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28 The 26-year-old perished alongside his HMS Narwhal crew on July 23 1940. But it wasn’t until 77 years after its final voyage that his watery grave was discovered off the coast of Norway. “He almost knew what was ahead of them because of the precarious nature of what they were doing. If they dived, they only had 64 miles, so they had to have a very astute captain to get away, and they were virtually right under the noses of the Germans.” “Virtually right under the Germans’ noses” Submarine HMS Narwhal was found near the southern Norwegian coast by Polish undersea explorers known as the ‘Find the Orzel’ team. And soon the ties between Polish and British submarines would become even more apparent. George’s nephew George Clandon, 72, retells the heart-breaking, yet all-too-common a tale of warfare that changed his family forever. Born in 1914, George Lawson was the eldest of seven children. His parents, May and Harry Lawson, lived at 9 Victoria Street in Burscough, adjacent to the Leeds Liverpool Canal. He was said to be a very popular boy growing up, and matured into a strapping lad, who was a very keen sportsman, playing cricket and football for the village teams. Aside from his family sharing their local roots, George Clandon and George Lawson’s story are all too similar. “I was christened George after him. I went to the Methodist school in the village and that’s probably where he went too. “I joined the navy and he was in the navy. He was in the same job as me as an engineer, and we were both on submarines. It really is unbelievable.” Mr Clandon’s almost identical background with his uncle - who he never met - may explain his interest in researching his life.
29 Around 2015, George began writing about his uncle. Then, a year or so later, he read a book about the Polish submarine Orzel lost at sea during World War II. “In late October/early November 2017 I came across a story about the desecration of nautical war graves in The Guardian. And I’m thinking ‘what’s going on here? This is odd this. Something is leading me somewhere.’ “I commented on the web article and the Polish dive team replied, stating they had inadvertently discovered the Narwhal in May 2017 while looking for the Eagle. “And then it just took off. I was invited to London to meet the Polish dive crew and other families from the crew of the Narwhal. “The two stories are uncannily interlinked. Even George Lawson Thomas Strachura the dive CEO, surveys the wreck site of HMS Narwhal.