World War 1 (1914 - 1918)


Image reproduced by permission of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

John Lawson Wren

Service: Navy
Unit: HMS Laurentic, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Rank: Able Seaman
Service Number: Clyde 3/1979

The child born to Abraham Guthrie Wren and Helen Millar Wren in 1894 in Glasgow was registered as Jacob Wren but when serving in the Navy he is listed as John Wren. Abraham Guthrie Wren was a spirit dealer in Glasgow before moving to Newton Inn, Newton Mearns.

On the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914, the White Star liner RMS Laurentic, on which John served as an able seaman, was requisitioned by the Admiralty as an armed merchant cruiser (see photo above). On 25 January 1917, on her way from Liverpool to Halifax Nova Scotia, she entered a minefield laid by the German submarine U80 off Lough Swilly on the northern coast of County Donegal, Ireland and sank with the loss of 350 persons. HMS Laurentic was carrying gold bullion valued at five million pounds to pay for munitions and other war materials produced in Canada and America. Most of the gold was later recovered. John was drowned when the ship sank. John, aged 22, is commemorated on Portsmouth Naval Memorial and on Mearns Parish Kirk War Memorial.

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