Friday, 28 August 2015

Geoffrey Oswald Hawke 1919-1941 age 21

Barnsley Chronicle 22nd February 1941
Thanks to Barnsley Archives
Born: May 1919 in Barnsley

Son of: Charles Hawke, born in 1885 in Barnsley, and Florence Hawke nee Brittain. They were married on 16th November 1914 at Wombwell Parish Church. Charles was a master butcher and served in World War One in the Royal Army Service Corps, Service number 295219. 1915 Army records show that Charles lived with Florence at 53 Park Grove, Barnsley. They had 3 children:

  • Marjorie 1915
  • Geoffrey Oswald 1919 (a twin)
  • Philip 1919 (a twin)

Geoffrey was unmarried and was a First Radio Officer in the Merchant Navy on the cargo ship SS Shrewsbury (London). The ship was attacked with gunfire from a German Heavy Cruiser, 300 miles S.E. of the Azores. 20 crew members were killed, including 18 of them in a lifeboat which received a direct hit by a shell. 19 crew members were rescued. 

Death: 12th February 1941 when his ship was sunk. Geoffrey has no known grave and is remembered on the Tower Hill Memorial in London, panel 97.  
Commonwealth War Graves Commission link: here 

Remembered: St Edward's WW2 Memorial plaque, Barnsley and the Holgate Grammar School WW2 Memorial, link here 

Note 1: From the Barnsley Chronicle 22nd February 1941
On Lost Ship
Fears for Barnsley Radio Officer
Mr and Mrs Hawke, High Royd, Park Grove, Barnsley have received intimation that the ship on which their son, Geoffrey Oswald Hawke was radio officer has been sunk by enemy action. Some survivors have been landed but, unfortunately, their son is not among the list received. Apparently about 14 members of the crew have been landed and it is hoped there may yet be other survivors picked up by other vessels. 
Geoffrey Hawke, who was 21 last May, is the son of Mr Charles Hawke, butcher, Sheffield Road. He was educated at Barnsley Grammar School, where he and his twin brother Philip were successful in gaining their school certificates. In October 1935 Geoffrey entered the North Eastern School of Wireless Telegraphy, Bridlington, and after a year and eight months secured the Postmaster-General's First Class Wireless Officer's Certificate. Immediately on passing he was offered a post in the Marconi International Marine Wireless Service. He has since served on many ships and last year had a narrow escape in the Far East when his ship foundered after grounding on a reef.   

Note 2: Geoffrey's Probate record shows his address as 175 Park Grove, Barnsley, effects £458-4s-11d. 

Research by James Corbett and Gill Brookes of St Edward's Church, Barnsley

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