NameJohn Head “Jack” LAIDMAN M.C. , 631, R1067
Birth16 Feb 1891, Tynemouth, NBL
Death19 Jan 1953, Roehampton, LND Age: 61
Death MemoQueen Mary's Hospital
Occupation1911: Auctioneer; 1918: Captain Royal Field Artillery (Auctioneer); 1929: Miner; 1930: Cleaner
FatherJames Harper LAIDMAN , 1163, P1061 (1851-1920)
MotherHannah HEAD , 1164 (1853-1936)
Misc. Notes
Early records (census returns):

1891 census return: RG12/4237, folio 7, page 10.
Blyth (Northumberland), 36 Stanley Street
James H. Laidman, head, M[arried], 40, ShipBuilder, employed, [born] Northumberland, Hartley
Hannah Laidman, Wife, M, 37, born Northumberland, Walker
Mary F. Laidman, Daur, S[ingle], Scholar, born Northumberland, Walker
William Laidman, Son, S, 12, Scholar, born Northumberland, Walker
James H. Laidman, Son, S, 7, Scholar, born Yorkshire, Hull
Ethel Laidman, Daur, S, 4, born Yorkshire, Hull
Norah K. Laidman, Daur, S, 2, born Ireland, Belfast
John H. Laidman, Son, S, 2mo, born Northumberland, Blyth

Sometime before his tenth birthday, the family moved to Southampton where they are found in the 1901 census:

1901 census return: RG13/1074 folio 53 page 5
The Avenue (St. Johns Villa), Shirley, Southampton
John [sic] Harper Laidman, head, married, 50, Ship builder (Manager), born Northumberland, Hartley
Hannah Laidman, wife, married, 47, born Northumberland, Walker
Mary F. Smith, daur. widow, 24, born Northumberland, Walker
James H. Laidman, son, 17, Ship Draughtsman, worker, born Yorkshire, Hull
Ethel Laidman, daur. 14 born Yorkshire, Hull
Norah Laidman, daur. 12 born Ireland, Belfast
John H. Laidman, son, 10, born Northumberland, Blyth
Thomas Laidman, son, 6, born Hants. Southampton
Richard Laidman, son, 3, born Hants. Southampton
Margaret Holden, serv. single, 16, General Servant Domestic, born Lancs. Liverpool

1911 census return: RG14PN5989 RG78PN274 RD99 SD2 ED1 SN38
Hampshire, Southampton, Claremont, The Avenue
Laidman, James Harper, Head, Married 38 years, M, 60, 1851, Shipbuilder - Manager, born Hartley Northumberland
Laidman, Hannah, Wife, Married, F, 57, 1854, born Walker Northumberland
Laidman, James Harper, Son, Single, M. 28, 1883, Shipbuilder, born Hull Yorkshire
Laidman, John Head, Son, Single, M, 20, 1891, Auctioneer, born Blyth Northumberland
Laidman, Norah Kathleen, Daughter, Single, F, 22, 1889, Governess, born Belfast Ireland
Laidman, Richard, Son, Single, M, 13, 1898, At School, born Southampton Hampshire

World War I:

Research from the Army list and the London Gazette was made by Major Charles Messenger in 1983 at the request of John Laidman's grandson, Nicholas Michael, and in 1996 his service record was requested from the Ministry of Defence. The following details are a combination of both these replies:

