Hoskyns, Chandos Benedict Arden


Hoskyns was the only son of the Venerable Archdeacon Benedict George Hoskyns MA (formerly Archdeacon of Chichester), of 1 The Close, Winchester. His mother was Dora Katharine Hoskyns, the daughter of H.W. Franklin, of Shedfield Lodge, Hampshire.

From RMC Sandhurst, he was commissioned into the Rifle Brigade on August 15th 1914 and went to France with 2nd Battalion, being wounded in 1915. He became a Captain in 1917 and afterwards served on the Western Front and also in Salonika with the Machine Gun Corps. For his services he was mentioned in despatches and promoted to the rank of temporary Major in 1917. After the war he was Adjutant (from 1920 to 1922) of 8th Battalion (TA) of the London Regiment, as well as serving in India.

On July 26th 1920 he married Joyce Austin Taylor (daughter of Austin Taylor, of 30 Eccleston Square, London); their Wykehamist son, John Austin Hungerford Leigh Hoskyns (A 1940-1945), was born in October 1926 and himself served in the Rifle Brigade with distinction. There was another son and a daughter from the marriage.

In 1927 Hoskyns went to Malta as Assistant Military Secretary to the Governor, and stayed there until 1931.  He was a keen polo player and a gifted actor.

In 1935 he became Major and in 1938 Lieutenant-Colonel, when he obtained command of 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade (1RB) at Tidworth on August 27th.

In May 1940 he was sent out with his battalion in 30 Brigade, consisting of 1st Battalion Rifle Brigade, 2nd Battalion King’s Royal Rifle Corps and 1st Battalion Queen Victoria’s Rifles, which was to defend Calais. Orders reached the battalion at Needham Market in Suffolk at 1900 on May 21st – by noon the following day they were in Southampton and ready to sail.     By the afternoon of Thursday 23rd the battalion, disembarking from SS Archangel, had landed in Calais.  On arrival Hoskyns was ordered to send a large portion of the men under his command to escort a convoy of rations towards Dunkirk, which severely delayed the unloading of 1RB’s transport and equipment. It came under heavy artillery and mortar fire, forcing the convoy to retire to the outer perimeter of the Calais defences. The German 10th Panzer Division began shelling the town that day, and by the evening of May 24th Calais was surrounded, and the western perimeter had been driven in. 30 Brigade was ordered to hold Calais for as long as possible and Churchill sent the following message:    “The eyes of the Empire are upon the defence of Calais, and His Majesty’s government is confident that you and your gallant regiments will perform an exploit worthy of the British name.”   A copy of this signal was found in Hoskyns’ pocket when he was evacuated to England.  Churchill sent a further message in which he instructed that “Evacuation will not (repeat not) take place and craft required for above purposes are to return to Dover”.

The Germans were advancing into Calais and on 25th May the German flag was raised over the Hotel de Ville, from where they could overlook the British defences.   When Brigadier Claude Nicholson  (G 1912-1915),  Commander of 30 Brigade, refused to surrender the Germans bombarded the British positions with mortar fire and Stuka dive-bombers.

That afternoon a shell hit a nearby trench and drove a splinter in Hoskyns’ side.  Airey Neave, in “The Flames of Calais” recounts that “this tragedy could not have occurred at a worse moment for the Rifle Brigade” but that despite his wounds, Hoskyns was able to agree that  counter attacks should be made.

At dawn the following day he was evacuated aboard a small yacht with a few other seriously wounded men and returned to England.  He died in Winchester on 18th June.   His funeral was held in Winchester Cathedral on Saturday 22nd June 1940 and he was buried in Chilworth Churchyard, Romsey.

Five years after his death, on June 18th 1945, the following notice appeared in The Times: In ever living memory of Lieutenant-Colonel Chandos B.A. Hoskyns, the Rifle Brigade, who died of wounds received in the defence of Calais, and of all those who served and died with him.

 

War: World War 2

  • Surname: Hoskyns
  • Forenames or initials: Chandos Benedict Arden
  • House: A
  • Years in School: 1909-1912
  • Rank: Lieutenant Colonel
  • Regiment: Rifle Brigade
  • Date of Birth: 25th September 1895
  • Date of Death: 18th June 1940
  • How Died: Died of Wounds
  • Location in War Cloister: Inner D1
  • Decoration: NA
  • Burial Site: Chilworth Churchyard, Southampton