First World War Project
Frederick HAWKES (of Luddenham)
Lance Corporal, Service Number L/9427
Frederick was the oldest son of farm labourer Edmund and Florence Mary Hawkes, of Luddenham, Faversham, Kent. His mother died young in 1899. He had three siblings - an older sister, Irenie Lucy, and two younger brothers, Edmund and Herbert (see below for brief military experience). Irenie acted as house-keeper after the death of her mother before herself marrying Henry James Culver registered at Faversham at the end of 1915. Frederick's family hailed originally from Waltham, in the heart of the North Downs close to Canterbury before moving to Luddenham.
We benefit from detailed military records for Frederick Hawkes, without digital access to 2nd Battalion War Diaries. The absence of online diaries for the 2nd Battalion in Greece, leads us to draw on the "Historical Records of the Buffs, 1914-1919, Colonel R.S.H. Moody" to inform the final days of Frederick.
In his father's deposition of 28th January 1919 claiming his son's effects only his father, Edmund, and brother Herbert were given as Frederick's surviving relations. Frederick's effects were itemised in response: "SIR OR MADAM, I am directed to forward the undermentioned articles of private property of the late No. L/9427. Rank Lance Corporal. Name Hawkes F. Regiment 2nd East Kents and would ask that you will kindly acknowledge receipt of the same on the form opposite:-
Pipe, Hair Brush, Purse, razor strop, tobacco pouch, note book, cloth belt, 2 Pen Knives. 2 razors (1 broken), aluminium Ring. 2 discs. Safety Razor and blades. 2 Badges. 3 shoulder titles letters. Photo. Small book receipt for War Saving Certificate of £7 15.0."
Frederick's father also received his War Gratuity of £24 and his outstanding personal effects amounting to £34 6s. 7d. [See Appendix 2]
Frederick's long service was marked by the award of the 1914-1915 Star alongside the British War and Victory Medal for his service in the Balkan Theatre. [See Appendix 1] These medals were received by his father on 9th July 1919.
Farm Labourer, Frederick Hawkes began his military career before the First World War when he first enlisted into the Buffs on 28th December 1910 at Canterbury which is his reckonable service start date. He died only a few days before the Bulgarian protagonists to the North capitulated (30th September 1918). The Buffs and Middlesex Regiments suffered many losses to Spanish Influenza during this period and this may have been implicated in his death.
He passed his enlistment medical as enjoying "good physical development" and signed off as "fit" for service on 30th December. His formal enlistment date was confirmed on 31st December 1910.
He declared his age as 18 years exactly; born in the Parish of Nonnington, Faversham. Census data suggests he was actually a well-developed 16 years old but, by the time of the outbreak of the First World War, he was certified with his real age. Baptised into the Church of England.
He was described as 5 feet 9 inches, 121 lbs, chest measuring 39" +3" expansion. Pulse 86. Enjoying a fresh complexion, blue eyes and brown hair.
He was first assigned to The Buffs Depôt for two years as a Private. A relatively peaceful period with service in India in prospect. Frederick was given two bouts of anti-typhoid inoculation on 18th and 28th December 1912 while stationed in Dublin under training. The first of a few disciplinary hearings for Frederick took place when Frederick was charged with appearing "dirty on guard mounting parade." This charge was brought by 2nd Lieutenant Blackman and led to 5 days "Confined to Barracks (C.B.)" in Dublin Camp.
On 11th January 1913, Frederick left for India aboard the RIMS "Hardinge" to join the First Battalion, East Kent Regiment (The Buffs) through to 15th November 1914 when he was posted back Home. It was during this time that he received some additional education gaining a "3rd Class" certificate on 17th May 1913.
On 8th June 1913, Frederick committed his second misdemeanour – he laughed on parade witnessed by Lieutenant Buttonshaw earning his 2 days "Confined to Barracks" and forfeited 3 day's pay.
On 18th January 1915, Frederick disembarked into France and joined the 2nd battalion on 25th January 1915. The weather at this time was brutally cold, so it is not surprising that on 22nd February, Frederick was admitted to the medical centre at Locre, Belgium, suffering from "effects of cold", where he remained until 28th February when he was transferred to Berthen.