Major John Head LAIDMAN MC P49032

5.8.1914 Enlisted overseas into the Royal Naval Voluntary Reserve
No date Promoted Leading Seaman (he must have had something to do with the Merchant Navy Service prior to joining the RNVR judging from his quick promotion to Leading Seaman)
9.10.1914 Fought at Antwerp (the 63 Royal Naval Division was at Antwerp, raised for the Navy and transferred to the War Office in c. 1916. He was a lucky man to have got out before they were sent to Gallipoli - those who were not killed by the Turks froze to death!)
21.1.1915 Commissioned Temporary 2Lt Royal Field Artillery
8.12.1915 Promoted Temporary Lt
2.5.1916 Promoted Acting Capt.
20.12.1916 Relinquishes A/Captaincy on ceasing to command Trench Mortar Battery
1.1.1917 MC gazetted in New Year's Honour List. No citation given, but he is described as 'RA attached Trench Mortar Battery'
7.11.1917 Mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig's Despatch of that date (London Gazette 14 Dec 1917)
30.3.1918 Promoted acting Captain again
20.5.1918 Promoted Acting Major
19.6.1918 Relinquishes Acting Major
11.9.1918 Promoted Acting Major
28.5.1919 Relinquishes Acting rank and reverts to Temporary Lt
19.6.1919 Award of Croix de Guerre appears in London Gazette
20.3.1920 Released from military service
20.3.1920 Relinquishes commission, but is granted the rank of Major.

Overseas Service: (First World War) The documents indicate that the above served in France from November 1915 to February 1918, exact dates are not recorded.
Gibraltar 3.9.1939-4.1.1942
Norway 1.2.1945-20.2.1945 and 14.5.1945-25.11.1945
Served with British Army of the Rhine 2.1.1941-13.3.1948

The Ministry of Defence writes: "I regret there is very little reference in the file to the units with which your grandfather served during the First world War. There is however a letter written by Major Laidman in 1939 in which he outlined his service as follows:

“1914 Enlisted 5th August with Royal Naval Division. Served in Antwerp Campaign.

Commissioned January 1915 as 2nd Liet Royal Artillery. Passed through course at MMA Woolwich and posted to 9th (Scottish Division).

From 1915-1919 served with 9th Division in following appointments:
Attached to AAQMG for Staff duties during Battle of Loos
Formed and commanded Divisional Technical Fighting School for the training of infantry in trench warfare. Amongst those who inspected and were interested in the School were:
HRH The Prince of Wales
Lt Col Rt Hon Winston Churchill
Capt (now Major Gen) Beith

Formed and commanded the Divisional Trench Mortar Brigade

Eventually posted for regimental duty to A/50 Battery which I commanded for about 12 months.”

Major Messenger writes: “We can assume that he spent his war in France and Flanders, and the fact that he had a 1914 Star means that he saw Other Rank service there before 22 Nov 1914, either as a regular soldier or territorial, although it is just possible that he might have been a volunteer chauffeur or despatch rider. He may well have served in France again during 1915, and certainly did so in 1916. The relinquishment of his Acting rank at the end of that year probably means that he was wounded or indeed captured. Likewise his mention in despatches in Nov 17 means he was back in France during that year, but quite possibly wounded again. [He was certainly in England for his sister Ethel's wedding on 8 February 1917, where he is mentioned as "Capt. J. Laidman, R.F.R., M.C.," together with Lilian, his wife of eight months]. Then, he certainly saw further service in France during the last year of the war.

Unfortunately, having checked the war diaries of trench mortar batteries of the three divisions which you mentioned in your letter, I could find no trace of his name. I also checked in other divisional histories, which often listed officers commanding trench mortar batteries, but with no success...."


Further research in 1996/7 reveals that he was in the 50 Brigade RFA (9th Division). The War Diary of this Brigade shows some of the movements of the unit from the time they were posted to France:

On 8th May 1915 orders were received for 50th Brigade RFA to proceed by rail to Southampton to embark for active service. John Head Laidman is mentioned with D/50 Battery on May 9th as 2Lt Temp. In company with two other 2Lts Temp. And D/50 Battery Commander Major Hon. H.E. Thellusson (1876-1926), son of 9th Baron Rendlesham. The whole Brigade consistedof 24 officers, 700 “O.T.”, 650 horses and 73 mules.

On 10th May 1915 the Brigade detrained at Southampton docks, and D/50 Battery embarked on SS. Archimedes at about 10 a.m. They sailed at about 6 p.m. and had an uneventful crossing on a calm night, without casualties, landing in Le Havre and disembarking about 7 a.m. the next morning. They then travelled by train to Abbéville, Boulogne, Calais, St. Omer, and detrained at Argues and Wizernes at about 3 p.m. on 12th May 1915 after 23 hours train journey. All units were billeted at Helfaut by 8 a.m. on 13th May - horse lines and gun parks on the common, men mostly in barns. The diary related that one gunner fell out of the train at Etaples and injured his leg seriously (“struck off strength”), and another broke his leg on the docks at Le Havre. “There were no serious casualties among the horses” it continues, maybe with a hint of irony...

