Stanley Douglas Deacon
Rank and number: Gunner, 9576
Regiment: Royal Marine Artillery
Cemetery / Memorial: Portsmouth Naval Memorial
Other memorials: Caerhun, Stockport
1.11.14, at sea, off the coast of Chile
Life / Background:
Stanley Deacon was born in Heaton
Chapel in Lancashire in 1882 to Rose
Emma (née Gardner) and Stanley
Wagstaff Deacon, an iron foundry clerk, originally from Manchester. He had younger brothers, Laurence, Leslie and George and a sister Dorothy Rose. In 1895, the family were living in Lyon in Kansas, but had returned to Heaton Norris by 1901. Stanley originally joined the Royal Marine Artillery as a young man and had completed his contracted time some years before the War. Returning to civilian life, he had been employed at the Westinghouse Works in Stockport and, more recently, by the Post Office at Talycafn.
Douglas was still a Marine reservist and, with war imminent, he was recalled to the colours. HMS Good Hope was an elderly armoured cruiser which had been transferred to the Reserve Fleet in 1913 with a crew hurriedly put together of cadets and reservists like Douglas. She sailed from Portsmouth on 2nd August, two days before the official declaration of War and was attached to a cruiser squadron patrolling the South Atlantic around the Falkland Islands.
A German cruiser squadron was also patrolling the area off the Chilean coast. The commander of the British squadron, Admiral Cradock, had hoped for reinforcements before trying to engage the enemy, but on 31st October, a radio signal was intercepted which gave the approximate location of one of the German ships. Cradock ordered his whole squadron north in an attempt to cut it off and destroy it. Instead, he found himself confronting the entire German squadron under the command of Admiral Graf Maximilian von Spee.
The German ships had the greater range and the third salvo fired by the Scharnhorst crippled the Good Hope. Further salvoes were fired and Good Hope sank with the loss of all 900 hands. HMS Monmouth was sunk a few minutes later. Although the other two British ships managed to escape, the Battle of Coronel was Britain’s first naval defeat since 1810.
Stanley’s body was lost at sea. He had never married and left his effects of £95 to his father. He is also remembered in Caerhun and Stockport as well as on panel 5 of the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.