nd Norfolk Regiment
Date enlistedOutbreak of War
War / conflictWorld War One (1914-1918)
CampaignsIndia; Persian Gulf
Date of death22 November 1915
Rank at deathLieutenant
Cause of deathKilled in action
Commemoration(s)Guy's Hospital Memorial; Basra Memorial, Iraq

Copy of a letter written to his parents 11 October 1915:-

Indian Expeditionary Force “D” Azizieh

We were now at a place called Azizieh, about 50 miles from Bagdad. My last letter was written from Sunnaiyat, which was our last standing camp. On 24th September we experienced the joys of a dust storm, which enveloped us all day. Everything was gritty, even my eyelids when I winked! The next morning the enemy introduced us to a new form of frightfulness, by bringing a couple of guns down the river and shelling the camp at 4.45 a.m. Casualties one mule killed, one tent pole severely wounded. The next morning we left Sunnaiyat for the advance on Kut-el-Amarah, our kit being reduced to one blanket and what we carried on us. This was Sunday, we advanced a few miles up river and disembarked just out of range of the enemy’s heavy guns. They spent all that day and part of the night trying to reach us but failed. On Monday we (18th Brigade) advanced to the centre of the enemy’ disposition to occupy his attention while the 16th and 17th Brigades did a flank march. We soon came under shell fire, and after a time I was unable to advance further with my platoon, so we halted and commenced to dig for all we were worth. It was necessary too, for the Turkish gunners had our range to a yard, and plastered us with shell.  One man was wounded in the trench, such as it was, and when we did advance a shrapnel caught us squarely just as we were leaving the trench, and killed my sergeant a few yards away from me. No one else was touched. I then got up to the second line with the rest of my company where we lay for the rest of the day with the sun blazing on us, and terribly little to drink. That night we began to dig again, a little nearer the enemy’s position. That night we did not even have our one blanket, and as the nights are now bitterly cold you can imagine our sleep was hardly refreshing. Next morning the other two brigades made their attack while our guns shelled the enemy’s position from our rear. The Turks had a lot of guns and gave us a tremendous shelling and the noise was terrific. I was so tired though that I slept through two hours of it in the morning. The 16th Brigade finally crumpled up the enemy’s left, and those in front of us had to go or they would have been caught in the rear. This they did during Tuesday night and on Wednesday morning we walked up to their barbed wire and through it to the trenches beyond. They had a most magnificent position which we could never have taken with a frontal attack, and I am glad that we did not have to try. That evening we moved over the river again and re-embarked for the pursuit, and I had my first wash since Saturday morning. You cannot imagine what awful objects we looked, unshaved, unwashed, inches deep in dust which had caked to mud where we sweated and woefully tired. Well, a bath and a shave worked wonders, but I still feel tired.  Should so much like to sleep in a bed in pyjamas once more. The ground is very hard and I am tired of my clothes too, but still I can stick it all right, you need not worry about that and I shall enjoy the rest all the more when I get it. This is a miserable letter and I am afraid it will bore you, but I do not feel in my best vein for scribbling to-day. I have not had a home mail for nearly three weeks and goodness only knows when they will reach here, but I live in hopes. It takes a letter longer to get from Basra to here than from Sunderland to Basra now. The river is low and so few boats are available. Well I must say good bye for now and lots of love to everyone …… Chocolate will be most frightfully acceptable now that the cold weather is on us.

Indian Expeditionary Force “D” 
Azizieh, 21st October, 1915
There is nothing much to tell you since my last letter which I had intended to be a glowing description in my best style of my first impressions of war at close quarters. However I was so tired and had so little time that I fear it was but a poor scrawl you received. We are still at Azizieh, very hard worked as there is a tremendous amount of digging to be done, and outpost work is almost continuous. The latter is very trying, and the nights are now so cold and the sand flies are maddening. They are something like the midges at home and can get through any mosquito net, and their skill at finding uncovered spots is simply amazing. In addition to all these worries we ran out of nearly all our mess stores, and were reduced to tea without milk and ration rum our only drinks. Of course we only have tinned milk at best of times, but even that is better than none at all. I have had two mails during the last month, yours of the 26th August and 3rd September. The river is so low that mails are dreadfully uncertain, and we exist largely on hopes of one coming. We are now anxiously awaiting the arrival of our winter kit, and when that comes life will be more bearable. At present you can picture me standing at arms at 4.30 a.m. with a blanket over my shoulders, a couple of handkerchiefs round my neck, and a pair of socks doing duty as gloves, stamping up and down and trying to keep warm, and yet at noon it is so hot that one is glad to seek shelter in a double-fly tent. The enemy have hardly worried us at all since we came here, though they have a strong force only 12 miles away. Their cavalry and ours have a scrap every morning, but neither side gets much hurt. Our chief enemy now is the climate and the sickness among the men is dreadful. Of course most of them have been in this filthy climate for a whole year now, and they have no reserve forces to fall back upon. I do not think this battalion could put more than 350 men in the field now and they came out last November 1,100 strong, and have had drafts amounting to over 400 since. That will give you some idea of what a “Cook’s” Tour this campaign has been. I am quite sure that the hardships the men have undergone in Mesopotamia have been worse than any other campaign, taken all round, for there is no such thing as “leave” from this country and the climate is poisonous, there is no other word for it. Please do not think that I am making a case for myself, for I have only had five months, but those who have been out here all the time deserve well of the people at home who, I am afraid think only of those in France and at the Dardanelles. At least that is the impression one gets from the home papers. Of course you are not told much at home about doings out here, for some inscrutable reason. I am sorry that you should have worried over getting no news from me, but you can always assume that no news is good news, and that you would be informed by cable if anything happened to me. The battalion of ours that is in the Dardanelles is the 2/10th. We in India are the 1/10th; they are still in Calcutta and are dreadfully bored with life there. I get plaintive letters from Fisher and others from time to time which make me glad I got away from it all, in spite of the manifold discomforts of this life ……. Well I cannot think of anything more, so must close now. I am very well although I was down with fever for a couple of days, due to sand flies I think ….. My love to all the family.

SourcesGuy's Hospital Medical School Records, King's College London Archives; Commonwealth War Graves Commission

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