Lawrence Franklyn-Vaile

Lawrence (Lawrie) Franklyn-Vaile was born in Melbourne in 1910, and spent many years in England, where he met and married Olive Flint in 1935.

At the outbreak of war in September 1939, Lawrie immediately enlisted and was selected for officer training and for a time was separated from Olive. After completing his training, he was posted to the Royal Irish Fusiliers’ depot in Omagh, Northern Ireland and Lawrie was involved in training new recruits before they were posted to active service units, and he gained an excellent reputation for professionalism throughout the regiment. It was whilst in Omagh in March 1942 that Olive game birth to a daughter, Valerie.

In August 1943, Lawrie was posted to active duty and joined 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers, who by then were resting at Patti in Sicily. Within this new draft was his good friend John Rennie. In early October, Lawrie joined the Faughs in the Irish Brigade’s successful counterattack to secure the Termoli bridgehead, before taking part in the assault on San Salvo, when many of his comrades, including John Rennie were killed.  It was at San Salvo that he was wounded in the arm after he had taken over command of B Company during the battle.  At the end of November, Lawrie rejoined the Faughs before they joined the successful breaching of the Sangro river defensive line.

For the next two months, the Faughs were posted into defensive positions in the high Appenines near to Castel Di Sangro, before being transferred to the Cassino sector in February 1944. The Irish Brigade then took over further defensive positions in the Liri Valley and Monte Castellone before preparing to take part in the defining battles to finally breach the Gustav Line. At the end of April, Lawrie was confirmed in his position as Major and took over command of C Company.

On the morning of 17 May 1944, whilst preparing to lead C Company as part of the Faughs’ assault on Massa Cerro, Lawrie was hit by a mortar burst, and was immediately killed. A truly great loss to the battalion.

Lawrie’s daughter Valerie and her partner Peter have recently provided the Irish Brigade web site with some extremely moving details of his time with 1 RIrF from the time he joined them in August 1943.

Read the letters that Lawrence Franklyn-Vaile sent home from Italy from August 1943 to May 1944 here.

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