As a 17 year old in 1911 Stanley found himself working as a Hall Boy at a grand house in Bedfordshire - the Mansion House, Old Warden Park Bigglesworth - which was owned by Colonel Shuttleworth of the 7th Hussars. Within three years, Stanley had moved to Eton Square where he became a footman.
The year 1914 was a momentous one as the world found itself embarking on the war which was supposed to end all wars. Along with thousands of British men Stanley felt it was his duty to fight for King and Country. “Well I joined up on 8th August 1914 after a night out with the boys.” The nature of the war meant there was less need for cavalry units and as a result, Stanley and the rest of his unit were transferred to the Yorkshire Light Infantry Regiment.
Stanley fought in various battles with the most famous being the Battle of The Somme - one of the largest battles of World War One. It began on July 1st 1916 and ended over four months later. The Somme in particular, has come to epitomize the horror of trench warfare with the casualty figures for the British Army alone reaching a staggering 60,000 on the first day alone. Before the Battle concluded, the British would go on to suffer a total of 420,000 casualties before its conclusion in November 2016.
Life in the trenches stayed with Stanley for the rest of his life: “I’ll never forget the smell of chloride and lime…you never get rid of it out there.” Talking about a particular day of fighting, he recalled “well they raided us about six in the afternoon and we actually saw them coming over the top.” Stanley’s company lost every officer that day, leaving his Sergeant to bravely lead the remaining men.
During the month of August 1916 Stanley was wounded in the chest and he was sent to a military hospital in France until 18 September 1916, when he was sent back to England. Luckily Stanley was transferred to The Royal Chelsea Hospital London to recuperate so he could be nearer his family in Essex. Due to the extent of his injuries, Stanley’s war was now over. He was awarded the Star Medal, a campaign medal for service in World War One awarded to soldiers who served in the battle fields of France.
After the war Stanley settled in Upminster, Essex and became a family man - working in London as a civil servant. Listen to his oral history recording by clicking on the link.