Captain Stanley Kenworthy

Stanley Kenworthy was born in on 4th May 1884.  His parents were John Dalzell and Dinah Towersen (nee Porter) Kenworthy.  John was a portrait painter and artist.  The family lived at Sea Croft, St Bees, in Cumberland in 1914-16.  Stanley’s brother and sister were Gordon (born 1885) and Laura (born 1900)

Stanley attended St Bees School from 1895 and was Head Boy when he left in 1903.  He entered Queens College, Oxford in 1903 to study Classics. He received the Fox Exhibition Scholarship and was awarded the Grindal exhibition.  Stanley graduated with an MA.

A number of Stanley’s Queens College contemporaries would also serve with him in the 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment.  This included and William Harrington Hulton Dawson and Reginald John Ford, who had entered Queens in 1906.  Prior to hostilities Reginald had been a master at St Bees School and Officer in the Officer Training Corps.  Edmund Fearenside had also graduated from Queens College, when he had been a Blue at rugby.  He had also represented Cheshire County Rugby prior to Stanley before moving to his teaching post at Merchiston.

The Regimental connection with St Bees was also extensive.  Old boys that went on to serve with Stanley and Reginald Ford in the 17th Battalion were Robert Mayson Calvert, Walter Truran Jones, Joseph Nanson and Richard William Leslie Wain. Another old boy, Robert G A Dickey, served in 5th Manchesters.

Stanley was a committed sportsman, excelling at cricket and rugby.  In his school days at St Bees he represented Cumberland in County Championship games of Rugby.  This included a match against Yorkshire, at Skipton, in January 1903 when Stanley was a three-quarter back. Later that year Stanley was selected to play in another County Championship match against Durham.  In the next season he trialed for Cumberland at the beginning of October 1904.

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Stanley also played Cricket for St Bees, scoring 2 not out in a match against Whitehaven in July 1901.

At Oxford it is reported Stanley played on the Seniors’ Trial match at cricket.  He scored 34 runs and took six wickets in a match against Wallingford on 12 May 1906. Stanley was also as successful athlete at Oxford, winning the high jump in December 1904.  He won the 100 yard sprint and was second in the high jump at 5ft 1in in December 1905.

After graduating from Oxford, Stanley taught at Normanton School in Buxton and played cricket for local team. A score card in the Buxton Advertiser of 2 August 1907 is less flattering than most, when Stanley scored just 3 runs and did not bowl against Cheadle Hulme. He made one catch.  Stanley also played in the winning Buxton team against Heaton Mersey in May 1907 and Urmston in July 1908.

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Buxton Cricket Club

He continued his rugby exploits, selected for Cheshire Rugby XV against Durham, Middlesex, Yorkshire and his home team of Cumberland in the 1907/08 Season.  Stanley was the Cheshire County goal kicker.  He was also a regular player for Sale Rugby Club, in a team that included Frederick John Gordon Whittall.

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Sale Rugby Club

Frederick Whittall was also an Oxford graduate who also represented Cheshire and served in 17th Manchesters.  He was a master at Bromsgrove School prior to hostilities. Fellow Merchiston master and Queens College graduate, Edmund Fearenside, was another Cheshire player prior to Stanley.

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Cheshire County Rugby

Stanley left Buxton in 1908 and took up a new position as assistant master at Merchiston Castle Preparatory School in Edinburgh.  The Buxton Gazette noted this move, noting Stanley had scored more than 50 against Hathersage in 1909 and performing the ‘hat trick’.  The Buxton Gazette of 13 August 1910 repeated this lament in a summary of the local club “The team lacks a hitter, and it is in this department of the game that S. Kenworthy is so greatly missed.  His batting was always brisk and the spectators never have a dull moment during his display: in fact he was described in one of the Manchester evening papers as ‘the Jessop of the Buxton team.”

In a continuing rugby career at Merchiston Castle, Stanley represented Edinburgh Wanderers, scoring a try in a win against Greenock Wanderers in February 1910. The Wanderers also beat Hawick in November 1910, with Stanley scoring two tries.

