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Lawrence Cardwell was born on the 13th May 1894 at `Blowing Sands`, an area of Marton Moss in the South Shore District of Blackpool. His parents, Robert and Rebecca Cardwell (nee Butcher) married on the 7th March 1891 in the Parish Church of St. Leonard the Less in Samlesbury, the marriage details noting that both Robert and Rebecca were residents of Samlesbury at the time. Their first two children, James (1891) and Alice Kellet (1893) were both born in the Walton le Dale area but by the time Lawrence arrived the family had relocated to Marton Moss. After Lawrence, came Ellen (1895) but sadly just two years later Lawrence`s father passed away.

In 1901 Lawrence was still living in Marton Moss with his mother Rebecca and his sister Ellen, however, there are also another two Cardwell children on the Census entry; Sarah Gladys (1898) and Robert (1900).  Also living with the family was Lawrence`s paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Cardwell and his aunt Sophia Cardwell with her 12 year old son John.

In 1902 Rebecca Cardwell remarried to widower Henry Wilkinson who was a clay miner and brick maker, Henry being twenty years older than Rebecca. The couple went on to have eight children together, sadly at least four of them did not survive infancy; Mabel (1903), Thomas Henry (1904-1904), Amelia (1905-1905), May (1907), Ivy (1908-1908), Harry (1909-1911), Rebecca (1911) and Elizabeth (1913).

Lawrence was still in Marton Moss with the family when the 1911 Census was recorded, the family at the time comprising of a complicated mix of the Cardwell and Wilkinson families; parents Henry and Rebecca Wilkinson, James Wilkinson 34, (Henry`s son from his first marriage), Mabel 7, May 3 and Rebecca Wilkinson 10 months and Rebecca`s children, James 19, Lawrence 16, Ellen 15, Sarah Gladys 12 and Robert 10. Rebecca`s father 70 year old Lawrence Butcher, described as an `old age pensioner` was also living with the family. Henry Wilkinson and his son James were both employed as clay miners/brick makers as were Lawrence and his elder brother James.

Unfortunately Lawrence`s service papers no longer exist but from later information we do know that he enlisted for war service in November 1915, his service number was 22615. We also know that by the time he enlisted he had moved to 78 Freckleton Street in Kirkham with his family. He embarked for France in March 1916 and after a couple of weeks at the Infantry Base Depot he was then posted to the 10th Battalion Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, the Battalion coming under the Command of 112th Brigade of the 37th Division. The 10th Battalion had landed in France on the 31st July 1915 and when Lawrence arrived the Battalion was in the area around Hannescamps and Bienvillers. The 37th Division had spent a number of months in this area but they did not take part in any of the large scale operations during this period and although casualties did occur, they were considerably less in comparison to some of the other Divisions in other areas. After being involved in the early days of the Somme Battle the Battalion also took part in the later Battle of the Ancre (13th – 18th November) 1916.

At the beginning of March 1917, the 37th Division of which the 10th Battalion were part, moved back into a training area beyond Arras, moving forward again on the 5th April in order to take part in the Battle of Arras (9th April – 16th May 1917). 

Arras – 10th / 11th April 1917

During the night, orders were received that the L.N. Lancs were to continue the advance and attack at 05:00hrs going through East Lancs and attacking the trenches, having as our objective the `Green Line` and in particular the wood (Tilloy).

Arras – 11th April 1917 – 05:00hrs

The Battalion having previously got into position for such advance, almost immediately came into full view of the enemy and was immediately met with very heavy machine gun and shell fire.

Arras – 11th April 1917 – 05:30hrs

We received orders not to advance until barrage opened. By this time, we had carried by assault, the enemy trench in front (east of Sunken Road) and were establishing ourselves in shell holes 100 yards further east.

It was at this time that Captain Peskett, 2nd Lieutenant Ibbotson and 2nd Lieutenant Goodman were killed.

During this assault we suffered very heavy casualties and were being enfiladed from Monchy le Preux. The right flank, perceiving that they were in the air and appreciating the fact that if it remained as such, there was a likelihood of their being outflanked, boldly risked all and assaulted a small trench running southwards from Cambrai Road in the direction of Guemappe and about 30 yards east of Sunken road before mentioned.

A tank apparently also appreciating the situation in a like manner, came to their aid.

On obtaining possession of the trench Corporal Leonard and Lance Corporal R. Dinwoodie and six men were all that was left. These men boldly bombed along the trench southward killing more than a dozen Bosche, taking three prisoners and found themselves in complete possession. To their almost surprise, seven Bosche Officers miraculously appeared apparently from nowhere. This was not a time to stand on ceremony, whereupon the Officers suffered the same fate as their men. Two machine guns were captured in this gallant assault, but as the new garrison were so weak in numbers and fearing that they might eventually be in their turn evicted, they blew them up.

These men retained possession of the trench as did also Captain Gravett, ably assisted by Second Lieutenant Deacon (being the only two Officers now left) and CSM Webster with sixty men, made themselves masters of the situation of the corresponding trench running northwards from the Cambrai Road. Here the garrison remained throughout the day, although there were signs of the enemy massing for a counter attack from the south.

It was about this time that Second Lieutenant Parker died after being badly wounded.

The Commanding Officer and Adjutant, having collected enroute stragglers of all Battalions to the number of about fifty, arrived on the scene. By this time, and with the assistance of these reinforcements, Captain Gravett was the complete master of the situation. From this time onwards, reinforcements of Officers and men from other Battalions kept arriving.

Arras – 11th April 1917 – 13:50hrs

The Commanding Officer sent in a report to the General informing him that the situation had improved considerably and he had made plans for bombing parties to proceed along both sides of the Cambrai Road and to attack the enemy trench after nightfall, which was about 300 yards in front of our line, as it was not deemed advisable at the moment to advance further, knowing full well that we were well in advance of all troops on our right and left, besides which in our present position we had command of a good field of view.

During this period Second Lieutenant Deacon received two wounds, but would not desert his Captain or his men.

About three hours after entering the trench, some of the 3rd Dragoon Guards, acting as Infantry, came up on their left. This gave them some breathing space.

During this time men of the East Lancs and 10th L.N. Lancs oozed from shell holes and thickened the line of fire to our front line and could also enfilade the enemy on our right where the troops on that flank would advance further.

Arras – 11th April 1917 – 17:00hrs

We received orders that we would be relieved at 18:30hrs and immediately informed Captain Gravett to hold himself in readiness to be relieved. This relief was not completed until 01:00hrs. The men being in a very exhausted condition withdrew to Tilloy where we spent the remainder of the night.

Tilloy Wood – 12th April 1917 – 08:00hrs

Roll Call. Only a few of the brave fellows left. Our losses were estimated at 13 Officers and 286 men. That is over 60% of our fighting strength.

Sadly, Lawrence was one of the casualties, his death eventually confirmed as 11th April 1917. The Preston Guardian later announced the news of his death;

As Lawrence`s body was never recovered from the battlefield and he has no known grave his name was later commemorated on the Arras Memorial to the Missing.

After the war his parents would take receipt of their sons` British War and Victory Medals to which he was entitled and would also have received his Memorial Plaque and Scroll in recognition of his sacrifice.

Lawrence`s name was later added to the Kirkham War Memorial and he is also remembered on the Memorial Plaque inside St. Michael`s Parish Church in Kirkham (pictured below). The Plaque lists the names of 40 Kirkham men who lost their lives, 28 of whom belonged to the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment.

St. Michael`s Parish Church War Memorial Plaque, Kirkham

Rank: Private
Service No: 22615
Date of Death: 11/04/1917
Age: 22
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 10th Bn.

Janet Davis
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