Company Serjeant Major 5523 Robert James Stanley

Died of Wounds on Monday, 21st December 1914, age 33.
Commemorated on Panel 34 and 35 of Le Touret Memorial, Pas De Calais, France.

'B' Company of 1st Bn., Manchester Regiment. 8th (Jullundur) Brigade of 3rd (Lahore) Division.

Husband of May Stanley, of "Oakdene", Alexandra Rd., Tipton, Staffs. Served in the South African Campaign.
Born: Aldershot, Enlisted: Dublin, Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, 27th August 1914.
Medal entitlement: 1914 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Not commemorated on any Tipton memorial.
Commemorated here because identified as Tipton on 'Soldiers Died in the Great War'.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1562485/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
Cannot trace, but may have been in South Africa.

1911 Census
Kamptee, Maharashtra, India.
Robert James Stanley (30, Single, Sergeant with 1st Battalion, Manchester Regiment).

Personal Data

Robert served in South Africa during the Boer War. He was entitled to the Queen's South Africa medal with clasps for Cape Colony, Orange Free State and the Relief of Kimberley, also the King's South Africa medal with clasps for 1901 and 1902. He was Mentioned in Despatches - London Gazette 22 June 1915.

After leaving the army at some time after 1911, Robert married May and appears to have settled in Tipton; he has no obvious Tipton connections so possibly May was a Tipton woman. Robert was a Reservist and called back to the colours immediately on the declaration of war, landing in France on 27th August. He would have joined up with the 1st Manchesters some time later as they were en-route from India and first saw the trenches near Festubert in October 1914.

After Robert's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £11/2/10d (11 pounds, 2 shillings and 10 pence); this was paid to his widow and sole legatee, May, in December 1915. His War Gratuity was £8/0/0d (8 pounds exactly), this was also paid to May in September 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Robert had enlisted in approximately August 1914.

Robert's widow, Mrs May Stanley, was awarded a Widow's Pension of 11/6d (11 shillings and 6 pence) per week with effect from 5th July 1915. This was revised to 33/6d (33 shillings and 6 pence) per week with effect from 28th October 1918, and then to 25/0d (25 shillings exactly) per week with effect from 7th September 1919. The Pension's Card says "Payable Canada" suggesting that May had emigrated.

Action resulting in his death

On 20th December the Germans detonated ten small mines on the left of Givenchy, they assaulted the entire front line and captured Givenchy. The loss of Givenchy would allow German observation over the British positions, so its recovery was vital and the counter attack was to be led by the 1st Manchesters and 1/4th Suffolks.

The Manchesters began their attacked at 3pm on 20th December. Hand to hand fighting took place re-capturing Givenchy house by house, which they held all night. The Germans counter-attacked but were held back until the French on the left were forced back and a flank attack by the Germans forced the Manchesters to retire. But the battalion attacked again and re-took the original trenches.

On 21st December the Germans continued to attack and forced the Manchesters out of the village, but the Manchesters had held the line long enough for reinforcements to arrive. The 1st Manchesters lost 106 dead on the 20th and 21st December. Most, like Robert Stanley, have no known grave and are commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial.

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