Wednesday 7 July 2021

STANLEY BOND - Royal Engineers

Stanley Walter Bond (Lance Corporal No. 1910662) - 138 Mechanical Equipment Company - Royal Engineers

Stan was born on June 26th 1917 and had six brothers and four sisters. His father, known as Roll, had moved to Eton Wick as a young single man in the late 1880s, together with an older married brother from their parents' home at the Queen's Head, Hazlemere, High Wycombe. Roll met and married Charlotte (Lottie) Deverill of Chalvey and, like his brother Thomas, raised a sizeable family spread over many years. The family home was at No. 1, Palmer Place and the road along the side of No. 1, leading to Common Road, was always referred to as Bonds' Lane. It came as a local surprise in the mid 1930s when the Eton Urban Council erected a name plate as Browns' Lane. It is now all part of Common Road.

The father, Roll, earned his living as a refuse collector, as a cabbie (horse) and a jobbing carter. Stan went to the Eton Wick Infant School until he was nearly seven and then attended Eton Porny between April 1st 1924 and July 29th 1931, when he left school to work in the expanding family business. His brothers were older than himself and, by the early 1930s, were road haulage contracting with horses and tip carts. They secured a large contract connected with the expansion of Cippenham and soon replaced the horses with lorries. The large family had known days when the next meal had to be earned but now the situation was much improved.

Unlike the short Bond stature, the offspring were of Lottie's build, big and robust. Roland (Junior), William, Robert, Cyril and lastly Charlie, had all married in the 1930s and early 1940s and left home. Their parents moved into a new detached home in the Boveney end of the village, and named it “Rollot". Stan courted and married Brenda Elsia Allen of Dorney and made a home at Taplow. His sister Florence had married Norman Lane of Eton Wick. Norman was to play a significant role in the future post war expansion of the family business.

The war clouds broke in September 1939 and different priorities affected business, and more importantly the work force. Many men voluntarily joined the forces rather than wait uncertainly for conscription into a unit not of their choice. Roland had served in the Royal Navy throughout the Great War at a time when his brothers were not old enough. In a very short while Bill, Cyril and Stan were in army uniforms. All had chosen to serve with the Royal Engineers. It was probably in early 1941, while Stan and Cyril were working in the same unit, when Stan expressed boredom and his decision to volunteer for a posting nearer "the action". This was a fairly common wish among young men throughout the services. It is not known whether he was already in North Africa, but certainly by the summer of 1941 he was serving in the Levant.

Wavell had limited resources under his command which consisted of the 7th Australian Division, the 5th Indian Infantry Brigade, part of the 1st Cavalry Division, six Battalions of the Free French forces, and a company of tanks, together with 70 aircraft. Opposing them were Vichy French forces (35,000 men), 18 Battalions, 90 tanks and 90 aircraft. The initial advance was held up 10 miles from Damascus, but by June 21st 1941 fresh reinforcements were becoming effective and on this day the Indian troops captured Damascus. On July 12th Vichy forces surrendered in Syria.

Unfortunately Stan was killed five days earlier, on July 7th 1941. His death was not directly caused by enemy action. At the time he was with comrades riding on the rear of a tank transporter. The side of the vehicle left the track, and the men were thrown off with the transporter rolling onto them. Stan is buried in the Damascus Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery in Syria. His grave is number 44 in Row L. He was 24 years old and left a childless widow. The Damascus War Cemetery contains 1,173 Commonwealth graves. Stanley is commemorated on the Eton Wick Memorial in the churchyard and on the tablet attached to the Village Hall.

The first cross above marks the grave of Corporals Bond and Smart and the second of Stanley Bond alone. It is believed that the double grave was the roadside grave dug by their comrades. Later they were buried separately in Damascus and the second cross was a temporary measure pending an official post war C.W.G.C. headstone.

Stanley Bond's page on Commonwealth War Graves Commission Website

This is an extract from Their Names Shall Be Carved in Stone  
and published here with grateful thanks to the author Frank Bond.

Further information: The 1939 Register records that Stanley Bond was a excavator driver (Heavy work) before he joined up. His widow, Brenda married Frederick Usher, a Canadian serviceman in 1943 and moved to Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada after the war had ended.

Frank Bond, author of Their Names Shall Be Carved In Stone was one of Stanley Bond’s second cousins.

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