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Wartime Heritage ASSOCIATION
Remembering WWII Nova Scotia Casualties
James Allison Lawrence Rank: Leading Aircraftman Service No: R/153061 Service: Royal Canadian Air Force RCAF Torbay, Newfoundland Date of Birth: July 20, 1923 Place of Birth: Sydney, NS Date of Enlistment: February 4, 1942 Place of Enlistment: Halifax, NS Address At Enlistment: Glace Bay, NS Age at Enlistment: 18 Trade: Student/Labourer Marital Status: Single Religion: Baptist Next of Kin: James Allison Lawrence (Father) Glace Bay, NS James was the only son of James Allison Lawrence and Blanche Edith Lawrence of Glace Bay, NS and brother of Edna Jane Lawrence (born June 30, 1929). The family lived in Sydney until James was five years old. He attended high school until 1941 and then worked as a labourer until he joined the RCAF. On April 14, 1942, Leading Aircraftman Lawrence was assigned to RCAF Station Torbay, Newfoundland. On the night of December 12, 1942 he was at the Knights Of Columbus Hostel when a fire consumed the building. He was one of the 99 casualties. “ About 500 people were in the building when it caught fire. Most were watching the radio broadcast, but some were sleeping in the servicemen's hostel. The windows in the hall of the newly- built K of C Leave Centre had been boarded over to meet blackout regulations. Doors were either locked, or barred from the outside. The wooden building burned very quickly. Paper streamers that had decorated the ceiling of the hall ignited and fell onto the people below. A few windows and doors were smashed open, but many people could not escape. As the building rapidly burned to the ground, 99 people died, and another 107 were hurt. St. John's had seen many serious fires over the years, but never one with such loss of life. At the time, there were rumours of sabotage by a German agent, but the cause of the fire was never determined.” Date of Death: December 12, 1942 Age At Death: 19 Cemetery: Gander War Cemetery Cemetery Reference: Plot 5. Row 12. Grave 27 Commemorated on Page 89 of the Second World War Book of Remembrance Displayed in the Memorial Chamber of the Peace Tower in Ottawa on February 26 Sources and Information: Veterans Affairs Canada
James Allison Lawrence