Horace Stanley

One of the Fallen Heroes of Dunkirk

The youngest child of the Samuel John Stanley and Sarah Selina Denver was my grandfather, Horace Stanley. He joined the Salvation Army in Aston, Birmingham, it was there that he met my grandmother Edith Willmott. This was shortly before he joined the British Army, 2nd Battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment. He was only seventeen at the time, but was creative about his age to enable him to enlist early. With the regiment he travelled widely to Cyprus & India and finally to Belgium & France.

It was while “on leave” in 1932 that he married Edith Willmott. For more on the Willmott family see here. They had two children.

Hazel

She married Leonard Nash. One child Jason.


Howard

He married Shirley Powers these being my parents.
Three children, Ian, Alison & Tracy.

Dunkirk

This was just a few years before he was tragically part of the rearguard at the Battle of Dunkirk in 1940.

According to the letter from the War Office that we have it seems that he died in action on 28th May 1940 in either Wormhoudt or nearby Heerzele. This is the same day that some of the same battalion of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment were massacred by no.7 company, 2nd battalion of the SS Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler. See here for more of a description of the attrocities.

It is not clear to us whether grandad was one of the victims of this attrocity or whether he died nearby in some unconnected incident. The next news we have is that he was missing and then a letter from the Red Cross indicating that he had died in action.


Commemoration, 1990

Together with my father I was able to attend the 50th commemoration of these historic events in Dukirk in May 1990 and able to see Wormhoudt first hand. During a walk around a local cemetery in the town we came across a grave dated 28th May 1940 for a British soldier, name unknown. A very emotional time, for us this was the nearest we will get to finding grandad’s finding resting place. A chance finding that enables us to put some sort of closure on the terrible events that took place 50 years previously.