Albert Hawkins


He visited us for a time

from NHS Collection

Albert Hawkins was born in Richmond on 22nd May 1892 to Matilda (nee Adams) and Joseph Edward Hawkins. He was their fourth child and in time would become one of eight surviving children. Joseph was a railwayman and with work, would move later to Warragul, Seymour and Murchison.

Albert attended Seymour State School.

Albert’s Roll of Honour circular, as submitted by Joseph, gives us the only clue to his connection to Sorrento. When his ‘other training’ was, we do not know.

The 1913 electoral roll has Albert at Watson St. Seymour with occupation as railway employee. The same address and occupation as Joseph. Albert moved to Seymour some time in 1913 as his name appears on the Supplemental Roll of 1913.

In the Roll of 1914 both father and son are listed as per 1913.

Much of what we know about Albert comes from an article written after his death in the Murchison Advertiser of July 12th 1918. Presumably much of the background came from Joseph who was, by then in Murchison. (full article below). Albert was something of an athlete. . .


Albert enlisted at Melbourne on March 10th 1916 and was initially enlisted into the 5th Infantry Battalion, 18th Reinforcements. Note that he gives his occupation as Coach Driver. . . again from the Murchison Advertiser

The 5th Battalion, 18th Reinforcements embarked from Melbourne to Plymouth on H.M.A.T. A33 “Ayrshire” on the 3rd July 1916.

HMAT A33 Ayreshire

HMAT A33 Ayreshire at Port Melbourne 3 Mar 1916 from AWM

But what unit did Albert end up in?

Albert went to France in October 1916 and joined 14th Infantry Battalion, part of 4th Brigade.

14th Infantry Battalion A.I.F.

14th Battalion Patch from AWM HERE

The Headquarters of the 14th Battalion opened at an office at 178 Collins Street, Melbourne in the last week of September 1914. On 1 October it relocated to Broadmeadows Camp where the battalion’s recruits, principally from Melbourne and its suburbs, were taken on strength and trained. With the 13th, 15th and 16th Battalions, the 14th formed the 4th Brigade commanded by Colonel John Monash. It embarked for overseas on 22 December and, after a brief stop in Albany, Western Australia, arrived in Egypt on 31 January 1915. In Egypt, the 4th Brigade became part of the New Zealand and Australian Division with which it would serve at Gallipoli.

The 4th Brigade landed at ANZAC Cove on the afternoon of 25 April 1915. On 19 May the Turks launched a massive counter-attack. During this fighting Lance Corporal Albert Jacka of the 14th was awarded the AIF’s first Victoria Cross. Jacka’s leadership and courage became legendary within the AIF and he was eventually commissioned in the 14th Battalion, which came to be widely known as “Jacka’s Mob”. From May to August 1915 the battalion was heavily involved in establishing and defending the ANZAC front line. In August, the 4th Brigade attacked Hill 971. The hill was taken at great cost, although Turkish reinforcements forced the Australians to withdraw. At the end of the month, the 14th Battalion suffered further heavy casualties when it was committed to the unsuccessful attack on Hill 60. The battalion served at ANZAC until the evacuation in December.

After the withdrawal from Gallipoli, the battalion returned to Egypt. While there, the AIF expanded and was reorganised. The 14th Battalion was split and provided experienced soldiers for the 46th Battalion. The 4th Brigade was combined with the 12th and 13th Brigades to form the 4th Australian Division.

In June 1916 they sailed for France and the Western Front. From then until 1918, the battalion took part in bloody trench warfare. Its first major action in France was at Pozieres in August 1916. Along with most of the 4th Brigade, the battalion suffered heavy losses at Bullecourt in April 1917 when the brigade attacked strong German positions without the promised tank support. It spent much of the remainder of 1917 in Belgium, advancing to the Hindenburg Line.

In March and April 1918, the battalion helped stop the German spring offensive. It subsequently participated in the great allied offensive of 1918, fighting near Amiens on 8 August 1918. This advance by British and empire troops was the greatest success in a single day on the Western Front, one that German General Erich Ludendorff described as “..the black day of the German Army in this war…”.

Source: AWM Unit Histories. for more go HERE

Wounded at Bullecourt

On 11th of April 1917 at Bullecourt, Albert received a gunshot wound to the left arm. He was evacuated to England on the now Hospital Ship Warilda.

According to Joseph Hawkins: “the bullet entering 2 inches above the elbow and coming out 3 inches below without breaking the bone”

Albert would not rejoin the 14th Battalion until over a year later on 23rd May 1918.

14th Battalion in June 1918

With the Australian 13th and 15th Brigade successful at Villers-Bretonneux in April, by early June the 14th Battalion found themselves with the rest of the 4th Brigade between Villers-Bretonneux and Le Hamel to the North East. After Villers-Bretonneux the German forces would continue to attack on a wide front while the Australians held on and engaged in what C.E.W. Bean would describe as “Peaceful Penetration”.

Peaceful Penetration

Australian forces would take every opportunity to mount smaller raids with the principal objective of taking prisoners and obtaining intelligence regarding the German’s next attacks.

“It so happened that in the vital positions held both by the 1st Australian Division in Flanders and the Australian Corps in front of Amiens, it was urgent to gain ground, if possible, in order to allow more room for defence. This furnished a reason for activity in addition to the one then being urged by the staff on the fighting troops in all sectors, that the prime need was for information as to the probable direction of Ludendorff’s next stroke. For such information the most important source was newly captured German prisoners.

– C.E.W. Bean – Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18 (Vol VI Chapter II)

In early June the 6th and 7th Brigades mounted a successful attack at Mourlancourt further to the north west.

At 11:30pm on the 15th of June 14th Battalion and others from 4th Brigade along the front mounted raids into German positions.

“Vaire Wood. At the same hour three parties of the 14th Bn. (Vic.) under Lts. Ramsay Wood, H. W. Thompson, and A. R. Bruford raided different parts of the trench on the western edge of Vaire Wood. Although one party was seen and bombed on reaching the German wire all got in, and 11 prisoners and a machine-gun were brought back. Ramsay Wood with Cpl. E. E. Bishop and L.-Cpl. J. Craig returned to find Sgt. E. Harrison, mortally wounded, and carried him in.”

C.E.W. Bean Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-18 (Vol VI Chapter VII)


14th Btn 1918 June

14th Btn 1918 June (click to enlarge) from Unit Diary at AWM HERE


18th June 1918

By the 18th the 14th Battalion was still in position but quiet. The battalion mounted an observation post for the Brigade, but were not involved in any action.

. . . and Albert

They were however subject to occasional enemy artilery fire. It was this that killed Albert Hawkins and his friend Lance Corporal William Arthur Read. Apparently returning from a canteen.

Albert is buried at Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery

pic courtesy Peter Munro

. . . and at home. . .the full article from The Murchison Advertiser

from Trove HERE