Wednesday 20 June 2018

Harry George Hawkes 1899-1918

Harry George Hawkes


Harry George Hawkes, who is a distant cousin, was born on 5th March 1899 at Wimbledon. He was the eldest of seven children born to Harry Hawkes and Emily Hicks who were married in 1897 at Yorktown in Surrey. At the time of his marriage, Harry was a fruiterer as was his father but after that he changed his occupation and location frequently. By the time Harry George was born the family were living in Wimbledon and when his brother Frederick arrived two years later, the family were in Bexhill on Sea. They were living at this house at the time of the 1901 census and, although, the address is 3 Police Cottages, Harry senior was a postman.

In the next few years the family had moved to Hardingstone in Northamptonshire where Reginald was born in 1904, Lilian in 1907 and Robert in 1909. A long move south to the Isle of Sheppey came next and in 1911 Harry senior was working as a potter and the family were living at Queenborough. Later that year they were joined by Florence and in 1917 by Miriam. By the time Miriam was born, her older brother, Harry George, was working as a glass bottle presser at the Queenborough Glass Bottle Works. The bottle works was one of the earliest automated factories in Britain and production continued throughout the war.

Harry George joined up at Sheerness on 11th November 1916 the age of 17 years 284 days giving his address as 46 Gordon Avenue Queenborough. He joined the East Surrey Regiment and was assigned to the army reserve until 4th December 1917 when he was mobilised and went to France on 29th March 1918. A few days later he was assigned to the 10th Battalion West Kent Regiment and he fought with them on the front line on the Western Front.

The Spring Offensive launched by the Germans in March was still ongoing and every day battles on all fronts raged. The 10th battalion had been in Italy the previous autumn but were back in France before March 21st when the German attack began and Harry George joined them. He survived an explosion at an ammunition dump at the beginning of May in which many of his battalion were killed and injured only to be badly hurt in battle on the 21st. He was admitted to hospital and on 1st June was brought home to England and admitted to the King George Hospital in London. He was suffering from chest and spine paraplegia and he died from complications arising from his injuries on June 20th. Five days later he was buried at Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey. His grave is one of a long line of gravestones, all commemorating men who died in May and June 1918.

His family stayed in Sheppey where Harry senior changed his occupation again to become a market gardener. Harry died in 1944 and Emily in 1957. Harry’s brothers and sisters all remained in and around Kent, married and had twelve children between them.

In Memory of
C/20721, 10th Bn., Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment)
who died age 19
on 20 June 1918
Son of Mr. and Mrs. Harry Hawkes, of 46, Gordon Avenue, Queenborough, Kent. Born at Wimbledon, Surrey.
Remembered with honour


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