Standish is a tiny village in the foothills of the Cotswolds. During the war, Standish House became a Voluntary Aid Detachment (VAD) Hospital. Standish villagers erected a memorial cross in the graveyard of St Nicholas Church. It overlooks the road with the hills above.
In grateful memory of the men who gave their lives to the freedom of their country during the Great War 1914-1918
The return of the memorial belongs to the fallen of the second European war:
Later generation pays tribute
Inside the church, the cool interior reveals the Roll of Honour. There are 39 names recorded as doing service for their country in the Great War.
The three gravestones that sit in the churchyard are the memories of the life that Standish had in wartime.
John Manners Scales
Private John Manners Scales of the 9th Battalion Australian Imperial Force (AIF) was 35 years of age when he died at Standish VAD Red Cross Hospital at 11:15 on January 9th 1917. His full name appeared to be John Daniel Manners-Scales but known as Jack. He had enlisted at Brisbane, Queensland but was born in Britain, like so many. A gun shot wound to his right foot in the Battle of the Somme in France in July 1916 led to an extended period of recuperation at Beaufort War Hospital in Bristol, but it seems that after discharge on leave, he became seriously ill with a chill.
He died from double pneumonia in January 1917 at Standish. No 2885 AIF Manners-Scales had been an engineer in Darwin, Northern Territories, Australia. His funeral took place at Standish Church at 2:30 on Friday 12th January 1917 with full military honours. Headed by a firing party, his coffin draped in flag and cap with Australian soldiers as his pall-bearers, he was buried with a military ceremony in front of all the nursing staff and about fifty wounded men from hospitals around the area. It was the first mortality from the Standish hospital and the staff clearly felt it keenly. Flowers were placed around his grave, sent by local villagers and the nurses and ‘boys’ from Standish Hospital. They called him their ‘brave Anzac.’ John lies where they buried him in 1917, near the church. A stone over his grave was erected by the staff and patients of the hospital. It stands there still. He married twice, in England and Australia, and in 1968 a street was named after him in Darwin – Scales Street.
Edgar Daniel Lindsey
Adjacent to Private Manners-Scales sits Edgar Daniel Lindsey. A Private in the Devonshire Regiment when he died on the 25th October 1917. Edgar’s family resided in Chelsea. He was working with the Devonshire Depot when he received accidental injuries and died from pneumonia aged just 23 years. Both Scales and Lindsey have non-CWGC headstones and yet sit proudly in the list of war dead.
Samuel John Spencer
The third casualty to lie in Standish churchyard is Private Samuel John Spencer of the 3rd Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment. Sam has an official CWGC headstone inscribed with his date of death: 28th February 1916. He died in Stroud Hospital aged 45 years. Sam had enlisted in May 1915; an old soldier with The Rifles for twelve years from 1894. He had seen action in India and on the north-west frontier. But after working on the land since his discharged, he enlisted to serve the cause. Along with his fellow Glosters, he faced battle at Loos in 1915. He was gassed and buried alive when a mine blew up; left with serious injuries. He recovered in hospital and went to re-join his company at Gravesend, but was given a month’s furlough to do some agricultural work near Standish. Unfortunately, Private Spencer caught pneumonia and died at Stroud Hospital. He was given a semi-military funeral at Standish Church, his family including his wife and four children attended, along with patients from the hospital at Standish; his comrades from 3rd Battalion, Gloucestershire Regiment sent floral tributes. His coffin was wrapped in a union jack, his helmet and medal placed upon it.
The three graves which sit quiet and unassuming tell a story of care and remembrance, of the story of a house which once was a hospital for injured and poorly war-time men, and the role of a small village in the goodbye to the fallen of World War One. One might never know their stories as you gaze upon their headstones; maybe their job is done. But even now, you feel a sense of who they were. Not just three headstones amongst many slumbering away in a peaceful churchyard. The Somme, Loos, gassing, wounds, blown up, accidental. What lives. In another life, seemingly so far from today. But yet, here they stand, upright and steadfast. To their memory.