149084 Major Lawrence Franklyn-Vaile, 1 Royal Irish Fusiliers: 17/05/44

Discussion in 'British Army Units - Others' started by bexley84, May 17, 2012.

  1. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Remembering today 17.5.44 - Lawrence Franklyn-Vaile, Royal Irish Fusiliers and 10 other men from the Irish Brigade who died on 17th May 1944 in their successful attacks on Monte Cerro, and Piumarola.

    Fusilier William Stoddart - 1 Faughs.
    Fusilier Dennis Dugdale - 1 Faughs.
    Fusilier Bernard Mannion - 1 Faughs.
    L/Cpl John Williamson - 6 Skins.
    Fusilier Victor Moss - 6 Skins.
    Cpl John Williams - 6 Skins.
    Cpl Leslie Hill - 6 Skins.
    Fusilier Basil Curtis-Setchell - 6 Skins.
    Rfn James Ryalls - 2 Irish Rifles.
    L/Cpl Joseph Brodie - 2 Irish Rifles.

    On 17th May 1944, in Italy, a total of 145 men were killed : 71 serving with British forces, 2 serving with the New Zealanders, 61 with the Canadians, 6 with the Indians and 5 with the South Africans.

    We will remember them all. :poppy:

    Lawrie Franklyn Vaile was previously wounded at San Salvo on 27 Oct 1943.


    Rank: Major
    Service No: 149084
    Date of Death: 17/05/1944
    Age: 33
    Regiment/Service: Royal Irish Fusiliers

    "C" Coy., 1st Bn.
    Grave Reference XI. G. 3.
    Additional Information: Son of Thomas Guy Vaile and Violette Beryl Jane Vaile; husband of Olive Franklyn-Vaile, of Blackburn, Victoria, Australia.
  2. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Lawrie's original marker at Cassino:

    Attached Files:

  3. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Lawrie Franklyn-Vaile's daughter recently sent copies of 80 letters that her father sent to her mother during the period Aug 1943 to May 1944, the last letter of which was dated 16th May 1944.

    The letters cover the period of the Faughs' battles at Termoli, San Salvo and the Sangro, their advance to the Moro River, wintering in the Apennines, a month on Mt Castellone, and the prelude to the Irish Brigade's successful push through the Liri Valley.

    The last letter contains the following statement that Lawrie made to the men of C company 1 RIrF on 15th May 1944, after he had to deal with 4 men who had left their posts. I'm sure those much more qualified than I would fully understand the sentiments expressed by Lawrie:

    "I would rather die and know my wife and daughter could hold up their heads for the rest of their lives knowing that I had done my job rather than live disgraced and bring shame and misery on my family."
  4. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran


    Apart from the mayhem and death during those days I can always raise a giggle when I think of the world famous Pulitzer prize winning author who claimed that the town of Piumarola was finally captured by the 17th battalion of the 21st Lancers......

  5. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member


    His initials were RA, I presume.

  6. TTH

    TTH Senior Member

    The 17th Battalion of...ouch. I am American and I just hate it when I see goofs like that. It's especially painful because I think that Atkinson is otherwise pretty fair and respectful to the British Army, more so than many American authors.
  7. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    I have received a photograph of what was identified at the time, by a fellow RIrF officer Douglas Room, as Major Franklyn-Vaile.

    There is, though, some doubt that it is actually Lawrie, but all the same is a remarkable study of an infantry company on its way into battle.

    Attached Files:

  8. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Gents and Ladies,

    I would just like to draw your attention to a previously unpublished series of letters sent home from Italy during 1943 and 1944 by Major Lawrence (Lawrie) Franklyn-Vaile, 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers (1 RIrF) to his wife, Olive.


    Lawrie was present with the 1 RIrF (Faughs) at the battles of Termoli, San Salvo, and north of the Sangro River, before being killed, whilst commanding C Company 1 RIrF at 0730hrs on 17th May 1944 near to Piumarola in the Liri Valley. You would see mention of his death in Cyril Ray's 78th Divisional history.

    I have been given permission to add these letters to the Irish Brigade web site by Lawrie's daughter Valerie, who was 26 months old when her father died. The letters are a most remarkable testimonial on behalf of the thousands of men, including my own father, who served during the campaign in Italy - they both describe the days at rest and also the grim details of the bitter realities of the time.

    To ensure a convenience of understanding, I am adding the 95 letters to the web site in a monthly sequence to time with the 70th anniversary of the dates of the events which are described within the letters. The last letter from Lawrie is dated 16th May 1944, and a further eyewitness account of his death sent by letter to Olive on 18th May 1944 from one of Lawrie's platoon commanders Lieutenant Douglas Room.

    Faugh a Ballagh.



    Attached Files:

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  9. Bernard85

    Bernard85 WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    good day bexley84,yesterday.04:43pm.re:major Lawrence franklyn-vailes(1rirf)letters home.i have read the letters you have posted.i found them very moving.also it felt like one was intruding in the very personal part of this couples life,he certainly felt much love for his wife,it was most generous of his daughter to let us read them.thank you for posting.regards bernard85
    bexley84 likes this.
  10. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member


    Yes, I have been in possession of the letters for several months now and have been in close contact with Lawrie's daughter and her family to ensure appropriate sensitivity in the approach to our publication methodology...given what we know, the August 1943 letters are certainly framed in the "lull before the storm"


    I'll update here when each month's letters are posted.

  11. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

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  12. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Thank you Richard for once again posting Major Franklyn-Vaile's letters.
    It is very generous of his daughter Valerie to allow them to be published on your excellent website.

    bexley84 likes this.
  13. minden1759

    minden1759 Senior Member


    These are terrific. I am in Cassino the week after next with a group. I will tip my hat to him at the CWGc cemetery.


  14. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

    Frank, Lesley,

    Thank you for your comments... of course, Valerie does not have any memories whatsoever of her father, but was able to visit Cassino CWGC to visit his final resting place about 20 years ago.

    There were, of course plenty of Kiwis near Cassino in early 1944, but not so many Aussies on the ground (of course there were plenty in the skies)..Lawrie was killed north of Sinagoga towards Piumarola at about 0730 on 17th May 1944.

  15. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

  16. 4jonboy

    4jonboy Daughter of a 56 Recce Patron

    Thank you Richard for posting. The letters are very moving.

  17. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member

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  18. zola1

    zola1 Member

    Just read the letters up to the end of November 43. What a amazing man he was, he had a way of writing that gets right there in the moment. Courage beyond words.

    Thank you for posting them Richard

  19. bexley84

    bexley84 Well-Known Member


    Many thanks for the comments - indeed he was one of so many remarkable men.

  20. zola1

    zola1 Member


    I look forward to next batch of letters,..... they dwell in your thoughts long after reading them.


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