Oldham Historical Research Group


Corporal Stanley Arundale, No. 58175 76th Battery, Royal Field Artillery

Stanley Arundale
Corporal Stanley Arundale, No. 58175 76th Battery, Royal Field Artillery

Biographical details

Stanley Arundale was born in 1889 Audenshaw Manchester, son of Charles Arundale and Sarah Ellen Hatton.

In the 1891 census he was a baby with his parents at 213 Honeywell Lane, Oldham.

The 1901 census shows that the family were living at 36 Plymouth Street, Oldham and he had a younger brother, Rupert. The little girl who was to become his wife lived at 40 Plymouth Street.

The 1911 census indicates that Stanley was single and working as a clerk for the 76th Battery, Royal Field Artillery, in Ashton under Lyne, Lancs.

Stanley Arundale’s notes of the Siege of Kut-el-Amara from 5 December 1915 to 29 April 1916 show that he remained in the same Battery on active service.

After the siege the garrison was taken prisoner, and although the officers were quite well treated, the enlisted men and NCOs were treated very badly. The prisoners were forced to march from Kut to Baghdad, where deaths peaked sharply, then 500 miles onwards to prisoner of war camps in Anatolia, Turkey. They suffered from malnutrition, disease, lack of medical attention and exhaustion. Of the 12,000 British and Indian servicemen taken prisoner after the siege, around 4,000 are reported to have died whilst in captivity.

We have not yet been able to find when and how Stanley was repatriated, but somehow he managed to survive. It may be that he was repatriated with the majority of British prisoners in December 1918 after the Ottoman Empire had lost the war.

Stanley Arundale was discharged from 5th Reserve Brigade on 30 March 1919.

Stanley Arundale married Florence Oulton in June 1922, and their son, Jack, was born in January 1925. Jack married Eveline Clegg and had one son, Keith.

Unfortunately, Stanley suffered from sleeping sickness (or “sleepy sickness”) which was thought to have been brought home from the tropics by the returning soldiers, and which ultimately caused his death on 23 August 1927 at 32 Brierley Street, Oldham.


Stanley Arundale
Stanley Arundale

A few 'notes from memory' on
The Siege of Kut-al-amara
5th December 1915 to 29th April 1916

I arrived in Kut-al-amara on the 2nd December 1915, having been wounded the day before on the retirement to Kut, and so sent down the river on a boat.

The remainder of the Division came into Kut on the 4th and our Cavalry Brigade left on the 4th for down river way. The Turks were all round us by the morning of the 5th. I was in hospital with my flesh wound until the 20th. Nothing very much happened in hospital. The only slight diversions out of the ordinary hospital life were when the enemy's 40pr shells used to drop in the hospital where I was, fortunately little damage was done. I remember one very amusing incident. One afternoon, about 2 o'clock I think, a shell came through the roof just opposite to me. (The hospital in peacetime was a sort of covered-in market, and we were living in what had been originally small shops, three men in each shop). I remember in the next shop to me one of the men was knelt on the floor rolling cigarettes. As soon as this shell came in of course everything went 'blue'. We could hardly breathe and you couldn't see an inch in front of you. As soon as we got over the shock we started to feel our way round a bit and asked if anyone was hurt or killed.


Well, when the smoke cleared away it was laughable I tell you. In the next shop to me the chap rolling the cigarettes was still knelt down with the wooden frame of the shop round his neck. Over 200 shrapnel bullets were picked up from the floor of this shop and not a soul was hurt. The only chap who was hurt in any way was a man who scratched his toe on the bed-iron in the excitement of the moment.

Later the Turks shelled and bombed the hospital consistently so it was a lucky thing I went to my unit in the firing line as quickly as I could.

We were much better off than the people in the town, as of course the town was a grand target for the Turkish gunners.

On the 24th December the Turks made a determined effort to break into Kut via the Fort, but we mowed them down in hundreds. We had been ranging the ground for days, and consequently could drop a round almost to within a yard of the spot it was intended for. The Turks had a very rough time on the 24th. They had been attacking us day and night previous to this, but apparentlyu this last effort was enough for them. There were not many severe attacks on Kut after December 24th. By the way, they had a new Division which had marched all the way from Aleppo, about 50 days march, and they marched straight into action. The 'marching fifith' we called them, and they ran up against the 'fighting sixth' and were wiped out.

After this scrap the Turks were hung up on the barbed wire in hundreds and remained there for months. The Turks themselves wouldn't remove them and you can bet we weren't troubling about them. Our lads in the Fort occasionally got some very unpleasant reminders of them when the wind was blowing our way. Up to now the rations had been good, but if any of us had money, we could go down into the town and buy from the Arabs almost any variety of tinned goods, cigarettes, tobacco etc. It was like a market on a small scale was Kut on those December days. Worse times were coming when there was nothing to be got anywhere.

