Oswald H. Hanson

Born in Massworth (Buckinghamshire) on 20th September 1873, Oswald Hesketh Hanson was educated at Marlborough College and Trinity College, Cambridge. He qualified as a solicitor in 1898 and became a partner in the London firm of Beamish, Hanson, Airy and Fielding, featuring in several noteworthy cases.

Originally with the Inns of Court OTC, in 1903 Oswald joined the as a Lieutenant and was appointed Lieutenant-Commander in March 1912. As the O.C. of Benbow's D Company at the defence of Antwerp, he was taken prisoner when the Germans derailed the train at Moerbeke on 9th October.

Believed to be held at the Halle POW Camp, Oswald's service record contains the following entries:
Royal Naval Division .info Oswald H. Hanson
Royal Naval Division .info Oswald Hanson service record

Royal Naval Division .info Oswald Hanson The Times 1914
A further article in The Times, 23rd November 1915, suggests that Oswald never made it to Halle. This article is largely disregarded as propaganda, although there would appear to be very little argument to back this up this claim and it may just be accepted as so.
Royal Naval Division .info Oswald Hanson The Times 1915
A letter from Commodore Henderson, dated 15th February 1918, is held in The National Archives that contains a statement from Lt.-Commander Grover of Hawke Battalion

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.

Lt.-Commander Hanson is interred in the Dendermonde Communal Cemetery, his gravestone with the eleventh as the date of death.

Whilst it is likely there will always be questions regarding the circumstances of Oswald's demise, he was to become a significant figure at the Court of Inquiry investigating the capture of over 900 men at Moerbeke.

More to follow...

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