Samuel Hodge VC

b. c.1840 Tortola, Virgin Islands. d. 14/01/1868 Belize.

Samuel Hodge (c.1840-1868) was born in Tortola in the British Virgin Islands by 1840 and joined the West India Regiment where he was a pioneer in the 4th battalion and garrisoned in Bathurst (now Banjul), Gambia. He was one of a number of West Indian soldiers who were sent to garrison British positions on the West coast of Africa. White troops suffered terribly from malaria, blackwater fever and dysentery and so the British Army addressed this problem by bringing in troops from the West India regiments.

Samuel Hodge VC

In 1866, Lieutenant Colonel George Abbas Koolie D’Arcy, commanding officer of the 3rd West India Regiment and Governor of the Gambia, marched to confront a rebellious Marabout leader named Amar Faal at Tubabecolong (also known as Tubab Kolon), a stockaded town on the river’s northern bank. The garrison unit in Bathurst at that time was Samuel Hodge’s regiment – the 4th West India Regiment. Colonel D’Arcy led 270 officers and men of that battalion together with around 500 warriors from the Soninke tribe to Tubabecelong, attacking the town on 30 June.

The British force had only light weaponry and were unable to break down the wooden stockade walls by bombardment. Colonel D’Arcy called for volunteers to assist him in trying to cut a breach by hand. Two officers and fifteen men (including Hodge) grabbed axes and followed him. However, the enemy fire was so intense that the two officers were killed and most of the other men were wounded. It left D’Arcy with just two privates, Hodge and Boswell unaffected, and they reached the stockade and managed to hack a gap large enough for a man to get through. At this point, Boswell was killed leaving just Hodge and D’Arcy of the original assault of 18 men. D’Arcy led Hodge through the gap, and Hodge was hit and severely wounded.

Hodge recovered from his wounds, and in January 1867, the London Gazette declared that Hodge was to be awarded the Victoria Cross, Britain’s highest award for military bravery. Hodge was stationed in British Honduras (now Belize) when news of his honour was published. He was promoted to Lance Corporal and, still suffering from the effects of wounds, was presented with the Victoria Cross on 24 June 1867 by Brigadier-General Robert Harley at Newtown Barracks, British Honduras.

Tragically, Hodge never really recovered from the after-effects of his wounds, and less than a year after receiving the VC, he contracted a fever and died on 14th January 1868 aged around 28. He was buried in Belize City Military Cemetery in an unmarked grave. The cemetery was partially levelled in 1890 and a road built on the site. His medal location is unknown.