John Raymond Evelyn Stansfeld from Preston was decorated for bravery during the Boer War and mentioned in despatches during the First World War before being killed in the Battle of Loos in September 1915. He was born on 20 April 1880, the youngest child and only son of the rector of Ayston, John Birkbeck Evelyn Stansfeld and his wife Agnes who lived in Preston House, Preston. By the time John was ten years old his family had moved to Essex and he was a boarder at Uppingham School. He went on to enter the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst where he was an outstanding officer cadet and was awarded the Sword of Honour by the Commandant. John was gazetted as 2nd Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders on 18 April 1899, just two days before his nineteenth birthday. During the Boer War he was present at the relief of Ladysmith and the Battle of Spion Kop where he won the Distinguished Service Order for helping wounded soldiers while under fire. John was also twice mentioned in despatches. He returned from South Africa after the war and married Constance Yolonde de Bourbel de Montpincon in April 1904. They had one son, also called John, and lived in London. Before the First World War broke out he served in India and Egypt between 1910 and 1914. His battalion was recalled to England at the outbreak of war and landed in Belgium in October 1914. John was wounded a month later in the First Battle of Ypres and again at Neuve Chapelle on 13 March 1915. His family had strong Yorkshire connections which led the Craven Herald to report John's injury two days later: "Major J R E Stansfeld, DSO who was recently promoted, and mentioned in dispatches, has again been wounded at Neuve Chapelle by a shrapnel bullet in the shoulder, and is in hospital in Essex. The gallant officer had a narrow escape, as his cigarette case, tobacco tin and blotting pad were riddled with bullets." John recovered but was fatally injured while leading his battalion of Gordon Highlanders into action at the Battle of Loos on 25 September 1915. He died three days later at No. 1 Casualty Clearing Station, Chocques. As he lay injured, he sent a message to his battalion: "Well done dear old 92nd [the Gordons' original Regimental number]." John is buried in Chocques Military Cemetery, grave I.B.3. Sadly he is not remembered on the war memorial in Preston, but his name is on Uppingham School's memorial and he is remembered in Yorkshire, on his father's gravestone in the churchyard at Coniston Cold. The inscription says John served with great distinction throughout the South African War with the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders and "died gloriously on the field of battle while commanding the same battalion at Loos."
With thanks to John Richardson from Craven's Part in the Great War for bringing the story of John Stansfeld to our attention. Their website has lots of extra detail about John's distinguished military career. Photos and other details courtesy of CPGW and Soldiers of the Queen website. The picture of John with his mother was taken just before he sailed for South Africa in 1899.
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