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  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking his grave at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium. Courtesy of Murray Biddle
Person Details
14 Dec 1897
Mansfield Nottinghamshire
John Stanley was the eldest son of John Winfield and Agnes Maud Witham (née Hallsworth). His father John Winfield Witham was born in Mansfield on 17 November 1868, the son of Joseph and Ellen Witham. His mother was Agnes Maud born in 1869, also in Mansfield, the daughter of Samuel and Sarah Hallsworth. John and Agnes were married in1895 (J/F/M Mansfield) and had four children, one of whom died in infancy. All their children were born in Mansfield: John Stanley b. 14 December 1897 (reg. 1898 J/F/M) bap. Mansfield St John the Evangelist 22 February 1898; Harold Leslie b. 26 May 1900 bap. St John the Evangelist 26 May 1900 d. 1901 (J/F/M Mansfield); Arthur Reginald b. 21 February 1904 and Muriel Agnes b. 4 August 1906. In 1901 John, a builder and contracter on his own account/employer, and Agnes were living at 15 Market Place, Mansfield, with their son John (3); their son Harold had died earlier that year. They employed two domestic servants. By 1911 they had moved to Nottingham Road, Mansfield, where they were living with their three surviving children, John, Reginald (sic) and Muriel (5). Also in the household was a housemaid. Agnes Maud died on 2 April 1912. The newspaper report of John Stanley's death gave his father's address as The Park, Mansfield. In 1939 John Winfield was living at 14 Park Avenue, Mansfield, with his unmarried daughter, Muriel. Also in the household was their housekeeper. He died on 14 October 1960; probate was awarded to his married daughter Muriel England and his son Arthur Reginald. Of John Stanley's siblings: Arthur Reginald married Viola Wressel Gibson (b. 22 July 1908) at Bolsover parish church, Derbyshire, on 11 June 1932. Arthur was a farmer and living at Woodsetts, Worksop, while Viola was the daughter of a farmer, John Thomas Gibson of Shuttlewood, Bolsover. They had two children, Margaret J b. 1934 and John R b. 1936 (births registered Worksop). In 1939 Arthur and Viola were living at Shakerdale Farm, Car Colston, Nottinghamshire. The records of two members of the household remain closed and were probably those of their two children. At the same address were two employees, a cowman and a tractor driver. Arthur died in 1986 (J/F/M Rushcliffe) and his wife in 1997. Murel Agnes married Leonard H England in 1956 (A/M/J Mansfield). She died on 9 July 2008 aged 102 (death registered North Walsham, Norfolk).
Attended Queen Elizabeth School (Sept 1906 to April 1914). Member of local boy scout group.
24 Jan 1917
75195468 - CWGC Website
Enlisted Mansfield.
55th Armoured Division Royal Field Artillery
Military records: Stanley Witham John Stanley enlisted in December 1914; he had reached his 17th birthday on 14 December. John Stanley suffered wounds to the leg and head on 22 January 1917 and was admitted to the 2nd Canadian Casualty Clearing Station that night. He was operated on but died of his wounds on 24 January 1917. John Stanley was buried in Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium (grave ref. X.D.31A). CWGC - Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery (extract): 'During the First World War, the village of Lijssenthoek was situated on the main communication line between the Allied military bases in the rear and the Ypres battlefields. Close to the Front, but out of the extreme range of most German field artillery, it became a natural place to establish casualty clearing stations. The cemetery was first used by the French 15th Hopital D'Evacuation and in June 1915, it began to be used by casualty clearing stations of the Commonwealth forces.'
Mansfield Chronicle Advertiser, 1 February 1917: 'Death of Bombardier Stanley Witham. Son of J W Witham of The Park, Mansfield. He had been in the Canadian Casualty Clearing Station seriously ill, but news had been received that he had died. Enlisted at the age of 17 in December 1914. A member of a local scout group and attended Mansfield Grammar School. Wounded in the leg and head, he was operated on 22 January 1917 but never recovered consciousness and died early on the 24th.' Mansfield Reporter, 2 February 1917: ‘Grammar School Old Boy Killed. Bombardier JS Witham. 'We regret to announce the death in France of Bombardier Jno. Stanley Witham, eldest son of Mr John Witham, The Park, Mansfield. He was an old boy of the Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School, and very son after he left school he joined the army, being only 17 years of age. He went out to the Western front in the spring of that year with the RFA. The first intimation received by the family that the boy was injured was contained in a telegram on the Wednesday of last week, stating that he was dangerously ill, and lying in the Canadian clearing station, suffering from a compound fracture of the tibia. Later – on the Saturday following – Mr Witham received a wire informing him that his son had passed away. Much sympathy is felt for the bereaved father. The lad was very bopular with his school friends and boy scouts, and many acquaintances mourn his loss. 'The Sister at the Hospital writes to the deceased soldier’s brother, as follows:- ‘I am indeed, sorry ,to have such bad news to write to you about. Your brother was admitted to this hospital (2nd Canadian CCS), in a very serious condition, having been wounded in the leg and head. He was brought in during the night of the 22nd, and was operated upon shortly afterwards by the surgeon-specialist, but he never regained consciousness, and lived only till the morning of the 24th. I am so sorry not to have something more to tell you about him. He was unconscious from the time he was brought in here, and, of course, never spoke. I am sure it must be a comfort to you to know that he did not suffer. His personal belongings will be forwarded to you from the War Office, and although this may take some time owing the the great quantity of material which has to go through in this way they will eventually arrive.’ (www.brtitishnewspaperarchive.co.uk) Registers of Soldiers' Effects: his brother Arthur and sister Muriel were joint legatees.
Remembered on


  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking his grave at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium. Courtesy of Murray Biddle
    John Stanley Witham - Commonwealth War Graves Commission headstone marking his grave at Lijssenthoek Military Cemetery, Belgium. Courtesy of Murray Biddle
  • Photograph published in the Mansfield Reporter, 2 February 1917 (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)
    John Stanley Witham - Photograph published in the Mansfield Reporter, 2 February 1917 (www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk)