William Lawrence

Rank Driver
Service No 39846
Date of Death 09/02/1917
Age 30
Regiment/Service Royal Field Artillery 30th Battery
Cemetery Bray Military Cemetery. This is 9 kms south-east of Albert in the Somme region of France.

William was born in August 1886 in Willesden, in the London Borough of Brent. His parents were John and Mary Lawrence and they had one older child, John Alfred. At the time of the 1901 Census the family were living at 12 Manor Cottages, East Finchley. John was aged 50, Mary aged 55, John Alfred aged 19 and William aged 14. William was employed as an errand boy, while his father was a labourer, his mother a laundry washer and his brother a nursery hand gardener.

On 29th June 1911, William enlisted in the Duke of Cambridge’s Own (Middlesex) Regiment, part of the Territorial Force. He lists his previous experience as serving in the 5th Battalion of the Royal Fusilliers and his occupation as pipe-layer. Service records describe him as aged 24 years and 10 months, being married to Rosa Lawrence, 5’ 3½” tall, living at Chapel Yard, Stanwell (very near to Heathrow Airport), and with no distinguishing marks.

He was posted to Gibraltar on 5th August 1914, the day after war was declared. At the start of August 1915, he was injured and transferred home, but soon returned to active service, this time in France. On 12th July 1916, he was discharged for being no longer physically fit, due to a bullet wound to the corner of the eye, affecting both his vision and breathing. Upon a reasonable level of recovery and under the conscription acts, William was recalled to active service, but this time he did not return. 

The circumstances of William's death are unknown, but the cemetery in which he is buried was opposite a farm in which the XIV Corps main dressing station was located, so it may be that he died of wounds at the dressing station.

At the time of his death, William's parents were living at 45 Crescent Way, North Finchley.