"All I can truthfully say is that we did our utmost. We could not have done more. History must give its verdict. I do not for one moment contend that we did not make mistakes, many of them, and as I read through these old orders before me, I keep recalling the old problems with which we were faced."
General Sir Charles Harington
GEORGE EDWARD LAWRENCE MM
George Lawrence was born in Riverhead on 2nd February 1889 and was baptised in St Mary's Church on 26th May that year. He appears on the 1901 census as a 12 year old boy with his Mother and Father, Richard and Elizabeth. Richard had been born in Yalding and Elizabeth in Chevening. George was part of a large family as he had four brothers; Norman Alfred, Lionel Richard, Raymond Hope and Sidney Victor. He also had sisters; Daisy (who is probably the Mrs Lewin referred to in the article opposite) and Frances Esther (who went on to marry a Thomas Percy Bassett). All were baptised in St Mary's Church. The family lived at Sunnybank, Riverhead.
George's war records have not survived. We know he enlisted in Maidstone, Kent. The Roll of Individuals entitled to the Victory Medal reveals that he had originally been in the 3rd Royal West Kent Regiment. He had then transferred to the 10th RWKR.
The text under the photograph opposite provides some more information. This photograph appeared in the paper immediately under that of Albert Palmer - the difference being that Albert Palmer's photograph was accompanied by news of his death. George Lawrence's photograph is accompanied by notice of the award of a Military Medal.
It reveals that he went to France in 1916. This would have been with the RWKR (as described above). He was wounded in September 1917 on the Menin Road. This resulted in him being transferred to the Labour Corps - presumably because his injuries rendered him less than A1 fit. The Roll of Honour in St Mary's Church records him as having been in the Machine Gun Corps - but nothing in what has survived suggests this is correct.
However, the German Spring offensive of 1918 and the subsequent allied 100 day offensive required all hands to the pump. It appears, therefore, that a new Battalion was hastily formed on 16th June 1918 at Nieurlet, near St Omer. By November the Battallion was in close contact with the German Army near the River Schelde. Reports came in the the enemy had withdrawn and so "strong fighting patrols" were sent out on 5th November. These went out in daylight and established that the enemy were still present in strength. "Heavy machine gun, rifle and trench-mortar fire was encountered, and a number of casualties incurred."
We know from a newspaper report that George Lawrence was shot by a sniper while making an observation through the window of a building.
Six days later the War ended.