Prisoner of War – WW1

Stanley George Rattle

Private 8299 3rd Battalion, Royal Fusiliers

Stanley George Rattle was born on 16 April 1883 to George Rattle (1846-1902) and Rushander Fox (1844-1930), and was baptised at St Stephen Coleman Street on 13 May of that year. He had three sisters and two brothers, unfortunately two of these siblings died very young. Stanley George married Ellen Maud Fletcher (1881-1929) at West Ham in 1903. Their first child Dudley Gordon was born the following year. In 1901, Stanley George was stationed in the cavalry barracks in New Windsor Berkshire, where he was a trooper in the 1st Life Guards. Being on the reserve, he enlisted again at the age of 31 on 3 June 1914 and was posted to the Royal Fusiliers.

On 3 May 1915, Stanley George was captured during the second battle of Ypres, the same battle that Samuel Rattle was killed in a few days earlier. Stanley George had been injured in the right knee and shoulder by shrapnel, as well as a bullet wound just above his hand. He had been taken to a dressing station at about 4 o’clock in the afternoon of 3 May, but the following morning it was overrun by Germans and Stanley George was captured. Later that day he was taken on a stretcher to the camp Lazarat VI near Cologne, arriving there on 11 May. During the journey he was treated reasonably well, although a number of German civilians jeered and spat at him. At the camp he underwent four operations and all the men were treated kindly. After five months Stanley George had begun to recover from his injuries, and on 8 October he went by tram and train to Stendal camp, about 50 miles north of Berlin.

He settled down to life in this POW camp and was not required to undertake any work other than general cleaning, although he reports that the Russians were treated very unkindly. Food was usually a lump of brown bread and two bowls of soup a day, supplemented by food sent from home. The post was on the whole quite good. Sanitary arrangements were not too bad and a hot bath was taken once a week. Regulations were posted in German, Russian and French, but not in English, due to there only being about 200 English prisoners from around 10,000 other nationalities.

Stanley George was repatriated on 6 February 1916 and discharged from service on 4 March. He was awarded the 1914/15 Star, the Victory Medal, the British War Medal, and a Silver War Badge.

After Ellen’s death at the age of 48, Stanley married spinster Florence Emily Harker (1892-1981) on 6 October 1929 at Holy Trinity Islington. He became a fireman after his military service in London and Surrey, before dying in Suffolk in 1960.

Service details taken from ‘Unburnt Document’ series WO364 held in the National Archives at Kew and the Medal Rolls Index WO329, better known as the Medal Index Cards. Details of imprisonment taken from Interviews and Reports on the Treatment of British Prisoners of War WO 161/98/420 .