Back of the net as Shrewsbury Town fan Lawrence hits 100

It was only fitting that, as a supporter of Shrewsbury Town Football Club since he was five years old, Lawrence Jones should be presented with a signed football on his 100th birthday and a message from the players.

Lawrence with his signed Shrewsbury Town football
Lawrence with his signed Shrewsbury Town football

The centenarian, who hails from Madeley and later lived in Dawley, has been a life-long fan of the club and was thrilled by celebrations planned by staff at The Priory Nursing Home in Wellington.

Lawrence puts his longevity down to "luck during the war, the occasional drink of beer, good friends and living sensibly".

Further birthday celebrations are planned by family and friends at the Royal British Legion.

Lawrence had a video birthday message from Shrewsbury Town forward Daniel Udoh

Lawrence said: "I am very fortunate that I have had such good friends in my life."

He still remembers his military service at Monte Cassino during the Second World War and thinking the Italian village reminded him of back home and The Wrekin.

Eighty-one years ago he was one of the troops involved in the epic and bloody Battle of Monte Cassino and in 2019 he was one of the honoured veterans who attended a special Royal British Legion commemorative event at the National Memorial Arboretum.

Lawrence Jones in 1945

Monte Cassino, topped by a monastery, was the key to a formidable German defensive position south of Rome and was reduced to rubble by bombing.

It was finally captured on May 18, 1944 - Lawrence's 22nd birthday - after a ferocious battle lasting 123 days and claiming the lives of thousands of Allied soldiers.

However, it has become known as a "forgotten" battle as the victory was soon overshadowed by the D-Day landings of June 6, and the troops in the tough Italian campaign were to call themselves, with grim irony, the "D-Day Dodgers".

LAST COPYRIGHT SHROPSHIRE STAR STEVE LEATH 17/05/2022..Pic in Wellington at Priory Nursing Home, where Lawrence Jones was celebrating his 100th birthday. He is pictured and on some along with singer: Kerry Young, who was singing at his party. There are copy pics of Lawrence as a young man (1945), Lawrence with his wife: Eileen who passed last year aged 99. Also a copy pic from there wedding at Madeley Church. He is a big Shrewsbury Town fan and was sent a signed ball, and also a video message saying happy birthday from player: Daniel Udoh (Theres a screen grab from that too)..

Lawrence said that he had arrived in time just as the final push to take the position was under way and was given a gruesome taste of what was in store for him.

"We got to this place and there were dead lads piled up - they had had no time to bury them," he said.

Initially not allocated to a particular unit, he joined the Royal Fusiliers and was to fight with them all the way through the Italian campaign, serving as a Bren gunner.

He said: "All these poor lads had been there a while before me. I was not there until the tail end, when the worst of the fighting was over.

"Every time you went on patrol you thought it might be the last. I lost quite a few mates."

Lawrence and Eileen at their wedding at Madeley Church

After the war Lawrence married the then Miss Eileen Powell, of Little Dawley in 1952 who sadly died last year, aged 99.

He worked for Sankey's for 30 years, travelling to many car plant sites across the country.

Lawrence with his wife, Eileen, who died last year

Leah Palin, the 20-year-old administrator at The Priory Nursing Home, said: "We knew he was a keen supporter of Shrewsbury Town Football Club and thought a signed football would be appropriate.

"He is a really lovely gentleman and loves to chat."

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