George Mervyn HAWKINS

HAWKINS, George Mervyn

Service Numbers: 4205, 4205A
Enlisted: 9 September 1915
Last Rank: Private
Last Unit: 2nd Infantry Battalion
Born: Millthorpe, New South Wales, Australia, November 1896
Home Town: Garra, Cabonne, New South Wales
Schooling: Garra Public School, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation: Labourer
Died: Wounds, 3rd Field Ambulance, near Albert, France, 25 July 1916
Cemetery: Bapaume Post Military Cemetery, Albert
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Blayney and Milthorpe District Roll of Honor, Millthorpe Greghamstown District & School Roll of Honour, Molong & District Roll of Honour, Molong War Memorial
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World War 1 Service

9 Sep 1915: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, 4205, 4th Infantry Battalion
20 Dec 1915: Involvement Private, 4205, 4th Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières , --- :embarkation_roll: roll_number: '8' embarkation_place: Sydney embarkation_ship: HMAT Aeneas embarkation_ship_number: A60 public_note: ''
20 Dec 1915: Embarked Private, 4205, 4th Infantry Battalion, HMAT Aeneas, Sydney
25 Jul 1916: Involvement Private, 4205A, 2nd Infantry Battalion, Battle for Pozières , --- :awm_ww1_roll_of_honour_import: awm_service_number: 4205A awm_unit: 2 Battalion awm_rank: Private awm_died_date: 1916-07-25

Summary Private George Hawkins

Private George Mervyn Hawkins, 2nd Battalion, who was wounded in action in the Battle of Pozieres and died from his wounds on 25th July 1916. His age recorded on his headstone is 19 years.

George was from the small town of Millthorpe, just west of Sydney, New South Wales. He enlisted in September 1915, arriving in France in March 1916.

On 21st July 1916, George’s battalion was march to a location near Pozieres, map reference of X 10, in preparation to attack the German trenches at map position X 4 on 23rd July 1916. The position George’s battalion was about to attack, was the village of Pozieres.

George’s battalion was relieved late on the 25th July 1916. In those few days of slaughter George was wounded in action, still alive he was evacuated back to the 3rd Australian Field Ambulance Dressing Station near Albert where he succumbed to his wounds on the 25th July 1916. He is buried in the Bapaume Post Military Cemetery.

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Biography contributed by Evan Evans

From Francois Berthout

Pte 4205A George Mervyn Hawkins
2nd Australian Infantry Battalion,
1st Brigade, 1st Australian Division AIF
The fields of the Somme, once a hell on earth, are now dotted with poppies which, in red waves, sway under light breezes of wind which carry within them, the whispers and voices of thousands of young men whose souls still stand solemn and peaceful.On these hallowed grounds where so many young men fought and fell, like eternal echoes of the past, come to us the ghostly sounds of machine guns and like a distant thunderstorm, the rumble of artillery that turned these landscapes so serene into killing fields so sometimes, the need arises to sit and listen and when you close your eyes, like old pictures, you can feel and see young soldiers who, bayonets forward rushing towards the enemy lines through bullets and shrapnel, you can smell the mud that still bears the scars of war, you can feel the fear, the distress of these men then in the prime of their lives who charge with shortness of breath then the screams, the wailing that overwhelms the atmosphere and your emotions and when you open your eyes, the tears roll down your cheeks in this silence and softly,ghostly hands come to touch your shoulders, as if to say "we are still here, please, don't forget us". So in silence and with respect, I walk through the fields and cemeteries of the Somme to honor the memory of these young men who, for their country and for France, gave their lives and I will always watch over them so that their memory lives on forever.

Today, it is with the deepest gratitude and with the utmost respect that I would like to honor the memory of one of these young men, of one of my boys of the Somme who gave his today for our tomorrow.I would like to pay a very respectful tribute to Private number 4205A George Mervyn Hawkins who fought in the 2nd Australian Infantry Battalion, 1st Brigade, 1st Australian Division of the Australian Imperial Force, and who died of his wounds 107 years ago, on July 25, 1916 at the age of 19 during the Battle of the Somme.