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Edinburgh Wanderers

Stanley’s cricketing career also developed in Edinburgh, particularly in bowling.  He took two wickets for 37 and scored 12 runs for Merchistonians against an invitational XI in 1910.  Stanley then joined Edinburgh Nomads Cricket Club and lost in a match with Brunswick in June 1912.  He took three wickets. In August 1912 Stanley scored 2 runs for Nomads and bowled two for 5 in a loss against Gala.

Nomads beat George Watson’s in May 1913, with Stanley scoring 48 runs, including seven boundaries.  He then went on to capture five wickets for 19 runs. This team included opener and fellow Merchiston master a second master, John Greville Madden.  Merchiston pupil Roy McKenzie Gourlay was the second opener.  Nomads beat Fettes College in June 1913, with Stanley taking six wickets.  Maintaining winning ways against Loretto in July 1913, Stanley scored 7 runs and bowled two for 38. In a home win against Edinburgh Institution Stanley took 2 wickets.

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Edinburgh Nomads and Merchistonians Cricket

In May 1914, the Nomads lost to Edinburgh Academicals, with Stanley taking six wickets for 64 runs.  Another Merchiston master, Wilfrith Elstob had then joined the team, scoring 6 runs, not out and taking one catch. Later in May 1914, Stanley scored 64 runs in a winning game against Loretto. He also took two wickets for 36 runs. Wilfrith and Stanley played for Nomads against their school in June 1914, losing by one run.  Stanley took five wickets for 32 runs.  He later opened with a duck against George Watson’s College in July 1914. He did not bowl in this winning match, but caught one of the opposition.  This was probably his last match in Edinburgh.

John Madden went on to serve with Stanley in the 17th Battalion Manchester Regiment.  Wilfrith Elstob served in 16th Battalion and Roy Gourlay would also join the Regiment. Wilfrith Elstob had also been a keen Rugby player, representing the Northern Universities’ team in February 1908, while he was studying at Manchester University.

Stanley applied for a Temporary Commission in the 2nd City Battalion of the Manchester Regiment on 18 September 1914.  The form indicates he had previously applied for a Commission on 8th September, although the Regiment is not specified.    Stanley noted three years previous military experience in the Oxford University Officer Training Corps.

The Merchiston Preparatory School headmaster was Mr H M Rush.  He confirmed Stanley’s good moral character and standard of education, having known Stanley for five years.  Stanley was passed fit in his Medical on 19th September.

In common with his colleague and fellow officer applicant, Edmund Fearenside, Stanley specified Thomas Worthington & Sons, Brown Street as his correspondence address in Manchester.  This was a well-known architects’ firm, where Hubert Worthington practised with his father.  Hubert’s former school friend was Wilfrith Elstob, who worked with Stanley in Merchiston Preparatory School.  Hubert and Wilfrith were both commissioned in the 1st City Battalion.

Stanley and Edmund were commissioned in the 2nd City Battalion on 19th September 1914.  The Battalion was known as the 2nd Manchester City  or Pals was redesignated as 17th Battalion when it was taken over by the War Office.  Stanley and Edmund were both promoted to the rank of Captain by December 1914 and Stanley was C Company Commander in spring 1915.  He later transferred to command D Company.  A large group of Merchiston Castle masters and boys joined the City Battalions in the first year of the war.  They initially trained in Manchester, moving to Grantham and then Larkhill on Salisbury Plain, before embarking for France in November 1915.

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser 20 April 1915

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser 20 April 1915. Stanley on left – arranging Brigade Sports Day.

The 17th Battalion spent the first six months of 1916 in the Somme area of France, manning tranches near the village of Maricourt.  Entries from the War Diary mentioning Stanley illustrate snap shots of their experiences.

