Bertie Laws – Wilfred’s brother

Whilst checking out Findmypast for Wilfred, I came across an entry for Bertie Laws. It was a record of his military service.

Bertie – he was actually registered as Bertie – was born on 18 November 1899 in Willington Co. Durham the youngest child of Thomas Laws and Mary Jane Clarke. He attended Willington Council Mixed School from 1 August 1906 (having moved up from the infants school) until 14 November 1913. The next known fact is of him enlisting in the Royal Marine Artillery Division as Bert Laws in Newcastle on 11 May 1917. He gave his trade as that of apprentice fitter so he must have worked since leaving school. He gave his mother as his next of kin and his religion as Wesleyan. His description was given as 5ft. 9 3/4ins, fresh complexion, blue eyes and brown hair. He was given the register number of 15644.

It seems that he was in training as a gunner from enlisting until 9 April 1918. On 10 April 1918 he embarked on HMS Revenge where he was to stay until 25 July 1919. He was therefore on board when the German High Seas Fleet was scuttled in Scapa Flow and no doubt took part in the vain attempt to stop the Germans sending their ships to the bottom.

He returned to HMS Revenge on 29 August 1919 and was on board when it was sent, with the rest of the 1st Battle Squadron, to the Mediterranean. HMS Revenge supported Greek forces during the crises  and then remained in the Black Sea due to concerns about the Russian Civil War. The ship was there until July 1920 but Bertie returned to England in April of that year. I am not sure what he was doing or where he was doing it between April 1920 and May 1921 but he was demobbed on 3 June 1921.

In early 1921 he married Georgina Margurita Gates. Their son John, known as Jacky, was born in 1922 and daughter Mary in 1923. Again I am not sure what he was doing during the period but Mary’s birth was registered in the Tynemouth district. Bertie was awarded a Long Service and Good Conduct Medal in February 1933 but there is no indication of service after 1921. In September 1939 he and the family are at 2 Fire Station York Road Whitley Bay and his occupation is fireman but by December 1939 he is back in uniform. His next of kin is now shown as his wife.

The military record I have is not very forthcoming but it appears he served as a gunner on Defensively-Equipped Merchant Ships throughout WWII until 31 October 1945. When he was released he gave his address as 2 Coquet Avenue, Whitley Bay.

His death was registered in 1950 in Northumberland South District. He was 50.

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