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  • Buried in Blighty Valley Cemetery.
Person Details
Stapleford Nottinghamshire
Benjamin Hawkins was born in 1887 the son of Thomas a general labourer and Sarah Hawkins (née Thurston). Thomas was born in 1861 at Darlaston, Staffordshire, Sarah Thurston in 1861 at Walsall Staffordshire. Married in 1883, they had the following children - Thomas b.1883 Wednesbury, Staffs, Benjamin b.1889 Nottingham, Lilly b.1889 Nottingham, Edith b.1892 Nottingham and Ethel b.1894 Nottingham. Benjamin married Kate Wood in 1908 at Nottingham and they had 2 sons, Cyril Benjamin b.1909 and Ernest Frank b.1910. In 1911 they lived at 31, Lawrence Street Stapleford, Nottinghamshire. Kate received a weekly pension of 18/- for herself and two children. She lived at 2oo, Kirkwhite Street, Meadows, Nottingham.
Benjamin Hawkins was a railway plate layer in 1911.
01 Jul 1916
29
185090 - CWGC Website
6973
Private
11th Bn Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regiment)
Benjamin Hawkins enlisted on 11th September 1914 at Derby aged 27. He stated he had seen previous service in the South Notts Imperial Yeomanry. He was posted to the reserves and later mobilised and posted to 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters. He embarked from Folkstone on 27th August 1915 landing the following day in France. He was killed in action on 1st July 1916 , the first day of the battle of the Somme and is buried in Buried in Blighty Valley Cemetery. Battalions attacking Ovillers on 1st July 1916 had to cross 'Mash Valley' one of the widest expanses of No Man's Land (750 yards) along the entire Somme front. Today, looking from Ovillers Cemetery (German front line) towards distant houses (British front line) across open fields offering little cover, the magnitude of their task is still evident. 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters' War Diary recorded: 'Casualties along the whole line were very heavy and a general attempt was made to crawl forward under intense machine gun and shrapnel fire, any available cover being made use of.... Lt Colonel Watson, walking diagonally across the front collecting men as he went gave fresh impetus to the advance by his personal example... A third attempt, led by Captain C E Hudson*, to reach the German trenches by the sunken road on the right flank was made but... was brought to a standstill by heavy frontal and flank fire as they came over the brow of the hill in the last 80 yards. The casualties sustained by the battalion during the day amounted to 21 officers and 508 men. The strength of the battalion on entering the trenches on 26th June was 27 officers and 710 men.' 11th Bn Sherwood Foresters War Diary TNA WO95/21871(3). 125 men from 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters were killed during the attack on Ovillers (CWGC Debt of Honour Register). *John Cotterill adds 'The man who brought the 11th Foresters out of action on 1 July and, one of the 6 unwounded officers, was Capt Edward Hudson who would go on to get a VC as CO of 11th Foresters on Asiago Plateau in Italy in 1918'. 2nd Battalion Middlesex Regiment suffered 264 fatalities during the same advance. Concerns of their CO Lieutenant Colonel Edward Thomas Falkiner Sandys DSO, a brave and well respected officer, that his battalion would be badly mauled crossing such an expanse of open ground with uncut wire an added hazard, did not impress his superiors. Sandys was wounded during the attack and evacuated to the UK. Depressed at the fate of so many men who had trusted him, Sandys shot himself in a London hotel room and died a few days later. 8th Division's Official History records a total of 5,121 casualties on 1st July 1916. Military Research by David Nunn
Remembered on

Photos

  • Buried in Blighty Valley Cemetery.
    Benjamin Hawkins - Buried in Blighty Valley Cemetery.
  • Photo taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line.
    Photo David Nunn - Photo taken from German machine gun positions (now Ovillers British Military Cemetery) showing the terrain over which 8th Division including 11th Sherwood Foresters (70th Brigade), advanced on 1st July 1916. Houses beyond the distant tree line now stand on the 1st July 1916 British line.