Driver Thomas HADWIN (T/220461)

2nd. Reserve. Motor Transport Coy,
Royal Army Service Corps.

Born: 13 August 1907, Patterdale, Westmorland
Died: 23 April 1941, Nafplio, Greece (Age 33) 


Thomas Hadwin was born at Wordsworth Cottage, Patterdale, on the 13th August 1907 and was baptised at St Patrick's Church on the 29th September later that year. Thomas, or Tom as he was generally called, was the third son of Stephen Slinger Hadwin and his wife Betsy Ann (nee Routledge).

An excellent biography has been written by his son, Roger Hadwin, who wrote the following for the Matterdale Historical Society a few years ago:‑

After leaving school he assisted his father with his carriers business between Patterdale and Penrith. Presumably he was taught to drive during this period because later in his teens, I understand that he joined the local and well respected building firm of Arthur Pattinson as a driver of their Model T Ford. In the late 1920's or early 1930's he became employed by John Dickinson of Rooking Ghyll, Patterdale, a Director of Harland and Wolf Ltd the well known shipbuilders of Belfast, as a chauffeur/handyman and this work took him all over the country driving the Dickinsons both on business and pleasure journeys.

By this time he had met Margaret Tomlinson Cheeseman of New Hutton, Kendal; a pupil teacher at Patterdale School who was teaching the infants. After courting for some 4 or 5 years they were subsequently married at St Stephen's Church, New Hutton on the 28th April 1934 and lived in a (tied) cottage adjacent to the Dickinson's. On the 24th July 1938 a son, Roger was born.

According to my father's close friend, Walter Dry, one day during September (presumably 1939) my father arrived in his boss's car and announced that he was going to volunteer and would he go with him. His thoughts were that if they volunteered, they would get the best jobs. They immediately drove to Ambleside to the Border Regiment's local HQ. They were unable to help and it was suggested that they travelled to Windermere. Here they encountered the same indifferent attitude and it was suggested that they went to Kendal. Here it was suggested that they went to Lancaster where they were sure they would be attended to. This was too far and they returned home disillusioned as much because the car had not had it's headlights modified allowing only a narrow strip of light. 

My father, not being in a reserved occupation, was finally called up on the 12th September 1940 into the Royal Army Service Corps as a driver and was posted to 'A' Company 8th Training Battalion on the 21st September. He was temporarily posted to 'D' Company on the 9th October 1940 before going back to the 8th Training Battalion on the 6th November 1940. On the 11th December he was posted to the 2nd Reserve Motor Transport Company for overseas service and subsequently disembarking in Egypt on the 5th March 1941. I am in possession of a (censored) letter to his close friends, Elsie and Walter Dry of Glenridding dated 6th February 1941 and obviously written at sea, in which he says, 'you will have done a lot of wondering where I am since I left Bradford' (I presume that he was in Bradford whilst training). 

The first notification my mother received that my father was missing was dated the 30th July 1941 from the RASC Records office in Hastings in which it states 'T/220461 - Dvr T Hadwin was posted as 'missing' on the 28th April 1941'. 

I am also in possession of letters to my mother between 1941 and 1944, from various organisations obviously in response to my mother's desperate pleas for information, culminating with a letter from The War Office dated 5th December 1944 in which she receives the first official confirmation that 'it is with deep regret that the military authorities overseas have now reported that your husband's grave has been found in Greece and that it is consequently being recorded that Driver Hadwin was killed in action between the 23rd and 25th April 1941'. 

I believe that he was first interred at Nafplio on the Peloponnese near to where he was killed when the enemy pushed down through Greece resulting in the allied forces evacuating to Crete following the capitulation of the Greek Army on 21st April 1941. Later my father's remains were re-interred in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery at Phaleron, on the coast road near Piraeus. 

Mother and I attended the dedication and unveiling ceremony on the 10th May 1961 by the Duke of Gloucester and attended by members of the Greek Royal family. My family have visited since then and in fact I took my mother's ashes there to be interred in the grave to enable her to be reunited with my father. 

It would appear that the 2nd Reserve MT Coy. of the RASC were attached to 2nd ANZAC Corps who were fighting with the Greek Army against the Germans.

In a report to the New Zealand MoD about the withdrawal from Greece, Major-General B. C. Freyburg made these comments:

'The remarkable success of this withdrawal surprised both the enemy and ourselves...The Army Service Corps, including the Reserve Motor Transport Company, played a great part in supplying the forces throughout the whole of the operations and in carrying troops'.

The Medal Records for WW2 servicemen are contained within their service records, which have not been made publicly available. However, having served for 7 months before he was killed, Driver Thomas Hadwin qualified for, and would have been posthumously awarded, the 1939-1945 Star and the 1939-1945 British War Medal. Also, his son Roger told us in August 2014, that Thomas was awarded the Africa Star and the Greek Commemorative Medal 1940-1941 (Roger received this in early 2003 following an approach to the Greek Embassy). Details of the medals and award criteria are given in the notes below.
Driver Thomas Hadwin is remembered and commemorated on: 

The Patterdale War Memorial
The Phaleron War Cemetery, Greece(Plot 9, Row A, Grave 12)
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial Certificate

What became of his family?

Tom's parents continued to live at Wordsworth Cottage until at least 1929 but had moved to 3, Lane Foot, Deepdale by 1934 and were still there when his mother Betsy died on the 25th February 1937, aged 61, and also when his father Stephen died on the 31st July 1946, aged 68. They are both buried in St Patrick's churchyard.

