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Lawson, A., Fus., 1939-45 (1991)
Photo: Barry Lawson son

Arthur Lawson

Photo : Barry Lawson son

Arthur and Molly Wedding day

Photo : Barry Lawson son

Working in London as a driver

Photo : Barry Lawson son

Armstrong Whitworth 5th from left back row

A. Lawson far left front row

Arthur Lawson was born on the 6th June 1912, to Edward Lawson V.C., [born 11th April 1873], and his wife Ursula 'Cilla' Robina, nee Scott, [born 23rd July 1884], one of seven children at 14 Matthew Street, Heaton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

In 1911, Edward and his wife Ursula 'Cilla' Robina were residing at 14 Matthew Street, Heaton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne and he is employed as a Ship's Electrical Wireman at Armstrong Whitworth. Also residing at the address is their eldest child Thomas Edward Lawson, born 15th July 1908. He died on the 15th May 1932.

Hartlepool and Daily Mail Monday 16/05/1932.
Walker Man Killed
Knocked Down by Motor Car on Coast Road.

A motor fatality occurred on the Coast Road late last night, the victim being Thomas E. Lawson, aged about 25 years of 33 Parsons Avenue, Walker. The accident occurred near the Benton cross roads, and the unfortunate man was crossing the thoroughfare, was knocked down by a motor-car.

Death is believed to have been almost instantaneous. Lawson was speedily removed to the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle, but life was extinct. In addition to a fractured base of the skull, he had sustained a fractured pelvis and thigh. The car which knocked Lawson down was travelling towards Newcastle, and the accident happened just past Benton Crossroads. Deceased with another man was walking across the road from the south side.

Their 2nd daughter Audrey Isobel was born on the 25th December 1916, she went on to marry Haldane Thomas Jones a Royal Marine on the 24th April 1943 at Walker Parish Church. He was the son of Mr and Mrs D.J, Jones, of Llanelly. South Wales. He died, and Audrey now widowed married Albert Smith, [who became a Head Chef on the Flying Scotsman], in July 1954, Walter Scott Lawson, born 28th May 1921, died 1950, married Elizabeth 'Lily' Butler, she emigrated to Australia in 1963, as a widow with her children on board the P and O Liner Stratheden, ship number 165614, with Mabel Joyce Lawson, born 1st March 1925, who married Leslie Wylie, he died in 1964, she died on the 5th November 2015, and they emigrated to Australia as a '10 Pom', Ursula Irene 'Betty' Lawson, born 22nd December 1916, died May 1988. Glamorgan, who married Edward Vaughan, [born 1914, died 1998], in January 1938, they had three children, and Ursula Ellen Lawson, born December 1909, died October 1910.

In about 1934, Arthur moved to London and worked as a steel erector and labourer, because there was no work in the North East. Arthur was an intelligent man and liked to fix watches and clocks in his spare time. He also worked for a period of time, as a driver, for Harris and Co, who were Jewish Kosher Butchers at 24 The Promenade, Hendon. London.

Arthur eventually moved to his native north east and was residing at 33 Parsons Avenue, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in 1939. At this address was his father, mother and his brother Walter Scott Lawson. Arthur was now a Milling Machinist, in the Industry Group CD, {General Engineering including Boilermaking}, employed by Armstrong Whitworth at Gateshead. He married Mary Kathleen 'Molly' Ramsay on the 20th April 1940 at the Walker Parish Church in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. {She was born 26th September 1915, the daughter of Ralph Ramsay, born 15th September 1882 and his wife Catherine [nee Mcelderry], Ramsay born 22nd March 1888}, residing in 1939 at 32 St Anthony's Road, Newcastle-upon-Tyne with brother Ralph Ramsay born 5th July 1913, sister Margaret Alice Ramsay 'Peggy' born 21st April 1922, who married a Douglas and younger brother James Patrick Ramsay born 16th July 1924 at 22 Westbourne Avenue. Arthur and Mary in 1944 were residing at 15 Grasmere Avenue, Walker Estate, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

They had 5 children Joan Katherine born 12th October 1940, Barry Arthur, born 30th December 1941, Michael Edward born 3rd January 1943, Carol Anne 14th February 1944 and Lynda born 1954.

Arthur Lawson served in WW2 and was residing at 10 Nisdale Avenue, Heaton, Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1944. He was conscripted on the 20th July 1944, with the rank of private into the General Service Corps with the service number 14801882 at the 68th Primary Training Wing based at Carlisle. The corps was founded in 1914 at the outbreak of World War I for specialists and those not allocated to other regiments or corps. It was used for similar purposes in World War II, including for male operatives of the Special Operations Executive (female operatives joined the FANY). From July 1942, army recruits were enlisted in the corps for their first six weeks so that their subsequent posting could take account of their skills and the Army's needs. A similar role, holding some recruits pending allocation to their units, continues today.

