Medal surprise for Home Guard veteran

Edwin Hawker, 87, receives surprise on his birthday.

AN 87-year-old veteran of the Home Guard has finally received the Defence Medal - almost 70 years late.

Edwin Hawker, of Cotleigh, was presented with the medal on his birthday last Saturday during a surprise presentation led by Honiton’s town crier, Dave Retter, and historians.

Mr Hawker thought he was attending a morning performance by war-time entertainers Blitz and Peaces in Cotleigh Village Hall when he was surprised.

The former superintendent for South West Water is recovering from a stroke, but told the Midweek Herald: “I didn’t even dream about this.”

Author Arthur Cook and military historian Steve Parsons were conducting research into the Home Guard for a book when they met and interviewed Mr Hawker.

They established that, although he was entitled to the medal, he could not claim the honour - because he had misplaced his Certificate of Service.

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After purchasing a Defence Medal to be photographed for the book, they decided it should be given to Mr Hawker, who was a member of the 26-strong Cotleigh Home Guard for more than four years. Presenting the medal and a copy of the now published book, Mr Cook said roles undertaken by the Home Guard included the defence of railway tunnels and moorland, and that the Dad’s Army image did not properly portray the sacrifices made.

Other former members of Cotleigh Home Guard, Mr Hawker’s devoted wife, Kathy, their children and five of their seven grandchildren witnessed the presentation.

Born in Plymouth, Mr Hawker moved to Cotleigh at the age of five.

After the war, he joined the Royal Army Service Corps and served in the King’s Guard, protecting the royal family. He later served in the Devon Territorials.

Mrs Hawker said of the surprise: “He didn’t have a clue.”

Town crier Mr Retter, who has known Mr Hawker all his life, provided a verbal drum roll for the presentation, saying he was “acting for the old Borough of Honiton, of which Cotleigh was a member”.