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  • Christina Drummond

Second Lieutenant Laurence Bernard Forrest, 16th Battalion (Church Lads' Brigade), King's Ro

Remembering the Fallen: on this day in 1917, Second Lieutenant Laurence Bernard Forrest, 16th Battalion (Church Lads’ Brigade), King’s Royal Rifle Corps, was killed in action during the Arras Offensive on the Western Front.

The younger son of the Canon of St. John's Vicarage, Pemberton, he and his brother, Second Lieutenant Austin Lancelot Forrest, 11th Battalion, King's Royal Rifle Corps, joined the army at the outbreak of the Great War. He received his commission in September of 1916, the month his brother was killed in action.

The Church Lads’ Brigade was raised at Denham in Buckinghamshire in September of 1914 by Field Marshall Lord Grenfell from current and former members of the organization. They arrived in France in November of 1915, and the following year saw action during the Battle of the Somme.

The chaplain of the battalion wrote to his father: “It is with very real sorrow and sympathy that I write to you on the death in action of your son. I like the rest of his brother officers had come to love and admire him for his splendid courage and power of leadership. You will have heard of his bravery on April 23rd, when he won the commendation of both the Divisional and Brigade generals. It was one of the finest things done out here by any officer in his division, and we all hope it will bring the Military Cross at least. He led his men in the same fearless way on May 20th. It was a hard and difficult task, but he never faltered, and was killed close to the enemy’s lines. His life most probably was the price he paid for his determination to go on when others turned back. His record out here is a wonderful one; he had established himself as a first-class officer amongst his fellow officers and the men of his Company. I do want you all to feel that we really share your sorrow as well as your natural pride in so gallant a son. May God grant him rest and peace, and to you all the truest consolation and strength.”

Laurence, from Pemberton, Wigan, was 19 years old.

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