b. 3rd Q 1878 Plymouth, Devon. d. 07/01/1963 Sidcup, Kent.
DATE OF EM ACTION: 08/02/1911 Romford, Essex.
Henry was the eldest of five children born to Henry and Mary Jane Hawkins (nee Morley), and was born in Plymouth, Devon in the summer of 1878. His father, who originally hailed from London was a machine ruler by trade, and by 1891, the family had left Devon, and were living in the St Paul’s District of Deptford. Henry became a stationary clerk as a profession, and on 20th December 1903 he married Hilda Lavinia Hood at the New Cross Wesleyan Methodist Chapel in Lewisham. Following his marriage he began working at the Romford Brewery and he and Hilda lived at 5 Como Street. They had a son, Bertram in 1910. Following the award of the Edward Medal, Henry decided to join the military during World War I. He attested for the Army at Gidea Park on 17 June 1915, aged 36 years. He served with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps in France, 25 October 1917-3 November 1918 and 18 November 1918-27 January 1919. Little is known about his life after the First World War. He died in Sidcup, Kent in the early months of 1963, aged 84.
On the 8th February, 1911, a workman at the Romford Brewery descended a large ale vat for the purpose of cleaning out the spent hops, and while so engaged was overcome by the carbonic acid gas collected at the bottom. William Moir, a foreman cooper, though a heavily-built man, went down through the manhole, which was only eighteen inches square, in order to try and bring the man up. He also was overcome by the gas and was with great difficulty drawn out by a rope. There upon Hawkins, a clerk employed at the brewery, volunteered to go to the assistance of the workman, although he had never been accustomed to work in vats. The manhole was enlarged before his descent, and he succeeded in getting a rope round the workman before succumbing himself to the fumes. Both Moir and Hawkins displayed conspicuous courage and presence of mind, although their attempts to save the workman’s life were unavailing.
BURIAL LOCATION: ELTHAM CREMATORIUM, GREENWICH, LONDON.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD. SOLD AT DNW IN MAY 2011 FOR £3,200.
Dix Noonan Webb – Image of the Hawkins EM medal group.