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Stanley Charles Whiting 1894-1983

Parents:            Frank Whiting and Priscilla Iron.

Born:                 20th December 1894 in Haverhill.(1,2,5)

Baptised:          23rd June 1895 at the Independent Church, Haverhill.(2)
Married:             Vera Emily Robberts on 22nd August 1927
Children:           Gerald Stanley Whiting b.1928    
Died:                  1st August 1983, Gravesend.

Bio:                    Stanley Charles was born on 20th December 1894(1), and was the son of Frank and Priscilla Whiting. Unusually, the baptism of Stanley Charles at the Independent Church, Haverhill, on 23rd June 1895(2) gives his parents as Joseph Whiting, the brother of Frank, and Annie his wife. A clerical error perhaps? The GRO birth entry shows the mother's maiden name as 'Iron'.
On the 1901 census Stanley is seen living with his parents and older siblings Cecil Frank and Ethel in Chess Lane, Witham. His father Frank is working as a stockman on a cattle farm. Stanley can be found on the 1911 census working as a cowman at Garlesters Farm on the old Brentwood road in Bulphan, Romford, alongside his father and brother Cecil. He now has a younger brother, John, who was born in 1897. Stanley's sister Ethel was working as a domestic servant on a farm in Stapleford Abbotts.
The family moved to 17 Barry Road, Stonebridge Park, Willesden at some point just before the First World War. Stanley had found work in the growing car-building trade  as a fitter. His father Frank had been a farm worker all his life, but through his son he found work as a night watchman with the Park Ward car and coach-building firm (4). When war came, Stanley's elder brother joined up first and served with the Royal Garrison Artillery in France.
Stanley and his younger brother John both joined the Navy. The Royal Navy Registers of Seaman's Services(5) show when Stanley joined on 28th June 1916 he was working as a fitter, and the records confirm his date of birth in Haverhill. They also give us his vital statistics: he was 5ft 4½ inches tall, with brown hair, brown eyes and a fresh complexion. Not long after this his brother Cecil was killed on 17th November 1916 at the Somme in an unfortunate accident when the breach block blew out of the howitzer he was firing.

Stanley's navy records show he was based with HMS Excellent, a shore establishment at Whale Island, Portsmouth, from 28th June 1916 to 5th March 1917. This was where he would have undertaken his training to be a ship's armourer. Then, from 6th March 1917 to 7th February 1918 he was aboard HMS Colossus, a dreadnought battleship which had taken part in the Battle of Jutland in 1916. After another stint at HMS Excellent from 8th February 1918 to 7th March 1918, Stanley was transferred to HMS Inconstant, an Arethusa-class light cruiser which had also taken part in the Battle of Jutland and had then been refitted to be a minelayer as well as taking part in other duties (7). The Inconstant was in the First Light Cruiser Squadron along with the Caledon, Galatea, Phaeton and Royalist.(9)
Stanley's son Gerald recalled some of the stories his father had told him about his service. 'Stan almost met the same fate as Cecil when a cordite charge blew back inside a gun turret. This happened as he was crawling out of the exit tunnel and he escaped with little more than a burned backside from the flash which killed or wounded everyone else. He often spoke, too, of a near encounter between the British and German Grand Fleets in dense fog. "we could hear each other, but couldn't see a thing" he said.'(6) This incident occurred on 22-24th April 1918 when Admiral Scheer's German Fleet made its last sortie of the war in an attempt to intercept a Scandinavian convoy(8). But for heavy fog, bad intelligence-reports and a broken propeller which had crippled the battle-cruiser Moltke, the British and German Fleets may have met for one last battle. However, this was not to be. HMS Inconstant was amongst the Grand Fleet put to sea from Rosyth in response to the reported German threat.


...to be continued


Sources:          

(1) Birth Register. 1st Quarter 1895, Risbridge District, Volume 4a Page 753
(3) Marriage Register. 3rd Quarter 1927, Ringwood District, Volume 2b Page 1789
(4) from Gerald Whiting's written reminiscences about his father, courtesy of Crispin Whiting.
(5) The National Archives, Royal Navy Registers of Seaman's Services, ADM/188/1060/21442
(6) 'Whitings at War', Jan 2002, Gerald Whiting. Courtesy of Crispin Whiting.