Private William Hawkes

Rank or Title

Date of Death

2 Oct 1916

War time / or Pre War occupation

Farm labourer

Service Number


Place of Birth

United Kingdom

World War I Address

Ramridge End
United Kingdom

Place of Death

Near Hitchin
United Kingdom

Grave Location

St Thomas's Churchyard
United Kingdom

War Memorial Location

Soldier or Civilian

  • Soldier


The Luton News , 5th October 1916
Pte William Hawkes gravestone


Pte William Hawkes, 26095, 56th Protection Company, Royal Defence Corps, was killed by a bomb dropped from an airship at Willian, Herts, on October 1st-2nd, 1916. He was perhaps the only person from the Luton area known to have died as a direct result of a World War 1 air raid.

He was buried in the churchyard at St Thomas's Church, Stopsley on October 7th, leaving a widow, Elizabeth, and family living at Ramridge End. His gravestone says he was aged 56, but inquest reports give his age as 43.

An inquest jury decided that William had died from a wound over the heart received from a bomb dropped from an enemy airship. He had been found in a field lying on his back about five yards from a bomb hole.

William's name was not published in the inquest report, or indeed the names of witnesses. He was given a military funeral, complete with firing party and the sounding of the last post, but no connection was made in a brief report with the airship raid.

Only the Hertfordshire Mercury newspaper mentioned that William had been "a farm labourer in a South Beds village".

The only potential mention of the family in the records appears to be the 1911 Census in which farm stockman William and wife Elizabeth Hawks [sic] were living with their daughter Rose, whose age is given as 11, at Breachwood Green. The entry is signed by Census enumerator William J. Wilson and not, for whatever reason, by the couple. William's date of birth is given as about 1877, perhaps an estimate, like the spelling of the surname.


Pte William Hawkes gravestone

Author: Deejaya

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