Personal loss

Ian Hawkins knows a bit about the Second World War having edited a number of books about the period from his home at Bacton, near Stowmarket. But the conflict also cost him dear - his father and an uncle, although he was a baby and too young to remember them at the time.

Ian Hawkins knows a bit about the Second World War having edited a number of books about the period from his home at Bacton, near Stowmarket. But the conflict also cost him dear - his father and an uncle, although he was a baby and too young to remember them at the time.

His father, Lt-Cdr FW Hawkins, was captain of the destroyer HMS Boadicea which spent part of the war escorting North Atlantic convoys on the dangerous U-boat-infested route to Russia. Transferred to the Channel for D-Day, she was sunk by one of the Nazis' new inventions, a radio-controlled missile, guided by the crew of the plane that released it.

The ship was blown in half by the blast and disappeared beneath the waves almost immediately. Just 12 of the 188 crew got away - rescued by the American Liberty ship Freeman Hatch whose captain defied the strict instruction of the time of not hazarding a ship by stopping for survivors.

Ian Hawkins' uncle Ron was born in Harwich but the family moved to Ipswich and Ron attended Northgate Grammar School, now Northgate High. He took up an engineering apprenticeship with Reavell and Co and had flying lessons pre-war at Ipswich Airport.


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He joined the RAF in 1938 and was sent to France at the outbreak of the war as a pilot with a Fairey Battle light bomber squadron. Shot down behind enemy lines, he evaded capture and weeks later escaped back to England via Spain, the first to make the long home run.

Commanding Officer of No 3 Squadron Typhoon fighter-bombers in 1943, Ron Hawkins, MC, AFC, was shot down and killed during a low-level strike against the Sinclair Oil Refinery at Langerbrugge in Belgium. He is buried in Ghent City Cemetery.

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Ian Hawkins' books of edited personal stories about the USAAF in East Anglia include: Munster: The Way It Was and B-17s over Berlin. Destroyer, his book of first-hand accounts of war in the Royal Navy's vital little fighting ships, also contains details of his father's ship and death.

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