IT WAS not unusual for families to have a large number of relatives serving in the First World War.

We reported (Oxford Mail, December 24) that a Mrs Lord, of Magdalen Road, Oxford, had six sons and six nephews fighting the Germans – and received a letter from King George V praising her family’s contribution to the war.

Meanwhile, the Hirons family from Bicester (Memory Lane, October 20) had five sons in the forces, only one of whom survived.

Now it has been revealed that the Hawkins family, from Little Coxwell, near Faringdon, had six sons in battle – and at least two were singled out for praiseworthy achievements.

Under the headline, ‘Berks Yeoman wins the MM, Family’s meritorious record’, the Faringdon Advertiser newspaper told readers of the family’s proud record in its issue on February 9, 1918.

Memory Lane this week

It reported: “Mr and Mrs Hawkins, who have six sons serving with the colours, have just received the gratifying news that the youngest of these – Trooper Percy Hawkins, Berks Yeomanry – has been awarded the Military Medal.”

It was not explained what he had done to merit the medal – that might have been classified information.

Oxford Mail:

The cutting from the Faringdon Advertiser, proudly announced the war exploits of the boys and also Lance-Corporal Harry Rouse

But it appears it was presented personally by General Edmund Allenby, commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

The other sons were Private J Hawkins, of the Royal Berks, serving in Ireland; Private W Hawkins, also of the Royal Berks, who had twice been wounded in France and had been discharged with a crushed foot; Private A Hawkins, Royal Sussex, serving in France; Driver EH Hawkins, Royal Garrison Artillery, with the Salonica force in Greece; and Sergeant E Hawkins, of the Royal Engineers.

Sergeant Hawkins had been awarded a medal at Chatham for his skill at field work and had been offered a stripe to remain in England for five months as an instructor.

However, he had elected to go to France, where he has risen to the rank of sergeant.

According to the newspaper, he had been made corporal after inventing a noiseless turntable for working underground.

Another soldier from Little Coxwell, Lance-Corporal Harry Rouse, serving with the British Expeditionary Force in Salonica, had been mentioned in despatches by General George Milne, commander of the British forces on the Macedonian front.

He earned a paragraph in the paper after writing a nice letter of thanks to the Sunday School children of Little Coxwell for their gifts of soup powder, Oxo, spearmint etc.

He told the children they were just the things required during the cold, damp weather, and were most acceptable.

Memory Lane reader Bill Law, of Faringdon, who sent the cutting, says: “I understand all six Hawkins sons came home at the end of the war, but there was a sting in the tail as I believe six months after the war, their mother died from Spanish flu.”

  • Any more First World War stories to share with readers? Write and let me know.