Southwater War Memorial
Born at Horsham in 1922, John Lawson came from a professional naval family. He was the son of Commander Noel John Cecil Lawson, MBE, RN, and his wife,
Edith Matthews, of "Orchard Cottage", Tower Hill, Horsham. On 12th July, 1912, his father, Noel Lawson, had received his Master's Certificate of
Competence as an approved qualified Master of "foreign going steamships in the Merchant Navy" by the Board of Trade. He served in the Royal Navy during the Great War.
John began his naval career at an early age on board the training ship HMS Worcester. After completing his basic training he entered the Senior Royal
Naval College at Dartmouth, seeking to qualify and obtain a commission as an officer in the Royal Navy. He was granted a commission as a Sub-Lieutenant,
and at the time World War II broke out John was serving on HMS Rodney, taking part in the battle that resulted in the sinking of the German Battleship Bismarck in 1941.
John Lawson was later transferred to sail on a destroyer before volunteering for the submarine service and further training. Having successfully completed his
course he received a Certificate Grade 2 in Seamanship, Navigation, Gunnery and Signals with a Grade 1 in Torpedo weaponry. He became a founder
member of the famous HM Submarine Thresher. While serving on the Thresher he had to undergo a medical operation and after recovering ashore was
later transferred to another T Class submarine HM Submarine Turbulent.
HMS Turbulent was built by Vickers Armstrong at Barrow-in-Furness, launched on 12th May 1941 and commissioned on 2nd December 1941. She had a
displacement of 1,090 surfaced and 1575 submerged, with a range of 4,500 nautical miles at 11 knots (8330 km at 20km/h surfaced, and had a complement
of 61 officers and men. Turbulent was formidably armed with ten torpedo tubes and 6 replacement torpedoes. Additional armament consisted of
one 4 inch (102mm) deck gun and three anti-aircraft machine guns.
On Friday 14th June 1943 the Horsham local newspaper, the West Sussex County Times reported John Lawson “missing” aboard the Turbulent.
It was alleged that while returning home on Tuesday 23rd March 1943 the submarine was lost with all hands. Commander John (Tubby) Linton DSO, RN
commanded the Turbulent and on 24th February 1943 had sailed from Algiers on his twelfth and last patrol in the Tyrrhenian Sea before returning to Great Britain for a refit
On 20th March he was signalled, giving his return route to Algiers, but failed to acknowledge the order. He had attacked an escorted ship off Maddalena,
Sardinia, and was presumed sunk in a depth-charge counter-attack by Italian Motor Torpedo Boat escorts. It was later officially confirmed that the
submarine and her entire crew had been lost on Tuesday, 23rd March, 1943, cause unknown.
Speculation still exists, with a number of different naval historians providing varying explanations to account for the loss of the Turbulent.
It is known that earlier, while in the Bay of Naples, Commander Linton had drawn the unwelcome attentions of the Italian destroyer Ardito escorting
a small convoy. A Junkers Ju 88 had already alerted the Ardito's captain by dropping depth charges at the edge of the convoy and he immediately
carried out a sustained depth charge attack of the area after an Asdic contact was made at 1,300 metres. At 0935 hours, after two depth charge
patterns of attack were made, all contact was lost and the submarine involved is now thought to have been the Turbulent. Alternatively Linton's vessel
could have been destroyed by enemy air attack or somewhere along the north and east coast of Sardinia have struck a mine, in an area known to be heavily
mined. No wreckage was ever found to substantiate the cause of the submarine's sudden loss and no Axis report had claimed the destruction of the Turbulent.
For his record as commander of the Turbulent Commander Linton was awarded the Victoria Cross (posthumously), and in the following May the granting of the
award was published in the London Gazette. The citation for his award of the Victoria Cross reads, "The King has been graciously pleased to approve of
the grant of the Victoria Cross for great valour in command of His Majesty's submarines to Commander John Wallace Linton DSO,DSC, Royal Navy.
Commander Linton has been in command of submarines throughout the War. He has been responsible for the destruction of 1 cruiser, 1 destroyer, 20 merchant
vessels, 6 schooners and 2 trains. A total o f 81,000 tons of enemy shipping sunk. From 1st January 1942 to 1st January 1943 he spent 254 days at sea,
including 2,970 hours diving. During this period he was hunted 13 times and had 25O depth charges dropped on him. His career has been one of conspicuous
gallantry and extreme devotion to duty in the presence of the enemy. "
As members of the submarine's crew, Sub-Lieutenant Lawson and his shipmates had experienced all the action and perils of their captain, and have
no known grave. All 68 officers and men of Turbulent were lost and are commemorated on Pane173, Column I of the Portsmouth Naval Memorial, which
stands on the promenade at Southsea Common, Hampshire. The name of Sub Lieutenant J.M. Lawson is also among the Second World War casualties of Horsham
which are commemorated on the town War Memorial.
John Montieth LAWSON
Sub-Lieutenant HM Submarine Turbulent. No 98 Royal Navy
Killed in Action 23rd March 1943
Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Thanks to Gary Cooper "Horsham Heroes of World War II
Portsmouth Naval Memorial