On 23rd April 1915, Frederick suffered a "SS Wound" to his thigh. The next day he was in "Rawalpindi General Hospital", Wimereux, Boulogne, from which he was sent Home. He was admitted to Saint Bartholemew's Hospital, Rochester, on 26th April 1915. Shortly afterwards, 17th May 1915, he was discharged with the comment – "no functional effect, wound will heal." He was discharged to Convalescent Home (18th May to 8th June) at No.14 V.A.D., Hayle Place, Maidstone.
On 14th September 1915 he was posted to 3rd Battalion (a nominal posting while recuperating) at Dover. Again Frederick was guilty of misdemeanour – "DOVER: 17th September 1915: Private Absent from Tatoo until 12 midnight 19th instance, 2 days 2 hours. He was confined to barracks for two days and forfeited 3 days pay.
He return to active duty on 25th November 1915 and on 12th December he was very briefly admitted to 38th Field Ambulance suffering from shell-shock. He returned to the Front a matter of four days later on 16th December.
On 30th March 1916, Frederick was admitted to 18th General Hospital suffering from influenza (referred to as a "slight wound") following which he went to Camiers [British Base Hospital]. On 9th April, still suffering from influenza, Frederick was transferred to England aboard the "Cambria" and spent the period of 9th May to 3rd July in the County of London War Hospital at Epsom. On a positive note, during this period he was advanced to "Class 1 Proficiency Pay" (1st July).
On 13th July 1916, Frederick was again posted into the 3rd Battalion before being officially returned to the 2nd Battalion on 8th August 1916. In Frederick's absence, the 2nd Battalion was transferred to Salonica. So it was that Frederick embarked aboard the H.T. "Argyllshire" on 9th August to rejoin his comrades, disembarking on 22nd August and in the Field by 30th August. It was during this period that Frederick was promoted to Lance Corporal (initially unpaid) from 10th October 1916.
The new theatre of war was widely recognised as "malarial,"and on 17th September, Frederick was admitted to No.52 General Hospital with the disease, only to rejoined the 2nd Battalion on 6th December 1916. From 27th April, Frederick was drawing full pay as a lance-corporal and the next day he joined the 85th Brigade Headquarters. Here he remained until his story came to its conclusion.
Frederick was later found guilty of another misdemeanour on 4th July 1917, "Lance Corporal in the Field: Absent from guard drill parade at 1700 hrs. Witnesses: Corporal Watson and Company Sergeant Major Stroud. He received a reprimand the following day from Captain R.B. Sandilands, without any further penalty.
Circumstances of the death of Frederick Hawkes
On 13th September 1918, Frederick was admitted to hospital with suspected recurrence of malaria. On 14th September On 16th September, Frederick's diagnosis had changed to influenza and he was admitted to No.28 General Hospital on 16th September. He died on "pneumonia" from which he died on 19th September 1918. This diagnosis may have been the result of the Spanish influenza that had a major impact on The Buffs and the Middlesex forces in theatre at the close of hostilities in the Balkans. He was buried on 20th September in the British Military Cemetery, Kalamaria with Chaplain Rev. R.J. Dickson officiating.
The medical report of 29th October 1918 read:
"No. L/9427, Pte Hawkes F., 2nd East Kent Regiment
The above-named soldier was admitted to No.23 General Hospital on 16th September 1918 suffering from pneumonia.
He gave a history of repeated attacks of malaria while in the country, and stated that his present attack had commenced with headache and general pains, rigor, sweating and vomiting. He also had a cough and a feeling of tightness across the chest.
On examination there was apparent dullness over both bases of the lungs, the spleen was found to be enlarged and tender, there was also some abdominal tenderness. He was slightly cyanosed.
His condition gradually deteriorated and the lungs, especially the left lung appeared almost completely consolidated.
Death from pneumonia resulted at 1315 hours on 19/9/13.
Certified that the disease was contracted during Military Service.
C.S. Dodson. Captain, RAMC, Registrar for O.C. 23 General Hospital.
Stamped Salonica Army. Central Registrar on 3rd November 1918."
His "Soldiers Effects" Register confirms the date and place of death. His War Gratuity of £24 was added to by his outstanding pay that amounted to £34 6s. 7d. These figures reflect a long period of service to his country. The total of £56 6s. 7d was paid to Frederick's father, Edmund. Equivalent to just over £2,000 today. [See Appendix 2]
A more detailed account of the military actions for the 2nd Battalion around this time has been transcribed below to provide context.
