Eric Reginald Lawton was born in 1898 at Liverpool, the son of Henry and Mary Lawton. They were a Liverpool family, and it seems they had a second home in Prestatyn, where they were well known.
The first record for Eric is in the 1901 Census for England, available on Ancestry. The family are living at 21, Brentwood Avenue, in the Toxteth Park area of Liverpool. Head of the family was Henry Lawton, age 37, who had been born in Liverpool and was described as an East Indian Merchant’s clerk. His wife Mary was 40, and had been born at Trefiw, Caernarvonshire. The children were Henry Percy age 7, William Herbert age 6, and Eric Reginald who was 3. They had all been born in Liverpool. There was also a general servant Martha Burgess who was 22.
IN 1911 the family are still living at Toxteth Park. Henry is 47, and now described as a hemp merchant. Mary is 50, Henry P. is 17 and a cotton clerk, while William Herbert 16, and Eric Reginald 13, are at school. There was one servant, Ada Glover, who was 37.
The next reference to Eric is in the Supplement to the London Gazette 13th November 1916:
Eric Reginald Lawton of the Manchester Regiment was promoted to 2nd Lieutenant (on probation) (attd) 25th October 1916.
Eric’s service records have not survived, but the website Soldiers who Died in the Great War confirms the known details. In addition the CWGC site gives his parents’ address as “Normanton, Prestatyn, Flintshire.”
The website British Army Medal Rolls Index has an entry for Eric, stating that he served in the Inns of Court Officer Training School as a Private, then in the Manchester Regiment as 2nd Lieutenant. He entered his theatre of war on 18th March 1917.
The website Find My Past also has some details as follows
Service record 1 – no 7590 Private, Inns of Court Officer Training School
Service record 2 – 2nd Lieutenant, Manchester Regiment.
From the Liverpool Echo August 18th 1917
Mr and Mrs Lawton of Sandringham Drive, Liverpool, have been notified of the death of their youngest son, 2nd Lieutenant E.R. Lawton, whilst on patrol duty. He was educated at the Liverpool Institute and joined just before he was 18 in November 1915 with the OTC, Inns of Court, and was commissioned in November 1916, going out to France in March of this year.
His commanding officer, in a letter to the family, writes of him “I think your son was one of no common order of courage. He has performed one or two duties involving daring and leadership for which I was about to bring his name forward for special recognition. I received only yesterday a letter from one general telling me ‘This is just what is wanted. 2nd Lt Lawton deserves great credit for his work carried out in daylight.’ It was while on special patrol duty with Sergeant Dean and Private Hargreaves that he met his death. They got to within a few yards of the German trenches when your son saw a Boche standing breast high above the parapet, and fired his pistol at him. He then told the patrol to withdraw. They got back across the German wire a few yards when a rifle grenade dropped amongst them and wounded all three, your son seriously. They brought him into our line. But by then he had passed away. On all sides, his loss is deplored.”
From the Liverpool Echo 17th August 1917:
August 10th killed in action aged 19 years, second Lieutenant Eric Reginald Lawton (Manchester Regiment) the dearly loved youngest son of Henry and Mary Lawton, Deepdene, Sandringham Drive, Sefton Park Liverpool, and Nere Kayola, Prestatyn.
There is a card for Eric in the Roll of Honour in the Hawarden Archives, it gives his address as Normanton, Aberconway Road, Prestatyn. His period of service is two years, and a detail is added that he was killed near Arras. It was signed on 27th September 1919 by Henry Lawton.
Our soldier’s affairs were conducted by Cox and Co, the army agents, the Register of Soldiers Effects website shows that his account was refunded £49 6s 6d in September 1917 plus later on a war gratuity.
Photographs with kind permission of Abergen Research.