TURNER, Stanley Charles (Army 1128)

Studio portrait of PTE Stanley Charles TURNER, the photographer is unknown; from the collection of the late Lance MILNES.

1128 Private Stanley Charles TURNER – killed in action on 24 April 1918

Stanley Charles TURNER was born Stanley Charles Drechsler on 26 August 1889 at Kent Town. His parents were Charles William Drechsler and Mary Jane Drechsler (nee Trenberth).

Just after the start of World War One, some members of the family changed their name to ‘TURNER’, no doubt due to the anti-German sentiment at the time as ‘Drechsler’ would have sounded very Germanic. Stanley declared his next of kin to be his father, Mr C.W. TURNER of 53 Angas Street, Adelaide.

Stanley enlisted in the AIF on 3 April 1916 under the alias ‘TURNER’. He sailed for England on 9 June 1916 with ‘D’ Company of the 43rd Infantry Battalion. After further training he arrived in France and joined the 52nd Battalion on 2 February 1917.

Early in 1917, the Battalion participated in the advance that followed the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, and attacked at Noreuil on 2 April. Later that year, the focus of AIF operations moved to the Ypres sector in Belgium. There the Battalion was involved in the Battle of Messines between 7 and 12 June 1917, and the Battle of Polygon Wood on 26 September. Another winter of trench routine followed.

Utilising troops freed by the collapse of Russia in October 1917, the German Army launched a major offensive on the Western Front at the end of March 1918. The 4th Division was deployed to defend positions south of the River Ancre in France. At Dernancourt, on 5 April 1918, the 52nd Battalion assisted in the repulse of the largest German attack mounted against Australian troops during the war. The German threat persisted through April, and on ANZAC Day 1918, the 52nd participated in the now legendary attack to dislodge the enemy from Villers-Bretonneux. Stanley was killed on 24 April, on the eve of that great battle. He was buried in the field and after the war, reinterred in Crucifix Corner Cemetery.

In 1914, Stanley’s younger sister, Violet May Drechsler, had married Ernest Alfred Milnes. Ern’s younger brother was John MILNES. John had been killed in action during the Battle for Mouquet Farm on the night of 3-4 September 1916. John was the older brother of Herbert (Peter) MILNES, who would late become the proprietor of The Victor Harbor Times. Peter MILNES was the grandfather of Victor Harbor RSL member Ian MILNES.

On 9 November 2009, Ian & Janet MILNES visited Crucifix Corner Cemetery to photograph Stanley’s grave.

The photographs shown here were gifted to Ian MILNES by his cousin the late Lance MILNES (b 1925, d 2017) of Strathalbyn; Lance was the only son of Ern & Violet MILNES.

Second studio portrait of PTE Stanley Charles TURNER which has been hand-colourised; the photographer and the colour artist are unknown. From the collection of the late Lance MILNES.
This studio portrait shows Stanley in civilian clothes, the photographer and date taken are unknown. This photograph was scanned from the original found in an album belonging to the late Edith BASHAM; courtesy of her niece Anne BASHAM.
This photograph was taken near Apsley, South Australia where Stanley (Stan) Turner was working; the date was 14 December 1910. Stan is on the left, at the controls of the harvester. The other person is unknown, as is the photographer. Stan had written on the back “From Stan to Lil & Ern (his parents)”. From the collection of the late Lance MILNES.
Studio portrait of 1128 Private Stanley Charles Turner, the photographer is unknown. Stan most likely sat for the portrait in Adelaide just after his enlistment; the service cap was general issue at the time for all ranks. From the Edith BASHAM album, courtesy of Anne BASHAM.
The wooden cross that was erected over Stan’s grave by members of his unit. From the Edith BASHAM album, courtesy of Anne BASHAM.
The wooden plaque erected by the men of the 52nd Battalion commemorating the members of the Battalion who were killed during the fighting around Villers-Bretonneux in April 1918. From the Edith BASHAM album, courtesy of Anne BASHAM.
The entrance to Crucifix Corner Cemetery 1917-1918; this photograph was taken by Victor Harbor RSL members Ian & Janet MILNES on 9 November 2009.
The grave of PTE Stanley Charles TURNER; this photograph was taken by Victor Harbor RSL members Ian & Janet MILNES on 9 November 2009.


Service file of 1128 Stanley Charles TURNER downloaded form the National Archives of Australia


Australian War Memorial database ( www.awm.gov.au )



Compiled by the Victor Harbor RSL History Research Team, January 2013.