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Thomas, born in Hampstead on 13th September 1896, was the 2nd of George John and Anna Catherine Hakewill’s three children. He attended Quernmore School before going to Dover College (1911-12).
When war broke out he was with the firm of Messrs. Duncan Fox and Co. of Great St Helens, London and was only 17 years old. He joined the Artists’ Rifles in January 1915 and was gazetted on the 2nd March to the 11th battalion, North Staffordshire Regiment. He trained at Tunbridge Wells and Guernsey, and was then sent to Hayling Island for a course in machine-gun instruction, coming first in the examination. At Hayling Island he thoroughly mastered machine gunnery and became an expert in the handling of the Lewis gun. Soon after re-joining his battalion at Darlington, he was sent to Durham and placed on the staff of the officers’ school for machine-gun instruction, and his subsequent attachment to the Royal Flying Corps was largely influenced by his knowledge of this subject, and particularly in connection with certain experiments that it was desired to carry out.
At school he was a fine shot, and even as a boy was keenly interested in aviation, and used to make model aeroplanes, some of which would cover a quarter of a mile. It had always been his ambition to join the Royal Flying Corps so when the chance came he accepted an offer to go to Egypt with the 17th Squadron in November 1915.
His parents received a letter from him, dated 31st January, saying not to worry if they didn’t hear from him for a while as he was going into the desert. Almost at the same time they received a telegram announcing his death. In a letter from the Commanding Officer it said “He was killed while carrying out a recognisance near El Hamman. Something seems to have gone wrong with the aeroplane when they were 23 miles out and both pilot, Lieutenant R Yates, and the observer, Lieutenant Hakewill, were killed instantaneously. He died splendidly in the execution of his duty”.
Thomas’s younger brother George also enlisted but as he was only 16 at the time, and not very strong, he was discharged 11 weeks later.
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