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James William Lawton

Date of birth: 1919
Date of death: 11.6.1940
Area: Crofton
Regiment: Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding)
Rank: Private
Service number: 4617712

James was born in 1919 and brought up in Crofton. The family originally lived in North’s Yard behind the old Smithy, but they later moved to Hare Park View.
James was one of nine children, 3 brothers, 3 sisters and younger twin sisters who died in childhood. Two of the brothers were also twins. One of them died at age 17 from a heart condition. James was known at home as “Bill” and is described as stocky with round features, of medium height with “mousie” coloured hair and blue eyes. After attending school in Crofton, Bill left at 14 and worked on a farm. Bill’s hobby was keeping racing pigeons and his closest friend, in Crofton, was Roland Harrop.
Bill enlisted in the Army whilst still under age and trained at Strensall Barracks near York. When his true age was discovered he was sent home! Bill then became a miner and worked at Walton Pit.
Early in 1939 a batch of 20 year olds were called up including Bill and his friend Harold to do six months service. With the onset of the War their service was extended.
Bill became a lorry driver with H Q Company 2nd/7th Battalion of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment. They were posted to France, it was 11th June and Bill was killed when his lorry was blown up. He was still only 20 years old.
Bill was originally posted as “missing believed killed” and it was quite a long time before the family received definite news of what had happened to him.
Bill is buried at the Veules-les-Roses Cemetery in France, which is a civilian cemetery with just a small number of servicemen’s graves.

Rows of white gravestones with plants in front of them between areas of mown grass. The cemetery is surrounded by a hedge Veules-les-Roses Cemetery

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