Lieutenant Colonel John Stansfield
Regiment: Gordon Highlanders 2nd Battalion
Division: 7th Division
Memorial: CHOCQUES MILITARY CEMETERY - I. B. 3.
Craven Herald Article Date: 19 February 1915
THE DASH FOR CALAIS - CRAVEN OFFICER'S GALLANT CONDUCT
In the 'Dundee Advertiser' a short time ago appeared an interesting interview with Drummer Pearson, who was at his home at Lochee, who was one of the Seventh Division (Gordon Highlanders) of the British Expeditionary Force which held the road to Calais against the German hordes during the terrible two days at end of October, when they suffered severely during their gallant and successful attempt to hold the enemy at bay. The interest of the interview to our readers lies in the fact that Capt. Stansfield, one of the officers, is a brother of Mrs. Yorke, of Halton Place, Hellifield, and one who is well known in Craven. Capt. Stansfield was wounded during one of the engagements, and after three weeks' leave, returned to the front. Of the 31 officers who west into action on October 30th only two were unscathed by November 2nd, and what was left of the Battalion was under the command of Lieutenant (now Captain) J. M. Hamilton, with Second Lieutenant W. J. Graham as his acting Adjutant. The other officers, including Capt. Stansfield, the Adjutant, had either been killed, wounded or were reported missing. The regiment was quartered at Cairo when war broke out. They got as for as Ghent before hearing that Antwerp had fallen, and took up a position on a canal bank to cover the retirement of the Belgian Army. The regiment afterwards retired swiftly - heavy marching for a week - toYpres, where they entrenched.
Describing the doings on the Ypres road, Drummer Pearson says:- "On the following morning we attempted to call the roll but the German guns again got the range, and we altered our position. We advanced in another direction, and it was in this advance that Col. Uniacke was hit. Major Crauford took over the command of the battalion, but he only held it for a few hours when be was wounded too. Capt. Stansfeld, the Adjutant, who is a Forfarshire man, then took charge, and I must say I never saw a braver man. He walked about the trenches and in the open quite unconcernedly, always with a cigarette or a pipe in his mouth, and how he escaped that day, considering that he is over 6 feet in height, and must have made an excellent target, I don't know. He held the command for a couple of days, and then he was hit in the heel by a bullet, and had to give up the charge of the battalion to Lieut. Hamilton. Lieut. J. H. Fraser had been killed by a sniper on the day Col. Uniacke was wounded; while the Hon. William Fraser, another son of Lord Saltoun, was wounded. Lieut. C. K. Latta, and Second Lieut. Bullock Graham had also been killed, and when the roll was ultimately called the only two officers present were Lieut. Hamilton and Lieut. Sprot, with the Quartermaster, Capt. Mackie. Only a fraction of the regiment remained.
Under Capt. Stansfield we had the only bayonet charged before I was wounded. The word was passed quietly down to us; then Capt. Stansfeld gave the battalion 'war cry,' a catchword of Capt. Sworder's in Egypt - 'Where are we, boys' - to which we rolled back, in a tremendous shout 'Here we are sir.' 'Then give it to them,' said the Captain, and by gum, we did, for we tumbled them out of their trenches pretty quickly. We were all mad with passion, and the number of Germans who were left dead in the trenches gave us some sort of satisfaction for the good men we had lost. A few days later - on the day I was wounded - we were reinforced by a draft of 90 odd men under a Dundee officer, Second Lieut. Gibb, of the 3rd Black Watch, be must have got a surprise when he saw how few of the battalion was left.
Capt. Stansfeld was mentioned in despatches. Sir J. French published yesterday, as one "whom I recommend for gallant and distinguished service in the field."
Craven Herald Article Date: 26 March 1915
MAJOR STANSFELD. D.S.O.- AGAIN WOUNDED
Major J. R. E. Stansfeld, D.S.O., Gordon Highlanders, who was recently promoted, and mentioned in dispatches, has again been wounded at Neuve Chapelle by a shrapnel bullet in the shoulder, and is in hospital at Warley, Essex. The gallant officer had a narrow escape, as his cigarette case, tobacco tin and blotting pad were riddled with bullets. He is the brother of Mrs. Yorke, of Halton Place near Hellifield.
CH Article Date: 25 June 1915
Distinctions for Bravery
Captain C. D. Irwin, of the 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment, was among the list of those mentioned in Sir John French's despatches published on Wednesday for gallantry in the field. He has had the Military Cross conferred upon him. Captain Irwin was stationed a few years ago in Skipton as adjutant to the 6th Duke of Wellington's (West Riding) Regiment.
Major J. R. E. Stansfield, brother of Mrs. Yorke, of Halton Place, who has been wounded twice, has received the Distinguished Service Order. He is attached to 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders.
