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Lawson, A., 2nd Lieut., 1916
Photo: JAMES PASBY NER Magazine 1917 page 2

NER Magazine 1917 page 2

Photo: James Hoy Archive Shields Gazette .

Shields Gazette Friday 29/09/1916

Medal Index Card

On the Thiepval Memorial Departement de la Somme, Picardie, France is the name of 25241, Second Lieutenant Alfred Lawson, serving with the 1/9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry who died 16/09/1916.

Alfred Lawson was born on the 5th December 1891?, at 57 Winchester Street, South Shields the youngest son of 10 children to Benjamin Dain Lawson, Tug Boat owner, born 4th March 1848, at 12 Alderson Street, baptised 25th March 1948, [son of John Robert Lawson born 1823 died 1901], and Isabella Lawson, born 27th August 1852. They were married in 1871.

The other 9 children were Benjamin Dain Lawson, born 24th January 1872, died July 1951, John Robert, born 18th December 1877, baptised 9th February 1877 at St Stephens Church, Arthur Lawson, born 1881, Margaret Ann, born 1884, Gertrude, born 1886, Eleanor, born 1888, Isabelle, born 14th December 1874, Sarah, born 26th February 1874, baptised 22nd March 1873 at St Stephens Church, who married an Isaac Reay, [born 23rd May 1868], in 1939 were residing at 2 Armstrong Avenue, Sarah was an Air Raid Warden in WW2 and George born 1877.

Alfred was educated at Westoe Secondary School. He worked for the North Eastern Railway as a clerk since leaving school and was based at the Newcastle Divisional Good Manger's office, until 1910, Alfred then was located at the New Bridge Street office of the District Engineers office. He was also a nephew of Alderman J. R. Lawson.

His parents moved frequently as the family grew, in 1871, 64 Denmark Street, 1881, they were residing at 27 Cleveland Street, 1891, 57 Winchester Street, 1901, 70 Winchester Street and 1911, 2 Hepscott Terrace all in South Shields. BenjamIn was now working for the Tyne Tug Federation Company.

In 1939 Benjamin now retired and Isabella were residing at 47 Mortimer Road, with their eldest son, Benjamin Dain, now a retired School Master who had worked for the Shields Education Committee. Isabella also a Teacher for Shields Education Committee who was still working.

Alfred Lawson now residing at 45 Westoe Parade, enlisted as a private on the 12th September 1914 at South Shields, service number 25241, described as 5 feet 8 inches tall, Fresh complexion, Blue Eyes and Brown Hair, 127lbs. Then posted to Scarborough on the 14th September 1914 in to 'B' Squadron 11th Reserve Regiment Cavalry. The 11th Reserve Regiment of Cavalry was formed in August 1914 at Tidworth. Trained men for the 10th and 18th Hussars, Hampshire Yeomanry, North Somerset Yeomanry and the Wiltshire Yeomanry. Was absorbed into new 5th Reserve Regiment early in 1917.

[Men who enlisted into the cavalry, either as volunteers or conscripts, served with the cavalry reserve to carry out their basic training. Many were not, however, posted to a cavalry regiment overseas but were converted into infantry or other corps before being sent there].

Alfred was posted to Tidworth on the 2nd March 1915. On the 30th March 1915, Alfred was examined by a Medical Board who stated that Alfred should be discharged as permanently unfit for War service, fit only for duties at home. This was due to Varix. The patient stated that no discomfort was noticed until he was doing sword drill in December, now has an aching pain in right leg below the knee which as increased in pain. Condition described as a Idiotpathic, relating to or denoting any disease or condition which arises spontaneously or for which the cause is unknown. Diagnosis was the internal saphenous vein is markedly dilated throughout its length from knee to groin, This would be a satisfactory case for an operation.

On the 19th June 1915, Alfred is in the Tidworth Military Hospital for 14 days for an operation on his Varicose Veins until the 5th July 1915.

He was discharged from the Cavalry on the 11th November 1915 on account of obtaining a 2nd Lieutenant commission from the 10th November 1915 in the 1/9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry.

Leaving Tidworth on the 15th November.

2nd Lieutenant Alfred Lawson joined the 1/9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry and was killed at the Battle of Flers-Courcelette (15th to the 22nd September 1916). The 50th Division with 151st brigade attacked Prue Trench, east of Crescent Alley. Some parties of the 1/5th Border Regiment and 1/9th Battalion Durham Light Infantry reached their objective but were forced out. Not even Starfish Line was secured.

On the 17th September, two parties of about 50 men, each under command of a 2nd Lieutenants Bowdery and Thompson, made another attempt to reach the Starfish Line but they too were met a wall of murderous machine gun and rifle fire. They did establish a number of shell hole posts about 100 yardsin front of the line. 2nd Lieutenant was awarded the Military Cross for his intrepid leadership in this action.

2nd Lieutenant Alfred Lawson was shot in the head by a sniper leading his platoon into the attack.

In a letter from his Commanding Officer it is stated that Lieutenant Lawson was killed 'whilst gallantly leading his men in an assault on the enemy position' and it is added that the continuous excellent work done by him had been of incalculable value to the nation and that he was one of the most excellent of officers and would have attained the rank of Captain. He was aged 24.

His parents had received an additional letter from his friend and brother officer, 2nd Lieutenant Charles D. Bowdery [M.C.], showing how splendidly the deceased officer played his part in the great struggle that is going on in France:- Dear Mr Lawson, It is with the deepest regret that I tell that I have to inform you that Alf was killed whilst gallantly leading his men into action on Saturday, the 16th Inst. For a long time past I have been a friend of Alf's, and I was only a few yards away when he fell, hit in the head. I am sure he had no pain whatever, and died like a hero in face of the accursed enemy. He died as he lived, a perfect gentleman and a gallant soldier, and although perhaps useless, it may some consolation for you to know that.

Alfred Lawson in his will left 168 13s to his father a retired staithsman. He was unmarried.

Source: NER Railway Magazine 1917 page 2, Long Long Trail

Source: Shields Gazette Friday 29/09/1919

Alfred Lawson is remembered at South Shields on S86.027 in S86.086 page 9, S86.109, S86.142 at Durham in D147.03c page 246, and on the York Railway Memorial

South Shields Grammar School
The CWGC entry for 2nd Lieutenant Lawson

If you know more about this person, please send the details to janet@newmp.org.uk