The Stanton Brothers

When war broke out in Europe in 1914, the Stanton brothers like many of their contemporaries, were eager to enlist in defence of “God, King and Country”. Older brother, Charles signed up in July 1915, leaving his wife May and two young children, Winifred aged 3 and Francis, born just 7 months before.  

In his application for enlistment, Charles described himself as a tram conductor and stated that he had three years previous military experience, including 6 months with the 6th Light Horse Regiment. He undertook training for the Light Horse Brigade at the Holdsworthy Camp, near Liverpool. On completion of his training Charles was assigned to the 6th Regiment as part of the 12th Reinforcement.

Charles Alexander Stanton

The 6th Light Horse reinforcements sailed for Egypt in November 1915. Shortly after arriving in Cairo, Charles was hospitalised with an oblique hernia that required surgery. He returned to Australia in June 1916 and was discharged as medically unfit in July of that year.

The 6th Light Horse was tasked with the defence of the vital Suez Canal. They had been needed to provide temporary support for the infantry at Gallipoli, but as that campaign became dead-locked they were withdrawn and rested at Mena Camp near Cairo.

It soon became clear that the war would need to be prosecuted differently. The Allied command realised that the crucial factor in ensuring success was the ability to deploy men and materiel across vast areas of rough terrain, much of it without roads or rail links.

It had been noted that there were limits to how far horses could go into the more arid areas since they needed to be watered daily. The answer lay in replacing horses with camels, which had long been used by Afghani cameleers in the more arid parts of Australia. The newly arrived reinforcements from Australia were formed into two battalions, supported by a third British battalion to form the Imperial Camel Corps. The cameleers proved to be an effective fighting unit and played a significant part in the defeat of the Ottoman forces.

Charles’ younger brother, Horatio, enlisted in September 1915. Unusually, the brothers’ Service Numbers were sequential (1660 and 1659). Both were part of the 12th Reinforcement, although they had joined at different times.

Horatio Francis Stanton

Horatio returned to Australia in September 1919 after being granted a period of leave to study the manufacture of “motor coaches” in England. This type of leave was not unusual at the conclusion of hostilities, since it contributed to the future development of the Australian economy. In any case, there was insufficient shipping available to immediately bring home all the men.

Prior to his enlistment Horatio had been a coachbuilder so this was a natural progression from his earlier career. On his return to Australia Horatio became a blacksmith. In 1923 he married Barbara Grieve of Kogarah and continued to live in the Cabarita-Mortlake area. He died in November 1969 and is commemorated in the AIF Project.

Charles pursued a number of careers including dairy farmer, fruiterer, racehorse owner and what was described in the electoral roll as a “car proprietor”. This involved taking tourists on car trips through the Burragorang Valley near Central Tilba where he settled. Charles died in June 1964 and like his brother is remembered in the AIF Project.

These are just two stories of more than 800 biographies, being compiled from a variety of sources, by volunteers from the Canada Bay Heritage Museum. Our endeavour is to make the memories of those men and women from Canada Bay who fought in World War I more than a name on an honour board.

Andrew West


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