He was born in Nottingham, the second son of Edward Arthur Lawrence, a bank clerk, and his wife May Wilde.

He was educated at Nottingham High School and Matriculated in 1930. He came up to Christ Church with a Scholarship in Natural Sciences and graduated with a 3rd in Chemistry in 1933.

He joined the staff of Sedbergh School at the start of the autumn term of 1934 and worked there until the end of the summer term 1936. He was House tutor in Hart House and was a resident in the house during term time, giving pastoral support to the boys. He also taught Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry to several year groups but his work was mainly with the boys in the upper end of the school.

The July 1936 edition of the Sedberghian Magazine (Page106) recorded: “We regretfully say good-bye to Mr. Lawrence who is leaving Sedbergh at the end of this term, and we wish him the best of luck.”

He married Margaret E Elliott in the Westminster area of London, that summer.

He joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and was a Sub-Lieutenant serving on HMS Express when he was killed on 1 September 1940.

On 31 August 1940, the Express and four other mine-laying destroyers left Immingham to lay an offensive field off the coast of the Netherlands. At around 23.00 hours almost on the point of dropping mines, it was reported by radio, that there was an enemy convoy near at hand. It was to be attacked after the mines had been dropped. Before they were able to drop any mines, three of the ships, including Express, had themselves struck mines.

Express was the first to be struck and some of her crew were picked up by the Ivanhoe which then, also, struck a mine. Meanwhile, the Esk struck and sank, almost immediately. There was a considerable loss of life in all three ships. The Express lost 4 officers and 55 ratings. In spite of having most of the bows blown off, she was towed back to port and eventually rebuilt.

Robert is buried in Hull Northern Cemetery Compt. 201. Grave 9.

His name is on the War Memorial at Minstead, Hampshire where his wife was living at the time of his death. His father was living at Woodcroft, Merrow, Guildford.

With thanks to Sedbergh School