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For the second year running and continuing the long tradition of its predecessor departments, Department for International Trade (DIT) staff  came together on Thursday 8 November 2018 in the 3 Whitehall Place Business Lounge for the annual departmental memorial service.

This year, as part of national and local commemorations (such as the Royal British Legion’s Thank You 100 campaign) to mark 100 years since the Armistice in 1918, the department was extremely honoured for the ceremony to be attended by some of the families and relatives of some of those named on the Board of Trade War Memorial, as well as Steve Waterman (Lambeth College) and representatives from the Summerstown 182 and Ham Remembers Research Groups.

The event was led by Catherine Vaughan, DIT’s Senior Civil Service Faith Champion and included a reading of the Kohima Epithet by DIT War Memorial Research Group Chair, Jeanette Rosenberg and a beautiful rendition of “The Long Day Closes” by the ETCETERA Civil Service Choir.  At 11am an official two minutes silence was observed, which was followed by the laying of eight wreaths:

  • Remembered by the Ministers of the Department for International Trade – Secretary of State for International Trade, Rt Hon Liam Fox MP
  • Remembered by the Staff of the Department for International Trade – Antonia Romeo, Permanent Secretary
  • Remembered by Relatives and Friends of the Fallen – Denise Syms – relative of one of men commemorated on memorial, Douglas Eric Basnett (1895-1917)
  • Lest We Forget In Memory of Those who Have No Known Grave and Who Have Died in International Military Conflict – Captain Nick MacDonald-Robinson, Royal Navy
  • Remembering Their Sacrifice In Memory of All Our Fallen Colleagues – Sarah Pratt, ECJU and FCO
  • Remembered by Retired Service Personnel of the Department for International Trade – Dylan Thomas, retired Army Captain (Int Corps)
  • Remembering the Sacrifice Made by those of African, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Asian Origin – Rodney Berkley, Chair of the DIT Cross Diversity and Inclusion Network
  • Remembered by the War Memorial Research Group and in Memory of Jill Knight – Mick Essex, War Memorial research group

After the commemoration, staff had time to view the “More than just a name” special WW1 commemorative exhibition which includes beautiful artwork produced by two schools – Northcote Primary School in Liverpool and St Julian’s School in Newport, Wales – who are both connected to the department by having former pupils who are named on the Board of Trade War Memorial.

The exhibition also includes artwork produced by the Woodcraft Folk (Wheatsheaf Enfield) group, a short history of WW1 and the memorial, highlighted stories of some of the men named and a montage of photos (the group have successfully managed to trace 97 photos so far!!). The exhibition also includes a selection of WW1 artefacts including British and German medals and helmets kindly loaned by former DTI staff member, Alan Humphries.

The exhibition is on show until Monday 12 November 2018.

The event concluded with a wonderful short talk by Lesley Iles, a former history teacher at Southend High School for Boys and author of a book about the lives of the men from that school, “They Rest from their Labours“. Lesley set the context for the war at both a national and local level and spoke about two of the Southend men – Stanley Victor Bradley (1893-1917) and Percy John Francis Dines (1892-1916) – who were typical of the 305 men named on the Board of Trade War Memorial and the wider WW1 generation. Her talk was a really fitting end to the morning’s commemorations.

We were delighted and honoured to welcome all our special visitors and to mark this important occasion in the life of the department and wider community. All who attended agreed it was a moving occasion to honour all who have died in WW1 and subsequent wars.

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The 100 year anniversary of Armistice Day, which marked the end of World War One, approaches on Sunday 11 November 2018.

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One of the displays in DIT’s collaborative exhibition, located in the Business Lounge in the 3 Whitehall Place London office.

The Department for International Trade’s War Memorial Research Group has been reaching out and connecting with school pupils across the UK in an effort to expand understanding of World War One amongst youngsters and to build connections between the modern day Civil Service and schools.

As part of this project, the group approached a number of schools with a connection to the Board of Trade War Memorial which ultimately led to working with two selected schools – St Julian’s, a secondary school in Wales and Northcote Primary School in Liverpool.

Both schools were selected to take part because of their connection with the memorial with both schools having a former pupil named on both the Board of Trade War Memorial and their own school war memorials.

