SERJEANT FRANCIS ALBERT HAWES
ROYAL GARRISON ARTILLERY
11TH JULY 1916 AGE 25
BURIED: HERSIN COMMUNAL CEMETERY EXTENSION, FRANCE
Serjeant Francis Albert Hawes was the son of a professional soldier, Staff Serjeant Francis Anthony Hawes, who chose his inscription. It comes from the penultimate line of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem, Maud (1855).
For all the hilarity of its most famous line: "Come into the garden Maud", this is a dark, cynical and controversial poem. Who knows whether Francis Anthony was aware of this. It's likely however that he was impressed by the last two stanzas, which tell of a country (Britain) that has lost for a little its lust for gold, and its love for "a peace that was full of wrongs and shame", and is prepared to embrace war in order that "God's just wrath shall be wreak'd on a giant liar". Tennyson was referring to the Crimean War. Many will have seen a similarity with the Great War. Now, "The blood-red blossom of war with a heart of fire" has begun to burn -
"Let it flame or fade, and the war roll down like a wind,
We have proved we have hearts in a cause, we are noble still
And myself have awaked, as it seems, to the better mind
It is better to fight for the good, than to rail at the ill;
I have felt with my native land, I am one with my kind,
I embrace the purpose of God, and the doom assign'd."
To have been a serjeant at 25, less than two years after the outbreak of war, it's possible that Francis Albert Hawes was a professional soldier like his father. He served with the heavy guns, the Royal Garrison Artillery, and died on 11 July 1916.