401326 Sgt. Percy Roy Lawson was born in Crediton, Ontario on November 5th, 1893, to Thomas H. and Elizabeth Lawson. Percy volunteered in Clinton, Ontario, on the first anniversary of Canada declaring war on Germany, August 4th, 1915. He was a 21 year old, a single farmer with no previous military experience. He stood 5 feet 8½ inches tall, weighed 155 lbs. and was described as having a ruddy complexion, blue eyes and red hair. His religion was noted as Wesleyan and he was assigned regimental number 401326.

Percy trained for several months with the 33rd Overseas Battalion, also known as the Huron Battalion, and was part of 'A' company. He spent just over a week in hospital for an unknown aliment through Christmas 1915. He left Canada as a Private on March 17th, 1916, on the S.S. Laplander and made the 8 day journey to England.

On June 2nd, the Canadian 3rd Division front, south-east of Ypres, near Sanctuary Wood, which included the men of the 4th CMR, the 1st CMR and the P.P.C.L.I, were surprised by a sudden and vicious artillery attack on their positions around Mount Sorrel. The five hour artillery attack culminated in three mines being sprung in front of the 4th CMR line, and was quickly followed up by a German infantry attack. The 4th CMR suffered the highest losses with many men killed (most of whom were lost without trace in the rain of steel and explosives), or were taken prisoner.

With reserve battalions being called upon for fresh numbers to make up the 4th CMR, Percy was transferred from the 33rd OB, which was still in England, to help re-build the ranks. He arrived in France on the 7th and he and 498 other men joined the unit in the field on June 9th, 1916. It was during this rebuilding phase that Percy's leadership skills were recognized and he was promoted to Corporal on July 20th to replace one of the 10 Corporals lost in the Battle for Mount Sorrel.

On September 8th, Percy and the rest of 4th CMR moved away from the Mount Sorrel area near Ypres to billets in Franqueville, on the Somme. The Battle of the Somme had started when the British attacked on July 1st, but there was still heavy fighting going on even in September. On the 15th Percy took part in the attack on Courcelette and again the 4th CMR took heavy losses, including 34 men killed and 52 wounded. On October 1st the 4th CMR took part in the further attack to take Regina trench. 66 men of the 4th CMR died that day, including: Sgt. William James Reynolds, Sgt. Joseph Thompson and Sgt. Edward Blake MacDonald. Percy was promoted to Sergeant the same day, so it is likely it was to replace one of these men.

In February, 1917, the 4th CMR was pulled out of the front lines to start 5 weeks of training and preparation for the attack on the German stronghold of Vimy Ridge. The ridge was thought to be impenetrable as the French had tried for 3 years, with 150,000 casualties, and still not been able to take it.

On April 9th, 1917, the 4th CMR, with snow blowing at their backs, attacked the ridge with rest of the 4 Canadian divisions. The 4th CMR had the objective of crossing 3 German trench lines and capturing a large wooded area called La Folie Wood, which was just beyond the crest of the ridge. They had taken all of their assigned objectives by mid-afternoon on the first day but it was not without significant cost, with 43 men killed, 131 wounded and 19 missing that day. Sgt. Percy Roy Lawson was one of the men who paid the price of that victory with his life. He was killed that first day of battle, April 9th, 1917.

Percy is buried in Thelus Military Cemetery, Pas De Calais, France.

Credit and many thanks go to Bryan Joyce for the above biography.