1. Memorial:Dendermonde Communal Cemetery And Extension13
2. Book:The (1921) Masonic Roll of Honour 1914-1918Pg.124
3. Memorial:The (1940) Scroll - WW1 Roll of Honour41D GQS

Awards & Titles:


Family :

Oswald Hesketh Hanson was born in Massworth, Buckinghamshire on 20 September 1873, the son of the Rev. H. Hanson, of Bournemouth

He was not married. He had 2 brothers in the RNVR. NOK Sister: Miss Hanson, 16 Bayswater Terrace, W.

Education & Career :

Oswald HANSON was Educated at Marlborough between 1886 to 1891 (C3) and at Trinity College Cambridge.

Trin Cantab: Admitted as pensioner at Trinity, June 15, 1891. Matric. Michs. 1891; BA 1894; MA 1903.

Before the war he was a London solicitor, a partner in the firm of Beamish, Hanson, Airy and Fielding of 60, Lincoln Inn Fields.

Service Life:


Unit / Ship / Est.: Benbow Bn. R.N. Div. 

Action : The Defence of Antwerp 

The Defence of Antwerp was an action which occured 4th-10th October 1914. As the German Army swept through Belgium in August and September 1914 it detached part of its resources to take the important city and port of Antwerp. Whilst its capture was not essential to the success of the Schlieffen Plan it did need to be first covered then taken, particularly as the front moved further north into Flanders. The city, ringed with massive fortifications held out against the German guns and it was decided to send the Royal Naval Division, basically sailors fighting as soldiers, to assist. In the event they were not able to prevent the fall of the city and had to embark on a forced march to evade capture. Many were interned in neutral Holland.

He was a member of the Inns of Court OTC and joined the RNVR in 1903.

Detail :

HANSON, Oswald Hesketh, Lieutenant Commander, Benbow Battalion, Royal Naval Division 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.

Lt Commander Oswald H Hanson was executed by a German firing squad on the 10/10/14. (His head stone shows him as killed on the 11/10/14).

There were a number of stories circulating about the circumstances of his execution, regrettably many were fairly crude propaganda. The most widely accepted story is that he had struggled with a German sentry who was about to fire on some British soldiers whilst trying to escape after they were taken prisoner on the night of the 9th October during the retreat from Antwerp. Under German Military Code such an act could be punished by death.

The following extract from PRO reference ADM/137/4819 from a letter from Commodore Henderson 15/2/18, states evidence from Lt.Cdr. F.C. Grover RNVR Hawke Bn.:-

'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; but it was of no avail, & Hanson was shot at midday, and is buried by the Church at Exaerde.'

Lt.Cdr. Hanson is now buried at Dendermonde (formerly Termonde) Communal Cemetery Extension.

He was OC 'D' Coy. Benbow Bn. Hanson and his men had been taken prisoner at Moerbeke Station on the night of 9th October, in an incident that a Court of Inquiry made it clear that Lt.Cdr. Hanson RNVR was blamed for the unnecessary & unauthorised surrender on the night of 9/10/14. The evidence from the Court of Inquiry into 'The Moerbeke Affair' contains several references to Lt.Cdr. Hanson's conduct & his distressed state of mind. The conduct of the Naval Brigade ratings also came in for severe criticism. Despite this, the findings of the Court of Inquiry made no mention of Hanson by name, only that the surrender was originally 'advocated by the Naval Officers'. For these reasons perhaps & the attendant disgrace, the fate of 'Poor Hanson' is so little known.

Masonic :

TypeLodge Name and No.Province/District :
Mother : Navy No. 2612 E.C.London

15th March 1907
10th December 1907
20th March 1908

Register shows "Killed in Action Sept 1914"

So far we have identified 4 Brethren who fell in the defence of Antwerp and its immediate aftermath; AMOS, CHURCHARD, YORK and HANSON

Source :

The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:

Additional Source:

Last Updated: 2020-12-24 08:14:36