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Remembered Today:

Hawke Battalion


K Ronson
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Thank you all in advance for your attention. Faithful readers will perhaps have noticed that we are interested in finding out about soldiers buried in a particular part of Picardie around the house that we visit regularly. We are now curious to know as much as possible about the events that led to the deaths of 3 members of the hawke Battalion namely J Fenton LZ2509, W Stephenson T/Z4823 and Sub Lieutenant Stanley Peace Hancock - no number. They are buried in Doudelainville and at least 1 of the graves is still visited and has a photo on it. We know that they were killed by a defective grenade. Like most of the other graves that we have visited, their graves are beautifully kept and we have met the man who looks after them on several occasions. The Town Hall knows nothing of the circumstances so we will pass on whatever anyone can tell us.

Kevin

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Hawke Battalion (with the rest of the RND) had recently arrived in France from Gallipoli and were undergoing training before becoming operationally ready for the BEF. All were killed by the explosion of a Mills bomb thrown by AB James Henry Custance, TZ/5251, who suffered bomb wounds and lost some fingers. Douglas Jerrold in "The Hawke Battalion" wrote "Only one sad mischance had marred the initial stages of preparation. This was a disastrous bombing accident, on June 2nd [1916], involving the death of Sub Lieutenant Hancock and two men. The cause was, without doubt, a defective bomb..."

The War Diary states "DOUDELAINVILLE. In forenoon, bombing accident occurred on ground taken over for instructional purposes. The following casualties resulted: Sub Lt AP [sic] HANCOCK and 2 OR killed, 2 OR severely injured and 2 OR slightly injured. Court of Inquiry to investigate circumstances of foregoing assembled. Funeral service at 7 pm. GOC RND, GOC 2nd Bde and Battalion attended."

Hancock was MiD and was Adjutant of Hawke Bn. Mar - May 1916.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I've just happened on this item, and this may be of interest:

'J.Fenton' was a relative (my Mother's elder half brother), and was aged just eighteen years when he was killed at Doudelainville. He enlisted at Twickenham in July 1915, and was originally destined for the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force (MEF), which, following the general withdrawal from the Dardanelles Campaign, was diverted to France.

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Bigfeet,

Welcome to the Great War Forum

Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force (MEF), - that should be Mediterranean Expeditionary Force (MEF)

I would also like to second H2's mention of Douglas Jerrold's book 'The Hawke Battalion' (available from the N & M Press)

Thoroughly recommended

best regards

Michael

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  • 1 month later...

No, not me I'm afraid. I had hoped to get down there this summer, as my Mother would like a photograph of the grave to add to her family research, but work keeps getting in the way!

Interesting that someone is leavinga photograph.

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Records online or downloadable free at the UK National Archives, Kew.

Name Fenton, John

Service Number(s): Z/2509

Rank or Rating: Ordinary Seaman, Able Seaman

Date of Birth: 13 September 1896

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documen...p;resultcount=6

Name Hancock, Stanley Pearce

Catalogue reference ADM 337/119

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documen...;resultcount=29

Name Stephenson, William

Service Number(s): Z/4823

Rank or Rating: Ordinary Seaman, Able Seaman

Date of Birth: 20 December 1895

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documen...p;resultcount=6

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Name: Stanley Pearce Hancock

Service Branch: Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

Unit: Hawke Bn.

Rank: Temporary Sub Lieutenant

Awards: MiD

Death Date: 2 Jun 1916

Cause Of Death: Accidentally killed (Bombing accident, premature explosion of defective Mills Grenade)

Burial: Doudelainville Communal Cemetery (FR 1545)

Service History: Commissioned Temporary Sub Lieutenant RNVR 4/5/15 ; Draft for MEF 5/10/15, joined 'C' Company Hawke Bn. 25/10/15-2/6/16 DD.

Notes: Assistant Adjutant Hawke Bn. vice Lieutenant Jerrold on leave 23/2/16 ; Adjutant Hawke Bn. vice Lieutenant Jerrold 24/3/16-27/5/16 ; MiD for distinguished & gallant services MEF (London Gazette 13/7/16 p.6952) ; London Z/2509 AB J. Fenton & Tyneside Z/4823 AB W. Stephenson were also killed. Grenade thrower was Tyneside Z/5251 AB James Henry Custance, who suffered bomb wounds to his Neck & left hand, 2nd & 3rd fingers blown off. ; b.25/2/1886 ; Mother, A.J., Craigside, Kingwear, S.Devon.

