Photographs and extra information courtesy of John Hawkins
Born: 8th August 1916, Harwich, Essex.
Died: 5th October 1943; age: 27; during a low-level flight his Typhoon came under heavy fire from flak guns mounted on railway cars during a strike on the Sinclair petroleum refinery at Langerbrugge, about 6 miles North of Ghent in Belgium.
Residence: 6, Roy Avenue, Ipswich.
Occupation: Chief Flying Instructor at Ipswich Airport.
Rank: Squadron Leader; Service Number: 70802.
Regiment: Royal Air Force, 3 Squadron.
Medals Awarded: Military Cross – 17th March 1941 – for his daring escape, resourcefulness, and evasion & Air Force Cross – 2nd April 1943 – for his exceptional service providing training to the Polish Fight Training Unit at Newton.
Relatives Notified & Address: Son of William James Hawkins & Flora Meachen Hawkins, of Ipswich.
Father: William James Hawkins, born September 1885, Dover, Kent.
Mother: Flora Meachen Hawkins (nee Thurlow), born April 1885, Harwich, Essex.
Educated at Harwich County High School and Northgate Secondary School.
ENGLAND & WALES REGISTER 1939.
Ronald was a Pilot Instructor. He was living with his parents at the family home – 8, Roy
William, a Cheese Importer & Canned Foods Agent. During the Second World War William was an A.R.P. Warden.
Flora, unpaid Domestic Duties.
Ron moved with his family to Ipswich in 1928, and attended Northgate School. On leaving school, he took up an apprenticeship with a firm of chartered mechanical engineers where he qualified as a draftsman. Ron was adventurous and enjoyed outdoor activities, he became an experienced sailor of small boats, sailing on the River Orwell and around the coast. In December 1935, the Air Ministry advertised for vacancies in the R.A.F. Reserves as non-commissioned pilots. Ron applied and began training part time at No 6 Elementary and Reserve Flying Training School at Sywell, Northamptonshire. On the St. George’s Day, 1936, Ron flew solo for the first time. After further training he finally became a qualified pilot in April 1937. In 1930, a new airport was opened by the Ipswich Corporation with a newly built clubhouse and hangars. In 1937, the Straight Corporation took over. Ron joined the Straight Company in June 1937, flying calibration flights for Army anti aircraft and sound locating units, and also providing training for Observer Corps. He was Chief Flying Instructor at Ipswich Airport before the war.
A family note from John Hawkins nephew:
During the war he flew Fairey Battles aircraft in the Battle of France. He was shot down by a Messerschmitt 109 and parachuted to safety. He was captured after 3 days South West of Paris, and put into a local PoW compound – he escaped and walked to the coast Honfleur and Deauville. There were no boats so he then walked to the West Coast – stole a canoe and paddled his way over to the Channel Islands. Unfortunately they had been occupied the day before, so he returned to France. He then walked and cycled (stolen) down through France to Marseilles where he was captured again. He escaped from that prison and made his way over the Pyrenees and out through Gibraltar. Back in England he then instructed Polish Pilots at R.A.F. Newton for 2 years and was eventually returned to combat. He became C.O. of No 3 Squadron flying Typhoons. Before this he was C.O. at Snailwell, Newmarket, and also at Matlaske in Norfolk. As C.O. of No 3 Marston, Kent he led many raids against the enemy but sadly was shot down in Belgium in 1943. He had been awarded the Military Cross for his escape etc. very few R.A.F. officers get this award.
My Uncle Ron would fly low over our house and garden and drop a package for us. It was exciting to unwrap and find chocolate!
Brother to FREDERICK WILLIAM HAWKINS
Roland survived this crash landing.
FROM A HARD PLACE TO A ROCK
ISBN no 978-1-80313-192-4
First-Hand Accounts of Soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force on the Run in World War Two
Cousins, Captain Chris Waters of the Royal Engineers and Captain Jimmy Johnson of the Royal Welch Fusiliers were with the BEF in the defence of Dunkirk. In late May 1940, Jimmy (son-in-law of Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Keyes) was shot and captured near the Belgium border. Chris was captured after his regiment, attached to the 51st Highland Division, was forced to surrender at St-Valéry.
Both men managed to escape and, accompanied by fellow officers, began separately to work their way through France into Spain. Chris first met Flying Officer Ron Hawkins of 103 (B) Squadron in Vichy, later crossing the Pyrenees with him where they and their party were re-captured. By an extraordinary coincidence Jimmy had followed a similar route and they all met up in Barcelona.
Chris and Jimmy recorded their escape in journals with Jimmy also writing many letters home from internment in France. Eventually the escapees were released and arrived in Gibraltar. It was not the safe haven they had hoped for. One last cruel twist of fate would deny some of them a return home.
More information can be found at #fromahardplacetoarock