On 16th May 1915 the Brigade marched to Cassel arriving at noon.

On 28th May 1915, “2Lt J.H. Laidman detached to School of Trench Mortars at St. Venant for instruction.”

From 21st to 24th September, 9th Division were at Hohenzollern redoubt, Fosse 8, at Loos.

In 1916 they fought at Bernafay Wood (7th-11th July) and Butte de Warlencourt (7th October to 9th November. It could well have been at this last battle that John Head Laidman got his M.C.

John Head Laidman's dress medals are still in possession of Nicholas Michael. They consist of the Military Cross; the 1914 Star, with 1914 bar; the British War Medal; the Victory Medal, with mention in despatches; and the Croix de guerre, with palm leaf. His Military Cross is documented in the Southern Daily Echo of 3 Jan 1917 under the headline "Military Honours for Southamtonians" "... temporary Lieut. (temporary Captain) J. H. Laidman, son of Mr. J.H. Laidman, of The Avenue, Southampton, has won the Military Cross. Captain Laidman is an artillery officer attached at present to a Trench Mortar Battery."

Major Messenger's comment about being captured alludes to a family story that related that he was indeed captured by the Germans, but escaped and stole a bicycle somewhere in France and returned to England, only to be sent back! This could fit in with the facts as Major Messenger has researched them.

The Times, 10 May 1917, pg 2, col. A (official appointments and notices)
THE LONDON GAZETTE
SUPPLEMENT, MAY 9.
WAR OFFICE, MAY 9.
REGULAR FORCES.
ROYAL REGIMENT OF ARTILLERY.
R.H. AND R.F.A.—
The follg. relinquish actg. rank of Capt. on ceasing to comd. Trench Mortar Batts :—
… Lt. J. H. Laidman, M.C. (Dec. 20, 1916)


Marriage in 1916:

John Head married Lilian Alice Marie Gordon on 14th June 1916, when he was 25. The marriage certificate describes him as "Captain RFA," living at "Claremont" The Avenue (Southampton). Since his sister Ethel gave the same address at her wedding in 1917, Claremont was the family home, acquired by their father, James Harper Laidman. John Head's wedding was recorded in the Southern Daily Echo of 15 June 1916:

War Wedding at Southampton

The wedding took place, yesterday, at St. Mark's Church, Southampton, very quietly, of Captain John Head Laidman, R.F.A., son of Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Laidman, of Claremont, The Avenue, Southmapton, and Miss Lilian Gordon, youngest daughter of the late Mr. Kyrle Earnly Gordon, of Aberdeen House, Lyminge, Kent. Owing to the war, and the bridegroom being on special leave from the front, only members of the family were present at the ceremony, which was performed by the Rev. E.L. Franklin, vicar. The bride was married in her travelling dress, and was attended by Miss Laidman as bridesmaid. Mr. James D. Snowdon was best man. The bridal party subsequently motored to Winchester for the wedding breakfast, after which Captain and Mrs. Laidman left for a brief honeymoon in Kent. Captain Laidman will return to his duties at the front in the course of a few days.


Post-WWI events:

At the time of his father's death in 1920, it seems that John Head was trying his hand at being an estate agent. In the Hampshire Advertiser County Newspaper, 30 October 1920, appears this advertisement:

JOHN H. LAIDMAN
______________
AUCTIONEER AND ESTATE AGENT
12 Portland Street, Southampton


And in the same newspaper on 13 November 1920:

LAIDMAN AND PARRY
House, Land and Estate Agents
Auctioneers, Surveyors, and Valuers
12, Portland Street
Telephone 944 Southampton


1920, 21 December: National Archives ref. BT 31/26370/172223. John Head Laidman of 12 Portland Street in the County Borough of Southampton Estate Agent. Named director in the Articles of Association of J.H. Laidman & Co, registered on 23 December 1920 at 11 Orchard Place, Southampton, together with Thomas Harper Laidman [sic, probably for Thomas Head Laidman, his brother], “Claremont” The Avenue, Southampton, Shipping Agent. (25 shares each).