Family of Frederick Hawkes
Other Family Members and WW1
Herbert Hawkes only served fleetingly in the Royal Field Artillery, out of Newcastle, which he joined on 2nd March 1914 but was "Discharged by Purchase" after 79 days (19th May) on payment of £10, as permitted under King's Regulations. In 1914, he gave is age as 18 years and 227 days suggesting a birth date of 19th July 1895. However, his actual date of birth was a year later - 19th July 1896. Thus, both his brothers were older than he.
His statement of "next of kin" gives his father, Edmund, and two brothers - Frederick (older) and Edmund (younger). Why he misrepresented his age is not known.
At the age of 12 (stated) he was living with his aunt, dress maker Elizabeth Ann Castle, at Anvill Green, Waltham, Canterbury, Kent. Ten years later, his widowed 88 year old grandmother also moved in with Elizabeth.
Herbert, a labourer, was described as 5 feet, 8½ inches, weighing 121 lbs, chest measurement of 35-35 inches. "Fresh" complexion, blue eyes, dark brown hair and good physique. Light defect in a stiff toe in Left Foot. He lived a long life, dying in December 1983 at the age of 87.
Additional Documents - extract Col. R.S.H. Moody's "Historical Records of the Buffs, 1914-1919." pp304 onwards
"New Year's Day, 1917, found the 2nd Battalion at Barakli Dzuma, on the eastern side of the River Struma, on the flat ground and under the hills which were occupied by the Bulgarian troops. A more or less quiet time ensued after the raid on "Little Ferdy" trench previously described, though the Buffs made a demonstration on the 8th January in aid of the Middlesex, which regiment carried out on that day a somewhat similar attempt on two trenches on their front. There was, too, at this time a good deal of patrol work done, mostly in the direction of the railway. On the 23rd the battalion, changing places with the 3rd Royal Fusiliers, moved to Ormanli, and a few days later to Lozista, where it remained working very regularly all February.....
 The November took the Buffs back to billets at Orljak, where labour and training took place on alternate days for some time. On the 14th January, 1918, the regiment relieved the 3rd Middlesex in what was known as the West Line and occupied six redoubts there, on the improvement of which a good deal of labour was expended and which was the battalion home till the middle of February, when A, B and C Companies retired to Orljak on relief, and D Company, under Lieut. Bremner, became enterprise company in lieu of one of the East Surrey Regiment. This company soon got busy laying ambushes and so on and, as usual, watching Prosenik and, for a change, Kalandra as well; but on the 5th March it got rather into trouble attempting a more extensive raid with the aid of B Company and one platoon of A. Bremner left Nevolyen at 8.30 p.m. and, moving by Kalandra and dropping B Company as supports upon the way, arrived within on hundred yards of Bulgar trenches, when a heavy fire was suddenly opened with rifle and bomb. Lieut. Asprey with four or five men got up to the wire round one of the posts and were engaged in cutting it when a bomb fell amongst them, wounding them all but one. Finding that the posts were strongly wired and the enemy alert, and being hampered by the darkness, Bremner withdrew, having Lieut. Asprey and six men wounded. The next day B Company relieved D as raiding company.
On the 27th March the Buffs moved away again, but an incident which occurred on the 13th to the enterprise company is worthy of record. Two platoons, under Captain Howgrave-Graham and Lieut. Wilson, lay up as day ambushes in the vicinity of Prosenik, and they were visited by small parties of the enemy at 9 o'clock and again at 3.30. Every effort was made to capture some of these. Wilson with five or six of his men made a sortie for the purpose, and one of the party was hit by a Bulgar who had ensconced himself in a cunning spot from which he could enfilade Wilson's communication trench. Two stretcher-bearers went out to fetch in the wounded man, but the wily Bulgarian hit them both. This seems to have annoyed Corp. Wykes, who went out to see about matters. Of course, he too was fired on, but he managed to kill the troublesome fellow, and then, picking up the wounded Corpl. Stanley, carried him away. The enemy seeing this, opened heavy fire, but Wykes was one of those men who like to carry through any job they may undertake, so he staggered along with his comrade for a thousand yards till he reached the support sections, the shells screaming and bursting around him the whole time. Wilson, being now heavily shelled, withdrew. He was wounded in doing so, but gamely stuck to his job of commanding his men. Captain Howgrave-Graham, noticing Wilson's withdrawal, conformed and the whole party returned to Nevoylen; the supporting platoon, however, remained at Papalova till evening. The advanced platoons had, besides Wilson, seven men wounded and Private Harrold, one of the stretcher-bearers, killed. L.-Corpl. Wykes was given the M.M. for his gallantry and Wilson got the M.C.