Name: John Fenton

Service Branch: Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

Unit: Hawke Bn.

Rank: Able Seaman

Death Date: 2 Jun 1916

Cause Of Death: Accidentally killed (Bombing accident, premature explosion of defective Mills Grenade)

Burial: Doudelainville Communal Cemetery (FR 1545)

Service History: Enlisted 3/7/15 ; Draft for MEF (Bomber) 25/10/15, joined Hawke Bn. 2/12/15-2/6/16 DD.

Service Number: London Z/2509

Notes: Temporary Sub Lieutenant S.P. Hancock RNVR & Tyneside Z/4823 AB W. Stephenson were also killed. Grenade thrower was Tyneside Z/5251 AB James Henry Custance, who suffered bomb wounds to his Neck & left hand, 2nd & 3rd fingers blown off. ; A Labourer ; b.13/9/1896 ; Next-of-Kin & home address: Father, B., 18 Colne Rd., Twickenham, Middlesex.

Name: William Stephenson

Service Branch: Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

Unit: Hawke Bn.

Rank: Able Seaman

Death Date: 2 Jun 1916

Cause Of Death: Accidentally killed (Bombing accident; premature explosion of defective Mills Grenade)

Burial: Doudelainville Communal Cemetery (FR 1545)

Service History: Enlisted 25/5/15 ; Draft for MEF 5/12/15, joined Hawke Bn. at Mudros 7/2/16-2/6/16 DD.

Service Number: Tyneside Z/4823

Notes: London Z/2509 AB J. Fenton & Temporary Sub Lieutenant S.P. Hancock RNVR were also killed. Grenade thrower was Tyneside Z/5251 AB James Henry Custance, who suffered bomb wounds to his Neck & left hand, 2nd & 3rd fingers blown off. ; A Miner ; b.20/12/1895 ; Next-of-Kin & home address: Father, William, 59 Gilbert St., South Shields.

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He did, his brother, AB Richard John Custance died on 4th June 1915 with Hood Bn.

Mick

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Name Custance, James Henry

Service Number(s): [T]Z/5251

Rank or Rating: Ordinary Seaman, Able Seaman

Date of Birth: 1 June 1890

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documen...p;resultcount=4

Name Custance, Richard John

Service Number(s): KX/428

Rank or Rating: Able Seaman, Durham Light Infantry, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve

Date of Birth: 21 January 1889

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documen...p;resultcount=4

Their other brother Matthew Edward Custance also served in the DLI & RND.

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/documen...p;resultcount=4

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Thanks for the reply. I found it yesterday. Are you the person who visits the grave and has left a photograph?

Regards.

K Ronson

Kevin,

The photograph of Bill Stephenson at Doudelainville is that of my husband's uncle. In fact we are planning to visit the grave again this Sunday and put a replacement photo of Bill and his family.

Regards

B.Jenkins

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Kevin,

The photograph of Bill Stephenson at Doudelainville is that of my husband's uncle. In fact we are planning to visit the grave again this Sunday and put a replacement photo of Bill and his family.

Regards

B.Jenkins

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This is a message to Kevin, Bigfeet and all the other members of the Forum who have been posting information about the Hawke Battalion in France. My husband, Bill Jenkins, is the nephew of William Stephenson who was killed by a faulty Mills grenade on the 2nd June 1916 along with two comrades in Doudelainville.

Four years ago we visited William's grave in Doudelainville and placed a photo of him and his family taken around 1911 on the grave, so we are the people you're looking for.

Today we returned after a long weekend in the Somme region where we visited the railway station at Pont Remy where Hawke Battalion arrived from Marseilles in May 1916 before transferring to Doudelainville. Once there, we visited William's grave again and left a replacement photo there on Sunday, 13 September.

Yesterday we re-visited Thiepval and found out some very interesting facts from the Historian in the Visitors' Shop about the Hawke Battalion's movements after leaving Doudelainville and their involvement in battles on 1st July 1916 onwards, which is what Messrs. Stephenson, Hancock and Fenton would have faced had they survived the 2nd June accident. We were told in Thiepval that out of approximately 800 men of the Hawke Battalion some 519 were killed in that offensive. We still have to sort out exactly what information we were given about the Battalion's movements back and forth, with dates, in that area.

