23051232 Signalman Hodges, E.J. was three years older than most of his Call-up Group, 54-14, having been deferred to complete his Art studies for N.D.D. in Sculpture and Lettercutting.
He declined the offer of Officer Training and, after Basic and Teleprinter Training, was shipped out to Egypt and Cyprus where he served in 1955/6. The British Army was about to pull out of the Suez Canal Zone, the Suez War came two years later, and EOKA, under Colonel Grivas, was making life difficult in Cyprus.
He carried his Pay Book and a pocket sketchbook at all times and with his drawings, watercolour sketches and word pictures he fought against the “creative constipation” induced by Army life. Visually excited by new surroundings, and wishing to express and share this, he wrote long letters home, illustrated by many sketches, and these letters were kept by his parents.
Over fifty years later, these jottings evoke a picture of experiences which would be impossible today due to wars and political developments, not to mention the advances in military communication and living conditions. They are the reactions and observations of a young man adjusting to an alien way of life, resigned to the compulsory military interruption of his studies, somewhat contemptuous of military thinking, but making the best of the situation.
Accompanied by a selection of colour paintings from his sketchbooks, they provide a unique insight into the experiences shared by thousands of National Servicemen conscripted into the UK armed forces of the 1950s.