Victor Charles Lawrence
.Victor Charles Lawrence, known as Charles, was born in Saul on 22 February 1890 and his early years were spent in Church Lane. His father, Edwin Charles Lawrence, was often away at sea so it was left to his mother, Jane née Walkley, to look after a growing family which included his younger brother, Arthur Edwin. By 1901 the Lawrences had moved to a cottage at Tobacco Box (now part of Frampton). Charles was then a labourer on a corrugating machine in a galvanising department, presumably at the same workplace as his cousin, Arthur Walkley, with whom he was lodging in Pontrhydyrun, Monmouthshire. Charles emigrated to the United States during the autumn of 1913, the final leg of his journey aboard the SS Princess Charlotte from Vancouver, a coastal vessel of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Following the United States' break in diplomatic relations with Germany in February 1917, there was a call for volunteers to serve in the Armed Forces. However, only 73,000 volunteered out of a target of one million, so the Selective Service Act was passed in May which required the registration of all males aged 21 to 30 for military service and prohibited all forms of the paid substitution which had occurred during the American Civil War. On 5 June Charles Lawrence completed a Draft Registration Card, claiming no exemption from service. He was not a US citizen, but had declared his intention to become one. He was an engineer working for H. E. Starrett of Stratford, California, and lived in the nearby town of Lemoore. It is clear from his naturalisation application on 9 May 1918 that he had enlisted into the US Army and was then serving at Camp Lewis, near Tacoma, in the state of Washington.
Camp Lewis was built for the lowest cost and in the shortest time of any US military cantonment; construction only began on 5 July 1917, but the first building was finished in just three days and, after 90 days, some 10,000 men had put up 1,757 buildings and 422 other structures, lighted, plumbed, and heated. Roads and railroad spurs were underway, and the camp was ready for its planned 50,000 men. The 91st Infantry Division trained at Camp Lewis from 5 September 1917 until it shipped out in late June 1918 for France, where it served with distinction. The 13th Infantry Division was organised at Camp Lewis in 1918 and was in training for trench warfare when the Armistice was signed. We do not know whether Charles served with one of these Divisions, but the latter seems more likely as he did not arrive in Washington State until 1 May 1918. His service is commemorated on the plaque in Frampton Village Hall.
During the latter part of 1919, Charles was in England for his marriage to Elsie Harvey which was registered in the Rotherham district of Yorkshire. She completed an emergency passport application on 2 February 1920 to enable her to accompany him back to America where their son, Samuel, was born the following year. They subsequently returned to England for a couple of months during the late spring/early summer of 1922, sailing on the SS Olympic (the sister ship to Titanic). Another son, Edwin Harvey, was born in 1928 in the Rotherham district. The Lawrence family eventually settled in Yorkshire where Charles worked for the Gas Board, his American naturalisation being cancelled on 9 January 1935. Victor Charles Lawrence died on 1 March 1957 in the Rother Valley district.