348028 Pte Stephen Lawson Royal Scots

Pte Stephen Lawson was born a farmer’s son at Fourlands Hill, near High Bentham, in the Yorkshire Dales.

In 1891 there was a Stephen Lawson living at Fourlands aged 3. He would have been born in late 1887 or early 1888. His father is recorded as James Lawson; his mother is not listed, but may have been away that day. On the previous census, 1881, James is recorded as married to Isabella. Presumably she will have been Stephen’s mother. Also in the household are William and Mary Pooley, James Lawson’s father and mother-in-law. So Isabella’s maiden name was Pooley. In 1891 there were 5 brothers and one sister with Stephen. It looks as though James Lawson remarried as the 1901 census records Barbara as his wife. James’ occupation on all 3 census records is “farmer”. “Farmer of 52 acres”, is shown on the 1881 census, which gives the address as Fourlands Hill. On the 1891 census it is Fourlands and by 1901 it is Far Fourlands, a smaller farm nearby. Stephen is described as a farmer’s son on the 1901 census. By 1911 the family had moved to Faccon farm, where members of the Lawson family still live.

By the time the war came Stephen was living in Lancaster . He enlisted at Settle and joined the 5th/6th Bn the Royal Scots. The Royal Scots raised 35 Bns during WW1 of which 15 saw active service. (The 5/6th Bn was formed in July 1916 from the depleted 1/5th and 1/6th Territorial Bns eventually being disbanded in 1919.)

The former Fourlands Inn today. Fourlands Hill and Far Fourlands farms are a few yards down the road to the left. © Copyright SIMON PHILLIPS

Stephen’s medal roll entry shows that he was entitled to both the VM and BWM but not the earlier star, indicating that he entered a theatre of war after 31 dec 1915

The village of Bouchoir was retaken by the 8th Canadian Infantry Bde on the 9th, two days before Stephen’s death and the day after the first phase of the Battle of Amiens had resulted in the first major defeat of the German army on the Western Front.

On the morning of the 11th of August the 5/6th Bn Royal Scots with the 1st Bn Dorset Regt took part in an attack on the village of Damery, just beyond the by now disused front line of 1916. They left the old British trenches and crossed the wilderness of a shell pocked no mans land now swathed in weeds, penetrating the old German trench line before the attack was halted by well sited German machine guns in the woods and villages beyond.

This map shows the area of operations of 5/6 R Scots and 1st Bn. the Dorset Regt during the morning of 11th Aug 1918. Stephen was almost certainly killed within 100 metres of the small wood in front of the blue arrow marked “5/6 RS”. The Amiens/Roye road , marking the French/British boundary for the battle, runs diagonally left to right in the bottom left of the map.
Satelite image copyright Google Earth.

Stephen is buried in the Bouchoir New British Cemetery along with 763 other British dead, nearly all killed either in the last great German advance of Spring 1918 or during their subsequent retreat in August. There are 95 named Royal Scots dead buried here, all killed on the 11th of August. His name is recorded on the WW1 Memorial Plaque on the Town Hall of High Bentham

Stephen Lawson’s memorial plaque

Stephen’s plaque is one of approximately 1,150,000 sent to the families of soldiers and sailors from Britain and the Empire who died in the war,or afterwards from its effects, or of natural causes between 4 Aug 1914 and 30 April 1920. It is a cast bronze disk 4.75″ in diameter and his name is shown without rank or title, to show the equality of all in death. The design shows Brittania, holding a victor’s laurels, with the British Lion. The plaque was designed by Edward Carter-Preston, whose intitials can be seen just above the lion’s front paw. The plaque would have been accompanied by a scroll headed by the Royal coat of arms which read:

“He whom this scroll commemorates was numbered among those who, at the call of King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardness, faced danger, and finally passed out of the sight of men by the path of duty and self-sacrifice, giving up their own lives that others might live in freedom. Let those who come after see to it that his name is not forgotten”

In Memory of
Private S LAWSON

348028, 5th/6th Bn., Royal Scots
who died
on 11 August 1918

Remembered with honour

Commemorated in perpetuity by
the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Stephen’s grave at Bouchoir in July 2008.

I am endebted to John Pilkington, editor of the Bentham.Net for the details of Stephen’s early life and wherabouts of his local memorial.

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