Stanley Major

Born 16 January 1902 at the Wharf, Stanley was the last child of eight for Sarah Thresher and George Thomas Major. He was baptised privately at St Lawrence Church on 18 January 1903, a quiet ceremony with just parents and godparents, no church congregation. This was usually done when the child was very unwell and there were doubts about its survival. Luckily in this case Stanley recovered, if he had been sick, and had the typical Wharf childhood like his siblings. Playing around the canal, probably running in and out of his father’s woodcarving business and the Post Office where his mother worked.

At the start of the First World War Stanley was still a young lad, aged just 12, as he watched his three older brothers march off to the front. At the age of 14 he heard the news that his brother Percy had been killed at the Somme, and 2 years later that Herbert had died of wounds in a military hospital in France. The newspaper death notice for Herbert suggests that two other brothers were serving – this would be the oldest lad Lewis (who survived and came home). The only other brother was Stanley but he would only have been 16 years old at the time. Plenty of young men lied about their age in order to enlist, and it is entirely possible that Stanley wanted to join up like his brothers, even possible that he wanted to ‘avenge’ for their deaths. Stanley’s name is recorded on the Long Buckby Wharf Roll of Honour which suggests he did serve in the First World War. The Major boys’ mother, Sarah, was heavily involved with the Mission Church and his name may have been added to it out of respect for her. I am unable currently to prove or disprove this as Stanley’s service record is held by the Ministry of Defence (MOD). I will apply for it but there is quite a delay on receiving documents currently.

The reason for the MOD holding Stanley’s service record is that he served in the Army after 1920, which is when they have the responsibility of looking after the records. Stanley was a Bandsman, service number 5875198, in the 2nd Battalion of the Northamptonshire Regiment. The Battalion travelled to Lahore, then in India (now Pakistan), during 1919 and moved to Karachi in 1923. The Northampton Museums have an album of photographs taken by a member of the Battalion around this time.

In November 1924 for the third time, Sarah Major would have received another military notification at her workplace, the Post Office, to inform her that her son had died while in service. On 14 November 1924 Stanley was ill with pyrexia and sadly died. He was just 22 years old. He was buried the same day at a cemetery in Lahore. (He may have been taken back to Lahore when he fell ill, or possibly the Battalion had moved back from Karachi although it is not recorded.)

Parish register transcripts from the Presidency of Bengal, : 1713-1948 The British Library N-1-481 p325. accessed via findmypast.co.uk

Sarah and George placed a small notice in the local newspaper:

Northampton Mercury 1924 5 December

Their notice states that Stanley died from meningitis, rather than the pyrexia mentioned in the burial record. Pyrexia refers to a very high temperature which is also a symptom of meningitis. Either way, Sarah and George lost a third son in the service of the Army in the space of eight years.

Stanley is remembered on the Roll of Honour and on the headstone his parents placed in St Lawrence churchyard;

In loving memory of our dear boys. Pte Herbert Major died of wounds in France, April 15 1918 aged 29 years. Driver Percy G Major fell in action July 23 1916 aged 18 years 10 months. Bandsman Stanley Major died at Lahore, India, Nov. 14 1924 aged 22 years 10 months. “O Lord grant them eternal rest.”

Northamptonshire Family History Society. Memorial Inscriptions at the Church of St Lawrence, the United Reformed Church and the Baptist Church Long Buckby. 2007.

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