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.
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.