A blast from the past...
Photo 1 left to right: Steve & Sam Allen (current owners & restorers), Johnny Hawkins, Wendy Hawkins, James Hawkins and John Hawkins (direct family members of Billy Hawkins)
Hawkins St. Stephen had a blast from the past recently when a restored WW2 Military Jeep parked up on the forecourt. Although out of place amongst the range of new Peugeot and Citroën cars at Hawkins now, this was once home for the Jeep.
The Jeep was registered in 1944 as a war vehicle; however it never saw action on the front line as the war ended shortly after. With only 46 miles on the clock the Jeep was purchased by Billy Hawkins and became part of the Hawkins family to be put to work as a recovery vehicle for the garage. Within no time the Jeep became a familiar site within the Parish recovering broken down vehicles and travelling to remote farms. Nowadays 4x4’s and SUV Vehicles are common place however back in the late 1940’s and early 50’s there was nothing else like it as the British Motor Industry was focusing on export therefore it was a scarce and essential tool for the garage.
Photo 2: The jeep back in 1980 at Hawkins
The current owner visited Hawkins St. Stephen in 1970 as a young boy with his parents and brother, and as boys do they went off and explored the site while their parents were occupied. They stumbled across the recovery Jeep stored away and no longer in use. It was love at first sight for Steve then aged about 11; he pleaded with his parents to try and buy it but had no luck. Steve’s interest in Military memorabilia grew as he got older, watching war film after war film. Ten years later Steve’s childhood memories of the Jeep came flooding back to him at a local Military event, he then sought to pursue the Jeep he fondly remembered. He returned to Hawkins 10 years after first laying eyes on the jeep only to find it in the exact same place. After much discussion, negotiations were made and Billy Hawkins’ son John Hawkins agreed to sell the Jeep to Steve.
Photo 3: The jeep back in 1980 at Hawkins
After years of deterioration the Jeep needed a huge amount of work to restore it, luckily Steve was up to the challenge and after only 2 ½ years he had completely restored it. As a serious passion of Steve’s, this is only one of many projects Steve has undertaken over the years, another being an American Military Truck. The Jeep became a family car for Steve, even equipping it with a baby seat as his family grew. Now Steve and his wife Sam travel around the country attending multiple Military shows as well as travelling across to Normandy for memorial services.
Steve first took the jeep across to Normandy in 1984, where attending War Veterans were overwhelmed to be able to ride in such a vehicle once again. So far the Jeep has travelled across to Normandy 5 times with another trip planned next year for the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings where Steve and his family plan to take the American Military Truck as well as the Jeep.
Steve said ‘The most challenging part of the restoration was restoring the gearbox. They are not the strongest of gearboxes and therefore I’ve had to rebuild it several times since!’
Steve will also be out with the jeep this month collecting donations on behalf of British Legion/Poppy Appeal.
Photo 4 left to right: Tom Hawkins, John Hawkins, James Hawkins and Johnny Hawkins (three generations of the Hawkins family).
Photo 5: The jeep back in 1980 at Hawkins
Photo 6: The jeep back in 1980 at Hawkins