A brave Thorne soldier who died in the final throes of the First World War is recalled this week by local historian David Seymour.
David, known to many as Sam, was a pupil at Thorne Grammar School between 1964 and 1971 and, after graduating from Bristol University, he lived in Doncaster until 2012 and played rugby for Thornensians for many years.
In 2012 both he and his wife moved to Misterton where he came across a story of a man from the village who was killed in the First World War. This is the story of William Edward Stainton. He was born in Misterton in 1891, the son of a local miller, Willie Stainton.
William was killed just one month before the end of the war in October 1918, living at the time with his wife and children in a house in King Edward Road in Thorne, ironically next door to where David Seymour’s sister now lives. He is commemorated on the war memorial in Thorne Park.
Thorne War Memorial lists the names of almost 150 men who fought and died in the two World Wars – 113 in the First World War. Employment of the men before military service gives a picture of life in Thorne at the time.
Many of the men were employed on keel boats which plied their trade from Thorne to Hull, others on the railways or in farming. Several men were involved in sinking Thorne Colliery, others worked at the long gone Thorne Brewery and Dunston’s shipyard (including William Stainton). Geoffrey Kenyon, who died on the Somme, was a solicitor in Thorne, along with his brother Harold, who officially ‘unveiled’ Thorne War Memorial on Remembrance Day 1921. The solicitor’s firm survives today as Kenyon, Son and Craddock.
Newspaper archives, parish magazines and war diaries tell poignant tales about the casualties of war. Jonas Kaye, a Thorne tobacconist, was killed by shrapnel while trying to save a wounded colleague near Poelcapelle. Albert Butler, a shipyard apprentice, was one of 19,000 British soldiers who died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, July 1, 1916. The war diary shows that he was one of 680 men of his battalion (8th York and Lancaster) who went ‘over the top’ at 7.30 am that day.
When the men re-grouped the next day only 68 could be accounted for. Not all casualties resulted from fighting. John Woodcock, an apprentice tin smith, was killed in a rock fall at a quarry while collecting chalk to reinforce trench parapets. He was one of more than 30 Thorne men who served with the King’s Own Yorkshire light Infantry.
Several men also died from influenza which swept through Europe in late 1918, including Lieutenant William Crampton MC, Royal Field Artillery. He was one of only three commissioned officers commemorated on the Thorne War Memorial and the only casualty to be awarded the Military Cross.
William Stainton was born in Misterton, but his family seemed to have moved about quite a bit when he was a child no doubt due to work commitments.
William Edward Stainton, of the Corps of Royal Engineers and who enlisted in Thorne, died of his wounds on October 10, 1918, at Flanders in France. He was aged 27 when he died and is buried in Ypres in Reservoir Cemetery.
Between September 28 and November 11, 1918, the Final Advance in Flanders, was taking place. The British Second Army and Belgian Army combined finally broke out of the Ypres salient. More ground was gained in a day that in the entire Passchendaele offensive of a year before. The offensive continued through fighting in the Courtrai area and eventually well across the Scheldt.
The 1911 census shows William to be a lodger in Thorne with his younger brother and living with the Carters.
In 1891, aged 10, he was living with his family in the nearby village of Sykehouse where his father was the miller.
Willie Stainton, William’s father, is recorded as being a flour miller when living at Misterton in 1891. He appears to have moved to other places working as a miller, including Sykehouse near Thorne where the family were living in 1901.
At the time he was living with his family at Mill Cottages in Sykehouse. William Stainton is remembered on the war memorial in Thorne Memorial Park.
He was the office manager for George Dunstan and company, shipbuilders in Thorne, when he enlisted. He lived at 82 King Edward Road in Thorne.
The photograph on this page with the message ‘with love and kisses from Daddy’, was to his son Charles, born in 1913 and his daughter, Erena, born in 1918. His wife, Agnes, lived until 1991, aged 100, outliving her husband by 73 years.