ONE hundred years ago this week, on September 20, 1914, the first soldier from Pershore to die in the First World War was killed during a battle near Aisne in France.

Lieutenant Aubrey Wells Hudson, who was serving with the 2nd Battalion, the Worcestershire Regiment, was leading his men in a woodland firefight when he was shot. He died instantly and his body was later buried where he fell.

Lieut Hudson was the youngest son of Lieutenant Colonel Alfred Henry Hudson and his wife Lydia of Wick Manor, Wick. The war was to prove particularly tragic for the Hudson family, one of the best known in the district, as it claimed the lives of two of their four sons, as well as that of a cousin, Lieutenant Alban Hudson. Alban Hudson was the son of the Rev and Mrs CH Bickerton Hudson, a clergyman from Oxford, who also lived part of the time at Wick Manor.

A report in Berrow's Worcester Journal of October 10, 1914 recording the death of Lieut Aubrey Hudson said: "Deep sympathy is extended by a large circle of friends in the district to the family in their bereavement. At the harvest festival service on Sunday in Pershore Abbey, the Rev. J. Jervis, Vicar of Wick, made a touching reference to his death, and to the toll of human life in the European War.

"Lieut. Hudson was 31 years of age. He served for several years with the Cape Mounted Rifles in South Africa under Colonel Lukin. He was transferred in 1909 to the 5th Worcesters (Special Reserve). It will be remembered that the Special Reserve, numbering about 600 officers and men, were encamped at Croome Park this summer, and that, on the day war was declared by Great Britain against Germany, Lord Coventry presented to the Battalion its new colours, and Lieut. Hudson was told by his Commanding Officer to receive the colours from his Lordship. Lieut. Hudson was appointed to the 2nd Battalion of the Worcester's for active service, and had been present at all engagements, including Mons. He was serving with the Second Division of the 5th Brigade, which has just been commended by Field Marshall Sir John French for its excellent work. Lieutenant Hudson was very popular in the Pershore district, where his family is held in universal esteem. A keen sportsman, he occasionally followed the Croome Hounds, and often played for the Pershore Hockey Club. He also associated himself with various social movements in the district."

Col. Hudson was regimental commander of the Worcestershire Volunteer Movement and a letter to him from Colonel Westmacott, commanding officer of the 2nd Worcesters, read:

"I am very sorry to have to tell you, but I think you know it already, that your son, Aubrey, was killed, and please accept my sincerest sympathy. He was getting on so well and fell at the head of his men in a wood fight, in which his Company got somewhat scattered. Many men were missing for some time. I heard afterwards from a N.C.O., who saw him fall, that his end was merciful and painless. His body was afterwards found by some men of another Regiment and buried in the wood. We know the spot, and it can be approximately identified after the war. I am, of course, not allowed at present to give the whereabouts. I am so very sorry.

"We have not as yet received very much for the men in the shape of comforts by reason of the very inconvenient postal arrangements, but these are getting better every day, and we may expect them now at any time. We do not require any clothing as Government give the men as much as they can carry. Cigarettes, papers, tobacco, chocolate, matches, etc. are what are most needed. We are all very fit and well and getting on famously. Many thanks for all your good wishes."

Two years later, on October 14, 1916, a memorial service was held in Wick's parish church of St Bartholomew for Aubrey Hudson and his brother Arthur, a Major in the Royal Fusiliers, who had died on October 2 from wounds received in the Battle of the Somme a week before. The little church was packed and the Wick choir was specially augmented for the occasion by the boy choristers from Pershore Abbey.