Martlet Books


‘The Ypres Salient at Night’ (1918) by Paul Nash

Reproduced by kind permission of the Imperial War Museum. 


Impressions of War

The Memoirs of Herbert Hodgson 1893-1974

Edited by Bernard Hodgson and Geoffrey M. Hodgson

Distribution of this volume is now handled by Martin Hodgson ( Please contact him for prices and other information.

For the story of how a Bible was lost and found in the trenches click HERE

For international media coverage of the story of the lost Bible click HERE


Impressions of War is an extremely interesting and deeply moving book. I'm very interested in the First World War and aside from the fascinating detail surrounding that, the story of the lost and found Bible is both heartbreakingly sad but also strangely emblematic of the resilience of the human spirit during those times.’

William Ivory, TV script writer and screenplay writer of the films Made In Dagenham and Burton and Taylor.

‘This memoir gives us a unique insight into how “ordinary” men and women moved on from their experience of the Great War, adjusted their lives to the inter-war years, witnessed even greater bloodshed … and then re-adjusted to their “ordinary” lives once more post-1945. … The pièce de résistance of the memoir is the gentle, yet extraordinary reference to Herbert Hodgson’s contribution in turning the manuscript of T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom into the printed word. … Impressions of War is a must-read for anyone wishing to put the First World War into its proper perspective.’

Major Ian Passingham, military historian and author of Pillars of Fire: The Battle of Messines Ridge 1917, and The German Offensives of 1918: The Last Desperate Gamble

‘Herbert Hodgson's Impressions of War provides the reader with a splendid example of the extraordinary insights that a private soldier from a working-class background was able to offer concerning life, death and conditions on the Western Front in the “war to end all wars”. What makes Herbert Hodgson’s account all the more valuable is that he clearly has a gift for writing and self-expression, enabling him to produce a memoir which is articulate, sensitive and vivid. It also contains elements which are unique and give it an extra dimension - such as the story of the New Zealand soldier’s bible, found on the battlefield in 1918, and, not least, Hodgson’s interesting post-war association with T. E. Lawrence. In short, it is an account to which I am sure I will return frequently in the future.’

Professor Peter Simkins MBE FRHistS, retired Senior Historian of the Imperial War Museum, Honorary Professor at the Centre for First World War Studies at the University of Birmingham.

‘This is the fascinating record of an individual who lived during one of the most traumatic periods of history. His descriptions of life as a soldier on the Western Front are clear and powerful, and the story of the Bible is truly moving. His memories as the printer of Seven Pillars of Wisdom involve exceptional recollections of one of the most enigmatic and iconic personalities of the twentieth Century.’

John T. Maguire M.A., military history researcher.

'This work of the life of Herbert Hodgson makes a significant contribution to the material about T. E. Lawrence and the physical production of the privately printed 1926 Subscribers Edition of Seven Pillars of Wisdom for which Hodgson acted as pressman. Much exists about Lawrence's anxiety about publishing the work but very little on the difficulties surrounding the creation of the book on the press. The gap has now been filled by this book. Following the completion of his work on Seven Pillars Hodgson moved on to the Gregynog Press in Wales where he spent some nine years working as pressman on the production of twenty-four fine press books in the colophon of each of which his name appears. ... As a lifelong Lawrence collector and research scholar I welcome the appearance of this book with the fresh information it provides and the long overdue appropriate recognition of Herbert Hodgson.'

Paul F. Helfer, US Attorney at Law and T. E. Lawrence scholar 

'I cannot tell you how pleased I am that you have managed to get these memoirs into print at last, The book is really a compelling and enjoyable read ...'

Dorothy A. Harrop, author of A History of the Gregynog Press


Foreword by Bernard Hodgson and Geoffrey M. Hodgson

Chapter 1:  London Labour and the London Poor

Chapter 2:  Called to the Colours

Chapter 3.  Pillars of Wisdom

Chapter 4:  How Green Was My Valley

Chapter 5:  A People at War

Chapter 6:  Moving On


Now available in a limited collectors' edition


 ISBN-13  978 0 9521853 5 2 (hardback)


Customer Comments on Impressions of War

"I have just finished reading Impressions of War and I thoroughly enjoyed the story. ... His descriptions on the everyday struggle to survive are fascinating to say the least. It was easy to read and I found that I couldn't put the book down. Congratulations to all who contributed to its publication."

Jim Matheson, New Zealand

"We both loved the book. [Herbert Hodgson] was such an interesting and, I think, inspirational man and his Impressions of War depicted so clearly all the horrors and hardships of that time. Well done ... for producing such a good read. I shall be telling my book club about it at our next meeting."

Jill and Bernard Jacobs, UK

Born in South London in 1893, Herbert Hodgson is now regarded as "one of the great printers of the twentieth century". In the opening chapter of this book he gives a vivid account of life a century ago in the poorer areas of the capital.

After an apprenticeship as a printer, he served from 1915 to 1918 in France and Belgium in the First World War. His account of life and death in the trenches is moving and forceful. It is one of the few memoirs of the First World War that is not written by an officer and it provides a unique point of view from the other ranks.

In a battle in April 1918 he found a mud-encrusted Bible in a shell hole. Amazingly, 92 years later, the original owner of this Bible has been traced to Private Richard Cook from New Zealand.

For the latest news on this fascinating story and its coverage in the press, click HERE.

    • For comparative timelines for the war service of Herbert Hodgson and Richard Cook, click HERE.
    • For details of Richard Cook's family (several of his brothers and sisters also died tragically), click HERE.

From 1923-26 Herbert Hodgson printed the extremely rare subscribers’ edition of T. E. Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom. Copies of this work now attract prices of up to US$80,000 each.


Hodgson then worked for nine years at the Gregynog Press in Mid-Wales where he created 24 more printing masterpieces. His period at Gregynog came to an end in 1936 because of lack of employment prospects for his growing family. He returned to London. Then came the Second World War and the London Blitz in which one of his sisters was killed.


His memoirs are a moving personal account of a master craftsman and his family facing the upheavals of the first half of the twentieth century.


Impressions of War is a 144 page book, including index, with A5 (210mm x 148mm) size pages, hardback bound with an attractive dust jacket. The text is over 50,000 words and there are dozens of pictures and a map.


© 2016 Geoffrey M Hodgson. All rights reserved.
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