Hawkins, John Henry

Last updated on 06-Jun-19

John Henry Hawkins


6332 Pte. John Henry Hawkins was born in 1898 in Subiaco, Western Australia to John Roderick Hawkins and Matilda Elizabeth Smith.  His father died in 1900 and Matilda married George Thomas Leeson (born in Cowes) in 1901.  Leeson died in 1902 and Matilda married Hermann Scherwitz in 1907.


John was a farm hand at Cowes when he enlisted on 21st October 1916 in Melbourne with the 18/21st Battalion.  He embarked from Melbourne on HMAT Hororata on 23rd November 1916 and disembarked at Plymouth on 29th January 1917.  On 31st January he marched into the 6th Training Battalion at Larkhill.


He was transferred to Australian Army Medical Corps Training Depot, Parkhouse on 28th June 1917.


He was attached to the 6th Training Battalion at Rolleston on the Salisbury Plain for duty on 11th September 1917.


He marched out to the Australian Army Medical Corps Training Depot, Parkhouse on 2nd November 1917 and proceeded overseas to France on 28th November.


John was attached for duty to the 79th General Hospital Taranto, Italy on 17th February 1918.


“Taranto was used as a base by the Royal Navy immediately after the Italian declaration of war (May 1915), but its importance to Commonwealth troops dates from the summer of 1917, when the Mediterranean lines of communication were established. These lines ran from the eastern theatres of war through Taranto, Turin, Lyons and Le Mans to Cherbourg. A base and rest camp were made at Taranto and labour units, including the 8th, 10th and 11th Battalions, British West Indies Regiment, were brought in. No. 79 General and No. 6 Labour Hospitals followed.”


Lieut. Colonel David Porter, Great War Forum website.


He was detached from the 79th General Hospital on 25th August 1918 and proceeded to Australian General Base Depot, Havre.


On 20th September 1918 John was transferred from the Australian Army Medical Corps Details and was taken on strength with the Australian General Base Depot, Havre.


“Australian soldiers arriving in France, whether reinforcements or “casual” (those returning from hospitals), went to Base Depots before deployment to the front.  All drafts, although they had already passed in England as fully trained, were subjected to further tests, a strict medical test, and at least ten days of additional training.  Originally built in Etaples, France, the Australian Base Depots moved to Harfleur, near Le Havre, in June 1917, in order to save shipping time.  Base Depots were built for each Division, and the General Base Depot was used for those not assigned to divisions (except infantry and pioneers).” 


Source:  Springfield College Digital Collections website.


John returned to Australia on HT Plassy and disembarked on 25th October 1919.


He worked as a farm laborer at Cowes when he returned and from 1922 he was working as a painter at Warragul.He married Hazel Isobel Hadlow in 1924.


John enlisted twice in the 2nd War, at Royal Park, Victoria and Warwick, Queensland but no details are known.


John died in November 1962 at Heidelberg.  He was cremated at Springvale.


John Henry Hawkins is commemorated on the Phillip Island RSL Book of Honour, the Phillip Island RSL Roll of Honour and St Philip’s Roll of Honor.