LAWRENCE EDWARD RHODES

Private 28981, 1st Battalion Border Regiment

Killed in Action 1st April 1918 aged 28

Buried at Oxford Road Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium

Husband of Elsie Rhodes

Lived 5, Chapel Lane, Heckmondwike


Lawrence was born on 15th December 1889.  Ten years later on 3rd September 1899 he was baptised and the “rite was administered in his parents home”, by the Vicar of the Methodist Free Church of Heckmondwike.  Lawrence was the only son of Percy Rhodes, Rag merchant of Millbridge, and Ann Littlewood of Flush, Liversedge who had married on 21st October 1882 at St Peter’s Parish Church in Birstall.  His parents had moved to 53, Battye Street, Heckmondwike by 1901 and Percy was working on his own account as an agent for the sale of wool.  However Percy died on 6th June 1902 aged 43, leaving his wife to bring up their two young children alone.

Lawrence was employed as a Wool Buyer and Salesman in 1911, living at Smithies, Heckmondwike with his widowed mother Ann Rhodes (51) a dressmaker and his older sister Catherine Elizabeth Rhodes (25) a teacher.  Sadly his only sister died on June 12th 1915 aged 29.  She was buried in the family grave in Heckmondwike Cemetery.  His mother moved to live at 5, Chapel Lane, Heckmondwike.

It is known that Lawrence enlisted at Halifax on 22nd February 1917, first into the Durham Light Infantry as Private 64750 and was then moved into the Labour Corps as Private 20157, followed by the 6th Border Regiment  as Private 28981 and finally being moved to the 1st Border Regiment.  His service details have since been lost.  The 6th Border Regiment was a service Battalion which was disbanded on 9th February 1918.  The 1st Border Regiment moved to France in March 1918.  Lawrence was home on leave in the early part of 1918 when he married Miss Elsie Allen of Grimethorpe.  They had only been married for five weeks when he was killed in action.

A report in the Cleckheaton Advertiser & Spenborough Times newspaper on 18th April 1918 stated “that his wife has received a Chaplin’s letter to the effect that her husband, Private Lawrence E. Rhodes, had died of wounds in France.  Official notification was received on Wednesday.  Private Rhodes was twenty eight years of age and previous to joining up he was wool buyer with his uncle’s firm Messrs. Rhodes Bros. and Co. Ltd. of Beck Lane. He attended the United Methodist Free Church, was an “old boy” of the Secondary School, and corresponding secretary to the Mechanic’s Institute. He was the son of the late Mr. Percy Rhodes”.

Lawrence is buried at Oxford Road Cemetery, Ypres, Belgium, his grave reference is Plot V. E. 30.

Elsie was living at 5, Chapel Lane, Heckmondwike at the time of his death and received his effects.  She chose the phrase “Until the day dawns” to be added to his Commonwealth gravestone.  Elsie and his mother Ann lived together at this address for a further 20 years until his mother died and her name was added to the family gravestone beneath that of her husband and children.

Medals: British War and Victory Medals
Commemorated: On the family gravestone in Heckmondwike Cemetery; Heckmondwike Secondary School (later Heckmondwike Grammar School) Memorial; St. Saviour’s War Memorial now held within St James's  Parish Church; Vellum Roll of Honour, Green Park Memorial.
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