Vernon, the eldest child of Thomas and Mary
Ann Lamb, was born on 15 March 1870 in Wolverhampton, where the
family lived at 41 Lowe Street. By 1881 his mother had died, his
father had re-married and the Lambs had re-located to 105 Gerard
Street in Derby. Vernon attended Derby School of Art for a time
and passed Practical, Plane and Solid Geometry (Derby Mercury,
18 Sept 1889). He was still living at home, with his father and
stepmother Caroline, in 1891 but was by then working as a photographer.
He married Nora Elizabeth Calow at Christ Church in 1895, where
Vernon had been baptised in March 1877, and they continued to live
and work in Derby until late 1907. A concert was given for him
by friends and well wishers when he left Allenton for Belper, a
sign of the high regard he was held in (Derby Daily Telegraph,
Vernon, Nora and their daughter Alice eventually moved to Matlock
Bank, probably in early in 1910. They were certainly there in July
of that year as they entertained friends from Allenton. They maintained
links with their old home throughout the rest of their lives and
friends from there would call on the Lambs before the war when
they lived at London House, Bank Road. Nora would provide tea.
Even when they had moved away and were living in Sevenoaks, Kent,
they did not forget the Allenton mission and gave two sanctuary
chairs in 1932.
The Lamb family, about 1907.
The wicker chair and what-not
feature in many of Lamb's studio portraits.
There is another picture of Mrs. Lamb and Alice
- see VLA5083
The tribute Alice wrote about her parents, below,
states that Vernon enlisted in the Army and claimed he was considerably
younger than his real age. However, his Army records reveal that he provided
his exact year of birth on several occasions, so it is possible his daughter
never really knew his true age. He enlisted at Matlock quite early in
the War, on 28 Oct 1914.
The photographs he took of camp life and of his regiment's time in Buxton,
Luton, Epping and Watford are of historical importance. They portray
recruits who are not battle scarred, undertaking tasks that were part
of their everyday routine. However, they also show facial expressions
changing, possibly indicating an awareness of what they were to face.
It is also striking just how many of the Army personnel he photographed;
he must have decided to record his fellow soldiers so they would not
Vernon's WW1 Medal Card (WO 372/11/227537) shows that he changed regiments
more than once and he belonged to:
Corps Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment; Regiment No 3417; Rank
Corps Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment; Regiment No 241064; Rank
Corps Labour Corps; Regiment No 405145; Rank Private
Corps Royal Engineers; Regiment No 361149; Rank Private. This was the
1st - Survey Battalion.
The four digit regimental number strongly suggests that he transferred
to the 1/6th Battalion from the 2/6th; his records show that he went
to France on 26 Feb 1917. He does not seem to have been awarded a 1914-15
The 2/6th Battalion of the Sherwood Foresters was formed in Chesterfield,
but the recruits were sent home to await being called up. Their headquarters
was opened at Buxton on 2 Nov 1914 where they stayed for 3 months, based
at the Empire Hotel. On 3 February 1915 (dates from WO 95/3025/3, Battalion's
War Diary, 1914 - 1916, TNA) they moved to Luton. However, the men were
in billets in Luton for less than a week as they moved to Epping for
a course in entrenching; they returned to Luton on 25 Feb. During August
1915 the Battalion moved first to Watford, where they were until at least
February 1916 (dates from war diary), and then to Dunstable;
they went to Dublin in April 1916 and were in France in early 1917.
Also see: The
Long, Long Trail, The British Army in the Great War of 1914-1918
The remainder of the family's story is best left to his daughter (below).
What can I say about this undaunted couple? They were born in the 1860s,
both their mothers died giving birth to a third baby. Their fathers married
again, both chose women of the worst kind, they both drank. Mother lost
her father at the age of 9 years. She had to leave school and do all
the work in a country public house. Father left school at 12. He had
to help to keep his step-brothers and sisters.
Mother ran away to live with an aunt and it was then she met father.
She became his receptionist. He was a photographer. They married in 1895
and had 5 children of which I am the only one living. Father was always
deeply interested in religion, he was the superintendent of the Boys
Mission in Derby for 20 years. After we left Derby we lived in Belper
for a time and Dad became a Congregationalist which interested him to
From there we went to live at Matlock and he had a P.T. class and was
a scout leader. He got the Scouts Thanks badge (the original swastika
design). Came the first World War father enlisted putting his age down
10 years. He took part in the Irish rebellion in 1916 after that he was
sent to France. He was then in the Sherwood Foresters as a signaller.
During a tremendous raid he was blown down a mine crater. His officer
thought he should have had a decoration because he was still clinging
to his signalling wire but nothing came of it. He was taken to hospital,
from there he was transferred to the Royal Engineers as a photographer
in a sound ranging section. He made some wonderful friends; one of them
was a school master from Leeds who thought the world of him. To all the
men he was "Dad".
To return to Mother. While Father was away she took a job as [a] night
nurse at one of the hydros and for a long time she travelled with one
lady. After the war was over they became caretakers of the local Congregational
church and when they eventually left the town father received a beautiful
inscribed gold watch and the ladies of the church gave mother a lovely
dumpy umbrella. They took position[s] with a gentleman in Kent as Housekeeper
and Gardener. They were there until work became too much for them. While
they were there dad used to read the lessons in church. He had a lovely
pet black cat and it used to follow him and sit outside the church and
wait for him.
After staying in my home for a little while they decided to buy a bungalow
at Clacton and Dad found work to do in the gardens. In 1938 he took up
A.R.P. work and he passed his exams and became a warden. By this time
he was 70 and when the war came he was on duty and was sometimes post
warden a long way from home. And very often he would be on the way home
(he always walked, he never rode a bicycle) the sirens would go and back
he would go to his post. All this became too much for him and the end
came in Christmas 1943. He was cheerful to the end. He could always see
the good in people and never turned a beggar away from the door. So
[he] died a truly Christian Gentleman. He was given a Civil Defence funeral.
It was the end of my mother's world. She just longed for the end it was
3 months from their golden wedding. She passed away in 1950; she was
a brave little soul. I realize now how wonderful it has been to have
had such adorable parents. In spite of their brief education they were
both beautiful writers and were clever at figures.