Hawkesworth, John , born on 19-02-1893 in St Bees, Cumberland, was educated at St. Bees School, Cumberland from 1907–1912, where he excelled at rugby, playing in the School XV in 1911–1912. One of his team-mates was G.A. West, later Bishop of Rangoon. He then went up to the Queen’s College, Oxford to read Modern History, at which he served in the Special Reserve. He joined the unattached list of the Territorial Reserve on 23-01-1914, before being assigned second lieutenant in the East Yorkshire Regiment on 15-08-1914. He served during the First World War with the 3rd Battalion East Yorkshires, and was wounded three times. In 1919 he was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire and in 1921 was awarded the Croix de guerre by the French and also the Belgian War Cross. He remained in the army after the war holding various junior regimental and staff postings until attending the Staff College, Camberley between 1927 and 1929, his graduation entitling him to use the post-nominals “psc” after his name. He served as a staff captain at the War Office from 1920–1923, before being appointed Deputy Assistant to the Military Secretary 1923–1924. He served as Brigade Major of the 15th Infantry Brigade from 1930–1932, before becoming Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General on the staff of Northern Command until 1934. He was on the directing staff of the Staff College, Camberley as a General Staff Officer, Second Grade from 1934–1937 and was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel, becoming a General Staff Officer, First Grade in 1937. On promotion he commanded 2nd battalion The East Yorkshire Regiment and was mentioned in dispatches for service in Palestine. In October 1939 Hawkesworth was given command of 4th Infantry Division’s 12th Infantry Brigade with the British Expeditionary Force in France. He commanded the brigade through the Battle of France finally evacuating it from Dunkirk at the end of May 1940, leaving France himself on 1 June. In August he was made CBE and was also mentioned in dispatches for his service in France. In December he was appointed Director of Military Training at the War Office in the acting rank of Major-General in which role he was responsible for general military training for other ranks at a time when the army was growing rapidly. In March 1942 Hawkesworth was appointed to command 4th Infantry Division shortly after which a tank brigade was substituted for one of the three infantry brigades to create a “mixed” division. In the New Year honours list of 1943 he was appointed Companion of the Bath (CB). Hawkesworth landed with 4th Infantry Division in Algeria in March 1943 and took part in the Tunisia Campaign until the fighting ended in May. His division captured the DAK commander Hans Jürgen von Arnim in Afrika on 12-05-1943 . For his service in Tunisia Hawkesworth was awarded the DSO. During the desert war in Africa from 13-09-1940 until Mai 1943, the allied forces lost more then 250.000 men, death, wounded and captured. The As force’s casualties were 620.000 men included 250.000 prisoners of war. 4th Division was rested for the Sicilian campaign but in August 1943 Hawkesworth took over command of 46th Division which took part in the amphibious landings at Salerno during the Italian Campaign as part of U.S. Fifth Army’s under Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark’’s British X Corps under Lieutenant General Bernard Cyril Freyberg, 1st Baron Freyberg. After the capture of Naples X Corps formed the left flank of the Fifth Army’s advance to the Winter Line. During the first Battle of Monte Cassino in January 1944 the division made an assault crossing of the river Garigliano. Lack of assault boats and heavy German resistance condemned it to failure. In March the division was withdrawn to Egypt and Palestine to refit. In May 1944 Hawkesworth spent a month in temporary command of 1st Infantry Division in the Anzio beachhead when the regular commander Major-General William G. Penney fell ill. Penney died old age 81 on 03-03-1991 in East Hendred. By July he was back in Italy with 46th Division as part of Eighth Army’s under Lieutenant-General Oliver Leese’s V Corps on the Adriatic coast. The division was involved in heavy fighting during Operation Olive, the 8th Army’s major assault on the Gothic Line defences in September and October. In November 1944 Hawkesworth was promoted to command X Corps when his predecessor, Richard McCreery , moved to take command of Eighth Army. McCreery died age 69, on 18-10-1967. When the Axis forces withdrew from Greece, from October British troops under Lieutenant-General Ronald Mackenzie Scobie were sent there to maintain internal stability. Scobie died age 75, on 23-02-1969 in Aldershot. In late 1944 Hawkesworth and X Corps HQ were sent to Greece to assume control of military operations so that Scobie could concentrate more on the highly complex and sensitive political aspects of the British involvement.
Death and burial ground of Hawkesworth, John Leslie Ingles.
By March 1945 Hawkesworth and his HQ had returned to Italy. X Corps was in a reserve role and not involved in the Allies’ final offensive in April 1945 which led to the surrender of Axis forces in Italy in early May. By this time it had become apparent that Hawkesworth was suffering from a serious heart condition. He died on the way home to Britain, when he suffered a heart attack while on board his troopship which lay at Gibraltar, on 03-06-1945 at the age of fifty-two. For his services in Italy he was awarded a second DSO and the United States Legion of Merit, Degree of Commander. He had also been mentioned in despatches in August 1944 for his services in the Italy theatre. He left his wife, Helen Jane, and an only son, also named John, who at the time was also serving with the Grenadier Guards. On 10 August, Mark Clark, commander of the U.S. Fifth Army at Salerno and later commander of all Allied ground forces in Italy sent a tribute from his headquarters in Vienna mourning the “loss of a most highly-valued friendship to his many comrades-in-arms in the Mediterranean theatre…We shall not forget General Hawkesworth, and England has our eternal gratitude for producing men of his staunch integrity and character.” Britain’s post-war army had been deprived of a popular and able commander. John Hawkesworth is buried on the Gibraltar cemetery, Plot 1-Row C-Grave 2.