James Hodder was born in St John's, Newfoundland in 1877. He was a professional seaman in the British Mercantile Marine and in 1915 he lived at 59 Denison Street, near the centre of Liverpool, in Lancashire, England.
He engaged as a fireman in the Engineering Department on board the Lusitania at Liverpool on 12 April 1915 at a monthly rate of pay of £6-10s-0d (£6.50), £1-0s-0d of which was advanced to him at the time. His previous ship had been the SS Carlton.
He reported for duty at 8am on 17 April 1915, in time for the liner’s last ever departure from the River Mersey. Having completed the crossing to New York without mishap, James Hodder was still serving as a fireman on the early afternoon of 1 May as the
Lusitania left New York on her return voyage to Liverpool. Six days into that voyage, on the afternoon of 7th May, he was killed when she was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine
U-20. At that time the Lusitania was within sight of the coast of southern Ireland and only about 14hours steaming time away from the safety of her home port. Fireman Hodder was aged 38 years at the time.
His body was never found and identified afterwards, so he has no known grave. As a consequence, he is commemorated on the Memorial to the Missing of the Mercantile Marine, at Tower Hill, in London.
In August 1915 the balance of pay owed to him in respect of his service on the
Lusitania’s last voyage was sent to his family by Cunard. This was reckoned to be from 17 April up until 8th May - 24 hours after the liner had sunk.
Despite his place of birth, James Hodder does not appear on the memorial to the dead of the Newfoundland Mercantile Marine of the Great War, in Newfoundland Park at Beaumont Hamel on the Somme, in France. This may be because he was not serving on a Newfoundland vessel at the time he was killed.
Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, PRO BT 100/345, PRO BT 334.