The London Gazette, no. 32224, 11 February 1921, p. 1220:
Notice is hereby given that the Partnership
heretofore subsisting between us, the under-
signed, JOHN HEAD LAIDMAN and FRANK
WILLIAM PARRY, carrying on business as House,
Land and Estate Agents and Auctioneers, at 12 or 27,
Portland-street, Southampton, and elsewhere, has been
dissolved by mutual consent and arrangement as and
from the twenty-sixth day of January, 1921. All
accounts due to or owing by the late firm will be
respectively received and paid by the said John Head
Laidman, by whom the business will be carried on
under the firm name of “John H. Laidman & Co.”
—Dated this 3rd day of February, 1921.
JOHN H. LAIDMAN.
FRANK W. PARRY.


The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and the British Gendarmerie (BG):

The following information was supplied by correspondence in December 2011 from Seán Gannon who was researching a PhD thesis at the University of Limerick, Ireland on the British Section of the Palestine Gendarmerie, a British police force largely recruited from the remnants of the Royal Irish Constabulary which served in Palestine from April 1922 to April 1926.

In 1922 JHL appears on the nominal roll of 42 officers of the Palestine Gendarmerie:

Name: Capt. J.H. Laidman M.C.
Appointment: Acting Pltn. Cmdr.
Date of Appointment: 27.3.22

Extract from "A Job Well-Done: Being a History of the Palestine Police Force 1920-1948" by Edward Horne , The Book Guild Ltd., Sussex, England 2003 (originally published in 1982):
p. 90: "Of Captain Laidman in Nazareth, so proud of his Royal Irish Constabulary background that he ordered his entire command to blacken their belts and webbing; only to find his enthusiasm unshared at Headquarters, which ordered him to make good the equipment at his own expense."

The above reference is the only one found where JHL is said to have a RIC background. The RIC were indeed recruiting in 1921. Seán Gannon writes: Almost 95% of BG were recruited from the Irish police services when they were disbanded in the spring of 1922 in the wake of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, but I have not been able to find JHL on the RIC nominal rolls. However it is possible that he worked in RIC intelligence as I have documentary evidence that 4 other BG officers did and none of them, naturally enough I suppose, were recorded in the RIC rolls. 

You didn't have to be Irish to enlist in the RIC. Prior to January 1920 the overwhelming majority of recruits were Irish. But due to the I.R.A. campaign against the RIC which began in January 1919 there was a personnel crisis (many resignations, no enlistments) which led to a big recruitment drive in Britain with the result that, by the time of the RIC's disbandment, there were between 9 and 10,000) British constables and sergeants - the infamous 'Black and Tans' - in the force.

I don’t see that JHL could have been recruited into the RIC in the usual way as he does not appear in the RIC registers which are complete. However the British administration in Dublin Castle also recruited intelligence operatives from the ranks of the British Army. This was a semi-covert process but the names of many of these individuals are now known. JHL is not among them. However I know from other disparate sources that 5 of the 42 BG officers were recruited from RIC intelligence and only 2 of these are named on these lists so they are far from complete. But given the nature of the work it is unsurprising that all names are not officially recorded. I can’t see any other way in which JHL could have been a member of the RIC.

The British Gendarmerie wasn't formed until Jan-March 1922 so if JHL was in the RIC intelligence he would have served from spring 1921 to spring 1922 and it would explain the gap between the dissolution of his company [in February 1921] and joining the BG. As it happens I have a copy of personal a reference for BG officer John A. Bockett which says he served in RIC intelligence from Jan 1921 to Jan 1922 so they were obviously recruiting at this time. Incidentally I discovered that yet another of the BG officers recruited from the British Army was at the time working in RIC intelligence bringing the total that I know of to 5. I suppose General Tudor
[Lieutenant-General Henry Hugh Tudor 1871-1965, chief of police in Ireland] would have know all of them personally in Dublin.

