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John Martin Hawkey (MC)


36th Battalion & 33rd Battalion


John Martin Hawkey (MC) - Information

John Martin was a member of a large Camden area family. John’s parents Richard and Mary Ann Hawkey had migrated to the colonies from England. They settled down in Camden, where he was born on the 12th of October 1877. He grew up with his many siblings, attending the local Public School, and served in the NSW Mounted Rifles for 5½ years. He then decided to continue his career in the military, becoming a permanent soldier in the Commonwealth Forces. John then married his girlfriend Annie Louise Krinks in Sydney on the 27th of September 1905. When war in Europe broke out, John was an Instructional Staff Officer ranked as Regimental Sergeant Major (Warrant Officer). In 1915, his nephew, Richard John, had enlisted in the AIF and left for war service. In January 1916, John applied for a Commission in the AIF. At the time, he and Annie were residing in Keynsham on Melford St in Hurlstone Park. He then applied for a Commission again on the 13th of March. This time it was granted, and he was appointed a Lieutenant with the 36th Battalion, and departed Sydney upon the HMAT Beltana on the 13th of May 1916 for war service.

Just after John left for war, Annie moved to 65 Cook Rd in Centennial Park again naming the property Keynsham. John disembarked in Plymouth in early July. While training his men at Larkhill, he was promoted to Captain on the 1st of August. On the 22nd of November, he left Southampton for France. At the time, the Western Front was experiencing the worst winter of the war. Temperatures were very low and heavy rain and snowfall made life in the trenches miserable. After enduring long months of terrible weather, the 36th Battalion were positioned for operations in the Ypres Sector in Belgium. They and the rest of the 3rd Division played a major role during the Battle of Messines. On the 7th of June, large mine explosions triggered the start of operations. The infantry advanced taking the ridge. Next on the agenda was the Third Battle of Ypres. During these assaults, John proved to be an effective leader, commanding his company. As a result, he was mentioned in despatches that passed the desk of Commander-in-Chief General Sir Douglas Haig. On the 2nd of October, he was recommended for the Military Cross. He was praised for his continued and splendid service as adjutant. General John Monash had praised him for the Battalion maintaining a high state of efficiency. He was then promoted to Major on the 1st of November. After living through another winter, he was awarded the Military Cross on the 1st of January 1918. Three days later, he was transported to England. The following month, he was on command at a School of Instruction. Sadly, while he was in England, his nephew was killed in action at the end of March. In late April, he left Folkestone to return to the Western Front. On the 30th of April, he was transferred and taken on strength to the 33rd Battalion. Throughout 1918, John helped his unit fend off the German Spring Offensive, and organising attacks to push them back achieving victory in November. After the war ended, John completed duty with the 3rd Australian Division Headquarters in early January 1919. He was detached to various duties, before he was sent back to Australia.