Henry George Bodman (1880-1948)

Henry George Bodman (1880-1948) & Harriet Eliza Allen (1878-1956)


HENRY GEORGE BODMAN was known as Harry. He was well liked by everyone. He was tall about 6 ft, fair complexion, good looking, with blue eyes, dimple in his chin, clean shaven and light coloured hair. He was always smartly dressed. He was possible grammar school educated. He was well spoken and rarely swore.

He married HARRIET ELIZA ALLEN on 4th August 1901, at Aston. At the time of the 1901 census, when he was still living at home, he was a machinist in the gun trade. Their first child Maud was born the next year.

The last horse trams from the City to Nechells were withdrawn in favour of an electric service on September 30th 1906. Birmingham began the process of electrification around 1900 and opened the first overhead electric line on the Bristol Road on the 13th May 1901. By June 1902 the City of Birmingham Tramways Company were operating 21 overhead electric trams, 54 cable trams, 89 steam engines, 76 Double Decker steam trams, 10 horse cars, 45 horse buses and 608 horses. The tram in the picture was one of only 10 special narrow gauge horse drawn trams produced for the route from Birmingham to Nechells. The route wasn’t considered worth the expense of running steam trams as it didn’t make enough money.

We do not know what his occupation was just before the first world war, however, he was one of the first to join up on November 9th 1914 as a soldier in the 1/8th Territorials with the Royal Warwickshire Regiment.

During the war Harry spent a considerable time in France and sent his family several postcards of battles and greeting cards. These are now in the possession of Christine Morris.
Later in the war he fought in the Alps and in Italy.

He was slightly wounded but never received a pension. Each solider was sent a cigarette box as a Christmas present and this together with his medals survives. One of the medals was converted into a broach which was worn by his wife Harriet.

After the war had ended, he lied about his age to the Army and told them that he was two years older than his real age. This was probably to leave the forces as quickly as possible! When he enlisted he had understated his age in his keenness to be accepted.

Harry (Henry) and Harriet had the following children:-

Maud Willis Bodman born 6th May 1902
Violet Irene Bodman born 10th Mar 1908
Gladys Ida Bodman born 27th Sep 1910
Henry Bodman born 1912 died. aged 7 months
Audrey Phyllis Bodman born Mar 1915 died 31st May 1916
Iris Muriel Bodman born 18th Jun 1918

Harry was unable to get work easily in England and one winter, he had to sweep snow to get food. He went to Canada to support his family for approximately 5 years. He worked as a lumberjack and whilst there helped to build a bridge. This may have been connected with the railways. He was able to send money back regularly.

Harry was a sensitive man and was affected by the war. He liked to drink beer and occasionally drank spirits in excess. He was a moderate smoker. He and Harriet would sometimes row about his drinking. He enjoyed reading both fiction and non-fiction. He would save up his ˜pocket money” so that two or three times a year he could take a few days off work and go on a binge, drinking and gambling on horses and in later years, greyhound racing. Harry was generous to his family, friends and people he knew who were out of work. Although he would pay for his family to go on holiday to seaside resorts like Rhyl, Blackpool and Llandudno he did not go on holiday himself until the last few years of his life. He would however take the family on day trips to the country.