By the way I would like to mention the following:
The duties of rationing the Force were in the hands of the Supply and Transport Corps, which in India corresponds to our Army Service Corps at home. Their headquarters were on the river front just alongside the town, and of course as the enemy were just opposite, on the other bank of the river, some 600 yards away, this was a very warm spot in the daytime. The S. & T. Sergts. in charge of various sections of the Supply used to live in dug-outs (which were dug-outs in the true sense of the word), something like coal-pits, and being, I might say, a little 'timid' very, very seldom showed themselves up on top. All rations were drawn at night time by units, so my battery used to turn out a G.S. wagon say at 8pm to go and draw rations, forage etc. Well, when the lads used to get on to the river front, these S.&T. chaps used to tell them to take their own rations to save them showing themselves up above. Naturally our men took just as much as they could comfortably carry in the wagon. Sometimes, therefore, double the amount of rations to what we were entitled to were drawn in this manner. Many and many a 'Buksheesh' barrel of beer has found its way down to the battery lines through the 'timidness' of these S. & T. people. Yes, taking it all round, we lived very well indeed during the month of December 1915.

In the early part of 1916 I think we commenced to eat our horses. We soon got used to the flavour of horse flesh and before the end of the siege most of us could eat it with as much relish as any ordinary beef. On January 17th Genl. Aylmer with his Relieving Force made his first attack, and needless to say, failed. He got very, very close to us but not quite close enough to suit us. I should think his nearest approach to us was within about 8 miles, so we could see the artillery firing very plain. The machine gun fire could be heard very distinctly also. After the 17th the bread ration was slightly reduced, from one pound of bread daily we came down to 12 ounces. Things weren't looking too bright were they, although Townshend had promised us many things regarding the relief. A good many of us regarded his communiques as a little 'soft soap' on the General's part, but whether they were or not I cannot tell.

My battery was 'dug in' in the centre of the ground formed by the bend of the river some 1,000 yards or so from the river on each side. Personally I was established as an observer or look-out man in some large disused brick kilns about 300 or 400 yards to the right flank of the battery, and also a little to the rear. We made these brick kilns as comfortable and habitable as possible under the circumstances. We fixed a staging inside them, just low enough to allow standing up without our heads showing over the top of the kiln, and dug loop holes in the brick walls, which were about 20 inches thick, all round the kiln. We also fixed telephones up, down below the staging, for communication to headquarters, to the Battery, and to the Fort, where our advanced Observing Officer was stationed. It was a good job we made these kilns as cosy as we did, as we remained in them over four months, until the end of the siege.

I can't remember much about the happenings in February but the ration of bread was again reduced and came down to 10ozs daily, which is not much I can assure you. Artillery duels between us and the Turks were fairly frequent and Turkish aeroplanes used to liven us up occasionally with a bit of bomb-dropping music. I have one of two amusing anecdotes I will relate here. We used to draw water at night in the dark with mules. We used to send a few gunners to the river to load up the small tanks which were carried on these pack mules, but the mules themselves were brought from a Mule Corps under the charge of a native driver. Well one night this driver came up to the battery with 6 mules and went down to the river on this water fatigue. They loaded up the 6 mules alright and started to come back with the water, but on reaching the battery there were only 5 mules to be found. The driver was in a terrible state and went back to his own lines to report the matter, but I don't think anything came of it. What happened I was afterwards told was this: When the water party were returning, they had to come thro' some palm trees, and whilst coming thro' the palm grove they unhooked the end mule, the poor driver going on with only 5 mules. Needless to say the mule was killed and eaten before very many hours had elapsed, and thoroughly enjoyed.

I noticed a short time afterwards that whenever we got mules for our water, there were two [men] with them, one at the front and one behind. Of course this stopped the 'mule poachers' and our men had to forage elsewhere. The ground between the kilns and the river was nice and green with grass, and the Arabs of the town used to drive their donkeys out on this to graze. Many a donkey have we bagged on the quiet, and they don't go down too bad when you're very hungry, I can tell you. I should like to mention here that there was a cat knocking about in a disused brick kiln next to ours, and this cat had some very narrow shaves, as we chased it several times with the firm intention of eating it, but it managed to keep clear of us somehow or other.

The 28th February being the anniversary of Ladysmith, some of our crack wits composed a dinner programme with a concert party afterwards. The thing was of course only a joke, but it was funny. However, I can't remember it now. I know there were such things as whizz bangs on toast, Bhoosa Sauce, Shell Trimmings, Mule Saddle Joint on the menu whilst in the concert were 'Over the hills and far away' by Sir Percy Lake, 'I hear you calling me' by Aylmer. I wish I could remember it, as it was very funny indeed.

