Stanstead Abbotts

Local History Society

William LAWRENCE


Private 4/7074

2nd Battalion Bedfordshire Regiment


Killed in Action 11th July 1916 aged 27


Born 1st Dec 1888, in Ware, son of Arthur and Annie and in 1891 he lived in Milletts House along with five sisters Laura, Alice, Edith, Beatrice and Maud.  In the 1911 census he lived in Gillie Cottages in Roydon Road, along with his widowed father and his sister Laura and a niece named Ivy.  William, like his father was a farm labourer.


He joined the Bedfordshire Regiment and was sent to France on 11thNovember 1914.The Bedfordshire Regiment took part in the battles of Neuve Chappelle in March, Festubert in May, Givenchy in June and Loos in September.

The following year the 2nd Battalion, of the Bedford’s, were engaged in several phases of the first Battle of the Somme, including on 11th July 1916, Trones Wood.  The action began at 02.37 when all 4 companies of the battalion advanced, due to the thick foliage they were not seen until they were only 400 yards away from the enemy, when machine guns and artillery opened fire on them.  At the time it was only possible to see 4/5 yards in front ahead.  The Bedford’s managed to dig in inside the woods, both A and B companies had suffered heavy casualties but they held out with support from C and D companies until, almost surrounded by the enemy, they were ordered to withdraw the following morning.
In total this action cost the battalion almost 250 casualties, including William, from a total complement of 550.


His body was never recovered and he is commemorated on the Thiepval memorial to the missing of the Somme.


Medals Awarded: British War Medal, Victory Medal, 1914 Star