Posted: 29th March 2021
The album once belonged to Frederick William Lawson (of Driffield) and was donated to the East Riding Museums service in 2020 by his grandson. F.W. Lawson was a member of the East Riding Yeomanry before the First World War.
His son Colin Lawson had begun the task of researching the soldiers whose photographs appear in the album. With some 290 images to work on (a few images are not named), this was quite a task and one he sadly could not complete. However the album contains some useful notes which were a good starting point for further research. East Riding Museums is now carrying out detailed research on the soldiers and this information will eventually appear on the Museum Service website.
Card no.230 ( with an image of Private James Clark) has a message on the back which goes some way to explaining how the photographs were originally acquired and why so many of them bear names / ranks and regiment names:-
No.16 Mill Street, Driffield. Dear Sir, I forward this photo of my brother as I was told you where [sic] making a collection of Driffield men that had joined the colours, and when I get my other brothers I will forward you one, yours P.(?) Clark
Research on ancestry.co.uk and other sites has so far shown that most of the photographs are indeed of Driffield men (or men from neighbouring villages), although there are a few whose link to the area is as yet obscure.
Servicemen of all ranks are included, from humble private up to Lt. Colonels, and they include some prominent local figures. For example, Lt. Colonel James Mortimer, who was killed in action on the Somme on 15/9/1916 whilst commanding the 5th Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment. He was the eldest son of J.R. Mortimer, who was well-known as an archaeologist and who founded a museum in Driffield based around his collection. James was a corn merchant in the town.
The images are a mixture of professional studio portraits and shots taken in back yards, gardens and other locations. Generally they were taken before the soldiers went abroad. The postcards are mostly unused, but a few have messages on the back for relatives or friends. As quite a few of these men were later killed in action, it is a sad, but fascinating record of one town’s sacrifice in The Great War.