Service number: 43680 | Rank: Private |Regiment: Suffolk Regiment
Killed in action, October 12, 1916, in Flanders.
Buried at A.I.F. BURIAL GROUND, FLERS, Somme, France.
Born in Brandon, lived and enlisted at Wisbech.
WHAT I KNOW ABOUT LAURENCE …
At the outbreak of war Laurence was a 23-year-old carpenter living with his parents at 13 Lode Street, and in November 1915 he joined up for the duration of the war. Interestingly he signed his first name on his Medical Certificate as “Laurence”, although Brandon’s War Memorial states his name as “Lawrence”, and it is his spelling that I will use here. Also from his Army record we see he was a slight man, at 5-foot 1¼-inches tall and weighing 7½ stone. Brandon men usually enlisted at Brandon or Norwich, but Laurence enlisted at Wisbech and the reason became apparent when the following year, on 4th June 1916, he takes leave from Army training to marry his fiancée, May Thompson. She appeared to come from the Wisbech area, and it is there, at Walsoken, near Wisbech, that they set up their own home.
There is a reason for Laurence marrying in June – he was due to be posted overseas. When he joined the Army he was placed into the Suffolk Regiment, but on 15th June 1916, less than two weeks after marrying May, he was transferred to the Lancaster Fusiliers. Before the end of the month he embarked on a troop ship at Folkstone, destined for Boulogne and the fighting in France. September saw him again transferred to another regiment and this time it was the Manchester Regiment. The next month, in October, he was in action on the frontline when his battalion was in support of an assault on German trenches at Flers, in north-west France. The men in front of them were cut down by machine guns and Laurence’s battalion moved up in support only to suffer the same fate, plus they suffered the attention of the German artillery. The survivors were pinned down and most were unable to support their comrades in front and took refuge in shell holes until it got dark. Two hundred and fifty men from the battalion were either missing, wounded or killed. Sadly Laurence was one of those who had lost his life.
Had Laurence not married May then she would have remained just his girlfriend and not been entitled to a widow’s pension of 13s 9d a week, but Laurence’s actions, marrying her before he went into action, ensured she received an income after his demise, even though he had only been in the Army for 325 days.
In a postscript to this account, Laurence’s widow, May, changed her surname on 16th August 1919 when she married Percy Mountain in King’s Lynn and left Walsoken to live a new life with her husband in Magdalen near King’s Lynn. She immediately wrote to the War Office to inform them of this fact and that she still wanted Laurence’s effects sent to her after the war.