Stanley Pearson was born on June 18, 1882 in Ashton under Lyne to George and Helen Rachel Pearson (née Ormond). He was the middle of three children with an older sister Ellen and younger sister May. George Pearson was working as a Colliery Manager when Stanley was born but by 1891, he had started a business as a Coal Merchant. He was also commissioned in the militia and by 1894 was an honorary Major in the 4th Volunteer Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment, based at Stockport.
By 1901 Stanley was 18 years old and working as a clerk in his father’s coal business and George Pearson was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and made commanding Officer of the 4th Volunteer Battalion, the Cheshire Regiment. Around this time Stanley joined his father’s battalion and went on to serve 12 years before leaving. George Pearson resigned his commission in 1904 retaining the rank of Colonel and became active in the volunteer movement in Stalybridge.
By 1911 Stanley Pearson was employed as a salesman in his father’s business and was living with his parents, younger sister, (who was just about to be married), and a domestic servant. The business had evolved from retail, (Coal Merchant), to wholesale and George Pearson gave his profession as a “Coal Factor” and started to travel more. On January 4, 1912 Stanley Pearson married Mary Ann Mills and they made their home on Stanley Street, Newton Heath, west of Ashton under Lyne. A little over a year later, on May 6, 1913, their son George Stanley Pearson was born, four days after the death of his grandfather George Pearson. And the day before George Stanley Pearson’s 1st birthday his grandmother died.
Shortly after the outbreak of war, Stanley joined the 9th Battalion Manchester Regiment, Territorial Force as a Private (2148) on Tuesday September 1, 1914 at Ashton. At least one hundred men attested this day, and at that time the intent was for the battalion to take the most experienced and able-bodied men, deferring the others until later in the month, as they knew they were shortly to leave for overseas. Thomas and the others quickly joined the battalion at Chesham Fold Camp in Bury and a week later they entrained for Southampton and boarded HMS Aragon, leaving at midnight September 10, bound for Egypt.
In Egypt the men were drilled, trained and worked hard to build their fitness and endurance. Additionally, the old eight Company model (A-H) was replaced with a four Company model (A-D), 4 platoons in each Company and 4 sections in each platoon. The battalion landed at Gallipoli under shell fire on Sunday May 9, 1915 and at that time Stanley Pearson was a 32-year-old Private with “A” Company.
On August 8, at the start of the Battle of Krithia Vineyard, the battalion went into the trenches and Stanley Pearson was a freshly promoted Lance-Corporal. “A” and “B” Companies with the (125th) Fusilier Brigade, and “C” and “D” Companies with the (127th) Manchester Brigade. 2/Lt. Oliver Jepson Sutton took two platoons of “A” company up to the firing line and was almost immediately wounded. Reinforcements were called for and so Lt. Forshaw and 2/Lt. Cooke took the other two platoons of “A” Company to the firing line. What happened to him there can be understood from Lance-Corporal Thomas Pickford’s account, given to the Ashton Reporter on March 18, 1916:
“We captured the trench after the Turks had been bombed out, and for 26 hours we held it, and were continuously engaged in repulsing fierce attacks. It was a difficult position to hold, because three Turkish saps converged into it. As senior N.C.O. in the trench, I told Stanley Pearson and four of the boys to hold one of the saps, and to keep up a continuous fire, and so keep the Turks back at that point. We had to watch the two other saps. The Turks came right at us. It was a scrap! Bombs were bursting all around us. Some of the boys in their excitement caught the Turkish bombs before they exploded, and hurled them back again. They did not always manage to catch them in time, and three of them had their hands blown off. What made the position worse was that as soon as we had entered the trench a bomb laid out six of us. I was one of them. I bandaged up my leg, and bandaged up the others, and sent them back to hospital. I carried on, that is why I was recommended for the D.C.M. Lieutenant Forshaw did not know that I had not gone to hospital. He was amazed when he came near. ‘Why, I thought you had gone to hospital’ he said. ‘No sir,’ I answered, ‘we were short of men.’
