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Forum Home > For King/Queen and Country. > Tom Lawrence, the V.C from Bewdley.

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Worcestershire Hero of the Boer War.

There won't be many of my age, who haven't had a day out at Bewdley, either having a picnic by the River, Fishing, or just idling away a pleasent day of your Holidays. When the river was high enough, there were boat trips as well, and the buses bound for Ludlow passed through here as well. Into the world, on the 9th November,1873, at the Kidderminster Hospital, came one Tom Lawrence, destined to make a mark on military history. The family lived at number 15, Lower Park, his first job, at the age of 17, after his Grammer School education in Kidderminster, Tom was a clerk in his father business; but it wasn't to last, and Tom went off to join a very famous Regiment, The Duke of Cornwalls Own, The 17th Lancers. He turned out to a exceptionally good horseman, and quickly rose up the ranks until in 1898, he was promoted Sergeant. The 17th Lancers were put on standby in late 1899, for trouble had begun in South Africa, and it was yet another chance for the Regiment to live up to it's nickname, " The Death or Glory Boys ". While not in the thick of the action this time, the Regiment played it's part, and patrolled across dangerous territory. Just how dangerous, became clear, when on a two man patrol on the 7th August, 1900, Sergeant Lawrence and Private Hayman came under fire from a party of Boers about 14 strong. Haymans horse was killed in the exchange of fire, and he sustained a dislocated shoulder when the horse rolled over him. Dismounting, Sergeant Lawrence helped Hayman into his horses saddle and set him off for their unit for assistance. He then took Hayman's Carbine and ammunition and with his weapon as well, held the enemy off until Hayman was out of range. Now on foot, he continued to exchange fire, and began a fighting retreat, making sure the enemy could not surround him. This went on for over two miles, when at last help arrived, and the Boers were driven off. It was a totally unselfish act by Lawrence, and won the praise of everyone in the Regiment, for the display of sheer courage. It did not go unrewarded, for after being mentioned in dispatches, he was awarded his Country's highest honour. He had to wait awhile though, for the War dragged on, the old Queen died, and it wasn't until the Cornation, in 1902, that he received his Medal from the King.

Now you would think that that was enough excitement for one man, and you would be wrong, for continued his career with the 17th Lancers, being promoted to Lieutenant Lawrence, and a place as Riding Master at their base camp in Tidworth, Hampshire. In 1912, he was part of an unsuccessful riding team at the Olympic Games, and when war broke out in 1914, he was back to active service with the Regiment in France in 1916. They were manly used for trench warfare, but the horse's were used in action at the Battle of Cambrai, in 1917, again in the German Spring Offensive in 1918, and again in the counter attack, at the Battle of Amiens. Now for reasons I havn't discovered, he underwent a name change after the War, becoming Brian Turner Tom Lawrence, and finished his military career with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence. To put a cap on a remarkable story, in 1939 he was back in uniform, although this time I suspect, not on the back of a horse. ( Mind you, Captain Mainwaring did it ) After the War, he set off for the British enclave in Kenya, where a great many former Officers went, and died there, on the 7th June, 1949. Give the man a thought, next time you go over the pretty bridge into Bewdley, he certainly deserves one or two.

Photograph and Medals can be seen in the " Faces from the Past " Album, in the Gallery.


A wonderful thing is work, I could watch it all day.  ( See my Blog entry )

November 18, 2013 at 3:31 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 46

What a very brave man, everyone would like him for a relation I know I would.

November 22, 2013 at 4:51 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Posts: 1

There are so many Black Country men who served their country with distinction all those years ago and sadly their names have long been forgotten. It is good to see Tom Lawrence VC remembered and is a reminder to us all, of the sacrifice some are prepared to make for their mates!

September 7, 2015 at 2:26 AM Flag Quote & Reply

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