Bugle Major Don Hawdon BEM RM
After a long illness Bugle Major Don Hawdon died peacefully in a Nursing Home near Wells, Somerset on 1st January 2015. He had been born in Herne Bay, Kent on the 16th August 1929, the youngest of three boys. Don attended a local school where his results were extremely good, as were his achievements on the sports fields. Having left school at the age of fourteen in August 1943 he decided to follow his two brothers into the Services. However, the lowest age for entry into the Royal Navy at the times was sixteen so young Don applied to join the Royal Marines as a Boy Bugler with the Chatham Divisional Band. He was accepted at the Recruiting Office on the sixteenth of February 1944 and was enlisted and learnt to play bugle, side drum and fife. In a relatively short time he accomplished this to a good standard and together with another young Boy Bugler he was drafted to join the County Class Cruiser HMS SUFFOLK which was with the Pacific fleet. On their own these two lads joined a merchant navy troop ship on the Clyde and some weeks later, after an uneventful passage, they reached Bombay where they were scheduled to join HMS SUFFOLK only to learn that the ship had moved on and was actually in Trincomale. Eventually the boys did reach the ship and were on board during several operations in the Pacific Ocean. HMS SUFFOLK returned to Chatham on the 25th July 1945 just before the ending of hostilities and Don was drafted back into Chatham Barracks to become a regular member of the RM Divisional Staff Band Corps of Drums.
Early in February 1947 the Royal Family were scheduled to make a visit to South Africa as a token of British thanks for the country's great support during WW2. HMS VANGUARD was selected to be used as their transport and a fifty-five piece Royal Marines Band comprising musicians from the three Divisional Staff Bands were embarked under the command of Major F Vivian Dunn MVO RM. Don was one of the honoured personnel to be selected from the Chatham Band. The tour was a great success and on return to UK the musicians returned to their respective barracks. This was the first of many future Royal Tours in which Don participated that included a six month tour with circumnavigation of the globe on board SS GOTHIC and various later tours on board HM Yacht BRITANNIA. Before these tours he had served as an Instructor at HMS GANGES and in December 1952, having been promoted Corporal, he was drafted to the Royal Marines Band at Eastney in PORTSMOUTH. Among many prestigious engagements undertaken whilst there the Coronation of HM QUEEN and the funeral of Winston Churchill stand out. Uniquely Don's photograph wearing ceremonial uniform featured on the front cover of the magazine of the US Marine Corps, 'The Leatherneck', when it commemorated the tercentenary of the Corps in 1964.
Don was promoted Sergeant in March 1955 and in December of that year he married Doreen. He was promoted to Colour Sergeant in May 1962 and Bugle Major in February 1963. Three years later, in 1966, he became Corps Bugle Major and was drafted to the Royal Marines School of Music in Deal where he completed his Service before retiring from the Corps in 1969 and moving home to live in Cambridge where he took employment with the Coal Utilities Council before becoming Manager of the NHS Blood Transfusion Unit. He retired fully in 1994.
Don Hawdon had been an outstanding all-round sportsman. He represented the Royal Navy at hockey and cricket where he was a fine bowler. He would also participate in soccer if required and without practice could often be one of the best players on the field. He became a keen golfer in civilian life becoming Captain of his Golf Club. He also enjoyed a game of Bridge.
We have lost an outstanding colleague who was a loving husband to Doreen and father to Christopher and Jayne. He will be fondly remembered by all who knew him and were influenced by his determination and energy.