John Hawkesworth (British Army officer)

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John Ledlie Inglis Hawkesworth
Nickname(s) "Ginger"
Born 19 February 1893
Died 3 June 1945 (aged 52)
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service 1914–1945
Rank Lieutenant-General
Unit East Yorkshire Regiment
Commands held 2nd Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment
12th Infantry Brigade
4th Infantry Division
46th Infantry Division
X Corps
Battles/wars First World War
Second World War
Awards Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Companion of the Bath
Distinguished Service Order and Bar

Lieutenant-General Sir John Ledlie Inglis Hawkesworth KBE CB DSO and Bar (19 February 1893 – 3 June 1945) was a senior British Army officer who served during both the First World War and Second World War, where he commanded the 46th Infantry Division throughout most of the Italian Campaign and later X Corps in Greece.

Early life and career[edit]

Hawkesworth was born on 19 February 1893. He 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,[1] at which he served in the Special Reserve.

He joined the unattached list of the Territorial Reserve on 23 January 1914, before being gazetted as a second lieutenant into the East Yorkshire Regiment on 15 August 1914.[2] He served during the First World War with the 3rd Battalion, 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[3] and also the Belgian War Cross.

Between the World Wars[edit]

He remained in the morning British Army after the war holding various junior regimental and staff postings until attending the Staff College, Camberley between 1927 and 1929,[4][5] 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,[6] before becoming Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General on the staff of Northern Command until 1934.[7] He was on the directing staff of the Staff College, Camberley as a General Staff Officer, Second Grade from 1934–1937[8] and was promoted to lieutenant colonel, becoming a General Staff Officer, First Grade in 1937.[9] On promotion he commanded the 2nd Battalion, East Yorkshire Regiment and was mentioned in dispatches for service in Palestine.[10]

World War II[edit]

In October 1939 Hawkesworth was given command of 4th Infantry Division's 12th Infantry Brigade, and which was serving with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) in France. He commanded the brigade throughout the Battle of France, finally being forced to retreat to Dunkirk where his brigade was evacuated to England at the end of May 1940, leaving France himself on 1 June.[11] In August he was made CBE[12] and was also mentioned in dispatches for his service in France.[13] In December he was appointed Director of Military Training at the War Office in the acting rank of Major-General[14] in which role he was responsible for general military training for other ranks at a time when the British Army was growing rapidly.[11]

In March 1942 Hawkesworth was appointed to command of the 4th Infantry Division shortly after which a tank brigade (the 21st) was substituted for one of the three infantry brigades (the 11th) to create a "mixed" division. In the New Year honours list of 1943 he was appointed Companion of the Bath (CB).[15] Hawkesworth landed with 4th Infantry Division in Algeria in March 1943 and took part in the final stages of the Tunisia Campaign until the fighting ended in May, with the surrender of nearly 250,000 prisoners.[16] For his service in Tunisia Hawkesworth was awarded the DSO.[17]

The 4th Division was rested for the Sicilian campaign but in August 1943 Hawkesworth took over command of the 46th Infantry Division which took part in the amphibious landings at Salerno during the Italian Campaign as part of U.S. Fifth Army's British X Corps, commanded by Lieutenant-General Richard McCreery, a friend of his from Staff College. 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 Garigliano river. Lack of assault boats and heavy German resistance condemned it to failure. In March the division was withdrawn to Egypt and Palestine to refit.[18]

In May 1944 Hawkesworth spent a month in temporary command of British 1st Infantry Division in the Anzio beachhead when the regular commander Major-General Ronald Penney fell ill. By July he was back in Italy with 46th Division as part of British Eighth Army's V Corps on the Adriatic coast. The division was involved in heavy fighting during Operation Olive, the Eighth Army's major assault on the Gothic Line defences in September and October.[18]

In November 1944 Hawkesworth was promoted to command X Corps when his predecessor, Richard McCreery, moved to take command of the Eighth Army. When the Axis forces withdrew from Greece, from October British troops under Lieutenant-General Ronald Scobie were sent there to maintain internal stability. In late 1944 Hawkesworth and X Corps HQ were sent to help calm the Greek Civil War and to assume control of military operations so that Scobie could concentrate more on the highly complex and sensitive political aspects of the British involvement.[18]

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 3 June 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.[19] He had also been mentioned in despatches in August 1944 for his services in the Italy theatre.[20]

End note[edit]

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, General Mark W. 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." The post-war British Army had been deprived of a popular and able commander.[21]

Army career[edit]


  1. ^ The Education Outlook. 1912. p. 17. 
  2. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28894. p. 7100. 9 August 1914.
  3. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 32218. p. 1039. 4 February 1921.
  4. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33241. p. 435. 21 January 1927.
  5. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33457. p. 400. 15 January 1929.
  6. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33577. p. 798. 7 February 1930.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 33814. p. 2215. 5 April 1932.
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34100. p. 6862. 30 October 1934.
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34364. p. 618. 29 January 1937.
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 34582. p. 8177. 23 December 1938.
  11. ^ a b Mead (2007), p. 195
  12. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 34926. p. 5075. 16 August 1940.
  13. ^ The London Gazette: no. 35146. p. 2423. 25 April 1941.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35406. p. 129. 2 January 1942.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 35481. p. 3. 29 December 1942.
  16. ^ Mead (2007), p. 196
  17. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36120. p. 3522. 3 August 1943.
  18. ^ a b c Mead (2007), p. 197
  19. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 37204. p. 3962. 31 July 1945.
  20. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 36668. p. 3926. 22 August 1944.
  21. ^ Mead (2007), p. 198


  • Mead, Richard (2007). Churchill's Lions: A Biographical Guide to the Key British Generals of World War II. Stroud: Spellmount. ISBN 978-1-86227-431-0. 

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
John Swayne
General Officer Commanding the 4th Division
Succeeded by
Hayman Hayman-Joyce
Preceded by
Richard McCreery
GOC, X Corps
Succeeded by
Post Disbanded