Wife and Son
Tom's widow Margaret was born at New Hutton, Kendal in May 1910, the daughter of poultry farmers John and Phoebe Cheeseman. In 1929 she became a pupil teacher at Patterdale teaching the infants and remained in this post until 1953 when she moved to take up a similar postion in Levens. She passed away in August 1971. Her ashes are buried in the same grave as Tom, in the CWGC cemetery at Phaleron, Greece.
Their son Roger was born at Rooking Ghyll Cottage, Patterdale in July 1938. He attended Appleby Grammar School leaving in 1955 and joined the Provincial Insurance Company at their Head Office in Kendal. He relocated to Leicester in 1960 where he met his future wife Carole, subsequently moving to Macclesfield when he joined Sun Alliance Insurance in Manchester. He retired in 1997 and continues to live in Macclesfield where his son, Paul and daughter, Nicola also live.

His eldest sister Laura, who was born in Great Strickland around 1898, married Herbert Charles Reed, a Market Gardener, at St Clements Church, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, on the 4th November 1922.
His eldest brother Herbert was born at Troutbeck in early 1900 but sadly died, when only 8 years old, in October 1908. He is buried in St Patrick's churchyard.
His older brother Frank, who was born in Patterdale in 1903, married Norah Tinkler in 1936. They were also living at 3, Lane Foot, Deepdale when Frank died on the 30th July 1984, aged 81, and when Norah died on the 8th May 1988, aged 74.
His youngest sister Mary, who was born in Patterdale in 1913, married Thomas Fleming of Threlkeld in 1936. Mary died in April 2012 and is buried in St Patrick's churchyard.


1. Medals

1939-1945 Star - This star was awarded for service in the Second World War between 3rd September 1939 and 2nd September 1945. Royal Navy personnel had to complete 6 months service afloat in active operational areas. Army personnel had to complete 6 months service in an operational command. Airborne troops qualified if they had participated in any airborne operations and had completed 2 months service in a fully operational unit. RAF personnel had to participate in operations against the enemy providing that 2 months service had been completed in an operational unit. Non-aircrew personnel had to complete 6 months service in an area of operational army command. Merchant Navy qualified if they completed 6 months service, and at least 1 voyage was made through an operational area. Members of fighter aircraft crews who took part in the Battle of Britain (10 July to 31 October 1940) were awarded the "Battle of Britain" bar to this medal.

The criteria is 180 days’ service, although some special criteria apply when, at certain specified times, just 1 days’ service is required. These were actions for which a more specific campaign medal was not issued. Examples are: France or Belgium: 10 May to 19 June 1940, St. Nazaire 22-28 March 1942, Dieppe: 19 August 1942, Iraq: 10 April to 25 May 1941 and Burma (Enemy Invasion): 22 February 1942 to 15 May 1942.

Also recipients were awarded this star if their service period was terminated by their death or disability due to service. Also the award of a gallantry medal or Mention in Despatches also produced the award of this medal, regardless of their service duration.

1939-1945 British War Medal  - The War Medal 1939–1945 was a British decoration awarded to all full time service personnel of the Armed Forces wherever their service during the war was rendered. Operational and non-operational service counted provided personnel had completed 28 days service between 3rd September 1939 and the 2nd September 1945. In the Merchant Navy there was the requirement that 28 days should be served at sea.

Personnel who were eligible for a campaign star yet who had their service cut short by death, wounds or capture by the enemy, still qualified for this medal. Eligible personnel who had been mentioned in dispatches during the War were entitled to wear a bronze oak leaf emblem on the ribbon. Those War Medals issued to UK personnel were not officially inscribed. However, those issued to Australian and South African personnel were officially inscribed. It is sometimes described as the "Victory Medal" for World War II, although that is not its correct name.

The Africa Star  - awarded for 1 or more days’ service in North Africa, Malta or Egypt between 10 June 1940 and 12 May 1943. The qualifying areas for the Africa Star also include the earlier areas of conflict against the Italians in East Africa; those serving in Abyssinia, Sudan, Eritrea, Kenya or Somaliland between certain other specified dates will also qualify.

Naval personnel anywhere at sea in the Mediterranean or in harbour in North Africa, Malta or Egypt between the above dates will qualify. Those serving in direct support of the Eritrean and Abyssinian campaigns between certain other specified dates will also qualify.

RAF air crew landing in or flying over an area of an Army operational command or flying over enemy occupied territory in North Africa will also qualify.

Service with either the 1st or 8th Army in North Africa during certain specified dates will qualify for award of the ‘1st Army’ or ‘8th Army’ clasp to be worn on the ribbon of the Africa Star.

Provided neither the 1st or 8th Army clasps have been qualified for, staff of the 18 Army Group Headquarters who served between certain specified dates under a specified General will qualify for award of the clasp ‘North Africa 1942-43’.

Greek Commemorative MedalVeterans of the Second World War who took part in operations in Greece (mainland, islands, sea and airspace) between 28 Oct 1940 – 8 May 1945 are eligible for this medal. 

2. The Phaleron War Cemetery, Greece

Phaleron War Cemetery lies a few kilometres to the South-East of Athens, at the boundary between the old Phaleron district and Kalamaki district. It is on the coast road from Athens to Vouliaghinen, 5 kilometres west of the international airport. Within this cemetery will also be found the Athens Memorial and the Phaleron Cremation Memorial. The site of what is now Phaleron War Cemetery was chosen originally by the 4th British Division as a burial ground for British casualties of the Greek Civil War (December 1944-February 1945). Subsequently the military authorities, in conjunction with the Greek Government and the Army Graves Service, decided that it would be the most suitable site for a 1939-1945 War cemetery for the whole mainland of Greece. To this last resting place were brought from battlefield graves, temporary military cemeteries and from various civil cemeteries the British and Commonwealth casualties of the 1941 campaign.  More Details

Research Documents

        Census Returns
        Baptism Register (Entry 730)
        Burial Register (Entries 447 & 528)