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John Head “Jack” LAIDMAN, MC

John Head “Jack” LAIDMAN, MC

Male 1891 - 1953  (61 years)

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  • Name John Head “Jack” LAIDMAN 
    Suffix MC 
    Born 16 Feb 1891  Tynemouth, NBL Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 19 Jan 1953  Roehampton, LND Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Queen Mary's Hospital
    Person ID I631  Our Family History
    Last Modified 22 Feb 2016 

    Father James Harper LAIDMAN,   b. 8 Feb 1851, Hartley, NBL Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 11 Nov 1920, Southampton, HAM Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 69 years) 
    Mother Hannah HEAD,   b. 21 Nov 1853, Walker, NBL Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 21 Nov 1936, Edgeware, MDX Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 83 years) 
    Married 2 Jun 1873  Longbenton, NBL Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • Family bible
    Notes 
    • 1873. Marriage solemnized at the parish Church in the parish of Long Benton in the County of Northumberland
      No. 450
      When Married: June the Second 1873
      James Laidman, 22, Bachelor, Iron Ship Builder, East Terrace, Low Walker, [father] William Laidman, Tailor
      Hannah Head, 20, Spinster, [no profession], East Terrace, Low Walker, [father] John Head, Trimmer
      Married in the parish Church according to the Rites and Ceremonies of the Established Church after Banns by me, Oliver Churchyard, Vicar
      This Marriage was solemnized between us,
      James Laidman
      Hannah Head
      in the Presence of us,
      James Sharp
      Jane Laidman
    Photos
    Southampton, Claremont in 2003 (69, The Avenue)
    Southampton, Claremont in 2003 (69, The Avenue)
    This is the last house that James Harper Laidman purchased in Southampton. Denise Anne Laidman and Ted Laidman remember it quite well. The figure in front is Thomas Hume Laidman.
    James Harper and Hannah at their son John Head’s wedding in 1916
    James Harper and Hannah at their son John Head’s wedding in 1916
    John Head Laidman at far left. Lilian Alice Marie Gordon holding bouquet. Lilian’s parents had died by this time, so I think the man in the bowler and the woman on his left are James Harper Laidman senior (1851-1920), and his wife Hannah Head (1853-1936). My mother Denise Anne Michael née Laidman confirms this. The fourth woman from the left, in a large hat is Ethel Laidman. The small photo is inscribed verso: “Jack’s wedding. June 14th”
    Family ID F422  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Lilian Alice Marie GORDON,   b. 19 Jun 1891, Folkestone, KEN Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 14 Feb 1986, Ashford, KEN Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 94 years) 
    Married 14 Jun 1916  Southampton, HAM Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • St Marks
    Divorced 4 Feb 1949 
    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:


      From the Southern Daily Echo, 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.
    Children 
     1. Denise Anne LAIDMAN,   b. 21 Mar 1918, Lyminge, KEN Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 6 Aug 2009, Geneva, GE, Switzerland Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 91 years)
    Photos
    James Harper and Hannah at their son John Head’s wedding in 1916
    John Head Laidman’s wedding to Lilian Gordon, 1916
    John Head Laidman at far left. Lilian Alice Marie Gordon holding bouquet. Lilian’s parents had died by this time, so I think the man in the bowler and the woman on his left are James Harper Laidman senior (1851-1920), and his wife Hannah Head (1853-1936). My mother Denise Anne Michael née Laidman confirms this. The fourth woman from the left, in a large hat is Ethel Laidman. The small photo is inscribed verso: “Jack’s wedding. June 14th”
    Last Modified 21 Jun 2016 
    Family ID F233  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 16 Feb 1891 - Tynemouth, NBL Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 14 Jun 1916 - Southampton, HAM Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 19 Jan 1953 - Roehampton, LND Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 

  • Photos
    Baby Robert with the children of James Harper Laidman, 1913.
    Children of James Harper Laidman, 1913
    ‘L to R: James Snowdon, James Harper Laidman Jr., Thomas Laidman, Isabella Snowdon (holding Robert Laidman), “Mr Ward” (friend of Jack Laidman), Mabel Snowdon, John Head “Jack” Laidman.’ James Snowdon may actually be James Denton Snowdon, or John Joseph Snowdon, who married Mabel Hazelwood.

