January 7, 1921 (Fairfield, CT) – November 23, 1942; 21 years old
Last local address: 271 Hunt Street, Norwalk
Enlisted on September 12, 1940
Service number: 11019656
7TH CHEMICAL COMPANY, AVIATION
Norwalk High School Class of ‘39
Corporal Lawrence was captured by the Japanese after Corregidor fell and is found on the Prisoner of War listings from May 7, 1942, maintained by the Japanese. The camp he was held in is not known. Records show he died as a POW at Fort McKinley, Manila, on November 23, 1942. The disposition of his remains is unknown but it is believed he is buried in an unmarked grave in the Philippines.
By the time the camp was liberated in early 1945, approximately 2,800 Americans had died at Cabanatuan. Prisoners were forced to bury the dead in makeshift communal graves that were often completed without records or markers. As a result, identifying and recovering remains interred at Cabanatuan proved exceedingly difficult in the years after the war. Corporal Albert J. Lawrence entered the U.S. Army from Connecticut and served with the 7th Chemical Company in the Philippines during World War II. He was captured in Bataan following the American surrender on April 9, 1942, and died of dysentery and beriberi on November 23, 1942, at the Cabanatuan Prison Camp in Nueva Ecija Province. He was buried in a communal grave in the camp cemetery along with other deceased American POWs; however, his remains could not be associated with any remains recovered from Cabanatuan after the war. (from dpaa.mil)
From The Norwalk Hour July 17, 1943
Private Albert J. Lawrence, son of Mrs. Rose Lawrence of Hunt Street, Rowayton, who was a prisoner of the Japs, is dead according to a telegram received yesterday from the War Department by Mrs. Lawrence. Only last Sunday, Mrs. Lawrence received a telegram informing her that her son was in a Jap prison camp. This was the first word about her boy that she had received since May 1942 when he was reported missing. Private Lawrence enlisted in the regular Army on September 12, 1940 at Fort Slocum, New York. He left there on January 4, 1941 for service in the Philippines where he arrived on February 20, 1941. When the Japs attacked the Philippines, Private Lawrence was at Nichols Filed. Later he was at Corregidor. The last word his mother received from him was a cable he sent her at Christmas time 1941. Private Lawrence is a graduate of Norwalk High School, Class of June 1939. He was active in school soccer, basketball and tennis. He is a member of the Rowayton Hose Company and the first member to enlist. He has a brother Frank, who is in the Air Cops at Miami, Florida and a younger brother Louis. Private Lawrence’s name will be written in gold on the Honor Roll that Rowayton is erecting.
From Hartford Courant August 5, 1943
Corporal Albert J. Lawrence, son of Mrs. Rose Lawrence of Hunt Street, Rowayton, Norwalk, died of disease at a Japanese prison camp, the War Department announced Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.
From Hartford Courant February 6, 1944
In honor of four Connecticut soldiers who died in Japanese prison camps, the State War Finance Committee announced Saturday that four days would be set aside next week during the Fourth War Loan and named for the men who sacrificed their lives. Monday, February 7, has been designated by John M. Hurley, executive manager of the State War Finance Committee, as Corporal Francis Hoyt Day in honor of Corporal Hoyt, 20 Webster Street, South Norwalk. Tuesday, February 8, will be Corporal Albert J. Lawrence Day in honor of Corporal Lawrence, Hunt Street, Rowayton. Wednesday, February 9, will be Private Kusti N. Gayda Day in honor of Private Gayda, 579 Center Street, Southport. Thursday, February 10, will be Private Samuel A. Russo Day in honor of Private Russo of New Canaan. These men gave their lives for their country,” Mr. Hurley said. It is only fitting that we recognize their sacrifice during the Fourth War Loan when we civilians can show the men and women in the service that we are behind them.” A telegram from the War Department to the State War Finance Committee also reported that four civilians from Connecticut are in Japanese internment camps. They are Colt Craven of Bridgewater, Frances Haughwout of Bethel, Christian Larsen of Southport, and Harold Rather of Old Greenwich.
From The Norwalk Hour May 29, 1944
On Memorial Day at 1 o’clock, Neville Bayley Park, owned by the Sixth Taxing District, will be officially opened for the summer with an interesting ceremony and the people of the district are invited to be present. The program, as arranged by Frank P. Dunn, President of the Rowayton Civic Association, will be as follows: At 1 o’clock members of the Rowayton Boy Sc out Troop 2, and the Rowayton Girl Scouts of Pine Cone Troop, the Mariner Scouts of the M.S. “Dolphin” and the Brownie Scouts, all in uniform and carrying their flags, will meet near the entrance to the park and march to the flag pole near the beach where they will encircle the pole for the flag raising. Robert Davis, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph W. Davis, and a member of the local Boy Scout troop, will sound “To the Colors.” Mayor Robert B. Oliver will officially open the park for the season. After the flag has been raised the Scouts will march back to the entrance to the park where they will break ranks and each Scout group will for into its own unit for the second ceremony of the day, that of dedicating the beautiful sturdy red oak in the grove of the park to Rowayton’s first boy to enlist and who died for his country in this present war. Albert Lawrence is the son of Mrs. Rose Lawrence of Hunt Street. The Rowayton Civic Association planted this tree as a a living memorial to Albert of whom the community is so proud. A small fence has been placed around the tree to set it apart and a plaque will be placed near it so that all who are in the grove will know the significance of this particular tree. Later, a permanent marker will be secured. Henry Kelley, chairman of the Fairfield County Planning Commission of New Canaan, will speak briefly. It will be recalled that this commission last year presented to the Rowayton Civic Association, an award of merit for its effort in aiding in the securing of the district’s park and the evidence of civic improvement shown from time to time. The dedication of the tree will be given by Rev Donald K. Sinclair, pastor of the Rowayton Baptist Church, and Rev Karl Arthur Nelson, pastor of the Methodist Church will pronounce the benediction. The ceremony will be brought to a close by the sounding of “Taps” by Bugler Davis. The park is all ready for the opening. The grove has been cleaned by a group of interested citizens. Several improvement have been made this year, as far as the finances of the district would permit. The commissioners of the Sixth District have announced the appointment of Harry Von Dwingelo as lifeguard at the beach for the summer. Beach permits will be issued this afternoon and evening at the Rowayton Library as they were for four days last week.
Memorialized on the Courts of the Missing, Manila, Philippines