On 28th January 1916, the Germans started a general assault on the French defences at Fries.  Stanley and 13 & 14 Platoons of D Company moved to the Battle Dug-outs position near Vaux and later replaced C Company of the 18th Battalion in Vaux Wood. Stanley confirmed this move at 5pm. They remained in the wood on the next day and were relieved at 1pm on 30th January when they returned to billets in Suzanne.

On 16th February 1916, Stanley and D Company were located in the Maricourt Defences and ordered to move to Battle Dugouts.

On 17 May 1916, Stanley moved from Vaux village defences and was in command of D Company in Royal Dragons Wood, between Suzanne and Vaux.

At some stage Stanley committed some act of bravery, for which he was Mentioned in Despatches in the London Gazette of 15th June 1916.

Stanley Kenworthy led D Company of 17th Battalion in their successful assault on Montauban on 1st July 1916.  He was killed in the assault, aged 32. The War Office sent a telegram advising Stanley’s father of his loss on 6th July 1916, in which the Army Council expressed their sympathy.

The family received notification of the circumstances of Stanley’s death in a note contained his service file.   Private 9327 George Dean of D Company recounted “Before we reached the first German line, I saw Capt. Kenworthy – fallen – he wasn’t dead then. I was close to him…. a little later I heard a messenger come up to Lieut. Whittall and say the Capt. was dead — and he was to take command of the Company. We held Montauban.”  George Dean was later seriously wounded in Montauban and died of wounds in Fulham Military Hospital on 12th September 1916.

The War Office wrote to John Kenworthy again in a letter of 19th July 1916.  This identified the grid reference for location of Stanley’s burial in Silesia Trench, which was the German’s first line of the Montauban defences.  The report had been made by a Roman Catholic Army Chaplain who had been unable to find Stanley’s identification disks, but had noted that his name was written on his helmet.  The Chaplain, Captain P J Walsh of the South African Infantry, officiated the burial on 5th July.  He reported that a named cross had been placed on the grave.  Captain Walsh sent on a letter that he had been found near Stanley’s body.  It is assumed the letter was connected with Stanley’s identity and this was passed to Stanley’s father.

The Montauban battlefield was cleared in the early 1920s and reinstated as farm land.  Most of the resting places for the Manchester men had been unidentified or lost.  Stanley’s remains were identified and relocated to Dantzig Alley Cemetery near Mametz.  The records identify Stanley’s burial location in front of Valley Trench, 200 yards to the west of his original burial in Silesia Trench.  This indicates that Stanley’s grave had been relocated to the Valley Trench battlefield cemetery in the intervening period.

Kenworthy & USMR

CWGC Concentration record of Capt Kenworthy, two Unknown Manchester casualties and unidentified Soldier.

John Kenworthy was Administrator for his son’s Estate and received £97 5s 4d via his solicitor in Whitehaven.  After the War, John Kenworthy designed a second war memorial for the village of St Bees.  This depicted St George and the Dragon and is located near the station.

Press Articles courtesy (c) British Library National Newspaper Archive.

With thanks to Dr Tony Reeve of St Bees, we have the following entry in the St Bees School Roll of Honour:-

“Capt. Stanley Kenworthy, 17th Manchester Regiment, was killed in action July 1 1916, at Montauban.  He entered the School House in 1895, and was Head [Boy] of the School when he left in 1903.  He gained both ‘Fox’ and ‘Grindal’ Exhibitions to Queen’s College, oxford, of which he as M.A. and when war broke out he was a Master at Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh.  He was one of the first to offer his services, and was shortly afterwards gazetted as Second-Lieut. In the 17th City Battalion, Manchester Regiment.  His capabilities as an officer were soon recognised, and his promotion to Lieutenant and Captain followed rapidly.  He saw a good deal fighting in France and was mentioned in Sir Douglas Haig’s despatch of June 16.

A good sportsman and an all-round athlete, he played in the School [Cricket] XI.  and [Rugby] XV., for the Cumberland XV. 1903-05, for Queen’s College XI. and XV., and for the Cheshire XV. 1907-08.”

Also see St. Bees Website

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