91175 Boy Sailor 1st Class Stanley Austin, Royal Navy
Born on 25th March 1903 in Potten End
Died on 2nd November 1983 in Little Gaddesden
Stanley Austin was born in Potten End, Hertfordshire, the eldest child of Charles Austin and Maria née Gadbury. His father was a General Labourer.
His brother Albert Lionel was born 26th April 1905, his sister Mary Lydia Austin on 16th October 1907, his brother Alick (Alec) on 1st December 1909 and his brother Charles Hugh Austin on 15th February 1913.
By 22nd April 1907, the Austin family had moved to Little Gaddesden. The School Log Book shows that Stanley Austin entered the Infants’ Class that day, aged 4 years and 1 month. His address in the 1911Census was 54 Little Gaddesden. Stanley remained at Little Gaddesden School until he was 13 years old.
Stanley’s father Charles Austin died aged 62 in March 1913. On 8th March he was buried in the churchyard of St Peter & St Paul’s Church, Little Gaddesden. Stanley’s mother Maria was left with five children aged under 10 years.
Joining the Little Gaddesden Scouts 8
In August 1914, 11 year old Stan joined the Little Gaddesden Scout Troop as a member of the Lion Patrol, whose Patrol Leader Frank (Henry F.) Johnson promptly left to serve with the Herts Yeomanry. The Scouts met at the Armoury, at 27 Little Gaddesden, the home of their Scout Master, Harry Temple. Miss Bridget Talbot was their President and Mr Humphrey Talbot their Treasurer.
Scout Camp 1914 8
A Scout Diary entry for September 1914 recorded that:
The camp which had been postponed when war was declared was held later than usual this year. Everything went as well as possible + the Troop returned to Little Gaddesden all the better for their week in the open air. All the scouts joined in helping to shock an 18 acre field of corn for the farmer Mr Ashby on whose land they camped. Mr Ashby offered to give 15/- to the boys, but they like true scouts refused it. Mrs Murray Smith came to visit the camp one day and brought a large gift of fruit and cakes. The Rev Clark held a Church Parade on the Sunday which the Ivinghoe Troop + many friends attended. They were all entertained to tea by the L.G. Troop afterwards. Since the opening of the Ashridge Hospital for sick recruits and wounded the L.G. scouts have never failed to go down to Berkd (Berkhamsted) in turn, whatever the weather to fetch medicines for the hospital in the evening.
Leaving School to enter the Liscard Naval Training Home 4
In 1916, the School Log Book entries record the following events:
26th May: Stanley Austin passed the written part of the Navy Examination.
It is not entirely clear what examination this was, but one or two other boys are recorded as trying to obtain a Scholarship to study at the Liscard Naval Training Home, to which Stanley went on leaving school.
31st May: Stanley Austin away having his Medical Examination for the Navy.
10th July: Stanley Austin received his papers concerning the Lischare (sic) Training Home – he is to go on 10th August.
28th July: Stanley Austin leaves us today.
21st December: Stanley Austin came back to hear Carols.
The Liscard Naval Training Home was located in Wallasey, Lancashire and regularly took boys from Hertfordshire. George Pinnock, son of the Gardener at Little Gaddesden House, had preceded him there.
War Service in the Royal Navy 1
Stan Austin was the youngest man from Little Gaddesden to serve in the First World War. From 31st July to 1st November 1918 he served as a Boy Sailor 2nd Class aboard the training ship HMS Impregnable. He remained aboard that ship as a Boy Sailor 1st Class until 19th August 1919. For his War Service he was awarded the British War Medal and the Allied Victory Medal. On Armistice Day, 11th November 1918, he was 15 years 7½ months old.
An Addition to the Little Gaddesden Roll of Honour 9
The original, pre-Second World War, wording on the left hand panel of the Little Gaddesden War Memorial on the village green reads:
This memorial is erected in honour of the one hundred and thirty six men who went from the villages of Little Gaddesden, Hudnall and Ringshall and served in the war of 1914 = 1918. The names of those who gave their lives for their country are cut on the stones here. The names of those who returned to England are preserved in the Church.
However, the original Church Roll of Honour lists only 119 men; one of those omitted is Stanley Austin, possibly because he did not serve until 31st July 1918. His name has been added to the 2018 Centenary Revision of the Roll of Honour.
Stanley continued to serve in the Royal Navy after the First World War. His Naval Service Record lists his ships and rank:
- 20th August 1919 – 24th September 1920, Boy Sailor 1st Class aboard HMS Royal Sovereign.
- 25th September 1920 – 14th November 1920, Ordinary Seaman aboard HMS Royal Sovereign.
- 15th November 1920 – 2nd January 1921, Ordinary Seaman aboard HMS Pembroke I.
- 3rd January 1921 – 20th June 1921, Ordinary Seaman aboard HMS Columbine (Verdun).