We were also told that many of the RNVR Battalions' fallen (including Hawke) were in the Cemetery at Ancre, which we also visited. An out of the way cemetery quite close to Thiepval, but very well worth the visit.

Once we've assimilated the info gained over the last few days, I will post another message with the details.

It would be great to get photos of Messrs Hancock and Fencock to put with William's - any ideas anyone.

I'm not very good at finding my way round this site yet, so would appreciate knowing if this message gets through to anyone.

Thanks,

Betty Jenkins

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Hello.

The information got to me and was gratefully received.

This is a message to Kevin, Bigfeet and all the other members of the Forum who have been posting information about the Hawke Battalion in France. My husband, Bill Jenkins, is the nephew of William Stephenson who was killed by a faulty Mills grenade on the 2nd June 1916 along with two comrades in Doudelainville.

Four years ago we visited William's grave in Doudelainville and placed a photo of him and his family taken around 1911 on the grave, so we are the people you're looking for.

Today we returned after a long weekend in the Somme region where we visited the railway station at Pont Remy where Hawke Battalion arrived from Marseilles in May 1916 before transferring to Doudelainville. Once there, we visited William's grave again and left a replacement photo there on Sunday, 13 September.

Yesterday we re-visited Thiepval and found out some very interesting facts from the Historian in the Visitors' Shop about the Hawke Battalion's movements after leaving Doudelainville and their involvement in battles on 1st July 1916 onwards, which is what Messrs. Stephenson, Hancock and Fenton would have faced had they survived the 2nd June accident. We were told in Thiepval that out of approximately 800 men of the Hawke Battalion some 519 were killed in that offensive. We still have to sort out exactly what information we were given about the Battalion's movements back and forth, with dates, in that area.

We were also told that many of the RNVR Battalions' fallen (including Hawke) were in the Cemetery at Ancre, which we also visited. An out of the way cemetery quite close to Thiepval, but very well worth the visit.

Once we've assimilated the info gained over the last few days, I will post another message with the details.

It would be great to get photos of Messrs Hancock and Fencock to put with William's - any ideas anyone.

I'm not very good at finding my way round this site yet, so would appreciate knowing if this message gets through to anyone.

Thanks,

Betty Jenkins

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We were told in Thiepval that out of approximately 800 men of the Hawke Battalion some 519 were killed in that offensive.

Not quite accurate. During the Hawke Bn.'s time on the Ancre in late 1916 about 150 men were k.i.a., m.i.a. or d.o.w. Many more were wounded, of course.

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  • 8 years later...
On 15/09/2009 at 20:35, Hawke Battalion said:

This is a message to Kevin, Bigfeet and all the other members of the Forum who have been posting information about the Hawke Battalion in France. My husband, Bill Jenkins, is the nephew of William Stephenson who was killed by a faulty Mills grenade on the 2nd June 1916 along with two comrades in Doudelainville.

Four years ago we visited William's grave in Doudelainville and placed a photo of him and his family taken around 1911 on the grave, so we are the people you're looking for.

Today we returned after a long weekend in the Somme region where we visited the railway station at Pont Remy where Hawke Battalion arrived from Marseilles in May 1916 before transferring to Doudelainville. Once there, we visited William's grave again and left a replacement photo there on Sunday, 13 September.

Yesterday we re-visited Thiepval and found out some very interesting facts from the Historian in the Visitors' Shop about the Hawke Battalion's movements after leaving Doudelainville and their involvement in battles on 1st July 1916 onwards, which is what Messrs. Stephenson, Hancock and Fenton would have faced had they survived the 2nd June accident. We were told in Thiepval that out of approximately 800 men of the Hawke Battalion some 519 were killed in that offensive. We still have to sort out exactly what information we were given about the Battalion's movements back and forth, with dates, in that area.

We were also told that many of the RNVR Battalions' fallen (including Hawke) were in the Cemetery at Ancre, which we also visited. An out of the way cemetery quite close to Thiepval, but very well worth the visit.

Once we've assimilated the info gained over the last few days, I will post another message with the details.

It would be great to get photos of Messrs Hancock and Fencock to put with William's - any ideas anyone.

I'm not very good at finding my way round this site yet, so would appreciate knowing if this message gets through to anyone.

Thanks,

Betty Jenkins

 

Hope you get notifications. Book “Unknown warriors” isbn 9780750959223 is by the nurse who tended Fenton and Stephenson. She describes their dying words on page 202. 

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