Sergt John Lawton, 170e Régiment d'Infanterie
From Stockport, Cheshire, John was born (of English parentage) on 3 January 1887.
A clerk in a hat factory in Stockport from 1901 to 1911, he left his job and travelled to France. In about October 1911, as a French resident (though not citizen) he registered for the French draft and enlisted in the French Army at Epinal using his correct name and class year (1907).
Serving in the 170e R.I., John had been promoted to Caporal by August 1914 and was initially engaged in the manning of the defences of the fortress of Epinal before seeing action in Lorraine and the Aisne during 1914. A short service on the Champagne front followed by involvement in the intense fighting at Les Eparges (and a promotion to Sergent) was how the early months of 1915 greeted John, before being sent into further action in the 2nd Battle of Artois. Thrown into the slaughter-house of the Notre-Dame de Lorette hill, John was killed in action during the assault that finally wrested the German defenders off the crest (though they would still hold the lower slopes for some months to come) on 22 May 1915.
His remains were lost in the confusion of battle and he has no known grave, though he is likely to be interred in the grave of an 'inconnu' or in the ossuary of the vast necropolis that now sits on the crest of the hill upon which he died.
22 May 1915 killed in action
Research by David O'Mara