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Private Stephen Lamont

59869, 2nd Bn,. Manchester Regiment
Died 4th November 1918 Aged 19
Son of Elizabeth Lamont of 2 Griffiths Terrace, Sketty, Swansea and the late William Lamont

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Remembered with Honour

Ors Communal Cemetery
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Born in 1899 at Whitley on the Wirral in Cheshire, Stephen was the youngest of the men commemorated on the Church memorial.

His parents, William and Elizabeth Lamont, born 1864 and 1865 respectively, were both Scottish from the Govan district of Glasgow. They were married in 1886. His father William was a Boiler Maker who travelled to various places in the course of his work. They lived in Govan, Dundee, Birkenhead, Bilbao in Spain and Swansea at least. William died in April 1918 while his widow remained in Swansea until death in 1951.

The family had strong connections with Sketty Wesley Chapel and are commemorated in a stained glass window in the Chapel erected in 1951 and dedicated to William and Elizabeth by their surviving sons.

At the time of Stephen’s birth in 1899, the Lamont family was living in Bilbao, northern Spain. By 1911 they were living in Sketty at 2 Griffiths Terrace. Stephen, at school aged 12, had 3 brothers and a sister still living at home.

Death of Mr. William Lamont, Sketty. The death occurred at his residence, Kin ghorn, Townhill Road, Sketty, on Saturday, of Mr. Wm. Lamont, at the age of 53 years. On Thursday the deceased arrived home from Cardiff, where he had been employed, and soon after his arrival be had a seizure, from which he never recovered.

William Lamont was an active member of Wesley Chapel, Sketty, and leaves a widow, two daughters and five sons, four of whom are in the Army.

Cambrian Daily Leader 8th April 1918.

Stephen enlisted in Swansea, no. 59869, in the Manchester Regiment, and was killed in action on 4th November 1918, one week before the Armistice. He was a Corporal in the 2nd Battalion of the Manchester Regiment.

He died while his unit was attempting to cross the Oise-Sambre Canal, nears Ors, in northern France. His grave is in the Ors Communal Cemetery, a French civil cemetery containing more than 60 war graves, almost all from the fighting on 4th November 1918. Wilfred Owen, James Kirk VC and James Marshall VC are all buried there.

The village of Ors had been cleared of the enemy on 1 November 1918 but it was necessary to cross the Oise-Sambre Canal to advance. By hard fighting the 32nd Division forced a crossing on 4 November while previous attempts had been thwarted by shell and machine gun fire from the far bank. Stephen was killed, together with war poet Wilfred Owen MC also of Manchester Regiment. Two VCs were awarded to Royal Engineers trying to build a pontoon bridge across the canal.

The attack across the canal was led by the 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment on the right, and 16th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers on the left. Both units were assisted by the 218th Field Company Royal Engineers who supplied bridging and raft parties to enable the crossing. Coming under heavy fire from the opposite bank, both battalions crossed and reach their final objectives by the end of the day. The aim of the attack on was to cross the canal which was always going to be a tall order given the strength of the Germans on the far side. The commander of the 16th Lancashire Fusiliers, Lieutenant-Colonel Marshall, having reconnoitered the positions reported that it would be virtually impossible to cross. However, the orders were that the attack was to progress.

The attack was set for 05:45 on 4th November. The 2nd Manchester Regiment waited about a quarter of a mile back from the canal while an artillery bombardment pounded the far bank. After five minutes, the guns aimed further ahead, and the Manchesters ran to the canal bank. Sections of temporary pontoon bridges were brought up and dropped into the canal to enable the troops to cross. However, they came under fierce fire from the far bank. It was at this point that James Kirk, a Second Lieutenant in the Manchesters, paddled part way across the canal on a raft, taking a Lewis gun with him. He fired from close range at the defenders, and more ammunition was brought out to him, but eventually he was killed. It was for this brave action that he was awarded a posthumous VC.

Some of the Manchesters had made it across to the east bank on the one bridge that had been fully constructed, but this was then destroyed by a shell. It is not clear exactly when or where Owen himself was killed, and whether he was one of those who made it across, but at some point during this attack he too was killed.

To the left of the Manchesters, Lieutenant-Colonel Marshall of the Lancashire Fusiliers had stood on the bank of the canal directing efforts to construct their temporary bridge, but this had failed for over two hours. Later in the day, the bridge was finally successfully run across the canal, and Marshall started to lead his men across. He was shot in the head and died, and was also later awarded a posthumous VC.

The fighting here cost the attacking units dear, with the casualties being buried in a battlefield cemetery close to the canal – Ors British Cemetery – and also in the Ors Communal Cemetery. Among those killed with the 2nd Manchesters was war poet Wilfred Owen. Recently awarded the Military Cross for bravery on the Fonsomme line, Owen was killed on the canal bank mustering his men for the crossing. Arguably one of the most important ‘voices’ of the Great War, his poetry is considered amongst the best the war produced and is still part of the British school curriculum.

The actual spot where Owen himself was killed lies about 100-220 yards to the left of the bridge. It is an unremarkable stretch of water, and hard to imagine the chaos that must have been occurring all around when Owen and Lamont were killed trying to cross that night.

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Additional Information

LAMONT Stephen – died 4th November 1918 aged 19. He was a private in the

Manchester Regiment (2ndBn.). His service number was 59869. He is buried at

Ors Communal Cemetery (N France). He was the son of Elizabeth Lamont, of 2, Griffiths Terrace, Sketty, and the late William Lamont.

In 1911, the family lived at 2, Griffiths Terrace. William (1865) and Elizabeth (1866) had been married for 24 years. William was a working boiler man, born in Lanark, in the parish of Govan, as was Elizabeth. Their children were Elizabeth (1890) – a music teacher, born in Dundee, William (1895) – an apprentice metallurgical chemist, born in Govan, Harry (1897), born in Birkenhead, Stephen (1899), born in Cheshire, Maggie (1902), born in Bilbao and Charles (1904), also born in Bilbao. The seven children born to William and Elizabeth were all alive in 1911.

William and Elizabeth Lamont are remembered in a window in Sketty Methodist Church, given by their surviving sons. Charles Lamont died in Swansea in 1983, aged 80. Harry (Henry P) died in Oxfordshire in 1967, aged 70, having married Daphne Geraldine Drew in 1965. She died in Malvern in 2004. William (junior) possibly died in Surry aged 67 in 1962, having married Kathleen J Stroud in 1919 (?). William and Elizabeth’s daughter Margaret (Maggie) died aged 27, in 1928, in Swansea. She was unmarried.

In the 1901 the family was not living in Swansea, although in the Barnett household at 25, Singleton Street, lived Ella I N Lamont (1879) – born in Scotland, who was a cooking lecturer and was listed as a visitor on the night of the census. Could Ella Lamont be connected, in some way, to the Lamont family of Sketty?

The family has been difficult to trace in the census returns as they moved frequently as William (senior) “followed the work” that was available. I think he was born on 8th Β October 1862. His parents were James Lamont (shipping agent) and Elizabeth nee Stephens. She was born on 9th March, 1841, Ireland. William (junior) was born in Govan, Lanarkshire.

In 1881, he was boarding in Milton Place, Govan, with the Carmichael family. He was a plumber’s apprentice.

In 1871, William lived with his parents, William (aged 35β€” fruit merchant), Jane (aged 34) and his siblings John (aged 9), David (aged 3) and Eliza (7 months?).

In 1861, William (senior) was a potato salesman, living in Thistle Street, Govan with wife, Jane and daughter Jane (aged 3).

 

 

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