Last week, Edwina Osborne from the War Memorial Research Group went to Northcote Primary in Liverpool, to see the amazing work that the pupils had created. The school spent the previous week learning more about WW1 and designing artwork to be included in the exhibition which is focused on the men named on the war memorial. The school also held a special assembly with the school choir singing a beautiful rendition of “Pack Up Your Troubles” and individual classes presenting their work and reading poems.

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A collage of a World War One solider, produced by pupils and teachers at Northcote Primary School in Liverpool.

James McTaggart Rennie served during World War One in the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment. He was born in about October 1888 and died aged 28 on 23 July 1916 at the Battle of the Somme whilst manning one of the Lewis guns. His body was not recovered and he is one of thousands of soldiers remembered on the Thiepval Memorial to the dead and missing of the Somme. He previously attended Northcote Road Council School which is now Northcote Primary before joining the then Board of Trade in the Mercantile Marine Office. 99 pupils, including James are named on Northcote’s war memorial. Before the war, he lived in Plaistow and he is also remembered on the bells of the Memorial Community Church there.

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Sergeant James McTaggart Rennie.
Copyright: Galloway Gazette.

John Henry Nicholas was born in 1899 and died on 14 June 1918 aged 19. He was a former pupil of St Julian’s. During the war he fought in the 18th Lancashire Fusiliers. He is remembered on the Pozieres Memorial in France, as well as on the war memorials in St Julian’s School and on the Board of Trade War Memorial. Like McTaggart Rennie, he also moved to London for work and joined the Civil Service.

In December 1914, he wrote in a letter back to his old school extolling the benefits of working for the Civil Service. He says “There are always many vacancies here….the hours are very easy”. He goes on to say that they have a Cadet Corps where they work “but we do not like the idea of joining, as they have to drill”.

Both men’s stories and those of others are remembered via the exhibition, which is on display in connection with the Royal British Legion’s Thankyou 100 campaign, to say thank you for the sacrifice and bravery of a generation of men who served and fought in the unimaginable horrors of battle.

The group greatly thanks the hard work of all the pupils and teachers at both Northcote Primary and St Julians’ involved in preparing for the exhibition, as well as members of the Wheatsheaf Woodcraft Folk Group based in Enfield, London.

We hope both Civil Service colleagues and visitors to the Department for International Trade will enjoy the exhibition over the next few weeks.

The Board of Trade War Memorial is one of about 25 central government memorials dedicated to civil service employees who died in either the First or Second World Wars. You can see the  “More than just a name” exhibition until the 12 November in DIT’s Business Lounge of 3 Whitehall Place.

Additionally on the morning of Thursday 8 November, the group will host the department’s annual Remembrance Day service in the Business Lounge, which is due to be attended by the Secretary of State and Permanent Secretary as well as relatives of those who died.

After the commemoration on 8 November, Lesley Iles, the author of “They Rest from their Labours”, a book featuring two of the Board of Trade men who attended Southend High School for Boys, will give a short talk to interested colleagues.

If you would like to get involved and find out more about this exhibition, please contact war.memorial@trade.gov.uk or follow this blog.

H A Gunner

Full Name: Harold Anson Gunner
Born: August 1891
Date of Death: 7 October 1916 (promoted to Corporal on date he died)
Age at death: 25
Service, Regiment, Corps, etc: Royal Field Artillery
Unit, Ship, etc: “A” Battery, 282nd Brigade
Enlisted:
Rank: Corporal (No 1126) (previously a Bombardier in the 3rd London Brigade of Royal Field Artillery)
Decorations:
War (and theatre): WW1 (France and Flanders)
Manner of Death: Killed in action
Family Details: Son of John Matthias Gunner and Elizabeth A Gunner, South Petherwyn, Launceston, Cornwall
Residence:
Home Department: Board of Trade – Seaman’s Registry (he was one of 39 abstractors according to Board of Trade staff list in April 1913. His appointment was from 1 February 1913) and his salary was £55.
Civilian Rank: Abstractor
Cemetery or Memorial: Guards’ Cemetery, Lesboeufs, Somme (X.Y.6), South Petherwyn War Memorial and Ham War Memorial and the Board of Trade War Memorial (now located at 3 Whitehall Place, London)

Biography:

Part of the challenge of researching the names and lives of those men who died in World War One is trying to piece together a full picture of their lives. This can only be done by collaborating with other researchers, particularly if it is possible to identify educational background or places of origin. Bearing this in mind, school and local war memorials and those researching them are particularly useful resources and added background.

