Charles Edward Hudson

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Charles Hudson
Charles Edward Hudson.jpg
Lieutenant Colonel Charles Hudson in 1918
Born (1892-05-29)29 May 1892
Derby, Derbyshire, England
Died 4 April 1959(1959-04-04) (aged 66)
St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, England
Buried at St Mary's Churchyard, Denbury, Devon, England
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1914–1946
Rank Major General
Unit Sherwood Foresters
King's Own Scottish Borderers
Commands held 182nd Infantry Brigade (1941–43)
159th Infantry Brigade (1941)
46th Infantry Division (1940–41)
2nd Infantry Brigade (1938–40)
2nd Battalion, King's Own Scottish Borderers (1938)
Battles/wars First World War
Russian Civil War
Second World War
Awards Victoria Cross
Companion of the Order of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order & Bar
Military Cross
Mentioned in Despatches (5)
Croix de Guerre (France)
Silver Medal of Military Valor (Italy)

Major General Charles Edward Hudson VC, CB, DSO & Bar, MC (29 May 1892 – 4 April 1959) was a senior British Army officer and an English recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.

Early life and career[edit]

Charles Edward Hudson was born on 29 May 1892, the son of Lieutenant Colonel H.E. Hudson. He was educated at a Prep School in East Grinstead, Surrey, and later at Sherborne School, Dorset, which he attended (The Green) from September 1905 to July 1910. Charles did not stand out during his time at Sherborne School. He later recounted, in his journal published by the biography by his son Miles Hudson, Two Lives 1892–1992,[1] that being morbidly afraid of physical pain he was "terribly conscious of being a coward on the football field" and that it was not until he had been at Sherborne for some years that he was able to overcome these physical fears.

After leaving Sherborne School, Hudson went to the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, but was unable to finish the one-year course owing to the death of his father. Instead he went to Ceylon and from 1912 to 1914 worked as an apprentice tea planter, also engaged in the first experimental rubber planting on the island.[2] There, he served part-time in the Ceylon Mounted Rifles, in an independent section formed of six young Europeans in the district he was working.[3]

On the outbreak of the First World War he returned to England and was granted a commission in the Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) 2nd Battalion, with whom he served in France and Italy, to the rank of temporary lieutenant colonel. During this time he received numerous military honours: in 1916 he was awarded the Military Cross, in 1917 the Distinguished Service Order and Bar, and in 1918 the Victoria Cross. He was also mentioned in despatches five times and was awarded the Croix de Guerre and the Italian Silver Medal of Military Valor. At just the age of 26, Hudson was one of the youngest Old Shirburnians to be awarded the Victoria Cross.

VC action[edit]

Hudson was awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions in the First World War: On 15 June 1918 near Asiago, Italy, the 26-year-old Hudson was a lieutenant colonel in the Sherwood Foresters (The Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment), British Army, Commander 11th Battalion. During an attack when the enemy had penetrated the front line, Lieutenant Colonel Hudson collected and personally led various headquarter details such as orderlies, servants, runners, etc. to deal with the situation. He rushed a position with only two men, shouting to the enemy to surrender, some of whom did. He was severely wounded by a bomb that exploded on his foot. In great pain he gave directions for a successful counter-attack that captured about 100 prisoners and six machine-guns. For this, he was awarded the Victoria Cross. The citation appeared in a supplement to the London Gazette on 11 July 1918.[4]

In Testament of Youth,[5] Vera Brittain describes several meetings with the convalescent Hudson while she was trying to discover the circumstances of the death of her brother, Captain Edward Brittain, who had served under Hudson.

