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Person Details
02 Oct 1880
He was the son of the late Michael and Harriett Lawson, of Nottingham (CWGC). He joined the Royal Navy in November 1898 when he was 18 years old leaving in 1907. He married Winifred Hinton in Nottingham in 1905 (registered Apr/May/Jun). By the time of the 1911 census they had had three children of whom only two survived. The index of births register records three daughters; Catherine (1908, Jul/Aug/Sep), Florence Ivy (1909, Jan/Feb/Mar, died 1909, Apr/May/Jun) and Florence (1910, Jul/Aug/Sep). At the time of the 1911 census William was a lodging house keeper at 89 Red Lion Street, Nottingham, and living there with his wife Winifred (30) and daughters Catherine (2) and Florence (8 months). However, at the time of his death the family was living at 7 Grenville Road, Carlton Road, Nottingham. A Winifred Kate Lawson (born 1 June 1880) died in Nottingham in June 1980 aged 90. He was the brother of Mrs Rose Connor who kept the Loggerheads public house, Red Lion Street. Mrs Connor's son and William's nephew, Private Christopher Watchorn, 11th Bn Northumberland Fusiliers, was killed on 7 July 1916, aged 19.
He was a labourer when he joined the Royal Navy in 1898 on a 12 year engagement and transferred to the Royal Fleet Reserve on 15 December 1907 for his remaining three years. However, he re-enlisted in the RFR on 13 October 1911 to serve for ten years to 14 December 1917. In 1911 he was a lodging house keeper. He was mobilized shortly before the outbreak of war.
01 Nov 1914
2871529 - CWGC Website
Leading Stoker
HMS Good Hope Royal Navy
(RFR/PO/B/2423) William joined the Royal Navy on 5 November 1898 on a 12 year engagement. He served in the following ships and shore establishments: Victory II 5 November 1898 (Stoker 2nd Class); Duke of Wellington II, 1 April 1899-5 June 1899; HMS Thetis, 6 June 1899-8 June 1901 (Stoker, 12 November 1899); Duke of Wellington II, 9 June 1901-26 August 1901; HMS Victory, 27 August 1901-26 February 1902; Duke of Wellington, 27 February 1902-7 November 1902; HMS Agincourt, 8 November 1902-31 December 1903; Boscawen 3, 1 January 1904-12 May 1904; Firequeen II, 17 May 1904-1 May 1905; HMS Exmouth, 17 May 1904-1 May 1905; Victory II 2 May 1905-1 July 1908; HMS Hermione, 2 July 1905-13 July 1905; HMS Vulcan 14 July 1905-31 March 1907 (Stoker 1st Class 1 July 1906); Orion I, 1 April 1907-30 September 1907 (Leading Stoker 5 May 1907); HMS Sappho, 1 October 1907-23 October 1907; Victory II, 24 October 1907-14 December 1907. He joined the RFR [Royal Fleet Reserve], Portsmouth B2423, on 15 December 1907. Re-enrolled 13 October 1911 to serve to 14 December 1917. HMS Good Hope, 15 July 1914 (Leading Stoker); Victory II 25 July 1914-30 July 1914; HMS Good Hope, 31 July 1914-1 November 1914. His service record is annotated 'DD [Discharged Dead] 1 November 1914. Lost when HMS Good Hope was sunk in action off Chilian Coast.' He died at the Battle of Coronel; his body was not recovered for burial and he is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial. HMS Good Hope was a Drake Class armoured cruiser built in 1901. By 1914 she was Rear Admiral Sir Christopher George Cradock’s flag ship which, along with HMS Monmouth and other British vessels of 4th Cruiser Squadron, encountered Vice Admiral von Spee’s Scharnhorst and Gneisenau forty five miles off the Chilean port of Coronel. The German ships were faster and more heavily armed than Cradock’s fleet. The sun set at 18:50 on November 1st 1914, which silhouetted the British ships against the light sky while the German ships became indistinguishable from the shoreline behind them. Spee immediately turned to close and signalled his ships to open fire at 19:04 when the range closed to 12,300 yards. Spee's flagship, Scharnhorst, engaged Good Hope while Gneisenau fired at Monmouth. Cradock's flagship was hit on the Scharnhorst's third salvo, when shells knocked out her forward 9.2-inch turret and set her forecastle on fire. Cradock, knowing his only chance was to close the range, continued to do so despite the battering that Spee's ships inflicted. By 19:23 the range was almost half of that when the battle began and the British ships bore onwards. Spee tried to open the range, fearing a torpedo attack, but the British were only 5,500 yards away at 19:35. Seven minutes later, Good Hope charged directly at the German ships, although they dodged out of her way. Spee ordered his armoured cruisers to concentrate their fire on the British flagship which had drifted to a halt with her topsides ablaze. At 19:50 her forward magazine exploded, severing the bow from the rest of the ship, and she later sank in the darkness. Von Spee estimated that his flagship had made 35 hits on Good Hope, suffering only two hits in return that did no significant damage and failed even to wound one crewman. Good Hope was sunk with all hands, a total of 919 officers and men. Good Hope and Monmouth’s ship’s companies mainly comprised reservists whereas von Spee’s crews were well trained and experienced. There were just two other British ships the light cruiser HMS Glasgow and the armed merchant cruiser Otranto neither of which were a threat to von Spee’s modern ships which had a greater fire-power than those of the British Squadron. The captain of Cradock’s flagship, HMS Good Hope, was Captain Philip Francklin RN who came from Gonalston, Nottinghamshire. Francklin is commemorated on the Gonalston memorial). A postscript is that von Spee’s squadron was destroyed and he and his two sons killed, when the Royal Navy under Admiral Sturdee exacted retribution six weeks later at the Battle of the Falkland Islands 8 December 1914.
Nottingham Evening Post obituary (abridged) 24 November 1914: LAWSON, on November 1st, William Lawson, husband of Winifred Lawson, on HMS Good Hope. Wife and children, brother of Mrs Rose Connor, Loggerheads, Red Lion Street.
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