b. 16/02/1892 Leeds, Yorkshire. d. 06/07/1964 Dagenham, Essex.
Laurence Calvert (1892-1964) was born on 16th February 1892 in Leeds, West Yorkshire. His father, George Calvert, who died in 1895, was in business for many years, in partnership with his father in Great Wilson Street, Hunslet, Leeds, as a tinsmith. His mother Beatrice was a daughter of the late Mr Robert Stevenson; who for many years was landlord of the Sir Robert Peel arms, Dewsbury Road, Leeds, and his grandmother Mrs Stevenson later kept two other well-known Hunslet hostelries, the Rose and Crown and the Blooming Rose Inn.
Lawrence Calvert was educated at the Roman Road Board School and at a well-known Leeds higher grade school called the Cockburn school. After leaving school he was for some time employed as a van boy. By the Midland railway company at Leeds. This employment did not suit him, and he forsook it at the first opportunity. In a sense, he ran away from home, for one day his mother found a hurried note left on the table. “Dear mother (it said), I’ve gone to work at a place called Cadeby.”
However, he obtained employment at Cadeby in 1910, and were there for some time. Then he moved on to the Maltby Colliery, but did not settle there. During the Cadeby disaster he presented himself at the Cadeby Pit once more and asked to be allowed to go down and assist in the work of rescue. As, however, he was not employed at the colliery, and was not a trained rescue worker, is offer was not accepted.
Soon after he returned to Cadeby, and obtain work as a haulage hand. He was in that employment, when war broke out. In the previous April, he had joined the Denaby company of the Doncaster territorials, the gallant, 1st/5th K.O.Y.L.I., whom local headquarters was then the premises which are now the mining offices.
He was i camp with the Battalion at Whitby when war broke out and he was mobilised. He went out to France in April 1915, with the 49th division, one of the earliest territorial divisions to see service at the front. He took part in the second battle of Ypres, when the German´s tried burst through the channel ports with the surprise use of poison gas.
In September he was hit in the arm, and was invalided to a Brighton hospital. He quickly recovered and was back in the trenches early in 1916. During the hottest of the fighting on the Rheims front, Sgt Calvert was able to do great execution with a machine gun, and when his post was visited it was found that he was the only survivor of the machine gun crew, while ranged before the gun were piles of dead Germans, silent and eloquent evidence of the coolness and steadiness with which the gun had been operated. He was awarded the Military Medal for this action.
On 12th September 1918, at Havrincourt, France, when alone and single handed, Sjt. Calvert, rushing forward against the machine-gun team, bayoneted three and shot four. His valour and determination in capturing single-handed two machine guns and killing the crews thereof enabled the ultimate objective to be won.
Following the award of the VC and MM, he was also awarded the Belgian Croix de Guerre, £500 worth of War Bonds, in addition to a sum of £35 raised by a village collection at a special ceremony. After the war Calvert moved to Dagenham, Essex when he was offered a job as a commissionaire for The National Provincial Bank in London.
Calvert died on 7th July 1964 in Dagenham, and he was cremated at the South Essex Crematorium, Upminster, and his ashes were scattered in Rosebed 32 of the Garden of Remembrance. His medal group including the VC and MM were purchased privately by Michael Ashcroft in 2004 and are displayed in the Ashcroft Gallery, Imperial War Museum, London.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: LORD ASHCROFT GALLERY, IMPERIAL WAR MUSEUM, LONDON.
SOUTH ESSEX CREMATORIUM, UPMINSTER, ESSEX. ASHES IN GARDEN OF REMEMBRANCE
Laurie Calvert – Memorial Stone in Conisborough.
Victoria Cross Trust – Image of the VC Plaque in Lakeside Shopping Centre, Doncaster.