43626 Pte Lawrence WADSWORTH 2nd Batt York and Lancaster Regiment
PRISONER OF WAR
Lawrence was born in 1898 in the village of TANKERSLEY near Barnsley, Yorkshire.
The 1901 and 1911 census show him living with his family in the Tankersley area. In 1901 they are at 33 The Walk, Birdwell, Barnsley.
His parents being Stephen and Annie WADSWORTH, he had 2 brothers Oliver and Ernest, 1 sister Edith.
Prior to enlisting he was employed as a miner at the Wharncliffe and Silkstone colliery.
Lawrence enlisted into the army at Barnsley on the 23rd May 1917 aged 18yrs. He was inducted into the ranks of the York and Lancaster Regiment and initially posted to the 3rd Battalion.
He embarked for the British Expeditionary Force, France at Folkstone on 7th November 1917 arriving at Boulogne the following day. He was then transferred to the 2nd Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment on 11th November 1917 where he qualified as Rifle Bomber.
On 21st March 1918 Lawrence was reported missing in the field and it was later discovered that he had been taken prisoner.
The German Spring offensive OPERATION MICHAEL
The 21st March 1918 was the first day of the German Operation Michael, Spring offensive. Prior to this the British had been probing enemy positions looking for opportunities to gather intelligence. The 2nd Battalion York and Lancaster Regiment were engaged in these activities in the month of March around the area of Lagnacourt Village.
The battalion war diary records that on the 21st and 22nd March 1918 the battalion was involved in heavy and bitter fighting under sustained attack from the enemy.
At around 4.50am on the 21st March the Germans began to shell the rear areas of the battalion line with gas and high explosive. This continued until around 7.30 am when the barrage changed its focus to the reserve line for an hour and then the front line for 20 minutes. So intense was the barrage on the 2 Battalions front line that almost every man of the Coy holding it was killed or wounded leaving around 15 survivors. Then the enemy attacked capturing the severely depleted front line, even though the remnants fought hard and caused them to retreat to the reserve line. The enemy then spread across our front. ‘A’ Coy were brought up to support ‘C’ Coy in the reserve line but they could not hold back the enemy and were driven out of their positions. ‘B’ Coy who were in Lagnicourt Trench are described as fighting it out to a finish! The Battalion had to adopt a fighting retreat from Lagnicourt village to Vaulx inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy as they did so. On the 22nd March what was left of the battalion was driven to a place called Sunken Road where they made what the diary describes as their last stand under another sustained attack by overwhelming enemy forces. The battalion was relieved during the night by the 10th Queens regiment.
So lawrence was taken prisoner on the first day of the last German offensive of WW1.
He remained in the hands of the Germans until he was liberated on the 11th January 1919 even though hostilities had ceased. Whilst in captivity he suffered from dysentery and was hospitalised in a German hospital at Mons. He was eventually repatriated to England arriving at Hull on the 12th January 1919 and he was demobilised on 25th May 1919.
International Red cross Records:-