Harold Anson Gunner is remembered in four places – the Guards Cemetery in Lesboeufs, France, South Petherwyn War Memorial, the Ham War Memorial and lastly the Board of Trade War Memorial in London.

His name etched in these places, bears testimony to the varied threads of all our lives which often touch on many separate places.

To find more about Harold’s story, please read the blog post published on the “Ham Remembers” website (click on image link below):

Article about Harold Anson Gunner on Ham Remembers website

On this day

104 years ago to this very day – on 4 August 1914 – Britain declared war on Germany in what was known as the Great War and is now more commonly known as World War One.

Today also marks 100 days until the end of the conflict on 11 November 1918.

In early November, the Board of Trade War Memorial Research group is planning a small exhibition about the war memorial and the 305 men named on it who gave the ultimate sacrifice of those lives.

The exhibition will take place in the Business  Lounge of 3 Whitehall Place – the current headquarters building of the Department for International Trade.

The intended exhibition is part of wider national commemorative events such as the Royal British Legion’s “Thank You” campaign – https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/remembrance/ww1-centenary/thank-you and the There But Not There campaign – https://www.therebutnotthere.org.uk.

saying-thank-you-to-the-wwi-generation-1-editThe exhibition is also part of the Board of Trade War Memorial Research Group’s ongoing work (both during the 100th commemorative year since the end of WW1 and into the future) to remember the lessons learnt from the conflict.

The research group has existed for around 15 years, in both the current Department for International Trade and also its predecessor departments including the Department for Business and Department for Trade and Industry. Throughout this time the group’s aims are to consistently remember, raise awareness and share stories about the war memorial and those named on it, as well as the wider history of the department. Whilst research is at the core of the group’s activities, so equally is communicating stories to both staff, relatives and the wider public. Over time the group has communicated in different ways – first through the DTI staff newsletter and dedicated department pages on the former DTI website and now more recently via this blog and @tradememorial Twitter feed

“We will remember them”

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Today on 10 July 2018 as the country officially recognises 100 years of the Royal Air Force (RAF) with 100 planes taking part in a massive and spectacular flypast over the Mall and Buckingham Palace along with a parade, the Board of Trade War Memorial Research Group remembers the nine men named on the war memorial who served in the RAF or its predecessors.

The RAF was formed on 1 April 1918, and was the world’s first independent air force. Before its formation,  the aircraft used by Britain during the First World War were operated by the Royal Navy as part of the Royal Naval Air Service, (RNAS) and by the army as the Royal Flying Corps (RFC).

In the early days of conflict, flying machines were few and far between, and their importance to the war effort was not yet well understood. By the summer of 1917, the concept of air superiority was being discussed, and the suggestion of merging the RNAS with the RFC to create an independent air force was made.

The nine Board of Trade men who served in the air were as follows.

  • Stewart Bence (aged 20 when he died) and Bertram Venn (27) served at the Patent Office.
  • George Bryars (19) and Harry Vine (32) both served at the Seamen’s Registry.
  • Leslie Thorowgood (23), Percy Woodhouse (20), and Roy Angus (23) who all served in regional Labour Departments.
  • Herbert Good (19) was employed at the Establishments Department.
  • Harry Boyles (18) was employed at the Statistical Department.

Among the nine men, there was a variety of flying experience despite their young ages and they flew in a variety of machines, such as the Airco DH4 or the Bristol F2b.

The Statistical Office’s Harry Boyles was just 17 when his plane was shot down over the Western Front, and had only just turned 18 when he was killed in an accident while landing in Greece.

Herbert Good, although only 19 himself, was classed as a ‘fighter ace’ with 5 enemy aircraft defeated in battle. Herbert was shot down near Cambrai and presumed killed. He was never found, but is commemorated at the Arras Flying Services Memorial at Pas de Calais in France.