A passenger list of the ship Kaisar-i-Hind (P&O) shows JHL, "officer", departing from London to Port Said on 27 July 1923, "country of intended permanent residence: Palestine". This records JHL's return to Palestine in July 1923 after home leave which had accrued to him during his first year of service, March 1922 - March 1923.

I am afraid that the records of the BG appear to have been destroyed by its commandant, A. J. McNeill, when the force was disbanded in April 1926 so very few individual personnel or service records have survived. So it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to build a comprehensive picture of JHL’s time in Palestine. But I can tell you that he enlisted on 27 March 1922, one of 42 officers.

I went through a rough index which I have made to A. J. McNeill's diary and your grandfather is mentioned a few times but in rather insignificant contexts such as his attendance at dinner and a funeral. However the entry dated 9 Nov. 1923 deals with what would appear to be his effective dismissal (BG officers, unlike the rankers, were rarely officially dimissed but instead were asked to resign or were not given the opportunity of renewing their one-year rolling contracts). He has been called up before the General Officer Commanding all military and police forces in Palestine, Hugh Tudor, who was himself chief of police in Ireland until the Royal Irish Constabulary was disbanded. McNeill's handwriting is not that clear so, as far as I can make out, the passage reads as follows: "Laidman up in front of the G.O.C. and given notice at end of contract. Had cheek to say it was personal prejudice on my part! I having been too long suffering for 18 months. He should have been tried for issuing "stumers" long ago". [stumer [origin unknown] /STJU me(r)/ Brit. slang 1) a bad check; counterfeit money; a sham 2) generally: something which is worthless].

I have a note on my database here which says that McNeill did not renew his contract in 1924.

1927 to 1930:

JHL appears on several passenger lists during this period.:

4 May 1927: List or manifest of alien passengers for the United [States…]:
S.S. Montnairn, from Antwerp [to Southampton, Quebec]. Transit, LAIDMAN JOHN, 38 years 3 months, M[ale], Merchant, English, Place of birth: England, Blythe, Tourist, Issued at: Brussels, 13/4/27, Last permanent residence: Belgium, Brussels

[?12 December 1929]: [S.S.] Majestic, New York to Southampton. Names and Descriptions of BRITISH passengers:
LAIDMAN John, Aberdeen House, Folkestone, Miner, Canada

11 March 1930: S.S: Majestic, Southampton to New York. List of aliens employed on the vessel as members of crew:
LAIDMAN, JOHN, Cleaner, Shipped 5th March 1930, So'ton, Whether to be paid off or discharged at port of arrival: NO, Whether able to read: YES, Age: 39, Sex: M, Nationality: British, Height: 5.10, Weight: 164

24 June 1930: Name of Master, Seaman or Apprentice: John Head Laidman, Birth: Year 1891, Place, Blythe. Rank or Rating: Cleaner. Majestic, Date of Dis[charge].: 24.6.30

14 July 1930: S.S: Majestic, Southampton to New York. List of aliens employed on the vessel as members of crew:
LAIDMAN, JOHN, Greaser, Shipped 8th July 1930, So'ton, Whether to be paid off or discharged at port of arrival: NO, Whether able to read: YES, Age: 39, Sex: M, Nationality: British, Height: 5.10, Weight: 168

These voyages agree largely with his daughter Denise’s recollections. JHL had a job in Brussels with Cyanamid, the fertiliser group, whence his residence as Brussels in 1927. In 1927 (she relates), he took part in some gold rush in Alaska (the 1929 voyage shows his occupation as “miner”).

