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WINFIELD, Stanley Robert (1913-1944) - Oxford & Buckinghamshire Light Infantry

Stanley Robert Winfield
Corporal Stanley Robert Winfield in 1940.

Private Stanley Robert Kinear Winfield joined the 7th Battalion Oxford and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry (No 5381127). His family origins may account for his choice of Regiment. Before serving is this regiment he had joined the Royal Artillery as there is an Attestation record for him dated 15th February 1931. He died on 8th September 1944, aged 31, and he is buried in the Coriano Ridge War Cemetery, Italy in grave no. IV.D.12.  In his 1940 wedding photograph he has the rank of corporal. He was awarded the 1939-45 War Medal and 1939-45 Star.

Stanley R. K. Winfield was born in late 1913 in North Bierley, Bradford, West Yorkshire, the son of Sylvanus Walter Winfield and Matilda Elizabeth, nee Kyte. His father had been born in Witney, Oxfordshire in 1871 and a ‘Mr Winfield’ was aboard the SS Mexican when she sailed from Southampton for East London, Cape Colony in April 1892. Using ‘Walter’ as his preferred name he married Matilda in the Albany district of South Africa in 1894 where he was a policeman in Graham’s Town; she was born in S. Africa in 1876. The family moved to England around 1898-1903 and at the 1911 census Matilda and four children – Rosa Susannah, 15, and Ethel Winifred, 13, both born in South Africa, and Edith Maud, 8, and Richard George Sylvanus, 3, born in Southam, Warks. and Coventry respectively - were all living in Coventry. However, Walter was in Halifax with relatives working as a stone quarryman. Sylvanus W. Winfield, as he appears in the registers, died in Liverpool in 1951, but Matilda had died earlier, in 1941, in the Evesham area.

Stanley Winfield married Clarice Phipps in Wickhamford Church in 1940.  In 1939, he was on the Electoral Roll as living at 17 Pitchers Hill (now No. 44 Pitchers Hill) with a voting qualification as "Naval/Military".

Letter to Stanley Winfield's parents
The letter of condolence sent to Stanley Winfield’s parents by the former chaplain of his Battalion. Reproduced by permission of Clarice Winfield’s daughter, Helen Kenneally. (It is strange that this letter should be addressed to Stanleys’ parents and rather than his wife, Clarice.)
Stanley Winfield's grave marker
The temporary grave marker for Stanley Winfield,
referred to in the letter above, before the Cemetery was
laid out after the War.

Historical context

Following the fall of Rome to the Allies in June 1944, the German retreat became ordered and successive stands were made on a series of defensive lines. In the northern Apennine mountains the last of these, the Gothic Line, was breached by the Allies during the Autumn campaign and the front inched forward as far as Ravenna in the Adriatic sector, but with divisions transferred to support the new offensive in France, and the Germans dug in to a number of key defensive positions, the advance stalled as winter set in. Coriano Ridge was the last important ridge in the way of the Allied advance in the Adriatic sector in the autumn of 1944. Its capture was the key to Rimini and eventually to the River Po. German parachute and panzer troops, aided by bad weather, resisted all attacks on their positions between 4 and 12 September 1944. On the night of 12 September the Eighth Army reopened its attack on the Ridge, with the 1st British and 5th Canadian Armoured Divisions. This attack was successful in taking the Ridge, but marked the beginning of a week of the heaviest fighting experienced since Monte Cassino in May, with daily losses for the Eighth Army of some 150 killed.