|Army Ordnance Corps|
20th (1st Tyneside Scottish) Battalion
23rd (4th Tyneside Scottish) Battalion
|Died 16th April 1918|
Stanley Gunning's Parents
Stanley Gunning was the son of Albert Gunning and Martha (née Humphries).
Albert Gunning was originally from Glastonbury. By the age of 8 (in 1871) he was without a father, living with his widowed mother, five siblings and his maternal grandmother in a house in Northload Street in that town. His mother was a washerwoman and his four eldest siblings were all girls, three of these working variously as dressmakers and dairymaids. With three school-age mouths to feed, the household would not have been at all well off.
Northload Street in Glastonbury, where Stanley Gunning’s father spent his early years
Ten years later, in 1881, Albert (age 18) was living in Throop Lane, near Templecombe in Somerset, working as a railway porter and lodging with a 58-year-old widow and two other lodgers.
Advancing another ten years to 1891, Albert (age 28) was by now a railway foreman living in a boarding house at an address in Harleston Terrace, Shepton Mallet. This was near other addresses called ‘Level Crossing’ and ‘Cross Roads’, whereby the Charlton area is meant, where the Somerset & Dorset Railway crossed what is now the A361 and where the A361 crosses the A37.
Martha Humphries / Higgins
Martha Humphries enjoyed the peculiarity of having two seemingly interchangeable surnames; her name appears to have fluctuated at various times between Humphries and Higgins. This conundrum was solved by finding her sister Ellen’s baptism record, which actually contains the note “Higgins or Humphries”. This was caused in all likelihood by her father being born out of wedlock. The marriage certificate for her parents lists Martha’s father as Charles Humphries, son of ‘George Higgens, mason’ and her mother as Martha Higgens, daughter of ‘Benjamin Higgens, labourer’. A family link between these two cannot be ruled out; Martha’s parents may have been first or second cousins.
In 1871, aged 7, Martha was one of six children living with her parents, plus a servant (whose surname, confusingly, was also Humphries!) and her paternal grandfather, in Ditcheat, Somerset. Her father was a farm labourer. She had three older siblings, one younger sister and a twin sister called Emma.
In 1881, Martha (listed as Martha Higgins, age 17) was in service as the general servant to a builder called John Pullen, his wife and daughter, in a household in Shepton Mallet, putting her in the same town as Albert Gunning at that time.
In 1891, she was still in service in Shepton Mallet, looking after two old ladies of 82 and 81 years of age at 6 Waterloo Road
The Gunning Family
|In 1893, Albert Gunning married Martha Higgins at Bath
Register Office, which points to the likelihood that either Albert or Martha
(or both) had taken on employment in Bath; in all likelihood this may have
related to Albert’s employment on the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway. We
know that he progressed to working on trains as a brakesman/guard, so it will
have been beneficial to live near the terminus at Green Park|
The Gunnings had two children:
The Bath Directory lists the Gunning family in 1895 – the year of Stanley’s birth – living at 7 Belvoir Terrace (later known as Belvoir Road, between Herbert Road and Maybrick Road). This is the same house later occupied by the West family!
7 Belvoir Road is the end terrace on the right
The family lived at 28 Lansdown View from 1896-7 and then at 16 Claude Avenue from 1898, the year that Stanley’s younger brother Ernest was born. Stanley’s parents remained at this address into the 1940s and it is the home from which he would have made the short walk to school at South Twerton circa 1900-1907
16 Claude Avenue
In 1911, the census lists Stanley (age 15) as an errand boy, working for a grocer.
Stanley Gunning in WW1
Army Ordnance CorpsWe know from Stanley's medal rolls that he first entered the 'theatre of war' in France in November 1915 and that his early service was with the Army Ordnance Corps, serial number 012349.
Northumberland Fusiliers: 20th (Service) Battalion (1st Tyneside Scottish)At some point, Stanley transferred into the 20th Battalion of the Northumberland Fusiliers with the serial number 55963.
The 20th Battalion was disbanded in France in February 1918 when British army divisions were reduced from 12-battalion to 9-battalion strength. It is probably at this point that Stanley joined 23rd (Service) Battalion, which was also known as the '4th Tyneside Scottish Battalion'.
