Surrey Infantry Museum Medals

Medals of Lt Col NJP Hawken MC TD

Medals of Lt Col NJP Hawken MC TD

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He was commissioned in the Queen's in May, 1939 and served with the 1/7th in France and Belgium 1940, being awarded the MC for his part in destroying 250 barges the La Bassee canal, under fire, to delay the German advance on Dunkirk. On returning to England he reformed the Battalion transport, and his scrupulous arrangements (a feature of all his work) were especially appreciated intellectually he was so outstanding that he was obviously destined for higher appointments, and was a most successful adjutant.

In North Africa he formed up with the Battalion for the historic attack at Alamein, and with great courage advanced through the enemy defensive artillery, mortar and machine gun-fire, to gain the objectives on the enemy side of the "January" minefield. The CO was killed and all Company Commanders and Hawken were wounded; in addition there were serious casualties to the Battalion and its communications on the 23rd October 1942.

At Base Hospital in Egypt, Hawken signed his own medical certificate to say he was fit for action, and re-joined the 1/7th Queen's as HQ Company Commander in the battle for the clearance of the enemy from North Africa. Typical of Hawken, he insisted on taking part in the long route march: when he could have remained in "B" Echelon. Consequently not being fully recovered from his wounds he suffered from sore feet, and like many others, desert sores. Although at the capture of Tunis, he was bitterly disappointed to have been in hospital when the Battalion embarked for the landings at Salerno in Italy in September, 1943.

Hawken's qualities and excellence at Staff Duties was recognised by an appointment as Staff Captain in the Canal Zone, but he was restless to get back into action. He joined the 2/5th Leicesters as a Company Command for the attack on the Gothic Line in Italy in 1944, where he was very badly wounded in the chest, and became a long term casualty of the war. After the war when the 1/7 Queen's was reformed as 622 HAA Regiment (Queen's) RA TA, he answered the call to re-join, and was appointed successively Battery Commander, 21C and CO.

Lt Col. Hawken held command from May 1949, to May 1951, at a most difficult period for recruiting and training of TA Volunteers. Only the highest quality officer could have organised its conversion, training and administration. He was the right one for this task. He was always deeply attached to the Queen's and it was his permanent regret that, due to the undermining his health from his chest wounds, he was unable to take part in as many Regimental activities and Old Comrades Comrades Reunions as he would have wished, which was fully appreciated by former members who admired his fortitude. He died on the 4th July 1975.

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