Anyway, I was telling you about the fight. The Turks were at us all the time. Pearson did splendidly, and kept his men there. He fought cooly, and kept picking off the Turks. He was a smart and good lad. We hadn’t much time to waste, I can tell you, for the Turks were determined to get the trench back. Lieutenant Forshaw was in command of the whole of the firing line in the trench, which was in a very dangerous part of the Vineyard. We had to hold the place at all costs. There were 300 men on our right, and had we lost the position the Turks could have taken them prisoners. By holding on we saved a very good position. We refused to be driven out. At one moment the Turks drove us out of one traverse, but we barricaded it up with sand-bags, and they never budged us any further, for we stuck it until we were relieved. Lieutenant Forshaw, I gave you my word on it, did very well. His example repeatedly put new courage into us. It was the first time he had been in such close fighting. He threw the bombs as well as us. At one time he came to me and said, ‘How are you getting on Corporal? Do you think you can manage?’ I said ‘I think so,’ he replied, ‘You are a plucky corporal, you are doing well.’ He well earned his V.C., and I was proud of the chance later to tell the general, (or give evidence, as they call it), about him, which led to his recommendation for the V.C. One thing he did was very fine. Just after we had got the parapet up three Turks got over, and made a rush for Sam Bayley, but Lieut. Forshaw coolly shot all three with his revolver.”
The Army’s wheels can sometimes move slowly and the despatch from General Sir Ian Hamilton of December 11, 1915 covering the fighting in Gallipoli in August was not published until January 6, 1916. Subsequent to that, on January 28, 1916 the London Gazette published the list of names to be mentioned in despatches and they included all of the main players from the 1/9th Battalion Manchester Regiment in the Battle of Krithia Vineyard:
Second Lieutenant (temporary Captain) O. J. Sutton.
Lieutenant W. T. Forshaw, V.C.
Second Lieutenant C. E. Cooke.
No. 180 Serjeant S. Bayley.
No. 2103 Corporal T. Pickford.
No. 2148 Lance-Corporal S. Pearson.
A few days later on February 2, the London Gazette published the names of the men who had been awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal and on March 11 the Gazette published the citations of those awards:
2148 Lance Corporal S. PEARSON, 1/9th Manchester Regiment. T.F.
For conspicuous gallantry on August 7th and 8th 1915, at Gallipoli, when acting as a look-out man and sniper. He displayed great bravery and skill, and although enfiladed from both flanks he remained at his post, and by his example gave great encouragement to all with him.
He was wounded in late November or early December and medically evacuated off the peninsula. By late October 1916 he was sufficiently recovered and back in Ashton where he was made a presentation at Ashton Town Hall in recognition of his being awarded the D.C.M. earlier in the year.
After rejoining the 3/9th (Reserve) Battalion he rejoined the 1/9th Manchesters who by March 14, 1917 were at Pont Remy, South of Abbeville, in northern France. In April the battalion moved around 100km East to Epehy where they went into the line. In early May they moved 10km South West to Marquaix where on the evening of May 6th and into the early morning of May 7th “B” Company, under Major Howorth, was responsible for carrying out the following special order:
Two small posts are to be established on either side of the road running from locality b. to QUENNEMONT FARM, one on either side of the road, and joined up. This should be undertaken as a very minor operation, with only sufficient men to dig a rifle pit on each side and then connect up. The object should be to advance these posts a short distance every night without attracting the enemy’s attention; and connect them up from behind with a communication trench.
Lt. Charles Earsham Cooke commanded the party and they were met with heavy resistance from German machine guns resulting in many casualties, prompting several acts of heroism bringing wounded men in under fire. Lt. Cooke was wounded and evacuated to Hospital in Rouen where he later died from his wounds. Stanley Pearson, D.C.M. was killed in action. He was 34 years old, dying less than 2 weeks before his 35th birthday.
He is buried in the Templeux-Le-Guerard British Cemetery, plot II. E. 32. and commemorated on the Ashton under Lyne War Memorial.