On his eighteenth birthday, 25th March 1921, Ordinary Seaman Stanley Austin signed up for a twelve year engagement with the Royal Navy. On 21st June he was promoted to the rank of Able Seaman whilst serving aboard HMS Columbine (Verdun). Between 1925 and 1930 he was registered as a Naval/Military Absent Voter at his mother’s address, 54 Little Gaddesden.
Details of his subsequent Naval service are as follows. (During the intervening periods he was at HMS Pembroke Shore Barracks, Chatham).
- 1st July 1921 – 28th February 1923, Able Seaman aboard HMS Columbine (Velox).
- 1st March 1923 – 2nd May 1923, Leading Seaman aboard HMS Columbine (Velox).
- 2nd June 1923 – 18th December 1923, Leading Seaman aboard HMS Vernon.
- 16th September 1924 – 2nd December 1924, Leading Seaman aboard HMS Hecla (Sportive).
- 19th December 1924 – 14th August 1925, Leading Seaman aboard HMS Cyclops.
- 21st October 1925 – 31st January 1930, Leading Seaman in the Royal Navy, New Zealand Division, HMS Dunedin
- 22nd February 1930 – 11th June 1930, Leading Seaman aboard HMS Vernon.
- 25th July 1930 – 17th February 1931, Leading Seaman aboard HMS Cleopatra (Vindictive).
- 16th July 1931 – 31st May 1933, Leading Seaman aboard HMS Sandhurst.
Stanley’s Royal Navy Registers of Seamen’s Services states that, on 16th December 1931, he was 5’ 11” tall, with a 38” chest, black hair, grey eyes and a fresh complexion. His Naval career continued with further promotions:
- 1st June 1933 – 25th July 1933, Acting Petty Officer aboard HMS Sandhurst.
- 16th November 1933 – 31st May 1934, Acting Petty Officer aboard HMS Titania.
- 1st June 1934 – 7th March 1935, Petty Officer aboard HMS Titania.
Long Service and Good Conduct Medal 12
On 10th June 1936 Petty Officer Stanley Austin, J91175, RN was awarded the Royal Naval Long Service and Good Conduct Medal. He had by then served in the Royal Navy for 18 years and his service continued.
- 11th September 1936 – 2nd October 1937, Petty Officer aboard HMS Vernon.
- 3rd October 1937 – 15th May 1938, Petty Officer aboard HMS St Angelo 2 (Garland).
- 16th November 1938 – 22nd July 1939, Petty Officer aboard HMS Vernon.
Naval Service during the Second World War 11
At the outbreak of the Second World War, Chief Petty Officer Stanley Austin was serving aboard HMS Vernon. On 6th June 1940, he was promoted to Temporary Senior Commissioned Gunner. His character was “Very Good” and his efficiency “Superior”. From 9th May 1944, he served aboard HMS Assegai. His date of discharge is not stated.
Return to Little Gaddesden 13
After his discharge from the Royal Navy, Stanley returned to his family home, 54 Little Gaddesden. On 24th July 1954, Stanley Austin, 54, Widower, a Store Keeper of 54 Little Gaddesden married Gladys Sarah Nash, 43, Spinster of 4 Mill Street, Berkhamsted and daughter of Reuben Nash. Gladys’ mother was Jane née Hing, whose 4 brothers James, Edward, Lewis and Joseph are all named on the Roll of Honour. Although the Marriage Register entry records Stanley as a widower, no record of his previous marriage has been found.
The Little Gaddesden Branch of the Royal British Legion was formed in 1923 out of the Old Comrades Association. It was the seventh Legion branch to be established in the UK. It is not known when Stan Austin joined the branch but in 1967, while Branch President, he was awarded a Gold Badge. He remained a member until his death in 1983.
In Little Gaddesden and Ashridge, the Rector, Howard Senar noted that:
In 1967 Mr S Austin was awarded the Gold Badge. He had served for 28 years in the Royal Navy having served in every rank from Boy 1st Class to Commissioned Gunner. He had served in battleships, cruisers, destroyers and at Roedean when it was H.M.S. Vernon. He served for 20 years as Chairman of the branch, and did much to keep the branch together.
Stanley Austin lived at 54 Little Gaddesden until his death on 2nd November 1983.
4. Little Gaddesden School Log Book 1906 – 1934
7. Little Gaddesden Burial Register
8. The Little Gaddesden Scout Diary 1912 – 1922
9. Leonhardt, John (ed), 2002, A Century Remembered – a celebration of the Millennium in Little Gaddesden, Rural Heritage Society of Little Gaddesden, Ringshall and Ashridge
13. Little Gaddesden Marriage Register
14. Senar, H (1983), Little Gaddesden and Ashridge, Phillimore & Co. Ltd.
Research, text and (unless otherwise credited) photos: Jane Dickson