yeovil at War

Frederick Hawker

Died in bed at Wareham Camp


Frederick Hawker, known as Fred, was born in Beaminster, Dorset, on 16 October 1865. He was the son of John Hawker and his wife Amelia. From later records it is known that Fred had some form of service in the army. Although details are unknown, it is known that he served abroad.

In the autumn of 1896 Fred married Sarah Jane Osborne, known as Jane, (b1875, Norton sub Hamdon) at Yeovil. They were to have six children; May (b1898, Sutton Bingham), Elsie (b1901, Sutton Bingham), Edward (b1903, Yeovil), Nella (b1905, Yeovil), John (b1907, Yeovil) plus one further child born after 1911.

In the 1911 census Fred and his family were living at 3 Waterloo Lane. Fred worked as a foundry labourer across the road at the Petter & Edgar Iron Foundry on the corner of Huish and Clarence Street. The family later moved to 1 South Western Terrace. Fred's family finally moved to 56 New Council Houses, Mitchelmore Road.

Fred, as a Reservist, was called up on the outbreak of war. He enlisted at Yeovil and became a Private in the 9th (Reserve) Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry. His Service Number was 3/7544. Fred was aged 48 at the time of his enrolment and as a consequence he was made an officer’s servant and sergeants’ mess waiter.

The 9th (Reserve) Battalion had been formed in October 1914 at Plymouth as a service battalion of the Fourth New Army (K4), as part of the 98th Brigade of the 33rd Division. It then moved to St Austell, Cornwall.

On 10 April 1915 the 9th became a 2nd reserve battalion and then moved to Wareham, Dorset.

It appears that, while at Wareham Camp, Fred had a fit while in bed at night and died on 10 July 1915. He was 49 years old.

The Western Gazette, in its edition of 16 July 1915, reported "Private Fred Hawker of the Somerset Light Infantry, formerly Yeovil National Reserves, has died at Wareham Camp from a fit, which occurred whilst he was in bed at night. Deceased’s home address was No 1 South Western Terrace, Yeovil, and he leaves a widow and six children. He had previously seen service with the Army, and had been abroad. Upon the outbreak of hostilities he had re-joined, and had been made an officer’s servant and sergeants’ mess waiter. Deceased was forty-nine years of age. The funeral took place at Wareham on Wednesday afternoon with full military honours. Officers and men belonging to the Regiment accompanied by the bugle band, attended. Volleys were fired over the grave, and the “Last Post” was sounded. The Rev W F Sersbie, senior chaplain to the forces, officiated. The grave was beautifully lined with evergreens, and there were many wreaths on the coffin. The following relatives from Yeovil attended, and were conveyed in a mourning coach:- Mrs Hawker (widow), Miss May Hawker (the eldest daughter), and Master Edward Hawker (eldest son), Mrs Sprake (sister), and Mr. Chas. Hawker (brother), all of Yeovil. Mrs Hawker has received a letter expressing the King and Queen’s condolences, and signed by Lord Kitchener.

Fred was buried in Wareham Cemetery, Grave B.A.9, and his name is inscribed on the War Memorial in the Borough.




On Bank Holiday Monday, 4 August 1914, Yeovil men of the National Reservists line up in the Borough before marching to the Town Railway Station and travelling to Taunton. War was declared at midnight.


This is thought to be the Yeovil Reservists of the previous photograph marching off from the Borough to the Town Station.


The Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone on Fred Hawker's grave.


The Commonwealth War Graves Commission certificate in memory of Fred Hawker.