    This photo is on a postcard addressed to Mr & Mrs Snowdon, 345 Longue Rue d’Argile, Antwerp, Belgium, postmarked from Southampton in 1913, and signed Jim. It reads: Do you notice my Boston Bull Terrier. Bella rather fancies herself, but looks very nice. If you hold the card to the light you can tell who the strangers are. Jim. Love to all
    Sideways on the card are the names: JACK, JACK’S FRIEND Mr WARD, TOMMY
    John Head Laidman, 1915
    John Head Laidman, 1915
    James Harper, Thomas & John Head Laidman, ca 1920
    James Harper, Thomas & John Head Laidman, ca 1920
    This photo is in the possession of Nicholas Michael. It was given to him by Thomas Hume Laidman in 2003. It is in terrible condition, very faded and much damaged. It shows the three brothers sitting possibly outside their father’s (James Harper Laidman Sr.) house in The Avenue, Southampton. From the apparent ages of the sitters, I would put the document at around 1920.
    John Head Laidman with daughter Denise, ca 1920
    John Head Laidman with daughter Denise, ca 1920
    Photo in possession of Denise Anne Michael née Laidman
    John Head Laidman ca 1923
    John Head Laidman ca 1923
    This rare photo is taken from a group of officers of the Palestine Gendarmerie which JHL joined in March 1922 and left (dismissed) in 1924.
    John Head Laidman, citation 1945
    John Head Laidman, citation 1945
    John Head Laidman, 1940's
    John Head Laidman, 1940's
    Denise with her father John Head Laidman at her wedding, 1942
    John Head Laidman & daughter Denise, 1942
    Photo in possession (2009) of Carolyn Wilson
    John Head Laidman, 1942
    John Head Laidman, 1942
    John Head Laidman, ca 1950
    John Head Laidman, ca 1950
    John Head Laidman ca 1923
    John Head Laidman ca 1923
    This rare photo is taken from a group of officers of the Palestine Gendarmerie which JHL joined in March 1922 and left (dismissed) in 1924.

  • 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, 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.

      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
      [Note: his wife Lilian apparently joined him in New York, arriving back in the UK on 23 July 1927]

      [?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

      Geoffrey Wade Laidman is in possession of a letter from his mother Gloria to his father, dated 2 February 1944: "Today I received a most interesting letter (dated 11 Jan) from Uncle Jack who is now on General Staff of Gen Eisenhower, after being an instructor. He gets to London quite a bit and Denise [Michael, née Laidman] is expecting a baby [Carolyn Anne Michael] any day. Recently Jack went to Windsor Castle and saw the Princesses perform their pantomimes together with the other Royal children. Jack sat behind the King and Queen. Little Princess Alexandria, Duke of Kent's, was to be one of the dwarfs in Snow White and scratched her behind during the whole performance and was quite unconcerned about it all. Will forward the letter to you, certainly think he writes interestingly."
      James responds (from Italy) in a 20 Feb letter: "So Jack is on Eisenhower's staff, but then so are about 500 more too, so that means little. Was interested in the behind scratching Princess Alexandria for a certain gentleman here does the same thing, much to our enjoyment."
      Jack's address is: Major Jack H Laidman, Lloyds Bank Ltd, Cox and King Branch, 6 Pall Mall, London, S.W.1  James adds: "Say Pall Mall is quite a famous street as you no doubt know."

      JHL’s grandson Nicholas Michael has a certificate of thanks signed by King Olav of Norway in December 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. This must have been a repayment to Ethel Tinn née Laidman, Jack’s sister who lived in Ipswich where Jack was buried.

      On a subsequent occasion, Denise also revealed another less charming side to her father: she told me that he was against her marriage to a Jew, “until he learned there was money in it”.

      Geoff Laidman wrote in October 2015:
      I ran across this tidbit from [Jack’s] 2 Jun 1944 letter that might be of interest to you. James [James Snowdon Laidman] and Gloria had both written to Uncle Jack, but only Jame's letter was received. James got an air mail letter reply from Uncle Jack with quite a bit of news. "He wants me to look up a nurse friend of his - matron of a hospital whom he hopes to marry someday [this was apparently one Helen Crerar or Brerar, working in Italy].  He saw Joan and is trying to get her a job in the War Office. Seems you've again gotten in Dutch - you have an uncanny misfortune for this - it appears Tommy wrote to Ethel that Jack had given you lurid details of the Laidman family.  He was very angry at the distortion of facts by Tommy. I think in future we'd just better keep these things to ourselves. Those Laidmans are certainly a touchy bunch. I'm always almost ready to say the hell with 'em."

      Gloria replies on 14 Jun. "All I can say is that Tom certainly has a complex about people tearing down the family and why he used the word lurid is beyond me. I certainly did not receive that impression. In fact I was quite pleased to find they were all human and I always enjoy thumbnail sketches." When Gloria gets her undelivered letter to Jack back she decides not to resend it even though she spent a good deal of time writing it.

      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


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