What began as a routine family history enquiry to the Centre for Cultural Collections (CfCC) resulted in our donation of the month!
Sheena Jarvis is a customer of ours who is resident in the USA. After working with our wonderful Reference Librarian via email, searching for information about her Grandparents, Sheena asked if we could find a home for some family documents she had inherited on the death of her Aunt. The records relate to Sheena’s Uncle, Stanley Parker, who was in her words “a Bury native” and relate to his military service in World War 2.
Stanley was born in Bury on July 4th 1908, he was married in Bury in 1931 and died here in 1949 so he truly was a Bury man through and through. In an email to our Reference Librarian Sheena writes:
“I came into possession, at the death of my Aunt, documents and such of her husband Stanley Parker-a Bury native. He was Royal Navy, assigned to Merchant fleet as gunner to defend the merchant vessels during the Atlantic convoys in WW2. Although Stanley did not die in battle he experienced one shipwreck and subsequent [time] adrift before rescue. This left deep mental damage…in himself and due to frostbite in his foot to his eventual death in 1949.”
Sheena’s donation to the Archive includes Stanley’s S.-459 Service Certificate, S.-1245 Gunnery History Sheet, photographs and the King’s badge and scroll. I love to use military documents as they give us such personal and descriptive information that it’s easy to picture the individual themselves. At just over five feet eight inches tall with a fresh complexion, dark brown hair and brown eyes, Stanley signed up on the 12th May 1941 entering service under the National Service (Armed Forces) Act 1939. Stanley’s trade is listed as a painter and his religion Church of England. During his service he earned his chevrons, issued for each twelve months afloat or on shore, 1942-44. His service record tells us that he served on four ships: HMS Ganges – a training ship; HMS Pembroke and HMS Glendower (shore bases) and HMS President III (also a shore establishment or drill ship which was used to train gunners and sailors for Defensively Equipped Merchant Ships (DEMS) ). The Gunnery History Sheet also shows Stanley’s service aboard HMS Flying Fox and records of his examinations in gunnery, recorded test firings, Lewis gun/rifle and pistol practices as well as vision tests – good vision must have been essential in this role!
There is nothing in these records that tell us about the role Stanley played serving on DEMS but when I met Sheena in person she explained that Stanley had been seconded to the American Navy.
The two photographs contained in the donation support this link to the American Forces. The first, shown at the top of the page, is Stanley in uniform and although there is no date a stamp on the back says ‘If used for publication please give credit line to SAKS 34th Street New York, N.Y.’ The reverse of the second photograph tells us that it captures a ‘joint dinner UK/US service people taken in New York USA: MAR 23 1943’.
Sheena’s e mail continues:
“It took my Aunts brother corresponding with the DOD [American Department of Defense] to … gain a pension and recognition for his death and experience. I have his King’s Button in recognition of this . I believe he was aboard the Vessel M.V.Dalton when it was lost in the English Channel, as well as involvement in the North Africa Landings.”
It was great to meet Sheena and her family when she visited the UK, managing to fit in a quick visit to Bury and the Centre for Cultural Collections. It’s thanks to her that these documents have found a permanent home and the story of Stanley’s war will be preserved for future generations. If you can add to Stanley’s story or to the history of the Borough and its residents please don’t hesitate to contact us here at the CfCC.