Museum of the Manchester Regiment
The Men Behind the Medals

Henry Hawley

Henry Hawley :

Henry Hawley : (L to R) Afghanistan Medal with clasp 'Kandahar'; Egypt Medal with clasp 'Tel el Kebir'

(L to R) Afghanistan Medal with clasp 'Kandahar'; Egypt Medal with clasp 'Tel el Kebir'

Henry was born in around January 1861 in Manchester. His father was called Thomas and his mother was Clara. He was their oldest child: John, Emma and George were all younger. The family were members of the Church of England.

In 1871 Thomas worked as a spinner and weaver in a mill and the family lived at 76a Bloom Street in Manchester. By the time he was 18 Henry had found work as a stitcher.

On the 5th March 1879 Henry travelled to Ashton-under-Lyne to join the Army. He enlisted for General Service in the Infantry, which meant he was willing to serve in whichever unit the Army chose. They assigned him to the 16th Brigade, made up of the 63rd and the 96th Regiments of Foot.

Henry was 5 feet 6 1/4 inches tall when he enlisted. He had a 'fresh' complexion, hazel eyes and sandy hair. He was given the service number 1912 and signed his enlistment form at 5pm. He made 'his mark' (an 'x') instead of signing his name. This tells us he could not write.

Henry served in the UK until March 1881. He may have been serving with the 96th Regiment in Aldershot, Hampshire. He began to receive 1 penny (1d) extra per day Good Conduct Pay on the 5th March 1881. Three days later he was sent to India to join the 63rd Regiment. He made the journey aboard the 3rd Rate Indian troopship HMS Jumna.

On the 1st July the 63rd Regiment was renamed the 1st Battalion of the Manchester Regiment. They were based in Quetta in modern Pakistan at the time. During November and December the battalion began marching from Quetta to Sialkot. Henry returned to the UK on the 16th December, so we don't believe he ever reached Sialkot.

We don't know what was wrong with Henry, but on his arrival in the UK he was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital at Netley near Southampton. He was assessed as 'unfit for further service' and discharged on the 14th February 1882.

Henry's life between then and 1911 is a mystery. He married Mary Ann White at All Saints Church in Heaton Norris, Stockport between April and June 1904. She was a widow with children from her previous marriage.

By 1911 Henry worked as a mechanic's labourer at a gas engine manufacturer. He lived at 40 Rowland Street in Heaton Norris in Stockport with his family.

He and Mary had had 4 children by this time, but only Clara was still alive. She had been born on the 5th August 1909 and baptised on the 25th at the same church her parents had married in. We know that Mary had had a child called Violet May on the 11th June 1903, and another named George Herbert on the 26th July 1905, but we don't know whether they were amongst the 3 who had died.

Mary's daughter Ethel lived with Henry, Mary and Clara in 1911. Also with them was Ellen Jackson, a 15 year old girl who the family had adopted.

The First World War broke out on the 4th August 1914 and Henry rejoined the Manchester Regiment on the 28th. When he enlisted he was 5 feet 7 1/2 inches tall and weighed 138 pounds. Oddly, his eyes are recorded as being blue.

Henry served with the 4th Battalion on the Humber Estuary until the 27th May 1915, when he was discharged. We don't know why he had to leave the Army, although it is likely to have been because of his age. He did not serve outside the United Kingdom.

Henry's life after this remains a mystery. He lived with Mary at 40 Rowland Street until he died on the 7th March 1932. He was 70 years old. Mary was 60 when she died on the 15th February 1933.

Henry did not qualify for either of the 2 medals in this photograph. The 63rd Regiment had ended its service in Afghanistan before he arrived in India, and it was not present during the Battle of Kandahar on the 1st September 1880. Henry had left the 1st Battalion by the time it was sent to Egypt, and it did not take part in the Battle of Tel el Kebir on the 13th September 1882.

We don't know why Henry chose to purchase and engrave these medals, or who they originally belonged to. He did not qualify for any service medals of his own. They were donated to the Museum of the Manchester Regiment in around 1960.

Museum of the Manchester Regiment
c/o Portland Basin Museum
Portland Place
Heritage Wharf
Ashton-under-Lyne
OL7 0QA

Telephone: 0161 343 2878
Email: Portland.Basin@tameside.gov.uk
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Trustees of the Manchester Regiment Museum & Archive and Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council