George Mervyn Hawkins was born in 1897 in Millthorpe, New South Wales, Australia, and was the son of George Hawkins and Susan Hawkins (née Mulbry), of Garra, near Pinecliffe, New South Wales. He was educated at Garra Public School and after graduation worked as a labourer until the outbreak of the war.

George enlisted on September 9, 1915 at Orange, New South Wales, in the 4th Australian Infantry Battalion, 13th Reinforcement, and after a training period of just over three months at Randwick, New South Wales, he embarked with his unit from Sydney, New South Wales, on board HMAT A60 Aeneas on December 20, 1915 and sailed for Egypt.

On February 14, 1916, George arrived in Egypt and was disembarked at Zeitoun where he was alloted of Service Number 4205A and transferred to the 2nd Australian Infantry Battalion the same day under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Stevens then a month later, on March 22, he proceeded overseas from Alexandria to France on board Invernia.

On March 28, 1916, after less than a week of an uneventful travel on the Mediterranean Sea, George finally arrived in France and was disembarked in Marseilles but a few days later he fell ill and was admitted to the 7th General Hospital of St Omer on April 2 suffering from mumps and then transferred the same day to the Field Ambulance of the 2nd Battalion in Renescure (Hauts-De-France). A little more than two weeks later , on April 15, he was admitted to the 4th Stationary Hospital of St Omer suffering from Coryza, was discharged to duty on May 1 then a month later, on June 1, after recovering, joined the 2nd Battalion in Sailly-Sur-La-Lys where they followed a training period including musketry exercises, bayonet fights as well as fatigue parties then on June 4, they took up position in the trenches at Fleurbaix where they relieved the 4th Australian Infantry Battalion and fought here under daily duels between Australian and German artillery until 5 July, when they were relieved by the 48th Australian Infantry Battalion and moved back into billets at Sailly-Sur-La-Lys where they remained until 9 July.

On July 10, 1916, George and the 2nd Battalion left Sailly-Sur-La-Lys and moved to Outtersteene, near Bailleul, from where they embarked by train for the Somme front and arrived in the small village of Candas on July 11 then marched through Domart-en-Ponthieu, Vignacourt and arrived in billets at Allonville (an Australian camp was on the grounds of the castle of Allonville which was later destroyed) and remained here until July 16. The following day they marched to Warloy-Baillon and then to Albert where they bivouacked until July 19 and the following day, under the echoes of the artillery, proceeded for the trenches of the "Sausage Valley" and received orders to stand ready for what was to become a hell on earth and the deadliest battle for the AIF in the Somme, the Battle of Pozieres which the men of the 2nd Battalion were to attack and hold on 23 July.

In mid-July, the heavily defended French village of Pozières and its surrounding ridgeline was invested by artillery and infantry divisions.

The village was captured by the 1st Australian Division on July 23. The 1st AIF clung to small territorial gains despite almost continuous artillery fire and repeated German counter-attacks. They were relieved on the 27th of July having suffered 5,285 casualties.

The 2nd Division AIF took over from the 1st, mounting two attacks on the 29th of July, which was a costly failure, and the 2nd of August, resulting in the seizure of German positions beyond the village. Again, the Australians suffered heavily from retaliatory bombardments. The 2nd Division was relieved on 6 August, with 6,848 casualties.

The 4th Division was next into the line at Pozieres. It defeated a determined German counter-attack on 7 August after suffering a massive artillery bombardment. The Germans failed to retake Pozieres. The 4th Australian Division lost 7,100 men defending it.