Corporal Stewart James Bence of 211 Squadron was killed in action on 14 August 1918.

2nd Lieutenant Percy Wilfred Woodhouse on the 5th Squadron (RFC) who crashed after combat on 28 March 1918 whilst flying a Royal Air Factory RE8 plane.

Lieutenant George Leonard Bryars was killed in action during aerial combat and reported missing on 16 September 1918 aged just 19. He was in a Bristol F2b C878 flown by 2nd Lieutenant Arnott who was also killed in same combat.

Flight Sergeant Henry Charles Land Vine reportedly died on 3 November 1918 of pneumonia. He was based at the RFC Wye airfield in Kent.

A large proportion of those who served with the RAF in the early years died in aircraft accidents and the men of the Board of Trade did not escape.

2nd Lieutenant Bertram Joseph Venn of 5 Training Squadron died on 11 July 1917 while flying a Shorthorn A2493 which he was force-landing in a field adjoining Castle Bromwich aerodrome near Birmingham after the engine stopped.  The machine struck a hedge, the nose hit the ground and Venn was thrown out and died. This was his fourth solo flight as a pilot.

Captain Leslie Vernon Thorowgood who died in an accident at Lake Down on 22 March 1918 whilst flying. According to:

http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1918.htm Captain Thorowgood’s flight in his DH9 – D5560 ended in disaster when its wings broke away mid-dive.

Lieutenant Roy William Fred Angus from Newport, Gwent, Wales died on 13 August 1918 also as a result of an accident.

Each of their deaths serves to illustrate the perils of flying particularly in the early years of flying.

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Royal Aircraft Factory BE2 replica plane at RAF 100 tour at Horseguards Parade in London, 9 July 2018

A full list of 305 Board of Trade men can be viewed on this website.

You can find out more about the RAF 100 Flypast and you can also continue to go and see the RAF 100 Tour in a variety of UK cities until September 2018.

 

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R D King

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R D King – War Memorial Card

Full Name: Reginald Duncan King
Born: April 1882
Date of Death: 19 April 1917
Age at death: 35
Service, Regiment, Corps, etc: Hampshire Regiment
Unit, Ship, etc: 8th Battalion
Enlisted:
Rank: Second Lieutenant
Decorations:
War (and theatre): WW1 (Egypt and Palestine)
Manner of Death: Missing presumed dead (MPD)
Family Details: Son of John and Harriet King. Husband of Milly Elizabeth King (nee Wren), St Michael’s, Limpsfield, Surrey
Residence:
Home Department: Board of Trade – Labour Department (Wales Division)
Civilian Rank: Second Division Clerk
Cemetery or Memorial: Jerusalem Memorial, Israel; War Memorial in Wyke Regis, Dorset; Royal Russell School Chapel of St Christopher and the Infant Jesus; Memorial to Staff of the Ministry of Labour located at Caxton House, Tothill Street, London; the Board of Trade War Memorial (now located at 3 Whitehall Place, London)

Biography:

Reginald Duncan King was born in April 1882 in Edmonton, Middlesex. His father was John Rowland King (1844 to unknown) and his mother Jane Harriet King (nee Brown) who were married on 5 August 1876 in Pinner. They had four children in all (two of whom died in childhood) including Reginald and an older brother called Llewellyn John Rowland King. Their father was a drapers assistant and unfortunately died sometime between 1881 and 1891, when Reginald was only 9 years old and his wife was left widowed.

