We are delighted to present this record submitted in 2002 by Stanley's daughter, Penny:
1939 Joined Honourable Artillery Company, Armoury House, City Road, London. 13th Reg. Royal
Horse Artillery "B" Bty.
1940 Posted to Blackdown Armoured Corps O.C.T.U. November - April 1941
1941 Commissioned Royal Tank Regt. April, volunteered to go to India July. Sailed ex Liverpool
on SS Duchess of York and reached Bombay late September/early October. At Bombay informed I was
seconded to and later transferred to 26th Hussars. Other offices on draft sent to 26th (6 in all)
included Jack Mayers, "Sand" Macarthur and Keith Lawerance. The 26th were stationed at Meerut where
Indian mutiny started but we moved to Sialkot in Punjab soon after I joined. No tanks, just a few
soft vehicles. We trained (!) on the Punjab maidans for the Wester Desert, 26th Commanded by Lt. Cot
John Norton, ex 14th/20th Hussars, 2 i/c Major "Brand" Bryant ex R.T.R.
I was sent to "A" Sqn under Major Lorraine-Smith and commanded No 1 Troop. Other "A" officers
included "Pluto" Wiremonger-Watts, Oscar Palmer and Jack Goldberg.
1942 In late 1942 the regiment was moved from Sialkot to Nira camp in the Central Province
(I think!) some 50-100 miles from Poona where we were equipped with 1 Sqn General Stuart tanks
and two Sqn's of General Lee or Grant tanks. "A" Sqn had the Stuarts, known as Honeys. There were
a light tank about 12 tons or so war loaded and were quite fast and were to be used as reconnaissance
vehicles. We did not have them for long before they were replaced by Grants. The regiment trained
hard for desert warfare throughout the remainder of 1942. It was in this period that the old sweats,
the regulars who had been posted to the regiment on its foundation, were repatriated to the UK and
new drafts came out. These included Freddie Shepherd and Jock Miller, who both came to "A" Sqn. Nira
was a pretty awful place in the middle of nowhere, mainly rock and sand. We were all under canvas and
there were no amenities as far as I can remember, no canteen - nothing and it abounded with snakes
mainly the dreaded krait and scorpions, which got into ones boots during the night. Several of the
personnel, both officers and men, suffered bites. Latrines etc had to be dug out of ground that was
like iron, water was supplied by water carts and life was fairly hard I suppose. I seem to recall
charwallahs made regular visits to all squadrons throughout the times we were not on parade. This was
virtually the only amenity we had for some time but later Indian contractors opened canteens as far as
I can remember.
One consolation was there was regular weekend leave to Poona for everyone. I played a lot of cricket
for the Poona Club most weekends when I was not on duty. Incidentally the cricket ground at the club
was a beauty and the M.C.C. touring sides in pre-war days and I believe later played there.
I can't remember the names of the original Squadron Leaders but we were then commanded as follows:
"A" Sqn. Major Lorraine-Smith, "B" Sqn Freddie Cooke-Hurle and "C" Sqn. Guy Cunninghame. Other
officers included Oscar Palmer, Nick Eliot (later Lord Eliot) Sandy Macarthur, Dai Rees, Jack
Meyers, Jack Goldberg (Rhodesian), Pluto Iremonger Watts, Roger Gregory and Keith Lawrence. My own
Troop Sergeant was originally Sgt Guy but he was repatriated and Sgt Sheppard became Troop Sergeant
for "Argo" One. I remember Corporal Felthouse was my 3rd Tank Commander and I had Trooper Mais as
my 75 gunner but I can't recall any other names. Freddie Shepherd cammanded No 2 Troop and Jock
Millar No 3 of "A" Sqn.
1943-45 Sometime in 1943 we were moved to Bolarum near Secunderabad in Hyderabad. This was possibly
the best station of all that I recall, a very good club with wonderful officers mess but it was here
that the awful blow fell. Wingate was preparing for the second Chindit sortie behind Japanese lines.
He had the ear of both Churchill and Roosevelt and he required man-power. At the time the 26th were
brigaded with a regiment of Sherwood Foresters and a battalion of Territorials of the Gordon Highlanders
who had come out to India as infantry but who had been mechanized. These were the two units who were to
lose their identity and supply bodies for Wingate. Unfortunately for us, the Colonel-in-Chief of the
Gorden Highlanders was King George VI. The C.O. of The Gordons was able to protest directly to the King
that his battalion, an old territorial one, should not lose their identity. His protest was upheld and
so the 26th was disbanded supplying both men and officers to (a) The 3rd Carabineers and 26th Dragoons
but the majority went to the Chindits. I was given command of and raised at the R.A.C. Depot Poona, No
3 Independent Troop of Valentine bridge laying tanks - six in all with a complement of some 30-40 NCO's
and men. We had all had experience of Valentines in the UK before coming out to India. We trained in
Poona for a couple of months and then we were posted to Imphal in Assam to the 254 Indian Tank Brigade.
We had a horrendous journey taking nearly two months to reach railhead and crossing the Ganges (I think)
where we were picked up by transporters to complete a journey of 2-3 thousand miles. When we arrived we
immediately were put under command of Col Ralph Young, C.O. of The Carabineers, where I met up with other
old 26th Hussars.
I even took part in the battles of Bishanpur - Potsambang (pots and pans to us) and the Ukhral Road
as a troop cammander of "A" Sqn 3rd Carbs. I was told by the Brigade Major of 254 that Col Younger wanted
me to transfer permanently but the Brigadier, Geoffrey Scoones, insisted it would leave the bridging troop
without an officer and as we were surrounded by the Japs in the Imphal Plains he could not rely on getting
a replacement for me. I stayed with the troop and I believe we did excellent work in all the battles and
particularly the advance out of Assam on the Tamu Road with "B" Sqn 3rd Carbs and the 9th Indian Brigade.
I went on leave as I'd had none for nearly two years but had ensured that all the other troop personnel had.
A new brigadier Gerald Critchley had taken command of 254. We were approaching Mandalay when he came to see
us and asked me if there was anything the troop wanted. I said no but what about some leave for me - he
expressed horror that I was the only officer not to have had leave in the whole brigade. He told me to pack
what little kit I had, put in his jeep and away I went ultimately to Bombay.
When I returned I was informed I was staying on at Brigade Headquarters as assistant to the Brigade Major -
John Walker - who had been ill. I therefore saw no further action before being repatriated to England in
It was an undoubted tragedy in one respect that the 26th was disbanded. We thought, and I believe we
were, the best trained of the armoured units at that time. We were also a happy regiment with a good and
caring C.O. who I don't think recovered from the blow of losing what in effect was his baby. He'd raised,
trained and looked after us all through difficult times. I never saw him again and I believe he died some
And so ended a saga although I have stayed in touch with many of my colleagues over the years. Freddie
Shepherd, my son's godfather, died some years ago but I am still in contact with Dick Hilder who went to
the Chindits and Scott-Dickens, 3rd Carabineers.