Subsequent career and death[edit]

After the First World War, Hudson, against advice and having embarked with a US Navy ship, volunteered to serve in North Russia during the Allied Intervention in the Russian Civil War, where he was deployed as a brigade staff officer under the command of General Ironside at Archangelsk.[6]

Hudson was made a PSC and promoted brevet lieutenant colonel in the King's Own Scottish Borderers in 1932. He became a Chief Instructor at the Royal Military College from 1933 to 1936. From 1938 to 1940, Hudson commanded the 2nd Brigade, including during the Battle of France. He was General Officer Commanding 46th Division from December 1940 to May 1941, but never again held a divisional command. He was Aide-de-camp to the King from 1944 until his retirement in 1946. He was awarded the Order of St John of Jerusalem (Commander). He died on holiday in the Scilly Isles on 4 April 1959, aged 66.[7] Hudson was buried at Denbury in South Devon.

An obituary for Brigadier Charles Edward Hudson was published in the Old Shirburnian Society Annual Report in September 1959, reading:

The decorations bestowed on Charles Edward Hudson themselves give proof of his calibre as a soldier: V.C., C.B., D.S.O and bar, M.C., Croix de Guerre, and Italian Silver Medal for Valour. He was a graduate of the Staff College, had been the Chief Instructor at the Royal Military College, Sandhurst from 1933 to 1936, had commanded a Battalion and Infantry Brigade and from 1944 to 1946 was an A.D.C. to the King. In 1949 he became the Devon County Commissioner of St Johns Ambulance Brigade and later, Chairman of the Order of St John in Devon. His two sons were both Shirburnians – J.P.C. Hudson (Harper House 1936–1940) was killed in action in North Africa in 1943, and M.M.L. Hudson (Harper House 1939–1943) is a Major in the 12th Royal Lancers. His brother T.H. Hudson was at The Green from 1903 to 1906. It was most fitting that such a distinguished Shirburnian whose own son was amongst those whose memory was there to be perpetuated, should perform the ceremony opening the Big Schoolroom on 10 November 1956. His speech on that occasion will still be fresh in the minds of those who heard it.[8]

His medals are on display at Nottingham Castle.[9]


He wrote his memoirs in a 730-page journal later published by his son Miles in 1992. He also wrote many poems based on experiences as far back as childhood that were also unpublished in his lifetime, as were two radio plays (never produced), ten short stories and many reflections on secular subjects. His only work that was published in his lifetime was several chess problems that were published in chess magazines.[10]


  1. ^ Two Lives 1892–1992. The Memoirs of Charles Edward Hudson, VC, CB, DSO, MC, and Miles Matthew Lee Hudson, also some poems by Charles Edward Hudson (privately published by Wilton 65, Bishop Wilton, York, September 1992
  2. ^ Hudson, Miles (2007). Soldier, Poet, Rebel, the extraordinary life of Charles Hudson VC. Sutton Publishing. pp. 25–26. ISBN 978-0-7509-4436-6. 
  3. ^ Soldier, Poet, Rebel. p. 27. 
  4. ^ "no. 30790". The London Gazette. 9 July 1918. p. 8155. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  5. ^ Brittain, Vera (1989). Testament of youth: an autobiographical study of the years 1900–1925. Penguin. ISBN 0140188444.  After the book's publication, in 1934, Hudson got in touch with Brittain and told her that her brother had been under threat of court martial because of his alleged homosexual relations with men in his company, see Paul Berry and Mark Bostridge, Vera Brittain: A Life, 1995
  6. ^ Soldier, Poet, Rebel. pp. 122–147. Chapter 6 – The Final Advance and Russia.
  7. ^ Soldier, Poet, Rebel. p. 225. 
  8. ^ Obituary for Brigadier Charles Edward Hudson, Old Shirburnian Society Annual Report, September 1959.
  9. ^ The family of Major General Charles Hudson
  10. ^ Soldier, Poet, Rebel. p. 223. 


  • Nick Smart, Biographical Dictionary of British Generals of the Second World War, . ISBN 1-84415-049-6.
  • Miles Hudson, Soldier, Poet, Rebel: The Extraordinary Life of Charles Hudson VC (The History Press Ltd., 2007).

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Desmond Anderson
GOC 46th Infantry Division
Succeeded by
Douglas Wimberley