Lieutenant John Raws of the 23rd Australian Infantry Battalion was in the thick of the fighting. He wrote on the 4th August 1916:
"One feels that on a Battlefield such as this one can never survive, or that if the body lives, the brain must go forever. For the horrors one sees and the never-ending shock of the shells is more than can be borne. Hell must be a home to it. My battalion has been in it for eight days, and one-third of it is left,all shattered at that. And they’re sticking it in. Incomparable heroes all.We are lousy, stinking, ragged, unshaven and sleepless. Even when we’re back a bit we can’t sleep for our own guns. I have one puttee, a dead man’s helmet, another dead man’s gas protector, a dead man’s bayonet. My tunic is rotten with other men’s blood, and partly splattered with a comrade’s brains. It is horrible, but why should you people at home not know? Several of my friends are raving mad. I met three officers out in No Man’s Land the other night, all rambling and mad. Poor Devils!."

The fighting ended with the Allied forces in possession of the plateau north and east of Pozières, in a position to menace the German bastion of Thiepval from the rear. The cost for both sides had been terrible.

Unfortunately, it was on July 25, 1916, during the battle of Pozières, that George met his fate and was seriously injured by shrapnel and was immediately evacuated and admitted to the 3rd Field Ambulance, near Albert, but as soon as he was deposited in a care tent by stretcher-bearers he died of his injuries. He was 19 years old.

Today, George Mervyn Hawkins rests in peace alongside his friends, comrades and brothers in arms at Bapaume Post Military Cemetery, Albert, Somme.
George, so young but ready to do your duty, it was with pride that you rose alongside your friends and brothers to carry high the colors of Australia and the rising sun of the Australian Imperial Force and with determination and pride, with a valiant heart, you stood ready to do your part on the battlefields of the great war and, driven by the ardor of your youth, you followed your comrades who advanced towards the golden wheat fields de la Somme and who, singing, with an eternal smile on their faces, walked alongside the horses to the sound of bagpipes and drums which guided a whole generation of young boys towards a dark future, towards the bruised fields of the north of France but despite the thunders of distant cannons, without fear and animated by the strongest fighting spirit, they joined the front line and the trenches scarified by barbed wire and were greeted by the deluges of thousands of shells which fell on them like a demonic hammer and which, in the face of these young boys, showed the monstrosity and the brutality of the war which, like a beast thirsting for flesh and blood, drove so many men to throw themselves on each other with ferocity and who, in furious hand-to-hand combats, killed each other in melee through which, behind the howls, torrents of blood were poured on the cold steel of the bayonets.Gradually, in this utter fury, these once-peaceful fields turned into stinking morass where friends and foes lay lifeless who fell together into the shell-holes which gave off an unbearable odor attracting rats who ran between the dead bodies of men who only hours before had been full of hope, who were loved and who, in a carnage that drove the world into madness, fell through the poppies of sacred fields on which a whole generation of men was lost but in this horror, in this apocalypse, there was also compassion, brotherhood and camaraderie, values which preserved the humanity of these heroes who wanted to live, who had hopes and dreams and in the face of these engendered sufferings, in the face of the despair of battles, they found in each other a reason to live another day and although they gave their today to the in the name of peace and freedom, they fought together for love, for the friends who stood by their side in the same hell and through the rain of bullets and shrapnel, they always kept their sense of humor, they stood tall and proud and when the order was given to go over the top, it was united by the ANZAC spirit, by the most beautiful bond of camaraderie that the young Diggers rushed into no man's land, not to bring death to the enemy ranks but so that the light of peace can pierce through the darkness and guide the steps of future generations, and together, in Pozieres, Amiens and Villers-Bretonneux, thousands of them paid the supreme sacrifice, each of them did their duty with the highest bravery and there is no nobler sacrifice than those to which they consented in these dark hours of a terrible war but if we are here today , it is thanks to them, thanks to their courage and their sacrifices and today, more than ever, I feel proud and honored to watch over them and to walk in front of their white graves, never without tears but with a heart filled with respect towards them who will always have the love of France which will always love and remember these young men as our sons and for whom I would give my today so that we remember them, so that their names live forever.

Thank you so much George, for all that you and your brothers in arms have done for us and for my country whose respect, gratitude and love will always be yours. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember him,we will remember them.