Submitted by Mike Crisp.
Private 47165 George Laws was by trade a painter and decorator from the small market town of Beccles, Suffolk. He joined the 22nd Battalion, Northumberland Fusiliers (Tyneside Scottish) and served in France. On the opening day of Operation Michael, 21st March 1918 his battalion was in the front-line trenches around St Leger / Bullecourt where he was reported missing. His body was never recovered, and he is commemorated on the Arras memorial. According to the battalion diary they suffered 1,130 casualties on that day.
George’s wife Gertrude, was heartbroken and never gave up hope of her husband being found, writing to the War Office on several occasions to try and gain more information. It was not until many months later friends of George visited her to relate that George was a member of a bombing party which went to a flank and were never seen again.
Not only was Gertrude in mourning but also on the poverty line, forced to bring up 2 small children on her own. To help make ends meet she took in washing, sat with the dying, and laid out corpses for the local undertakers.
Her son became the surrogate ‘man of the house’ and it was not until 1968 that he felt that he could leave his mother to get married himself.
Gertrude died at the age of 97 in 1977.
Explore more memories from the ribbon
In October 1915 Geoffrey Howard Smith was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 5th Battalion from being a member of the ranks of the Inns of Court Officer Training Corps (O.T.C.). At that time he was probably based at the O.T.C. training camp at Berkhamsted Common Hertfordshire. In August 1916 he is listed as wounded in France. He recovers from his wounds but in June 1918 he is listed as missing then confirmed as a prisoner of war in September 1918. Smith remained in captivity until his release and return to England in January 1919. This event is recognised by a letter sent to him from King George V.
Submitted by Jon Bemrose. Robert William Watson was the Fourth son of Alfred and Annie Watson, of 15, Ashville St., Bridlington. Before the outbreak of hostilities he was a fireman of the North Eastern Railway at Bridlington. 241608 Private Robert Watson served in the 5th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment and died on 28th October 1917 aged 21. His name is inscribed on the Tyne Cot Memorial in Belgium and on the cenotaph in Bridlington.
Submitted by Josephine Parker. My Uncle – Reginald James Owen Thompson (son of Owen Thompson who is featured elsewhere on the Ribbon of Remembrance) lied about his age and forged his mothers signature to join the Leicester Fusiliers at the age of just 14. He served in France and later, after the First World War, he served in China.