After his six weeks basic training, Arthur was then transferred to the 50th Battalion Border Regiment on the 31st August 1944, and then posted to the 18th Infantry Training Centre still at Carlisle. On the 11th December 1944 he is now posted to the 18th Holding Battalion based at Ripon. On the 3rd January 1945, Arthur embarks for India on a Dutch Liner, with the Draft Code RXOHH. He arrives on the 1st February at no 4 Transit Camp located at Kalyan. Kalyan was located at Nevali village 6 km south of Kalyan, operational during World War II in British India..

On the 13th February 1945, Arthur is transferred to the 1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers then based at Lucknow. He was 5 feet and 9 and three eights of an inch high, 152 lbs, Blue eyes and Brown Hair. Also had a scar above his right upper lip below his left side of the nose. Medical Grade A1. He was originally in 'C' Company. Rank now a Fusilier.

In 1939, upon the outbreak of the Second World War, the battalion was based in British India. During the Burma Campaign, the 1st Battalion fought with various units until 1943 when it became a Chindits formation with the 77th Indian Infantry Brigade, which was commanded by Brigadier Orde Wingate. The battalion was involved in both major Chindit operations, suffering many casualties before the war ended.

Transported by train to Lucknow in the Dehradun area of Uttarakhand in India. The barracks which was the old stables of a cavalry regiment were not very promising. The floors were very uneven and there were no fitted punkhas. Later in 1945 they were moved to much more comfortable quarters which had been the original 131 Indian Hospital. These quarters were much better and consisted of a block of about 80 men, for each company. The layout was typical of a hospital with what would have been a ward at each side of a communal area and two offices in the middle. The beds were also of the hospital type made from webbing rather than seagrass. The buildings were all raised from the ground and had verandas, so it was good protection from snakes and the like. Duties in Lucknow mostly consisted of internal security but there was very little action. There was an occasional show of force in the city, which was out of bounds. Usually three 3 ton trucks fully loaded with armed men but without ammunition.

On the 10th June 1945, Arthur was appointed an unpaid Lance-Corporal, and then promoted paid acting Corporal from the 7th July 1945. Promoted again to a paid Lance Sergeant 22nd August 1945. The battalion, with the war ending, became independent and time was filled with field training, route marches and drill parades. From the 16th July to the 18th August 1945, he is attending a Junior Leader course at Jhansi, at the Central Command School, but failed to qualify due to sickness. On the 13th August, Arthur is admitted to Jhansi hospital. He is discharged from hospital on the 21st August 1945.

On the 20th January 1946 he is on leave and returns on the 16th February 1946. Promoted on the 22nd February 1946 to CSM, Company Sergeant Major, unpaid acting W.O., II. On the 1st March 1946, now an Acting Warrant Officer II. [Some battalions had 4 to 5 CSM'S]. *From the 31st August 1946, Arthur is now promoted to an acting Colour Sergeant. On the 10th February 1947 he is at the Home base trooping Depot at Doulalli. The Depot at Doulalli was a very interesting place and gave rise to the expression ' he's gone a bit Doulalli 'meaning for someone to lose their grip on reality or having gone " bonkers.' Somewhere amongst my papers I gave a very good map of the camp. It was the case that at the end of WW2 considerable delay took place in repatriating troops back to the UK due to severe transportation problems. Hundreds if not thousands of 'time served troops' were billited at Doulalli awaiting transport home which was very infrequent due to the lack of troop ships. Many who had enlisted 'for the duration' became somewhat disaffected and felt that as the war had ended they were being retained in the Army beyond their engagement contracts so to speak and they caused a lot of problems within the camp. Also he had leave in advance of Repatriation. He embarks from Bombay for the UK on the 20th February 1947.

He was transferred in to the Army Reserve Class Z from the 3rd June 1947. Arthur spent 2 years and 65 days in India. He returned home to the UK on the 10th March 1947 before being demobbed on the 2nd June 1947 at Preston. Finishing with the rank of CQMS. Arthur worked after the war as a semi-skilled Milling Machinist for Armstrong Whitworth Gateshead and then he got the foreman's Milling Machinists job at Monitor on the Coast Road.

Arthur died on the 21st September 1991 and his wife Molly died on the 15th February 2008.

Arthur is not remembered on a North East War Memorial.

Acknowledgements : Geoff Pycroft

Special thanks to Barry Lawson son of the above for use of the photographs.

* There is some confusion about the promotion dates and ranks shown on his service record.

1st Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers

Other photographs of Arthur Lawson

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