29134 Chief Petty Officer James Joseph Lawlor – Royal New Zealand Navy

James Joseph Lawlor was born in Tullow, Country Carlow, Ireland [i]  on 23rd January 1900 the oldest child[ii] of
Elizabeth (nee McNally and Lawrence Lawlor.

James’ gravestone notes that he served in the First World War; he signed on when he was 18 as an Able Seaman[iii] for service during World War One but also as a career. James’ military papers list his employment as a tailor but he had
signed on, as a Cook, in 1923 with the Royal Navy. Cook Lawlor served
on HMS Diomedes[iv]. HMS Diomedes was attached to the
Royal Navy’s China Station in 1922.

                                                                                     HMS Diomedes 1924 

but in 1925 she was transferred to the New Zealand Division of the
Royal Navy, based at Devonport Auckland.  Cook Lawlor served on
HMS Diomedes in New Zealand until his period of engagement was
due to end returning to England on 28th December 1929. Prior to
leaving New Zealand he married on 19th September 1929
Christina Adelaide Silver. The return to England was short with James
re-signing with the Royal Navy returned to New Zealand on
27th August 1930 as crew on HMS Diomedes. As plans were made
for the now outclassed HMS Diomedes to be replaced Cook Lawton was shipped back to England in 1934 potentially as
part of the crew for the new Leander class cruiser, HMS Leander.

                                                                                                       On 30th April 1937 HMS Leander[v] was commissioned for
                                                                                                       New Zealand service and Cook Lawlor was part of the crew
                                                                                                       that brought her out to New Zealand. Cook Lawlor remained
                                                                                                       with HMS Leander until 30 January 1938 when he was ashore at                                                                                                           HMNZS Philomel.  
                                                                                                                      HMNZS Leander 

                                                                                                        On 12th December 1939 Cook Lawlor was posted to the
                                                                                                        Castle Class Minesweeper HMNZS James Cosgrove. While on                                                                                                                  HMNZS James Cosgrove he was promoted to Leading Cook. Leading Cook Lawlor returned to HMNZS Philomel on 18th February 1941 and,apart from six months on HMNZS Monowai, spent the rest of his career at the shore depot. On 6th January 1944 Leading Cook Lawlor was promoted to Petty Officer (Cook).

On 14th January 1946 Chief Petty Officer James Joseph Lawlor was discharged from the Royal New Zealand Navy.

James returned to civilian life in Dunedin where he is listed in 1954 as a Civil Servant with his wife Christina. Following
the death of his wife Christina, James re- married in 1952, Gwyndoline Winifred Davies. The couple had no children and were living at 122 Bedford Street, Porirua when James died on 16th August 1970, Gwyndoline died in 1981.

James Joseph Lawlor is buried in Porirua Cemetery; Gwyndoline Winifred Lawlor’s ashes were interred in the James’ grave.[vi]

Ancestry: Berrming family tree
UK Royal Navy Register of Seaman’s Services
NZ History Online: HMNZS Leander
NZ Electoral Rolls
Porirua Cemetery Records online

HMS Diomedes:  Google images
HMNZS Leander: Google images
HMNZS Waiho a Castle Class mineseeper: Google Images
Lawlor grave – Melanie Macdonald

[i] NZ BDM 1970/48289
[ii] 1901 Census – Ireland
[iii] www.forces-war-records.co.nz: James Joseph Lawlor
[iv] UK Royal Navy Register of Seaman’s Services. 
[v] HMNZS Leander: NZ History Online
[vi] Porirua Cemetery Records Online

Castle Class Minesweeper  - HMNZS Waiho