A V Stanfield

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© IWM (HU 126852)

Alfred Vivian Stanfield was in the Benson from 1898, a prefect, head of House and member of the XI. He went on to Clare College Cambridge, at the same time as Siegfried Sassoon, where he won the cup for most promising undergraduate. He went to France to learn the language. He spent some time at Liancourt, a French School on English Public School lines, where he was so successful in dealing with boys that he was offered a partnership. However, he returned to England, and after a short time at Horris Hill, was given an assistant mastership at Wellington in 1911.

The 1916 Yearbook say that “He immediately threw himself into the work. He was an excellent Form Master, worked hard as Deputy Tutor in his old House, was Secretary of the Mission, and co-Secretary of the O.W. Society, and did much to improve the Cricket, interesting himself particularly by organizing nets and games for the younger boys. Later in the same year he became Tutor of the Orange. Here, too, he was eminently success- ful. Absolutely unselfish and absolutely fair (for he never allowed any private feelings that he might have to interfere with the interest he took in a boy), he produced excellent results. He was broad-minded and took long views, and keen as he always was on the success of the Dormitory, which was great, he always encouraged them to put the School first, and to support all School institutions.”

He was initiated into the Lodge in 1912.

In December 1914 Stanfield and three other OWs were commissioned as territorial officers on the unattached list on the strength of their service with the Wellington OTC,[1]  but “with his usual thoroughness did not propose to do so until he had made himself a thoroughly efficient officer, spending his holidays in training with other corps and taking courses. In April he was gazetted to the Queen’s, and went out with a draft in July. In France, to meet immediate needs, he was attached to the Royal Fusiliers, and was with them at the time of his death”. He was shot through the head while getting out of a trench to lead his men in an attack at Guillemont on August 26th.

It was Stanfield’s posthumous bequest to Wellington that was used to relay the floor of Old Hall with the current floorboards as the room was transformed from the former dinning hall into its current form, becaming at the same time a memorial to the fallen.

The 1916 Wellington Yearbook quoted the following passage from an unnamed friend:

It is hard to speak of a character so strong, so lovable, so full of life, and yet so absolutely simple. But it was in this that lay the secret of his influence. Absolutely upright, with the highest ideals of life and duty, he was of all men the most entirely free from the least trace of self-consciousness or affectation. His cheerful, sunny nature, his enthusiasm, his humour, his unselfishness, his ready sympathy made him the friend, and more than the friend, of every one with whom he had to do, whether boys, colleagues, or servants of the School Staff. ‘ I have lost in him,’ writes a soldier colleague, ‘ not only a friend but an ideal.’ No one indeed in our generation has been more universally or more deservedly loved.”

Sixty-four OWs are known to have died in the battle of the Somme.

[1] The London Gazette, 22 December 1914 1094G