Northumberland Fusiliers: 23rd (Service) Battalion (4th Tyneside Scottish)We know that, by the time of Stanley Gunning's death in 1918, he was serving with the Northumberland Fusiliers in the 23rd Battalion, known as the '4th Tyneside Scottish' Battalion. This unit was hit heavily as a result of the German 'Ludendorf' spring offensive
The 1st to 4th Tyneside Scottish Battalions had originally formed 102nd Tyneside Scottish Brigade as part of the 34th Division.
In April 1918, the 23rd Battalion (4th Tyneside Scottish) was fighting in the Estaire-Lys line near Armentieres during the Battle of the Lys.
This from an Internet discussion board:
area they were situated in was known as the Bois Grenier Line and on
5th April the whole Tyneside Scottish Brigade (102 Bde), was in the
By May 1918, the 23rd Battalion had sustained such heavy losses that it was reduced to cadre strength and reorganised into 116th Brigade, 39th Division.
Stanley Gunning's Death
We don't yet know any specific circumstances relating to Stanley Gunning's death on 16th April 1918, except that he died from wounds on this day, almost certainly from action in the preceding hours and days. As is mentioned above, his Battalion suffered a heavy toll in the Estaires-Lys line at this time.
|Stanley Gunning is buried in Longuenesse (St Omer) Souvenir Cemetery. |
From the Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
"St. Omer became the General HQ of the British Expeditionary Force on the 13th October 1914, and remained so until the end of March 1916. It was a considerable hospital centre, more especially in 1918. It was raided by aeroplanes in November 1917, and May 1918, with serious loss of life."
Assuming that Stanley died of wounds in St. Omer, it testifies to the fact that he was transported nearly 50km from the area in which he last fought prior to succumbing to the effect of his injuries.
Longuenesse St Omer cemetery [Source :www.cwgc.org]
In June 2019, Stanley Gunning's grave was visited by Mike Sumsion of Bath. Ahead of his trip, we inscribed a memorial cross as a token of our ongoing remembrance. Mike kindly took the cross with him to place on Stanley's grave and provided the photographs below. The placement of the gravestones edge-to-edge is indicative of a mass grave; indeed, several of the grave markers in the row have more than one soldiers' details inscribed. Many of the graves at St. Omer cemetery are of this nature.
Stanley Gunning's medal rolls and card survive and tell us that he was in receipt (posthumously) of the following medals.
|1914-15 Star||British War Medal 1914-18||Allied Victory Medal|
We were contacted in June 2015 by a Mr Tim Storer who had bought two of Stanley Gunning's medals on the open market and he was kind enough to make these available to the OPJS research project. This was the first time we were able to see actual medals that were awarded to one of the South Twerton men.
In 2019, the two medals were framed, along with a replica British War Medal. These are now on display in the reception area of Oldfield Park Junior School.
In addition to his commemoration on the South Twerton School memorial, Stanley Gunning is commemorated as follows:
Bath War Memorial
See separate page for details of the Bath War Memorial. Stanley Gunning's inscription:
Moravian Church Memorial
Stanley Gunning's name is inscribed on the Moravian Church tablet, now in the Ascension Church (see separate page for details of the Moravian Church Memorial):
Ascension Church Memorial
As a parishioner of the Ascension Church, Stanley Gunning's name is inscribed on the oak tablet in the Church (see separate page for details of the Ascension Church Memorial):
The Family After the WarThe following 'In Memoriam' notice appeared in the Bath newspaper in 1925 & 1926:
In 1943, Stanley's father Albert died:
His mother Martha died the following year.
It would be great to hear from any living relatives of Stanley Gunning. His brother Ernest went on to marry; subsequent family included the surnames Gunning and Williams.
Please get in touch!If you have any further information on Stanley Gunning, or want to suggest corrections / improvements for this page, please use the Contact page to get in touch.
All additions and further information will be credited appropriately.
AcknowledgementMany thanks to Mr David Carter for supplying the photograph of Stanley Gunning.