Rank: Private 36156,
Regiment: 11th Battalion, Leicestershire Regiment; Formerly 21709, Devonshire Regiment
Died: 22 March 1918
Beer Memorial Cross, St Michael's Church Tablet, Beer
Other Memorial: Arras Memorial [Google]
PDF Download: HAWKER Arthur
Arthur Timothy Hawker was born in Axmouth in 1888 or 1889, one of nine children (six sons and three daughters) of James Hawker, a farm labourer, and his wife Harriet. Four of the children were born in Colyton, where Harriet herself was born, while another was born in Shute.
Like Arthur, James and three of the other children were born in Axmouth, and the family lived at Charton, near Axmouth. However, by the time of the 1901 Census, the family had moved to Cemetery Lane, Beer.
In 1910 Arthur married Julia Rendell from Branscombe. By the time of the 1911 census they had a six-month old son, Jack, and were living with Julia’s father, Thomas Rendell, at 3 Bovey Cottages.
Arthur enlisted in the army in Beer, and initially joined the Devonshire Regiment, but at some point must have been transferred to the Leicestershire Regiment. Transfers like this often happened to troops who were about to complete their training, and who were sent to join a regiment which had recently suffered heavy casualties.
On 21 March 1918, the German Army began a major offensive in France. It began with a massive artillery bombardment which in the first five hours saw an incredible 1,160,000 shells fired at the Allied lines.
The war diary of the 11th Battalion the Leicestershire Regiment records the opening hours of the attack:
5am: The enemy attacked heavily, after an intensive bombardment...and establish themselves in position in front of the wire of the VAULX-MORCHIES line by the evening.
5:30am: Message from Sgt Barratt, acting Company Sergeant Major of the D Company, to the effect that all the officers of his Company had become casualties, and that he was in command of the Company.
On 22 March, the diary continues:
4pm: Transport moved to Pioneer camp, LOGEAST WOOD (G1b, Sheet 57c), 1 man of the transport was killed by shellfire. What remained of the Companies withdrew to the new line.
Total casualties of the operation [for Arthur’s battalion]:
3 officers killed
7 officers wounded
4 officers missing
30 Other Ranks killed
106 Other Ranks missing
81 Other Ranks wounded
Arthur Hawker was one of the 30 “other ranks” from this battalion who were killed. His body was not identified, and he is remembered with honour on the Arras Memorial.
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