David Hassard reports…
On 12th July 1921 Harry Hawker died following a crash in a Nieuport Goshawk which he was testing prior to racing in the 1921 Aerial Derby at Hendon. On 18th July 1921 the street in Hook four miles south of Kingston was packed with mourners as the funeral cortege made its way slowly past his home to St Paul’s church less than 100 yards away. The funeral was attended by many famous names in British aviation, not least his close colleagues Thomas Sopwith and Fred Sigrist.
The King sent a message of condolence, “The nation has lost one of its most distinguished airmen, who by his skill and daring has contributed so much to the success of British aviation.”
The memorial at his grave immediately inside the lychgate of St Paul’s church simply reads - IN LOVING ADMIRATION OF HARRY GEORGE HAWKER AFC WHO GAVE HIS LIFE TO THE SCIENCE OF AVIATION AFTER NINE YEARS IN ITS SERVICE. BORN JANUARY 22ND 1889. DIED JULY 12TH 1921.“SAFE”.
Exactly 100 years later on Sunday 18th July 2021, a
small information lectern at the foot of his grave was unveiled by
Cathy Dimsdale, one of the three of Harry’s granddaughters present at
St Paul’s, with a gathering of some 40 people to recognise his life and
tragic early death in a simple poignant commemoration service. The
Hawker Association helped the church archivist with the wording for the
lectern and the Hawker Association and Kingston Aviation Centenary
Project contributed to the cost and were represented at the service by
Chris Roberts and David Hassard along with Hawker Association members
Frank Rainsborough, Richard Cannon and Kieron Kirk.