14 Jul 2010


The following names appear on Lancing War Memorial, but it has not been possible to positively identify them from available sources.



Despite many searches I've been unable to positively identify W. G. Lawrence. The Post Office directories of Lancing for the period 1910-1920 show a 'William Lawrance' as head of household at Yew Tree Cottages, South Street, but always with the different spelling. This is the only reference I have found to the surname in the village at that time, although of course it is possible that this man had no family ties with the village but was working and lodging locally. Some time ago I received information that William Lawrence was serving in the Royal Navy at the outbreak of war and died on board HMS Irresistible when she was involved in action at the Dardanelles on March 18th 1915, subsequently striking a mine and sinking in Kephtx Bay. A report in the Brighton Evening Argus of 20th March 1915 gives the names of Sussex men among the crew, and does indeed include a 'Lawrence, W., Lancing' among those 'believed to be on board.' However, most of the crew were safely evacuated, and W. Lawrence was not among the fourteen men of the ship who were killed or died of wounds received that day. A search of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database reveals no man named 'Lawrence,' 'Lawrance,' or 'Laurence' who fits with the known facts, and a search of the GRO index of naval deaths between 1914 and 1921 is also negative. The index to the Register of Seamen's Service is available to view online from The National Archives, and although there are many men with the right surname and initial, it's not possible to identify any man that has a connection to Lancing.

It seems almost certain that W. G. Lawrence was in the Royal Navy; that he was serving on Irresistible in March 1915, and that he did not return home after the war. Beyond that I have not been able to confirm more concrete facts about his life or his military service.



There was certainly a Pinnell family living in Lancing during the Great War, as the 1918 street directory shows 'A. E. Pinnell, Esq.' as residing at 'Warrenhurst,' the house and market garden that was on the site of present houses in Grinstead Avenue. It seems likely that the person named on the memorial was a member of the family at Warrenhurst, and from information received it seems likely that it refers to an Elsie Pinnell, who was employed as a VAD, a member of a Voluntary Aid Detachment. The GRO death index contains an entry for an Elsie Pinnell, aged 24, whose death was registered in the East Preston registration district during the December quarter 1918. Although enquiries continue, I have not yet been able to confirm this from surviving VAD records.


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