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Warehousemen, Clerks and Drapers’ Schools, Purley c. 1905 (copyright: Peter Higginbottom)

As a result, Reginald is recorded as living in 1881 at the Warehousemen Clerks and Drapers School in  the parish of Beddington, Surrey. In December 1853 a group of warehousemen and clerks were concerned to help the widow and young family of a fellow textile warehouseman who had recently died. Their idea quickly developed into establishing a charity for a school for “the children of deceased and necessitous warehouseman and commercial clerks”. The charity’s president was the former Prime Minister Lord John Russell and with him at the helm they decided to set up their own establishment, initially at Hatcham Grove House, a mansion house in New Cross, London (now demolished) which was leased. With a high demand for school places, funds were raised to find larger accommodation and consequently the schools were built on a 20 acre hilltop site on what is now Russell Hill Road, Purley (the Beddington site). The foundation stone was laid by the Prince of Wales on 11 July 1963 and the completed buildings were opened officially on 18 June 1866 by the Prince together with the Prime Minister Earl Russell. £5,500 was raised on the opening day. Long after Reginald left the school moved to a new site in Addington, Surrey. It was also subsequently renamed the Royal Russell School and became a fee paying independent school and no longer connected to the Drapers Livery company. The Purley/Beddington site is still home to a school – but this is now Thomas More Catholic School and Margaret Roper Catholic Primary School after the Diocese of Southwark bought the property in the 1960s.

Thanks to a good solid education, Reginald and his older brother Llewellyn both secured professional jobs – Llewellyn as an accountant and Reginald joining the Civil Service as a Second Division Clerk. In 1901 and 1911, Jane is working as a drapers buyer and living at 2 Compton Terrace, Islington, London.

At the time of the 1911 census we can only imagine the growing anticipation and excitement Reginald might have been feeling about his impending marriage for on 9 May 1911 at St George in Bloomsbury, Reginald was married to Milly Elizabeth Wren. After their marriage the King’s lived in Surrey – his address on his death is recorded as 91 Englewood Road, Balham. They had a daughter Kathleen Alice Mary King (originally born Eva but baptised as Kathleen) born in June 1911 in Wandsworth.

With the onset of the war, Reginald joined the 8th Battalion (also known as the Isle of Wight Rifles, “Princess Beatrice’s”) of the Hampshire Regiment where he served as a Second Lieutenant. This Battalion was initially stationed in August 1914 at start of WW1 at Newport before moving to the Isle of Wight followed by Bury St Edmunds and then Watford. The Battalion was mobilised overseas on 30 June 1915 and sent on to see action in Gallipoli, which was a hard-fought battle in difficult terrain due to the short beaches and high cliffs as well as tenacious opposition.

Reginald was one of the men who survived Gallipoli, although more than 10,000 Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (Anzacs) and more than 30,000 British soldiers died.

Reginald’s death eventually came, sadly, on 19 April 1917, by which time he was 35 years old, meaning he was one of the older Board of Trade men to die in the war.  He is recorded as “Missing Presumed Dead” or MPD. According to his probate record he died in Syria and is remembered on the Jerusalem Memorial in Israel. He left £1025 1s to his widow Milly Elizabeth King.

Reginald is remembered not just on the Board of Trade War Memorial but also on the old Ministry for Labour War Memorial located in Caxton House, Tothill Street, London. His name is also recorded on a war memorial in Wyke Regis, Dorset (where his wife’s family were from). His name is also recorded and remembered by his old school. For instance his name is mentioned ‘In Memoriam’ in the Old Russellian school magazine published in November 1919. The Royal Russell’s school Chapel of St Christopher and the Infant Jesus was built as a War Memorial and contains the names of Old Russellians who lost their lives in World Wars including that of Reginald Duncan King.

 

L A Smith

Full Name: Lawson Akhurst Smith
Born: About January 1885
Date of Death: 13 May 1918
Age at death: 33
Service, Regiment, Corps, etc: London Regiment
Unit, Ship, etc: 9th Battalion (Queen Victoria Rifles)
Enlisted:
Rank: Lance Corporal
Decorations:
War (and theatre): WW1 (France/Flanders)
Manner of Death: Suicide
Family Details: Son of Alexander G Smith and Annie Smith
Residence: 19 Blenheim Crescent, South Croydon, London (in 1918)
Home Department: Board of Trade – Patent Office
Civilian Rank: Second Division Clerk
Cemetery or Memorial: All Saints Church Cemetery, Orpington, Kent;  the Patent Office Memorial 1914-1918 in Concept House, Newport, Wales and the Board of Trade War Memorial (now located at 3 Whitehall Place, London)

Biography:

Smith LA @Orpington All Saints Church 13-05-1918

L A Smith grave in Orpington, Kent

Lawson Akhurst Smith was born in Tooting, South London, in 1885. Lawson was the first child to father Alexander and mother Annie. Alexander was a Second Division Clerk in the Admiralty when Lawson was born, and Lawson would also join the civil service in 1904 when he got a similar position to his father’s in the Patent Office.

