Charles Austin Dawkins
Remembered by Allan, Keith, and Stephen Dawkins (sons)
Charles Austin Dawkins was born on 24th February 1919 at Bartons in the parish of St Catherine, Jamaica. He was the youngest of four children to Martha Dawkins and Elijah Morgan. At the start of the recruitment campaign, Dad was 24 years old and seeking a new life. He enrolled in the RAF as Maintenance Ground Crew.
Dad arrived as part of the 2nd contingent of West Indian recruits at RAF Hunmanby Moor in November 1944. He told us of experiencing seasickness and trepidation during the voyage across the Atlantic.
Dad was enrolled as Equipment Assistant, but he must have been skilled and showed promise because he ended up as Leading Aircraftsman (LAC). He would have patched up planes ready to go back into service. After a four-year period of service Dad was discharged having been recognised as having a ‘superior’ conduct and with a recommendation for employment as a welder. Dad went on to take a certificate course in Leeds designed to acquaint himself with oxyacetylene and arc welding, and eventually became a qualified welder in 1948.
During his service Dad met my mother Joyce, a seamstress by trade, at the Mecca ballroom in Leeds in 1947. Romance blossomed with Joyce (née Gledhill) and they were married in July 1951 at the Registrar Office in Leeds. Having bought a house in Armley, Leeds with Hugo Young, a good friend, Mum and Dad embarked on a happy marriage which bore four children Elaine (1949), Allan (1951), Keith (1953), and Stephen (1960). In retrospect, I remember the happy days of Dad spending a lot of time with us and playing with all of us as children.
In the early days, Dad and 11 other young men lodged in accommodation at 20 Clarendon Place, Hyde Park, Leeds. Wondering what to do at weekends, Dad, with Alford Gardner, became the founding members of the Caribbean Cricket Club which occupied their leisure time. The club still exists today in Leeds. I can remember many happy weekends spent with the wives, the cricketers and their families watching Dad play cricket. Dad was a useful off spin bowler and batted lower down the order.
Dad was an active member of the community and worked for over 30 years before retiring in 1985. He enjoyed volunteering as a collector for the charity which helped support local people with cerebral palsy now known as Scope. His other pleasure was simply spending time at home with our Mum and us children. Dad drank moderately, liked an occasional tipple of Wray and Nephew White Rum, but never smoked.
Dad was a brilliant role model and taught us about Caribbean history and the stuff which wasn’t taught in schools then such as slavery and colonialism. He taught us tolerance, patience, kindness and a desire to aspire to greater things. Although he himself had a basic education at school, Dad was a fountain of knowledge and radiated wisdom much beyond his educational opportunities. He was much loved and highly valued by his friends and family until his death in 1985.
Charles' service number was 714819.