The move alluded to above was ultimately to the same neighbourhood as before, near Lake Doiran, headquarters being at a place called Grec Avance, but the march took ten days, round by Mirova, Kirkul and Alexia, and on arrival the old work of patrolling toward Cakli and its neighbourhood was undertaken anew. The men were in a number of posts, wired all round, but on the 1st June they were withdrawn a little to a second line in rear, the wire of the old position being demolished and the works destroyed. The enemy at this period were observed to be mostly about the village of Akinjali, near Lake Doiran. A great number of the Bulgarians were deserting about this time to our lines. No masses of them came over, but there was a pretty constant dribble. The old line was reoccupied and the works repaired in August.
The Greek King Constantine having been deposed, the people, under his son Alexander, had by this time definitely thrown in their lot with the allies and their armies had now been in the field against the Bulgarians since the beginning of March. The enemy was obviously losing heart, as the desertions proved. Victory was crowning the allied arms at last on the Western front, and a grand general offensive in the neighbourhood of Salonica was consequently planned to commence in the middle of September. The part allotted to the British contingent was the attack and capture of the heights to the west and to the north-east of Lake Doiran, and in this it was to be assisted by two divisions and other troops of the Greek army.
On the morning of the 15th September [the day before Frederick was admitted to Hospital] the English General, Sir George Milne, got orders from the French General-in-Chief of the allies that the troops were to take the offensive on the morning of the 18th. On that date the Greeks attacked and pierced the Akinjali outpost line while the British conformed; with the result that the Buffs took up position along the railway line on their front, remaining there all day, but concentrating at 10 p.m. ready for a move. The next day orders came to take up a line from Akinjali Wood to Lake Doiran, to cover the retirement of the Greeks and to dig trenches and erect barbed-wire defences. In this way four days passed, hostile cavalry being seen in Akinjali on the evening of the 21st. Our line was along Koja Suju and at Brest. On the 23rd the regiment, being relieved, marched to Surlovo and in the evening to Doiran town. On the 25th the battalion moved to Obasi, but owing to the great congestion of the roads only reached that place at 8.30 p.m. The next two or three days were spent in more or less strenuous marching, and on the 26th the advance guard was held up by machine guns, but these were silenced and the march resumed On the 28th the Buffs were back at Obasi and, on account of the paucity of their numbers, ad to be reorganized into two companies each of two platoons. There had been recently an epidemic of what was called Spanish influenza, and both the Buffs and the Middlesex Regiment had suffered considerably.
On the 30th September at high noon hostilities ceased with Bulgaria, and four days later Sir George Milne's order of the day read as follows:-
"Thanks to the gallantry, determination and devotion to duty the Bulgarian army is now defeated and the Bulgarian nation has sued for peace. This result has been obtained only by your extraordinary exertions after three summers spent in a malarious country and against obstacles of great natural and artificial strength.
What appeared almost appeared almost impossible has been accomplished. I gratefully thank you all, of every arm and of every rank, for your steadfast loyalty, your perfect discipline and for the magnificent manner you have answered to every call made on you. No one knows better the odds against which you have had to contend, and I am proud to have had the honour of commanding you."
Thus the war history of the 2nd Battalion of the Buffs concludes.
The unit was not kept long in the neighbourhood of Salonica: after a stay of a few days at Organdzili, doing salvage work, it moved by stages down to Summerhill, which was reached on the 5th November, for re-equipment prior to leaving the country. On the 11th it marched through Salonica to the quay, where it embarked on the S.S. "Katoomba" for Constantinople. At 10 o'clock on that date, Salonica time being, of course, in advance of Greenwich, a telegram came from the brigade that an armistice with Germany had been declared, so the journey on the Katoomba was a joyous one. On the 14th Constantinople was reached and anchor dropped at Stamboul. Next day the men disembarked and were conveyed by ferry boats to Bryukdere, where they went into billets and there remained for some little time. On the 28th November the battalion, 13 officers and 286 men strong, was inspected by Sir George Milne.