As the family expanded, with another son, Claude (b.1884), and a daughter, Vera (b.1891), so Alexander was promoted to the position to Chief Examiner at the Office of the Admiralty and Marine Affairs by 1911.

By this time, Lawson had married on 10 May 1910 in Ticehurst, Sussex to May Elizabeth Gilruth (b.1884), from Islington. The young couple settled into a new married life in leafy Algiers Road near the Hilly Fields Park in Brockley, south London.

It’s likely Lawson would have used his local Ladywell Station to commute to his position at the Patent Office, a journey of around 45 minutes today, but presumably a little quicker back then.

When War broke out in 1914, Lawson was still a Second Division Clerk at the Patent Office, and he enlisted with the Queen Victoria Rifles (QVR) of the London Regiment on New Year’s Day 1915.

The QVR had their HQ at Davis Street in London’s Mayfair district, and it’s possible Lawson enlisted here, although we’re aware some men enlisted into other regiments at the Patent Office itself.

For 2 years, Lawson served with the QVR at home where his records describe his character as ‘very good, steady and well conducted’. He was later to win an appointment as a Lance Corporal.

Lawson’s life would change dramatically in 1917, when he and his 9th Battalion was finally sent off to France to join the efforts on the Western Front.

Landing in France in early February 1917, Lawson spent just 5 months at the Front, and it’s likely he saw action at the Battle of Arras. This British offensive lasted 5 weeks through April and May 1917, but accounted for almost 300,000 casualties on both sides.

By July 1917, Lawson had been sent home and discharged from service.

It appears Lawson was to receive 6 months of convalescence at home, and it’s likely this would have included time spent at the brand new (opened June 1917) Highfield First Home of Recovery in Golders Green, north London.

This Home of Recovery was created by the Maida Vale Hospital for Nervous Diseases in an arrangement with the Ministry for Pensions. The Home of Recovery had 100 beds, and £6,000 was spent converting Highfield from a former girls’ boarding school.

At the Home would be discharged soldiers and sailors who were suffering from neurasthenia (shell shock) and other nervous system disorders. The idea was to have patients recovering at home, before being moved into Highfield for a period of up to 3 months. Patients would receive electrical treatment, physiotherapy and psychotherapy.

Lawson, as a married man, would have received £1.37 a week, and his wife May a further 69p a week, in an agreement with the Ministry of Pensions. Men were free to use the facilities as they pleased, and those more able would work the extensive gardens. Highfield was visited by the King and Queen in November 1917.

Tragically, he’d only been a resident at Highfield a very short time when he apparently jumped from the French windows in his bedroom, a height of between 30 and 40 feet.

Initially surviving the fall, Lawson is reported in the local press to have stated “What have I done? You’ve been very kind. Leave me alone.”. He was taken to nearby Hendon Infirmary where he died the same day, Monday 13 May 1918, aged 33. Lawson’s Death Certificate listed the cause of death of ‘suicide whilst insane’.  He’s buried at Orpington All Saints Churchyard. His wife May who never remarried, died in August 1964, aged 80 and is buried in the same church plot but her name is not marked.

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Patent Office War Memorial 1914-1918 at Concept House, Newport, Wales

Yet, Lawson’s story doesn’t end there. Although he was commemorated on the Board of Trade’s War Memorial in 1923, as well as the Patent Office’s memorial before that in 1919, he was not recognised by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC).

When Department of Trade & Industry staff began researching the men on the Board of Trade memorial, it was noticed Lawson was not recognised by the CWGC. A submission was placed to have him recognised in 2007, and this was initially refused before finally being accepted a little later in the year. This means he joins the list of servicemen recognised on the CWGC list of war dead, as well as being granted the official CWGC headstone.

Find Lawson’s entry on the CWGC’s website. With special thanks to the Lost Hospitals of London website.