27 October 2018


Stanley Frank Staden, born 21 December 1896 in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, was fourth of the eight children of John & Annie (nee Erswell).  Christened on 19 May 1897 in St John's church, he grew up in Bury St Edmunds and, by 1911, was a butcher's assistant living with his family (his mother died in 1907 and his father had remarried in 1910) at the Unicorn Inn, in Eastgate Street in the town.

When war came he joined up.  On 8th August.  At the age of 17, in the Suffolk Regiment, and was sent to the Western Front the following year.

I have thought a lot about this young man in the last few years.  The way he enlisted straight away, fought all the way through the war, earned the Military Medal; only to be killed 15 days before the Armistice.  I have no words for this short life which still, amongst all the others, has the power to bring me to tears, and leave the final part of this eulogy to others.

Extract from the History of the Suffolk Regiment: 

On the 27th [October 1918] the battalion was ordered to advance and  ascertain the enemy's strength on the river Rhonell, and if possible to  force a passage and form a bridge-head.  The Germans were found in  strength on both banks of the river, especially the north.  "A" Company  got a section over on the left, but these gallant men were all killed  before their success could be exploited, the remainder of the company  being driven back by machine-gun fire with many casualties.  In this  operation Cpl. S.F. Staden, M.M., displayed most conspicuous gallantry.   In the face of close-range fire he led his platoon to the river - which  he himself crossed carrying a Lewis gun - in a vain but heroic attempt to  rush an emplacement.  When the enemy had been driven back the grave of  this corporal was discovered marked with a cross (with his identity disc  fastened thereto) on which was inscribed in German the epitaph, "To a  very brave Englishman".

BURY FREE PRESS, 30th November 1918: 
BURY LAD KILLED BY MACHINE GUN BULLET.  Mr and Mrs J T Staden, of Eastgate Street, Bury St Edmund's, have received official intimation of the death in action, in France, of their second son, Cpl Stanley Frank Staden, 9722, Suffolk Regiment.  In a letter to the bereaved parents, the Chaplain of the battalion writes: "I am very sorry to tell you what you perhaps already know - that your son was killed instantly by a machine-gun bullet through the head during a very gallant attempt to cross the bridge at Maneches on October 27th.  His grave is in the garden of the house on the left-hand side of the road over the bridge coming from Sepnues.  His body was in the hand of the Germans, and I give them the credit for performing the last offices and placing a cross over the grave.  It will be hard for you to bear this sorrow in the midst of universal rejoicings.  May God comfort you and help you to feel that your brave son has given his precious life for the cause best worth living or dying for."

Corpl.Staden enlisted on August 8th, 1914, and was drafted overseas the following July.  He was wounded in February, 1916, his wounds necessitating his return to England for hospital treatment, and after three months was sent back to France.  For bravery in the field he was awarded the Military Medal last summer, and came home on leave last September, returning to duty on October 3rd.  

The deceased lad was only 21 years of age.  He was well known in the borough, and his cheery and lovable nature ensured for him a host of friends wherever he went.  Sincere and heartfelt sympathy is extended to the parents in their sorrow.

He is buried in Cross Roads Cemetery, Fontaine-au-Bois.

We will remember them.

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