Last post for a Thatcham man

Not all those who died for their country did so on active service. Heart failure claimed one Thatcham father, who was rewarded with a full scale military funeral.

Military Funeral.

It is doubtful how long ago it may have been, if ever, that the honour of a Military Funeral at his own home, has been granted to an inhabitant of Thatcham, and certainly not within living memory. This honour was however accorded to George Hawkins, on June 8th, when his body was conveyed from Southampton by a company of his own regiment and interred in the Cemetery. He died rather suddenly while on duty at the Rest Camp, Southampton, serving his country as truly as those who have died in France at the hands of our foes, and after having himself offered to go to the front whenever his services were required. George Hawkins was probably one of the best known and popular among his contemporaries of Thatcham men, and the honour accorded him by the Military Authorities shows that they had not incorrectly estimated his character. His early but honourable death, from some form of heart disease, came as a surprise to most of them, though some of his friends appear to have known something of this constitutional weakness. Very impressive was the march of the soldiers, accompanied by the solemn sound of the Drums and Fifes from his home to the Church and thence to the Cemetery. At the Church all the members of the choir who could be there, were in attendance, and added what they could to the solemnity of the Burial Service by rendering it chorally. At the graveside the firing party at the close of the Service gave the customary farewell salute, and with the sounding of the “Last Post” all that could be done to show respect to an honourable soldier’s career was over. He leaves behind him a widow and three young children for whom much sympathy is felt, and the honour and respect shown to the Husband and Father will doubtless remain to them as a cherished memory and help them face more bravely whatever hardships and trials may be before them.

Thatcham parish magazine, July 1915 (D/P130/28A/1)

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