|Last Post film
Australian War Memorial
|Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
|30 January 2017
First World War, 1914-1918
Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
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The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2950) Private Stanley Robert Stansfield, 52nd Battalion, AIF, First World War.
The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Richard Cruise, the story for this day was on (2950) Private Stanley Robert Stansfield, 52nd Battalion, AIF, First World War.Film order form
2950 Private Stanley Robert Stansfield, 52nd Battalion, AIF
KIA 4 September 1916
No photograph in collection
Story delivered 30 January 2017
Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Stanley Robert Stansfield.
Robert Stansfield, popularly known as Bob, was born on 8 June 1896 to James and Marion Stansfield of Franklin, Tasmania. He was one of eight boys and three girls born to the family. His father was a well-known surveyor in the Franklin district, and Robert attended the local public school before going to work as a labourer.
Robert Stansfield enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in July 1915. He had just turned 19, and enlisted with the permission of his parents. After a period of training in Australia, he left for active service overseas in September 1915.
Private Stansfield was first sent to Egypt, where he was transferred from the 12th Battalion to the 52nd. He continued training in the desert for a number of months, which was a struggle for him at times. In June he was sent to France to fight on the Western Front.
In August 1916 the 52nd Battalion participated in the fierce fighting around the French village of Pozières, and on 3 September 1916 it was part of the last operation to attempt to capture Mouquet Farm. The attack failed, and nearly half of the 52nd Battalion became casualties.
At around 5.15 pm, some 12 hours after the attack began, Private Stansfield and four of his mates were sitting behind a barricade on the left flank of the operation when the Germans began shelling their position. One of the men, Lieutenant Maxwell, later recalled:
we started talking of various things in order to divert our minds from the act of listening to the shells. A few minutes later, one dropped in. Two men were killed, and the one next [to] me had his thigh badly fractured, well above the knee.
Maxwell quickly jumped to the wounded man’s aid, trying to tie a tourniquet to his leg to stop the bleeding. He looked up and saw Private Stansfield sitting quietly, looking “a bit white, but smiling”. Maxwell asked Stansfield how he was, and he replied: “I’m right; just a bit of a knock in the leg. You fix Pearson up.” Maxwell later reported: “binding Pearson up took some minutes, and then I stepped across to Stansfield. His head had dropped forward and he was dead.”
Robert Stansfield was 20 years old. His body was never recovered, and today he is commemorated on the memorial to the missing at Villers-Bretonneux.
Robert Stansfield was one of five brothers who served in the Great War, and the only one who did not return home. When his mother died in 1934 a large contingent of ex-servicemen took part in her funeral service in honour of her sons and their service, and as “one who had given so much to the country”.
Robert Stansfield’s name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my right, among more than 60,000 Australians who died while serving in the First World War.
This is but one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Stanley Robert Stansfield, who gave his life for us, for our freedoms, and in the hope of a better world.
Dr Meleah Hampton
Historian, Military History Section
Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2950) Private Stanley Robert Stansfield, 52nd Battalion, AIF, First World War. (video)