Private Joseph HAWLEY
(Even though his name appears on the Buxton Memorial, Joseph survived The War)

Regiment/Service:
Tank Corps
[Formerly: Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment)]
Unit:
10th Battalion Tank Corps (Armoured Car Division)
[Formerly: 11th Battalion Sherwood Foresters]
Service Number:
308574
[Formerly: 18142 Sherwood Foresters]
Age:
25


Personal History:
Joseph was born in September 1893, the youngest son of Joseph (Cab Proprietor and Driver) and Mary (née Brunt) Hawley of 22 Torr Street, Buxton (1901 Census RG 13/3270). He had six older brothers and sisters, Mary Hannah, Albert, Jane E., William, Alice and Minnie.

By 1911 (Census RG 14/21243) he was the only child still living at home, at the same address, and working as a "Tailor and Outfitter's Assistant". When he enlisted three years later Joseph gave his occupation as "Draper". He was 5 ft. 5 ins. (1.65 m) tall, weighed 8 st. 2 lbs. (51.7 kgs.), had a 'fresh' complexion, blue eyes and light brown hair. By 1919 the family home had moved to 1 Hardwick Square, Buxton.

Military History:
Joseph enlisted in the Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) on the 28th October 1914 at Buxton, initially being posted to the 4th Battalion on the 4th November, before transferring to the 13th (Reserve) Battalion on the 23rd August 1915. Joseph was posted to France with the 11th Battalion on the 4th July 1916 but was returned home on the 28th August 1916, to the 2/5th Battalion.

After a period in England Joseph returned to France on the 19th January 1917, remaining a year, before again returning home on the 30th January 1918 to transfer to the Tank Corps. He  made his third posting to France with his new Regiment on the 27th April 1918.

On the 29th September 1918 Joseph suffered a gunshot wound to the left thigh and leg, and his later Pension Records show that this left him with 30% disability. This was the date he was listed as missing.

The Buxton Advertiser of 19th October 1918 reported that Joseph was missing and quoted a letter from Captain Richard Howe Crichton: "I am sorry to have to inform you that your son, Pte. J. Hawley, with thirteen others, has been missing since September 29th. We are confident that they have been taken prisoner, and have every hope of hearing that they are alive and well, as we have since captured the ground where their cars were put out of action, and have not been able to find any trace of them."

Later, according to His Service papers, revised to "wounded at Auchy". It seems that on this date he was both reported as missing and captured, so becoming a Prisoner of War, as noted in his Service Papers, dated 18th December 1918. According to the medal rolls, 304574 Pte J. Hawley of the 17th Tank Corps was listed as POW 29th September 1918. Later accounts report elements of the 17th Armoured cars going into Germany and finding British soldiers including their own Tank Corps in bad conditions in hospitals with no doctors or nurses as they had all left a long time before. Apparantly the Tank Corps soldiers rounded up at gun point a large number of medical staff and women to sort out the wounded quickly.

In a book written by officers of the Tank Corps it states that on the 6th December 1918 the Corps entered Cologne and met two American prisoners of war who told them of tank corps soldiers in the local hospital. The commanding officer and men went straight there and found a large number of excited sick and wounded prisoners in a terrible state of neglect. All German staff had left after the armistice and the sick and wounded had to look after themselves. The inhabitants of Cologne had left our sick and wounded to die. Among the wounded was a man of the 17th Battalion who had been taken prisoner on the 29th September at Bony, he mentioned another man who had been wounded and taken prisoner at the same time had died in the last hospital they were at called Le Cateau Hospital - this was captured on the 8th October 1918.

There were two other officers of the 17th called Lt Phippard and Davies but they left two days before the 6th December to rejoin the British lines.

Joseph's Papers show him receiving a furlough to his parents' home at 1 Hardwick Square, Buxton after "Repat P of War". This leave was granted for a period from 22nd May to 22nd July 1919. It is hard to see why, therefore, his parents did not revise the War Memorial list as prospective Memorial names were not published in the Buxton Advertiser until 13th December 1919, asking for relatives to get in touch for any amendments by the 15th.

Before his final demobilisation on the 19th November 1919 on the grounds of a B.111 medical discharge, he had a medical report on the 14th October which stated; "Scars unhealthy, one discharging, much loss of muscle. Other organs normal." His Pension of 12/- (60 p.) was dated from the following day, the 20th. The Pension Board renewed his pension entitlement on the 20th September 1920, but his next annual examination, 26th September 1921, showed little change - "Darkness left leg; Discharging scars".

After a further 12 months some scars were reported as being healed, but Joseph still had 30% disability due to "Destruction of muscle and wasting calf". Subsequent examinations showed little change - certainly in mobility.

Quite why Joseph's name remained on the list of Buxton's War Dead, thereby ending up on the Memorial is unclear. Certainly his parents' address of 1 Hardwick Square remained constant throughout his later Service and Pension Papers. As early as the 20th December 1918 the "Officer i/c Tank Corps records" had written to Joseph's father asking him to forward a letter he had received from his son. This was presumably whilst he was a p.o.w. 

Later, on the 14th August 1919 the R.A.M.C. Major i/c Buxton troops wrote to the Officer Commanding, Tank Corps Depot, at Wareham to report that Joseph had ".. been retained by me because of illness and admitted to Hospital" (presumably after his two month furlough). He went on, "He will proceed from Buxton on August 14th 1919 to rejoin his Unit and will report to the Medical Officer". Later Medical Reports clearly found him unfit and he was discharged on 19th November 1919.

Maybe in the delight of getting their son home, after thinking him dead, his parents simply overlooked advising the War memorial Committee of the change. [The 'England & Wales, Death Index, 1916-2007', shows three "Joseph Hawley"s born in 1893, who died at various dates between 1931 and 1973 - though not in Derbyshire. None of these passed away in time to be included on the Buxton Memorial.]

Sources:
· The Buxton Advertiser, 19 October 1918


Commemorated on:

Joseph's name on the Buxton memorial
poppy