World War II events:

2.7.1939 Joined 9 Anti-Aircraft Militia Depot and posted to “B” Battalion
2.9.1939 Embarked from United Kingdom
11.9.1939 Disembarked Gibraltar ex SS Scythia and posted to 4 Heavy Battalion
24.11.1939 Transferred to Royal Army Ordnance Corps Regular Army Reserve of Officers
29.12.1941 Relinquished command of 71 section
29.12.1941 Embarked for United Kingdom
5.1.1942 Disembarked United Kingdom and posted to 4 Training Battalion
25.1.1942 Joined Central Ordnance Depot Chilwell
18.9.1942 Posted to 25 Battalion
19.9.42-7.11.43 Assumed appointment second in command
7.11.1943 Posted to Static Workshop Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Eastern Command
20.12.43-20.5.44 Appointed Staff Officer 2 Government and Civil Affairs Sub Section Supply Branch
20.5.44-12.9.44 Appointed Staff Officer 2 HQ No 19 Civil Affairs Unit
12.9.1944 Appointed Staff Officer 2 Civil Affairs HQ Supply Branch
1.2.1945 Embarked from United Kingdom and attached to Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force
21.2.1945 Disembarked United Kingdom
14.5.1945 Emplaned for service overseas
No date Posted to 19 Civil Affairs and Allied Land Forces Norway
26.11.1945 Embarked from Norway
30.11.1945 Disembarked United Kingdom
2.1.1946 Posted to 2 Civil Affairs Pool North Rhine Region
23.12.1946 Posted to 15 Vehicle Company
1.1.1947 Posted to 16 Vehicle Company
14.7.1948 Released from Military Service
Relinquished his commission and retained the rank of Major

His grandson Nicholas Michael has a certificate of thanks signed by King Olav of Norway in Deceber 1945, which reads:

THE LIBERATION OF
NORWAY * 8TH MAY 1945

THE PEOPLE OF NORWAY WISH TO THANK YOU
Major J.H. Laidman
R.A.O.C.
OF THE BRITISH ARMED FORCES
FOR YOUR VALUABLE SERVICES IN
HELPING TO RESTORE FREEDOM
TO OUR LAND.

[Signed] Olav
OSLO, DECEMBER 1945.

Death, Will and Estate:

His death certificate dated 12th February 1953 (Registration district Wandsworth, sub-district, Wandsworth Central, entry no. 304) gives the cause of death as "Bronchopneumonia due to carcinoma of left upper bronchus" (his daughter Denise claims he smoked 100 cigarettes daily!). The certificate also gives his age as 61 years, which would make his year of birth 1892 rather than 1891, the date on his birth certificate. His address is given as 232 Camden Road, N.W.1.

The funeral announcement, issued from 96 Tuddenham Road, Ipswich (where his sister Norah lived), reads (doc. no. 20):
In Loving Memory
of
Major John H. Laidman
Royal Artillery, M.C., Croix de Guerre
Died at Queen Mary’s Hospital, Roehampton
London
on January 19th, 1953
Aged 61 years
Service at St. Lawrence Church, Ipswich
2.15 p.m., January 23rd, 1953
Psalm 23. - “The Lord is my shepherd”
Hymn - “Soldiers of Christ Arise”
Interment: Ipswich New Cemetery


John Head Laidman's will dated 28th July 1938 reads as follows:
"I give and bequeath unto my daughter Denise Anne Laidman of "Aberdeen House," Lyminge, Kent all my interest in the estate of the late James Harper Laidman (my father) and now controlled by the Public trustee. (Document no. 726)

To Ruth Webster of the Lord Chamberlains Office, St. James Palace, London S.W. I bequeath the realisation of a Life Insurance Policy held on my life by the Norwich Union Insurance Coy. & whose premiums have been paid through the National Provincial Bank as above."


Denise Laidman recalls that her father "lived in the house of Ruth Webster for a few years. She worked in the office of the Lord Chamberlain. She was very nice, & when my father died I received a letter from her in which she thanked me for my kindness towards her."

Denise further told me in June 2002 that her father Jack Laidman was apparently a very pleasant and charming man, well-liked by all who knew him. However, he was also totally irresponsible, could not hold down a job, and left his family destitute. His wife divorced him in 1949. The story she tells is as follows:
When she was about 7 years old, Denise was taken to Brussels by her parents, where her father had a job with Cyanamid, the fertiliser group. This job lasted two years. When Denise was nine, in about 1927, they moved to Newcastle, where Jack had another job. This one lasted six months only. After that, Jack and Lilian went to New York and stayed with Jack’s brother Tom and his wife Felice with a view to making his fortune in the Alaskan gold rush. Lilian returned on the Mauritania soon after, and Jack followed when that project fell through. From then on, Jack and Lilian no longer lived together.

