Howard Vivian Hawke

Howard Vivian Hawke. Image courtesy Sydney Morning Herald.

Howard Vivian Hawke served overseas for just seven months before being killed in action on the second day of the Battle of Amiens on the Western Front in France.

Howard was born in Orange on 27 June 1896, one of five children of Francis and Evangeline Hawke of Glenluna orchard on Pinnacle Road in the foothills of Mount Canobolas. Glenluna was one of the district’s first orchards; it was established in 1846.

Howard and his siblings attended Orange District School. The school was located 6.5 km away, and the children would walk there and back. Following his education Howard worked on the family orchard. He was also a keen tennis player and a member of the Methodist Tennis Club.

In September 1917 Howard enlisted in the First World War. According to his attestation papers his previous military experience consisted of five years with the cadets and serving as a Lieutenant with the 42nd Battalion Militia in Orange.

Private Howard Hawke left Sydney on HMAT A38 Ulysses on 19 December 1917 and disembarked in Suez on 16 January 1918. He proceeded to England via Italy and France and spent three months with the 5th Training Battalion at Fovant.

Private Hawke was taken on strength with the 18th Battalion in France on 28 May 1918. In early August the battalion was preparing for the united Allied counteroffensive at Amiens. At 9pm on 7 August 1918 the commanding officer recorded in the battalion diary:

Unit standing by

The diary for 8 August continues:

3.48 am   All Coys are on the tape and quite ready
4.11am   Tanks heard just tuning up and starting
4.15am   Very heavy fog descending
4.20am   Barrage opens
4.25am   Very little retaliation
5.00am   No retaliation coming over
5.20am   Infantry have passed through but are finding difficulty in keeping direction as the fog is very thick
6.00am   13 prisoners at 17th Battalion HQ
6.20am   No news through. Fog still very thick. Impossible to see more than about 10 yards
7.20am   17th Battalion stretcher bearers report verbally that 17th Battalion are well through the village of Warfusee and have met with little opposition
8.10am   Artillery, Armoured Cars and Cavalry moving along the main road. No activity on the part of the enemy noticeable.
11.00am   Information to date: A, B, C and D Coys have all reached the Green Line (2nd Objective) with very little opposition and consolidated.

The 18th Battalion continued their advance in the Battle of Amiens, capturing many prisoners and seizing German weapons, ammunition and supplies. At midnight the Commanding Officer noted:

Still in position in front of Warfusee

And on the morning of 9 August:

A quiet night for the Battalion and all benefitted by the night’s rest

At 9.40am the order was received “prepare to move”. The battalion continued their advance towards Mont St Quentin, meeting with little enemy resistance. At about 5.30pm as they approached the village of Framerville Private Howard Hawke was hit by enemy fire, killed instantly by a bullet to the head. He was one of nine men from the 18th Battalion to die that day. He was later buried at Heath Military Cemetery at Harbonnieres.

Howard Vivian Hawke is commemorated on the Methodist Church Orange Honour Roll, on panel number 85 on the Roll of Honour at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, and at the Australian National Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux in France.

In 1923 the Anzac Memorial Avenue of trees was planted along Bathurst Road to commemorate fallen WWI soldiers. A tree was planted in honour of “Pte HV Hawke”; it was donated by AE Warburton. Very few of the trees are still standing today.

Howard’s youngest sister, Vera, went on to manage Glenluna, becoming the first woman orchardist in NSW.

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This entry was posted on August 9th, 2018.