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Emberton: Fred Stanton, WWI Hero
EMBERTON POST OFFICE: The home of Fred Stanton

In the workplace, no doubt we’ve all come across a few; ‘The Apprentice’ types who purport to be the dynamic young dudes of British commerce, seemingly based on a ‘life experience’ of binge drinking in Benidorm, and educational qualifications about as much use as a degree in collecting Pokemon cards. At least so it appears in peacetime, but in time of war ordinary individuals, when thrust into extraordinary situations, often find leadership qualities they would not have otherwise discovered, and by which they gain positions of real worth, and earn the accolade of true respect. From the First World War, one of the most remarkable stories concerns Fred Stanton, the only child of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Stanton, of Emberton post office, who, having been a well known footballer in the district, joined Kitchener’s Army at the age of 18½, and in September 1914 was amongst those sent to Oxford for a medical. He soon proved to have the makings of a fine soldier, but in March 1915 had to be sent home suffering from a dangerous illness. Yet he soon recovered, and in September 1915 whilst serving in Flanders with the 6th Oxon and Bucks Light Infantry was promoted to lance corporal on the battlefield. Then in October 1916, again on the battlefield he was promoted to sergeant, and with his leadership qualities having been recognised he was sent to England to study for a commission. At a large troop parade at Reading, there it would be on his 21st birthday that he was presented with the Distinguished Conduct Medal, for having rallied his section under heavy fire and not only capturing an enemy trench but, with his comrades, taking nearly 200 Germans prisoner. Then for carrying a French officer to safety under fire he would also win the Croix de Guerre, which was presented on Tuesday afternoon, November 27th 1917 at a large parade of troops at Kingsthorpe Hollow, Northampton. Having passed his exams with distinction, as a Second Lieutenant he was now a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps, and during this service would even be recommended for the V.C. In fact this seems of little surprise, judging by the following extract from a letter that he sent to his parents; “I went over the lines on Saturday with another officer looking for trouble as usual. We had penetrated over the enemy’s territory some distance when we met five to seven Hun planes. We had a good scrap, but weren’t quite sure of the damage we did. I set about one hard and fast, and when I had put a good burst of shot into him, he did a sharp turn and dived as hard as ever he could into the clouds.” After the war, for awhile he continued his flying career, but eventually left the service, with the right to retain the title of Lieutenant. He then took a smallholding at Emberton, and on February 7th 1928 at St. Matthew’s Church, Ashford, Middlesex, married Miss Dorothy May Olive. After a honeymoon tour of the south coast they returned to Emberton to take up residence at Clay’s Farm, whilst as for Fred’s parents, who had lived for over 50 years in the village, at their home of Four Views, Petsoe End, in 1952 they celebrated their 57th wedding anniversary. (Their bungalow, built in the same field, replaced the Swiss Cottage that Mr. Stanton had bought at an Ideal Homes Exhibition.) His wife having been a cook at the Rectory, Mr. Stanton had worked for the Reverend G.F. Sams for 25 years, as firstly a groom and then chauffeur, during which in early 1915 he volunteered to be a driver to the Red Cross. He later spent 26 years as the village postman, until illness caused him to retire around 1948. Nevertheless, despite being aged nearly 80 he still maintained a large garden. Replete in her old straw hat, for 30 years Mrs. Stanton would be the sub postmistress, and in the photo the initial ‘K’ stands for Kate, she having been Miss Kate Dunkley, until her marriage to Charles on June 3rd 1895 at Litchborough, Northants., his native village.