When Denise married David Michael in 1942, Jack came to the wedding, and told her he would give her £50, quite a sum in those days. Denise never saw a penny of this promised gift, and she feared her father would sponge on her new husband, so did not encourage any contact with him. When Jack died, David Michael paid for his funeral expenses as there was not enough money in his estate even for this. An entry for 12 May 1958 in David Michael’s account ledger confirms something like this: Tinn (Kerb gravestone for J.H.L). £ 25-0-0.

The monumental inscription on James Harper Laidman’s grave in Southampton Old Cemetery includes:

In Loving Memory of
James Harper Laidman
Dearly Loved Husband of Hannah Laidman
......
Also Hannah Laidman Who Died Nov 21, 1936 Aged 84 Years
......
Also of Their Sons
John Head Laidman, MC Major RA Died Jan 19,1953
Aged ---Years
And Richard Laidman
Died Jan 25, 1953
Spouses
Birth19 Jun 1891, Folkestone, KEN
Birth Memo35 Foord Road
Death14 Feb 1986, Ashford, KEN Age: 94
BurialHawkinge, KEN
FatherKyrle Earnle GORDON né POWELL , 1254 (ca1839-1892)
MotherEliza G. WEBB , 1255 (1848-1911)
Misc. Notes
Lilian’s birth certificate curiously - and unequivocally - shows her born on 19 June 1891, whereas she and all her family habitually celebrated her birthday on 12 June. The GRO death entry also shows 12 June.

When she was born the family were living at 35 Foord Road, Folkestone. A painting c. 1870 shows the road consisting of fairly large terraced houses on one side (the other side is wooded) with a railway viaduct crossing it high overhead.

Reginald Frank Gordon’s daughter Elisabeth writes to Nicholas Michael in February 2010: “There was always a strong bond between your grandmother [Lilian Alice Marie Gordon] and my father. During her latter years she told me several tales. The two of them were very close. As you know Auntie Lillie was the youngest of the family and my father was the one who helped her the most. It seems he used to take her to school and helped her with her tables and spelling ... No one else bothered, I gather. This all took place when the family lived in Folkestone.”

According to her daughter Denise Anne Laidman, Lilian spent her holidays with her Webb grandparents at Stelling Minnis or Stelling Rhodes (KEN).

1891 census return: Not consulted: census taken on 5 April 1891(before her birth).

1901 census return: RG13/847 folio 14 page 19
6 Marine Terrace, Folkestone
Eliza Gordon, Head, wid, 53, Lodging-house Keeper, born Kent.; Ivychurch
Richard Gordon, Son, S, 28, Tailor, own account, born Kent.; Ivychurch
Kate F. Gordon, Daur, 26, born Kent .; Folkestone
Thomas W. Gordon, Son, S, 25, Tailor, own account, born Kent; Folkestone
Percy E. Gordon, Son, S, 22, Tailor, worker, born Kent; Folkestone
Bert D. Gordon, Son, S, 20, Tailor, Worker, born Kent; Folkestone
Reginald F. Gordon, Son, S, 18, Solicitor’s clerk Law, born Kent; Folkestone
Stuart B. Gordon, Son, 15, born Kent; Folkestone
Lilian L. M. Gordon [sic], Daur, 9, born Kent; Folkestone
Stanley K. Fletcher, Grandson, 5, born London; Holloway
+ four boarders

1911 census return: RG14PN4629 RG78PN195 RD66 SD1 ED6 SN172
Kent, Folkestone, 6 Marine Terrace
Eliza Gordon, Head, Widow, F, 63, 1848, born Parish of Ivychurch Kent
Kate Florence Gordon, Daughter, Single, F, 37, 1874, born Folkestone Kent
Percy Edgar Gordon, Son, Single, M, 32, 1879, Tailor, born Folkestone Kent
Bertie Douglas Gordon, Son, Single, M, 29, 1882, Tailor, born Folkestone Kent
Reginald Frank Gordon, Son, Single, M, 27, 1884, Clerk Solicitor, born Folkestone Kent
Stuart Bernard Gordon, Son, Single, M, 25, 1886, Tailor, born Folkestone, Kent
Lilian Alice Marie Gordon, Daughter, Single, F, 19, 1892, born Folkestone Kent

