Unit: 2nd Kings Royal Rifle Corps
Commemorated: Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres
Cyril Frances Hawley, who was killed in action about November 2nd 1914, was the second son of the late Sir Henry Hawley, Bart., and Frances Lady Hawley, of Leybourne, Kent and brother of the present Baronet. He was born in 1878, and obtained his commission from the Militia in 1899, and his Captaincy in 1905. In the South African campaign he was employed with the Mounted Infantry, and was present at the Battle of Talana Hill, the defence of Ladysmith, and the actions of Laing’s Nek, Belfast and Lydenberg. He also served as Commandant and Railway Staff Officer, was mentioned in despatches and received the Queen’s Medal with 6 clasps and the King’s Medal with 2 clasps.
Captain Hawley was married in 1912 to Ursula Mary, daughter of Mr. Percy St. John.
To all who knew him Hawley was a delightful companion. His happy, cheery nature endeared him to every one and he was ever ready to offer help or sympathy to anyone in need of it. He had just successfully passed through Staff College, and the Regiment mourns the loss of a valuable officer and a gallant Rifleman.
Formerly the 60th (The King’s Royal Rifle Corps), Captain Hawley’s regiment was formed in 1741. This regiment, though possessing no “Colours”, bears more honours than any other regiment. At the outbreak of war, the 2nd Battalion was part of the First Corps, 2nd Infantry Brigade along side the 2nd Royal Sussex; 1st Loyal North Lancs and 1st Northamptons. As such it formed part of the original BEF which would commence embarkation for France on the 12th August 1914. The BEF first saw action on the 22nd August 1914.
An extract from the battalion diary records:
1st Nov. 1914. Early next morning the Germans with fresh troops again attacked, and at one time it seemed as if they would succeed in breaking through. The shelling was terrific and the enemy were able to bring up a field gun to within 700 yards of our front trenches, which they blew to pieces. They did not, however, succeed in breaking the line and by evening all was fairly comfortable. At about midnight Captain Hawley arrived with a draft of about 200 men, and shortly afterwards the 3rd Brigade were relieved by the 6th Brigade, the Berkshire Regiment taking over our trenches, with our 1st Battalion on their left. The Battalion withdrew to the woods S.E. of Hooge, where they bivouacked for the night.
2nd Nov. 1914. The early hours of November 2nd were spent by the Battalion in digging themselves in, in case of shell fire, but their rest was short lived, as about 12 noon an urgent message was received from the 1st Battalion asking for assistance. The 1st Battalion was at this time just south of the Ypres-Menin road, and had been holding the trenches to which we were driven back on the 31st October.
Captain Currie and two signallers were sent forward to find out the situation, but within ten minutes one of the signallers returned and reported that Capt. Currie and the other signaller had both been hit by a shell. Lt. Dimmer was then sent forward to find out what was going on. When he returned he stated that our line had been broken north of the Ypres-Menin road. Meanwhile the Battalion had fallen in and advanced in very open order across the ground intervening between their bivouac and the Herenthage Chateau grounds. There had been no time to tell off the draft to companies so they were sent in as one company under Captain Hawley. The draft and A and B Companies crossed the main road west of the Chateau and pushed through the woods in the direction of Veldhoek. They pushed the enemy back and unfortunately Captain Hawley was killed during this operation.