On 8th March Aylmer made his second attempt to relieve us, and failed again, as we were advised by communique from our General. Bread ration was again reduced, I think it was down to 6oz by this time. No tobacco, cigarettes or any smokes. No tea to drink. Nothing only water. Our meals now were Breakfast about 8am 6oz bread (day's ration but I used to eat it for breakfast) and a small portion of cold meat. Dinner at 1pm Stewed horse or mule not much meat and plenty of bone. After dinner there was nothing else till the following morning's breakfast. As regards smoking, we were smoking dried tea leaves (which by the way we had served up about 6 times), ginger root and lime leaves. I got fed up with these luxuries and gave up smoking altogether before we surrendered.

The aeroplanes of our Relieving Force had commenced dropping sacks of grain, boxes of money etc, but not on a very big scale. I believe the total amount of grain dropped for us during the whole time supplied us with two days rations, which were eaten on the 26th and 27th April. They dropped a large grindstone from an aeroplane one day and it fell about 10 yards in rear of our battery. It went several yards in the earth and took a fatigue party some considerable time to dig it out. Fancy being hit with a grindstone dropping some 1,000 feet or so. What a joke. They also dropped a set of steam pipes for a tug boat which we were using. And the money when it had dropped was doubled up like paper.

We heard just about this time that Gorringe had taken up the apparently responsible task of relieving us, as Nixon and Aylmer had both retired on the 'ill health' plea. In the early part of April we came down to 4ozs. of Bread and stuck at that until the surrender. Townshend issued a Communique on the 10th April in which, for the first time in the Siege he appears to be doubtful about our relief. And then we fizzled out until the 29th. For the last three days we heard some rumours about surrender, parole and several other things but the end came with the morning of the 29th April, when we blew up guns and other large stores, destroyed all rifles, revolvers, swords and everything we could, and burnt everything burnable. A proper chaos it appeared about noon this day when the Turkish Commdr. marched in at the head of his troops to take us over.

I am just thinking now of two lines:
What the Turks gained out of that little lot
Was a few half starved men. Munitions naught!

And this is quite true.


A short ode to the Siege of Kut-al-amara
By Corporal Stanley Arundale, 76th Battery R.F.A.
Besieged from 5th December 1915 to surrender 29th April 1916 - total 147days

The Siege of Kut stands alone,
Its heroes have gone to that grat Unknown
Where hearts and souls are rent assunder,
And voices speak in notes like thunder.

There were Townshend and Melliss and Delamain,
Generals all of the 'Pukka' grain,
And the lads who fought there were heroes all,
For they defended when it seemed certain to fall.

Out there the Q.Fs. did their work,
And never a gunner was known to shirk.
They stood to arms in battle array
And waited their doom, day by day.

Orders had come to the Gallant 'Sixth'
To stand ready to move out at the word 'Fix'.
But never a move was required when
Old Aylmer had finishd with Nurredin.

At Essinn it was where he met his Fate,
He knew the British then: too late!
He had chased us to Kut from Ctesiphon,
And all thro' the fault of old 'Sir John'.

Well courage my lads as you stand arrayed,
For Aylmer comes with a new Brigade,
And we shall return to India, Ah when?
What did you say? "You dinna ken."

Out there on Mesopotamia's Shores,
'twas where we blew up our Guns and our Stores,
And what the Turks gained out of that gallant lot,
Was a few half starved men: Munitions 'Yok'.

'Kut-al-amara', 'tis a thing of the past,
But 'tis written in history, and 'tis a name that will last
For there a handful of men were holding at bay
Turks by the thousand, day after day.

For five months they stuck it, till the 'connor' ran out,
Then they had to 'pack up' whether they wished it or not.
For the first time in history a British Force gave in,
Let's hope 'tis the last for it was a great sin.

On somebody's shoulders for this rests the blame,
Someone's responsibl for this dirty black stain.
For of the 3000 who left Kut at its fall
Now only about thre hundred can answer the roll.

But British soldiers never care
How they live or how they fare,
They give death the challenge, and onward they go!
Tho' demons from hell they shall meet as their foe.


Information & photo contributed by Heather Haslett and Keith Arundale
Heather Haslett’s mother was Jack’s cousin and Keith Arundale is Stanley’s grandson.

From Find My Past website:
First name(s) Stanley
Last name Arundale
Service number 58175
Second service number 58175
Rank Bombardier, Corporal
Second rank Corporal
Regiment Royal Field Artillery
Second corps Royal Field Artillery
Service record Soldier Number: 58175, Rank: Bombardier, Corps: Royal Field Artillery
Second service record Soldier Number: 58175, Rank: Corporal, Corps: Royal Field Artillery
Silver War Badge number B262516
Enlistment date 18-Aug-1909
Discharge date 30-Mar-1919
Regiment/unit 5 Res. Bde. R.F.A.
Cause of discharge Para 392 (xvia) King's Regulation Army Order 29 of 1919
Whether served overseas Yes
Badge date of issue 09-Aug-1919
Age on discharge 28
Record set Silver War Badge Roll 1914-1920

Over one million Silver War Badges were issued to men and women who were honourably discharged due to illness or injury during World War One.

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