Stanley Ernest William Weatherhead

Memorial: Thornbury - Castle School

Regiment: Worcestershire Regiment

Medals: British War Medal, Next of Kin Memorial Plaque 1914 - 1921, Victory Medal

Rank and number: Second Lieutenant

Parents: Ernest Percy and Georgina Maria Weatherhead

Home address: Commerce House, 14 High Street, Thornbury, Bristol

Pre-war occupation: Draper

Date of birth: 16/08/1897

Place of birth: Thornbury, Bristol

Date of death: 23/04/1917

Buried/Commemorated at: Arras Memorial (Bay 6.), Pas-de-Calais, France

Age: 19

Further information:

Bronze Tablet and Wooden Memorial Board

Stanley Ernest William Weatherhead was born in 1897, the eldest son of Ernest Weatherhead who ran a drapery business in the High Street. Stanley had a brother and sister. After attending a preparatory school, he was admitted to Thornbury Grammar School in January 1906. After obtaining the Cambridge Local Junior and Senior Exams, he left school in July 1913, taking up an apprenticeship with a draper. At the outbreak of war, Stanley was working for Messrs Pope and Sons of The Bon Marche in Gloucester

Stanley enlisted as a Private in the Royal Army Medical Corps in August 1914. He arrived in France on 9th July 1915, a little before his 18th birthday, and for about seven months he was in the front lines, much of the time acting as a stretcher bearer. In February 1916 he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Worcestershire Regiment. He was probably attached to 12th Battalion for officer training in England. Stanley joined 4th Battalion, Worcestershire Regiment, 29th Division, only a few months before his death. He was a member of staff at the Battalion Headquarters, acting as a Signalling Officer

From 9th April to 16th May 1917, during the Battle of Arras, allied troops attacked the German defences in that sector. At 4.45 a.m. on 23rd April, the opening day of the action known as the Second Battle of the Scarpe, the 4th Worcesters advanced towards Infantry Hill near Monchy le Preux. Despite heavy fire they quickly seized the hill and began to dig in. The failure of the 15th Division to reach its objectives left the Worcesters in a dangerous position. There was intense shelling and sniping by the enemy, who counter attacked several times. At 4 p.m. some of the Battalion had to fall back. The other companies were just managing to hold the rest of the captured positions. Desperate hand to hand fighting ensued, with many men wounded or killed. The Commanding Officer reorganised the men who had fallen back, and got them and every available man from the Battalion Headquarters, presumably including Stanley, to ‘Shrapnel Trench’ to face a third German counter attack. By dusk the ammunition was running low. The remaining 4th Worcesters were finally relieved at 2 a.m. the next day. Of the 17 officers and about 530 other ranks, only 2 officers and 64 men were fit for duty on the 24th

Stanley was Killed in Action aged 19. In letters published in the local press he was described as having a determined character, as being a hardworking, reliable and capable officer and a great favourite with his men. ‘He died most gallantly’ and, although fatally wounded, he managed to write a situation report and draw a map shortly before he died. ‘The fighting was very severe and all the time he did his duty splendidly without any thought of sparing himself'

Stanley has no known grave and is remembered on the Arras Memorial

By kind permission, this information is based on the following source(s):

Thornbury Roots Website, Thornbury and District Museums Research Group, Forces War Records and CWGC