She married John Head Laidman on 14th June 1916, and is recorded at that time as living at Aberdeen House, Lyminge, Kent, the daughter of Kyrle Earnley Gordon, master tailor. Kyrle Earnley Gordon (jr.) wrote in January 1997: "I think some of the family moved to Aberdeen House, Lyminge about 1914/15. I remember Edith, Kate, Reginald, Stuart & Lilian being there in the early 20's."

Lilian's wedding was recorded in the Southern Daily Echo of 15 June 1916:

War Wedding at Southampton
The wedding took place, yesterday, at St. Mark's Church, Southampton, very quietly, of Captain John Head Laidman, R.F.A., son of Mr. and Mrs. J.H. Laidman, of Claremont, The Avenue, Southampton, and Miss Lilian Gordon, youngest daughter of the late Mr. Kyrle Earnly Gordon, of Aberdeen House, Lyminge, Kent. Owing to the war, and the bridegroom being on special leave from the front, only members of the family were present at the ceremony, which was performed by the Rev. E.L. Franklin, vicar. The bride was married in her travelling dress, and was attended by Miss Laidman as bridesmaid. Mr. James D. Snowdon was best man. The bridal party subsequently motored to Winchester for the wedding breakfast, after which Captain and Mrs. Laidman left for a brief honeymoon in Kent. Captain Laidman will return to his duties at the front in the course of a few days.


Their daughter Denise Anne was born in 1918, but the marriage was not a happy one, mostly for practical reasons, for John Head was a charming but irresponsible man who was unable to hold down a job. After she returned alone on the Mauritania, in about 1929 after Jack’s attempt at gold prospecting in Alaska, the couple never lived together again. Lilian worked in a dress shop that her brothers opened for her in Cheriton Place, Folkestone, kept herself and her daughter on her earnings. Lilian divorced Jack in 1949, citing adultery as the reason, but they had been living apart for many years previously.

In 1952 Lilian married Hugh Vaughan Lukey, a wine-merchant in Folkestone. On the marriage certificate she is recorded as living at 4 Broadfield Road in Folkestone. The couple set up home at 40 Coolinge Lane in Folkestone, and lived very happily together for the rest of their married lives.

Lilian stayed on at 40 Coolinge Lane after Hugh's death in 1965, but her health deteriorated and at the end of 1985 she moved to an old person's hostel on the Leas at Folkestone. This was done most unwillingly on her part, but as soon as she moved in she was thrilled and even wondered why she had not done so earlier.

She died quite suddenly after a short illness in 1986. The cause of death on the certificate is noted as (1) Bronchopneumonia and (2) Peritonitis.
Marriage14 Jun 1916, Southampton, HAM
Marr MemoSt Marks
Divorce4 Feb 1949
Misc. Notes
Registration District Southampton
1916. Marriage solemnized at St. Mark’s Church in the County Borough of Southampton in the County of the same
No. 86 June 14th 1916
John Head Laidman, 25, Bachelor, Captain R.F.A., “Claremont” The Avenue, [father] James Harper Laidman, Ship Builder
Lilian Alice Marie Gordon, 24, Spinster, [no profession], Aberdeen House Lyminge Kent, [father] Kyrle Earnly Gordon (deceased), Master Tailor
Married in the Parish Church according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Church of England, by licence or after _____ by me E L Franklin
This marriage was solemnized between us,
John Head Laidman
Lilian Alice Marie Gordon
in the presence of us,
James Harper Laidman
James Harper Laidman, jun:
ChildrenDenise Anne , 1228, R1074 (1918-2009)
Last Modified 8 Apr 2012Created 3 Jun 2012 using Reunion for Macintosh