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Lieutenant Commander Oswald Hesketh Hanson

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Lieutenant Commander Oswald Hesketh Hanson

Birth
Marsworth, Aylesbury Vale District, Buckinghamshire, England
Death
11 Oct 1914 (aged 41)
Burial
Dendermonde, Arrondissement Dendermonde, East Flanders (Oost-Vlaanderen), Belgium
Memorial ID
15142498 View Source

Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Service: Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. Benbow Bn. R.N. Div.
Age: 41 years old.

Oswald HANSON is one of a very small number of British men to have been executed by firing squad - that is by a German firing squad. (under German Military Code SU)

Oswald Hesketh Hanson was the son of the Rev. H. Hanson, of Bournemouth. He was educated at Marlborough College and Trinity College, Cambridge, gaining a M.A.
Employed initially as a Solicitor's Clerk, he qualified as Solicitor in 1898 and was a member of Beamish, Hanson, Airey and Feiling, of 60 Lincoln's Inn-Field.

Pre-war he served as an officer in the R.N.V.R. With the onset of war, he entered the France/Flanders theatre of war as a Lieutenant-Commander in the Benbow Battalion, Royal Naval Division. Hanson was involved in the operations around Antwerp, and in the retreat from that city, was one of the men captured from the train at Moerbeke on the night of 9 October 1914. With other men captured, he was taken to the rear but he was not destined to spend the duration of the war as a prisoner-of-war, for on 10 October 1914 he was shot.

Reports of his death vary.
The Times, 23 November 1915, in an article entitled, 'Fate of a British Officer, Judicial Murder', states, '.... It was first believed that Lieutenant-Commander Hanson died at Halle, but it appears that he never reached the camp. On October 10 last year, while being marched along in the dark, ill and in a condition of delirium, he imagined that he saw British soldiers approaching. He called out to the visionary troops not to come near as the Germans were there. For this he was condemned by the Germans to be shot, and he was executed the following morning. His family have learned that the burial took place at Exaarde, in Belgium. ....'

The tale of an exhausted officer in delirium being executed for calling out to imaginary figures was one well suited for propaganda purposes. The truth of the matter was no less dramatic, and was reported in a letter from Commodore Henderson, dated 15 February 1918, stating evidence from Lieutenant-Commander F. C. Grover, Hawke Battalion, R.N.V.R. -
'Poor Hanson was shot by the Germans on the 10th October 1914. He had struggled with a sentry who was about to fire on one of our own men trying to escape after we were taken prisoner on the night of the 9th, and under German Military Code such an act can be punished with death. I tried to get the sentence mitigated, and so did the Commandant of the troops guarding us, for it was evident that Hanson was overwrought by the fatigues of the previous days.

The matter was referred to the highest authority; at that time, General von der Goltz was Military Governor of Belgium, but it was of no avail, and Hanson was shot by firing squad at midday, and is buried by the Church at Exaerde'.

His Great War medals, including the 1914 Star and clasp, were passed to his brother Wilfred in June 1919.

(Bio courtesy of Gunner65 on treasure bunker.com who owns his 1914 star and RNVR LSGC), Trinity College and Contributor: Wertypop (46806984)

Rank: Lieutenant Commander
Service: Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. Benbow Bn. R.N. Div.
Age: 41 years old.

Oswald HANSON is one of a very small number of British men to have been executed by firing squad - that is by a German firing squad. (under German Military Code SU)

Oswald Hesketh Hanson was the son of the Rev. H. Hanson, of Bournemouth. He was educated at Marlborough College and Trinity College, Cambridge, gaining a M.A.
Employed initially as a Solicitor's Clerk, he qualified as Solicitor in 1898 and was a member of Beamish, Hanson, Airey and Feiling, of 60 Lincoln's Inn-Field.

Pre-war he served as an officer in the R.N.V.R. With the onset of war, he entered the France/Flanders theatre of war as a Lieutenant-Commander in the Benbow Battalion, Royal Naval Division. Hanson was involved in the operations around Antwerp, and in the retreat from that city, was one of the men captured from the train at Moerbeke on the night of 9 October 1914. With other men captured, he was taken to the rear but he was not destined to spend the duration of the war as a prisoner-of-war, for on 10 October 1914 he was shot.

Reports of his death vary.
The Times, 23 November 1915, in an article entitled, 'Fate of a British Officer, Judicial Murder', states, '.... It was first believed that Lieutenant-Commander Hanson died at Halle, but it appears that he never reached the camp. On October 10 last year, while being marched along in the dark, ill and in a condition of delirium, he imagined that he saw British soldiers approaching. He called out to the visionary troops not to come near as the Germans were there. For this he was condemned by the Germans to be shot, and he was executed the following morning. His family have learned that the burial took place at Exaarde, in Belgium. ....'

The tale of an exhausted officer in delirium being executed for calling out to imaginary figures was one well suited for propaganda purposes. The truth of the matter was no less dramatic, and was reported in a letter from Commodore Henderson, dated 15 February 1918, stating evidence from Lieutenant-Commander F. C. Grover, Hawke Battalion, R.N.V.R. -
'Poor Hanson was shot by the Germans on the 10th October 1914. He had struggled with a sentry who was about to fire on one of our own men trying to escape after we were taken prisoner on the night of the 9th, and under German Military Code such an act can be punished with death. I tried to get the sentence mitigated, and so did the Commandant of the troops guarding us, for it was evident that Hanson was overwrought by the fatigues of the previous days.

The matter was referred to the highest authority; at that time, General von der Goltz was Military Governor of Belgium, but it was of no avail, and Hanson was shot by firing squad at midday, and is buried by the Church at Exaerde'.

His Great War medals, including the 1914 Star and clasp, were passed to his brother Wilfred in June 1919.

(Bio courtesy of Gunner65 on treasure bunker.com who owns his 1914 star and RNVR LSGC), Trinity College and Contributor: Wertypop (46806984)


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