Captain, 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards
Died of Wounds on 16 September 1916 in the Battle of the Somme, aged 21
Buried in Grove Town British Cemetery, Méaulté, France
Grave reference, Plot 1, Row C, Grave 38

The badge of the Coldstream Guards

Michael Charles Lawrence was born on 6 October 1894 at Wildernesse, Sevenoaks, Kent, a year after his brother Oliver, who was also to die in the Great War. Michael was the son of General the Honourable Sir Herbert Alexander Lawrence and his wife Isabel Mary, née Mills. In 1901 Michael was enumerated at Wildernesse along with his widowed grandmother, his uncle the 2nd Baron Hillingdon, his mother, his father - listed as a cavalry officer - his brother and some 26 servants. His father, himself the son of a Viceroy of India, resigned his commission in 1903 and went into banking, although he returned to military life at the outbreak of war and rose to be General Haig's Chief of Staff. It was he who unveiled the Forest Row War Memorial.

Wildernesse House, Sevenoaks

In 1911, Michael was a scholar at Eton College. Presumably he joined up at the outset of war, when he would have been 19. The 1st Battalion, Coldstream Guards were based at Aldershot at the outbreak of war, but within a fortnight they had landed at Le Havre as part of the British Expeditionary Force. In the first year of the war they fought at the Battles of Mons, the Marne, the Aisne and the First Battle of Ypres. In 1916 they were part of the carnage that was the Battle of the Somme, in which Michael was mortally wounded.

Grove Town British Cemetery, Méaulté

Michael's death, just before his 22nd birthday, was reported in the Kent and Sussex Courier on 22 September 1916 as follows:

Captain Michael Laurence [sic], second son of General the Hon. H. Laurence and Mrs Laurence of Ashdown Place, Forest Row, has died from wounds received in action on September 15th, in France. His elder brother was killed in May last year.

Michael Charles Lawrence's entry on the Graves
Registration Report Form, third from bottom.

Probate was granted to the Hon. Herbert Alexander Lawrence of Ashdown Place, Forest Row, Lieutenant-General in His Majesty's Army. Effects were assessed at £389 12s.9d.

Memorial to Michael Charles Lawrence
at SS Peter and Paul Seal

Also in the church at Seal, near Sevenoaks, there is a lectern, in the form of an angel. Nearby is a plaque which states:

This lectern was given by Louisa Isabella Lady Hillingdon in memory
of three grandsons who fell in the Great War 1914-1919.
Charles Thomas Mills Oct: 5 1915
Oliver John Lawrence May 25 1915
Michael Charles Lawrence Sept: 16 1916

Herbert Lawrence put Ashdown Place up for auction in November 1918. Presumably he and his wife moved to London as the Commonwealth War Graves Commission registration notes that Michael's parents were living at 32, Rutland Gate, London.

Pam Griffiths