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Stanwell War Memorial - World War I

Updated: Sep 16, 2023

The names of Stanwell Moor villagers killed in the Great War are commemorated on the war memorial in Stanwell, but who were they? This is an attempt to give some background to a few...and hopefully uncover a few more.


Stanwell War Memorial Postcard, Author's Collection


Like all villages in the United Kingdom, Ireland and across the Commonwealth, Stanwell Moor played its part in World War I, with many villagers or members of their family paying the ultimate sacrifice. The community came together after the war and commissioned a memorial in Stanwell via private subscription. The postcard image above depicts the dedication of the war memorial in November 1921.

 

Stanwell War Memorial © Author


Lance Corporal Joseph Benjamin Stepney of the 23rd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers was killed on 3rd May 1917. Benjamin had been a career soldier and is listed in the 1911 Census as a Private at Isleworth Barracks. In the same Census he's listed on his brother James' return for Park Street, Stanwell Moor as "Away". Park Street was the continuation of the current Park Road from Stanwell running into the Moor, now Horton Road.


Both parents pre-deceased Benjamin: his mother died in 1896 aged just 34, and his father in 1902 aged 48. They are buried in Stanwell Burial Ground.


Benjamin is commemorated on Bay 3 of the Arras Memorial in France and has no known grave. Given the date of his death, his battalion and where his name is commemorated, it's likely Benjamin was killed during the Battle of Arras, which ran from the 9th April to the 16th May 1917.

 

HMS Vanguard, Author's Collection; Harry Cooper © Donelan family


Stoker 1st Class, Harry Cooper was serving on HMS Vanguard. He was killed on 9th July 1917 at Scapa Flow in the Orkney Islands when the ship was destroyed by an accidental explosion with the loss of 843 lives. There were just 2 survivors.


Harry was 33 years old and his parents were William and Sarah Cooper. Sarah was the Landlady of The Anchor Inn and already a widow at the time of Harry's death. His name is clearly visible on the old postcard of the Stanwell War Memorial at the top of the page. Harry's widow is listed as Emma Cooper of 5 Kent Cottage, Stanwell Moor although another record lists her address as 35 Mill Mead, Staines. Harry served on HMS Vanguard from 30th January 1917 until the accident. (Harry's picture, Courtesy of The Cooper Family)


There is more of Harry's story and that of his shipmates at the excellent HMS Vanguard Crew Faces website created by Wendy Sadler - https://www.vanguardcrewphotos.org/post/harry-cooper-ch-k-33374-stoker-1st-class


 

Private Alfred Lancaster, 14th Battalion Hampshire Regiment died on 29th September 1917, the son of William and Lydia Lancaster, of "L'Autre" Bungalow, Stanwell Moor. He died during the Battle of Polygon Wood, part of the Third Battle of Ypres where the 14th Hampshires served as part of the 39th Division. He died from wounds suffered during a gas shell attack the day prior. Alfred was just 24 years old and is buried in Godewaersvelde British Cemetery in northern France, close to the Belgian border. "L'Autre" Bungalow was a detached property on Hithermoor Road. It was demolished in the late 1960's and three terraced houses were built on the site (#35a/b/c).


 

Bugler Frederick Frith served with the 1st Battalion, Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry. He died on 2nd October 1917 from wounds inflicted during the Third Battle of Ypres and specifically the Battle of Polygon Wood, just 3 days after Alfred Lancaster, and like Alfred, Frederick is buried at Godewaersvelde British Cemetery in northern France.


Frederick's father, William Frith lived at Engall's Cottage, Stanwell Moor.


 

Stanwell War Memorial © Author


Private Edward Archer of the 4th Battalion, Canadian Machine Gun Corps was killed on 5th September 1918 just a few months prior to the end of the war. Edward was 32 years old. His mother was Emma Didcock of 2 Park Street, Stanwell Moor, who had remarried following the death of his father. (Park Street was also Lnc. Cpl. Joseph Benjamin Stepney's last address.)


Edward had emigrated to Canada before the war and signed up for military service in Winnipeg on 18th November 1915, travelling from Halifax to Liverpool on 31st May 1916 as part of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. The troops were transported on Titanic's sister ship, SS Olympic which had been chartered by the Canadian Government. It’s probable Edward was killed during the Battle for Arras that started on 26th August 1918, which would fit his being interred at the nearby Aubigny Communal Cemetery.


 

Are you related to any of the people listed? Do you have any pictures of them so we can keep their memory alive?


Do you have any ancestors that lived in Stanwell Moor that are on the memorial but not covered here, and if so, can you help me tell a small piece of their story?


Or did you have a relative from Stanwell Moor that was killed in the Great War who is not commemorated on the memorial (it was an option for surviving family whether their loved ones were on the memorial or not) and if so, can you provide more details so we can put them on this site?


As always, comments welcome. Please sign-up and we can get the discussion going.

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