Craven Herald Article
Date: 08 October 1915
DEATH OF COLONEL J. R. E. STANSFIELD
Lieutenant-Colonel John Raymond Evelyn Stansfield, D.S.O., 2nd Gordon Highlanders, died in France on September 28th from wounds received in action. He was a son of the late Rev. J. B. E. Stansfield, Knightsbridge, London, and a nephew of Captain Stansfield, of Field House, Sowerby Bridge, near Halifax, and was 35 years of age. A year ago he returned from Egypt with the 1st Gordon Highlanders and was slightly wounded at Ypres. His rapid promotion from the rank of captain since that time indicates the value of his military qualities. He served through the South African war, was twice mentioned in despatches, and received the D.S.O and medals with eight clasps. In 1904 he married a French lady, Yolande, daughter of the late Major-General Marquess de Bourbel, R.E. Mrs. John Yorke, of Halton Place, Hellifield, is his sister. Lieutenant-Colonel Stansfield was a man of fine physique.
Craven Herald Article Date: 08 October 1915
STANSFIELD - On the 28th instant, in France, from wounds received whilst leading his regiment into action. John Raymond Evelyn Stansfield, D.S.O., Lieut.-Colonel 2nd Gordon Highlanders, aged 35; son of the late John Birkbeck Evelyn Stansfield and Mrs. Stansfield of 32, Knightsbridge, S.W.; nephew of Captain Stansfield, of Dunninald, Montrose, and Field House, Sowerby Bridge; and beloved husband of Constance Yolande Stansfield.
Craven Herald Article Date: 22 October 1915
THE LATE COL. J. R. E. STANSFIELD - MEMORIAL SERVICE AT MONTROSE
On Saturday afternoon last The Primus (The Bishop of Brechin) conducted a memorial service in St. Mary's Church, Montrose, for Lieut.-Col. J.R.E. Stansfield, D.S.O., commanding second Gordon Highlanders, grandson of the late Rev. John Stansfield, vicar of Coniston Cold, and cousin of Capt. And Mrs. Stansfield, of Dunninald Castle, Montrose.
A large congregation attended, the immediate relatives of the deceased officer including Mrs. Evelyn Stansfield, London (mother); Captain and Mrs. Stansfield, of Dunninald Castle, Montrose; Mrs. Porter, Wimbledon (aunt); Mrs. Armstrong-Smyth, Dunninald Castle. The widow of the late Colonel and Mrs. J.C. Yorke, (Halton Place), his sister, were unable to be present, the latter owing to illness.
Among the officers of the deceased's regiment present were Captain Sprott, Captain Mackenzie, Captain and Adjutant Alexander, Captain Brooke (retired), Lieutenant Brooke, Lieutenant Gordon, and Second Lieutenant Mitchell. A contingent of the regiment, including a number of the wounded in the rank and file of the 2nd Gordons from Castle Hill and King Street, Aberdeen, were also present.
Other units of His Majesty's service were represented by Lieutenant-Colonel Burke, D.S.O., commanding No. 2 Squadron Royal Fling Corps, and representative officers and non-commissioned officers and men of that service; Colonel Ouchterlony, commanding Dundee Volunteer Corps; Colonel Cathcart, commanding 2nd 1st Highland Cyclist Battalion at Montrose; Major R. Hoyer Millar, commanding the 3rd 5th Black Watch (T.F.); Provost Thomson, representing the community of Montrose, and representatives of the nobility and of all denominations in the town and district.
There was a choral celebration of the Holy Communion conducted by the Primus, who was assisted by the Rev. J. Hampson Shepherd, assistant curate, St. Mary's. The hymns included 'Onward, Christian Soldiers,' 'Come, Holy Ghost, our souls inspire,' and 'For all the Saints,' while Mr. James Burgess rendered the tenor solo in the Benedictus, 'Blessed is He that cometh,' to organ accompaniment.
The Primus, in the course of a brief address, said that they had met to remember the life and character of a very brave and distinguished soldier and of a very true-hearted man, and they had come to commend his soul to the gracious keeping of Almighty God, their Heavenly Father. He did not think that Colonel Stansfield would have wished or have cared for anything like a panegyric or eulogy of that kind. One could not know him without being profoundly impressed with the greatness or his soul and with the loveableness of his nature. It was not only the magnificent physique that impressed one; it was the spirit behind. He had never read anything more touchingly beautiful than the letter written by his servant describing the way in which he met his death. But they could not be present there that day without also feeling that they desired to remember those gallant ones in that congregation who had laid down their lives for their King and Country, and they would not forget two officers of the Royal Flying Corps who only that week had met their deaths in so sudden and tragic a way. He had often thought that in these terrible days death was losing much of its sting and bitterness for them. They thought of the great hosts of gallant lads going out into the unseen so bravely and so calmly.
The service concluded with the playing on the organ and by the orchestra of Chopin's Funeral March, the singing of the National Anthem, and the sounding of 'The Last Post' by the cornets.
Additional information courtesy of Craven's Part in the Great War - www.cpgw.org.uk