Edgar Ernest Lawrence

Date of birth: 25th June 1880
Place of birth: Hordle, Lymington
Service No.: 191272 (RFR/PO/B/3534)
Rank: Able Seaman
Ship: HMS Good Hope
Died: Sunday 1st November 1914 aged 34 years
Death location: Died at sea in the Battle of Coronel, Chile


Life before the War
Edgar Ernest Albert was born on Friday 25th June 1880 in Hordle, Lymington.  He was the son of Ann Lawrence a widow (born c. 1841 in Blandford).  Ann also had a daughter Hanna Maud L (born 1876 in Milford, Lymington).

On the 1911 census Edgar is shown living with his widowed mother, his elder sister Hannah and her husband Robert Henry Payne whom she married in 1907.  His mother is working as a Laundress.

In 1894 Ann married Frederick Gates and by the time of the 1911 census she gives her name as as Ann Gates but is again widowed.  Both Edgar and his sister are still with their mother in (New) Milton, Hampshire.  Edgar is working as a General Labourer.

In 1913 Q4 Edgar married Mabel Florence Annie Blake (born 1890 South Stoneham) in Southampton.  They had one daughter, Ruby Jeannette M Lawrence (born Saturday 25 July 1914 – died April 1990) who married George Henry Hadfield (born  Sunday 5th July 1914 – died November 1999) in Romsey during 1939.

Ann died in 1920 in Fareham.

War Service
During World War 1 Edgar was to serve aboard the HMS Good Hope at the Battle of Coronel.

The HMS Good Hope was a Drake Class Armoured Cruiser built on the River Clyde and launched in 1901.  She had 43 coal fired Belleville boilers feeding 2 four cyclinder triple expansion turbines and was taken out of reserve three months before World War 1.  Under the leadership of Sir Christopher Cradock’s Fourth Cruiser Squadron a team of reservists were hurriedly sent with other ships to prevent the German forces from interrupting established trade routes along the Chilean coast.  Having located Maximilian Graf von Spee’s German East Asiatic Squadron Cradock decided not to wait as ordered for the back up of HMS Canopus (another troubled vessel dragged out of reserve) and went into battle in the stormy seas off Coronel, Chile.  Cradock was still expecting HMS Defence to arrive but this ship was given fresh instructions en route.

Cradock was determined to engage with the enemy and on the evening of Sunday 1st November 1914 set out to attack.  When the German forces responded the HMS Good Hope and HMS Monmouth were quickly set ablaze by enemy fire, becoming easy targets in the dark.  HMS Good Hope continued to return fire but was ultimately lost at sea.

This was Britain’s first naval defeat for over 100 years.

The German population of Valparaiso welcomed Von Spee and his men of the Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Nürnberg as heroes on Tuesday 3rd November 1914.  They would meet their fate on Tuesday 8th December 1914 at the Battle of the Falkland Islands.

Edgar became entitled to the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal – affectionately known as Pip, Squeak and Wilfred.

Edgar Ernest (Albert) Lawrence’s name does not appear on the Southampton Cenotaph.  He is honoured on the Southampton Memorial Wall, the De Ruvigny’s Roll of Honour and upon the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.

When Edgar died his widow lived at 17 Vaudry Street, Shirley, Southampton.  This was between Church Street and Stratton Road.  This road has disappeared in favour of Shirley Towers and the Wordsworth Infant School.  However the Commonwealth War Graves records give his widow’s address as 79 Church Street, Shirley, Southampton.  Both of these addresses are shown to be the homes of Edgar’s in-laws.

Edgar’s widow went on to marry Robert Duggan in Southampton in 1927.  She died in the Tiverton area in 1963 (aged 72).  His daughter remained living locally.


Researcher: Robert Whale
Published.: 30th June 2014
Updated: Insert dates here

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