The F.W. Lawson WWI Postcard Album

Posted: 29th March 2021

Humber Museums Partnership - The F.W. Lawson WWI Postcard Album

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.

Three photographs inset into an album. Top photograph is a crowd of people stood looking at a man in a top hat on a podium. The name Thirsk and Sons can be seen on a shop in the background. Bottom of page is two pictures of men in uniform, one wearing an overcoat.

Page from the photo album.

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 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.

Sepia photograph of man looking slightly to the right of viewer wearing British World War One uniform.

Lt. Colonel James Mortimer

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.

Sepia photograph of two men in World War One British Uniforms stood side by side.

Fred West and Harry Clarke

Sepia photograph of two men in World War One British uniforms, one seated, wearing bandages around chins.