John Stanley WHITLOCK (Whitelock)
Rank: Private
Number: 27009
Unit: 12th Battalion ROYAL SCOTS
Date of Death: 25 April 1918
Age: 32
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium

Stanley Whitlock was born in the Liverpool area and was the eldest child of John and Charlotte Whitlock. In 1901, the family was living at 1261 Chester Road Stretford. Stanley's younger siblings were Dorothy (12), Rupert (6) and Victoria (4). John Whitlock was a successful hosiery salesman and earned a good enough living for the family to be able to employ a live-in general servant, 17 year old Kate Tate. At the time, 15 year old Stanley was working as a shipping clerk.

By the time of the Great War, the family had moved to the Bramhall/Cheadle Hulme area and was living at 125 Grove Lane. Stanley's medal entitlement records show that he first served with the Machine Gun Corps (service number 26890). The Corps was not established until October 1915, indicating that he must have enlisted after that time. At some point he was transferred to the Royal Scots. This was probably after a period of sick leave recovering from wounds or illness. When he was fit enough to return to duty the Royal Scots will have been in greater need of replacements.

On 9 April, the German Army launched the second phase of its spring offensive, driving the Allied troops back in northern France and Belgium. The Royal Scots were in action on the 10th and 11th before being forced to withdraw. On the 24th, they went back into the front line in trenches at positions known as Lagache and Black Cot near Kemmel (8 kilometres south west of the Belgian town of Ypres - now Ieper). The official report of the following day's events was written by Captain S B McKinley:-

"On the morning of the 25th the enemy artillery opened out at 2.45am and continued to bombard our line most violently with HE (high explosive) and gas shells. Shortly after the bombardment commenced all telephonic communications between Coys (companies) in the line and Battalion HQ were useless and very little information could be obtained. Runners were sent from Coys and HQ all failed to find there (sic) way through the smoke screen which the enemy was using and nothing was heard of them. At about 5.30am the enemy launched his infantry attack and our Coys. in the line opened Lewis gun and rifle fire on him. Our right Coy. found that by this time the French troops on their right had fallen back, leaving their flank exposed and gradually the enemy worked round behind them, practically surrounding them.

 

During this time the enemy was held up in front of the centre and left Coys. who fought on and kept him back until the left flank of our left Coy. was turned and our right Coy. had been surrounded.

 

At about 8.30am the remaining few men of these three Companies fought their way back to the Vierstraat Line but as this was already held in places by the enemy they withdrew to the Cheapside Line where they continued to fight for the remainder of the day.

 

The first sign that the reserve Coy. had of our front line Coys. being surrounded was when they themselves were attacked from the front and from both flanks, compelling them also to fight back in the same way.

 

The Battn. was withdrawn from the line on the night of the 25th having inflicted severe losses on the enemy and having had heavy casualties itself."

Stanley was one of 100 men who had been killed. Many more were wounded or had been taken prisoner. His body was never recovered and identified.

   
           
   
     
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