Hawkins, Henry Victor (Harry)
No. 658138, 467 (RAAF) Squadron, Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Killed in action on Wednesday 28 July 1943 (aged 25)
Hamburg Cemetery, Germany (Grave 5A. L. 12)
Royal Belfast Academical Institution (RBAI)
St. Anne’s Church of Ireland Cathedral Belfast
Henry Victor (Harry) Hawkins was born on 4 August 1917 and he was the second son of William James and Henrietta Hawkins (nee Kerr) of Downshire, Ballystrudder, Islandmagee. William James Hawkins was a railway clerk and he and Henrietta Kerr were married on 23 April 1913 in Comber Non-Subscribing Presbyterian Church. William James Hawkins (aged 23) from Templecorran, Islandmagee was a son of John Hawkins, a station master. Henrietta Kerr (aged 28) from Carnesure, Comber was a daughter of William Kerr, a traveller (deceased).
William James and Henrietta Hawkins (nee Kerr) had at least four sons:
John (Jack, born 29 June 1914 in Ballystrudder, Islandmagee)
Henry Victor (Harry, born 4 August 1917 in Ballystrudder, Islandmagee)
William James (Billy, born 19 May 1919 in Ballystrudder, Islandmagee)
The Hawkins family lived in Islandmagee where, in addition to his work with the Ulster Transport Authority (UTA), William James ran a retail business and dancehall called The Rinkha.
Harry Hawkins attended Royal Belfast Academical Institution from 1930 until 1933 and for a time he played soccer for Ards Football Club. In the 7 August 1943 edition of the County Down Spectator it was reported under the headline Former Ards Footballer Missing that Harry Hawkins was missing in action. Prior to the outbreak of the Second World War he was in the Territorials and at the outbreak of hostilities was posted to France where he served with an Anti-Aircraft Battery. During the evacuation of France in June 1940 he was aboard the last boat to leave Cherbourg and his Battery brought all its guns back. At Easter 1941 he was home on leave and was at a dance in Belfast on 15 April when the German Luftwaffe carried out a large-scale air raid on the city. After that he successfully applied for a transfer to the Royal Air Force and took part in raids over Germany and Italy. On 28 July 1943 he was one of a crew of seven aboard an Avro Lancaster Mark III aircraft (W5003) that took off from RAF Bottesford on the Leicestershire-Lincolnshire border on a mission to bomb Hamburg. Their aircraft was shot down by a German night fighter and five of the crew were killed. Sergeants E.C. Brookes and S. Drake were captured and held as Prisoners-of-War. In addition to Sergeant Henry Victor Hawkins (aged 25) the other four crew members who died that night were:
- Pilot Officer James Llewellyn Carrington (aged 25), Royal Australian Air Force
- Flight Sergeant Michael Rodney Warr King (aged 20) from Careby, Lincolnshire
- Sergeant William Green (aged 34) from Bryn, Lancashire
- Sergeant Herbert Bradley (aged 27) from Brompton, Yorkshire
At the time of Sergeant Henry Victor Hawkins’s death, his wife Jean was living in London and she later moved to Australia; they had no family.
Sergeant Henry Victor Hawkins is commemorated in RBAI and in St. Anne’s Cathedral Belfast.