Leslie Alan ‘Les’ Stanfield was born on 30th May 1889, at 7, Derby Place, Edge Lane, Liverpool, Lancashire, England, the son of Thomas and Elizabeth Stanfield (née Jones). There were eight children in the marriage, altogether.
Thomas Stanfield was a buyer of leather and owned several shoe shops in Liverpool and
his father had been a cabinet maker, whose apprentice was a Tom Waring. Because Thomas Stanfield’s sons were not interested in carrying on the business, he made it over to Tom Waring, who later married a Miss Gillow to found the famous furniture making firm Waring and Gillow.
By the outbreak of the Great War, the family had moved to 1, Wright Street, Egremont, Wallasey, Cheshire, on the opposite side of the River Mersey from Liverpool, overlooking the river and Leslie Stanfield was engaged to be married to a Miss Haythornwaite of Burnley in Lancashire.
He was a professional seaman in the Mercantile Marine and had served as a waiter on the
Lusitania on various trips since her maiden voyage in 1907. He had also served on her sister ship the
Aquitania on her maiden voyage! On 13th April 1915, at Liverpool, he engaged as a second class waiter in the Stewards' Department on board the
Lusitania, for what became her final voyage out of the River Mersey. His monthly rate of pay in this rank was £4-5s-0d., (£4-25p.).
He joined the liner at Princes Landing Stage in Liverpool, at 7 a.m. on the 17th April, and three weeks later he was killed, after the liner was torpedoed and sunk, on her return journey to her home port.
As his body was never recovered and identified afterwards, he is commemorated on the Mercantile Marine War Memorial at Tower Hill, London. He was three weeks short of his 28th birthday.
In The Lancashire Daily Post for 14th May 1915, Second Class Waiter William Rose, a crew survivor and former friend of Les Stanfield’s described talking to him before the ship was struck, about his impending return to Burnley: -
Just before the vessel was hit I had remarked to my friend Leslie Stansfield,
(sic) ‘Well, Les, we shall be in Burnley by this time tomorrow,’ and he replied, ‘Yes, thank goodness.’”
The significance of Waiter Rose’s reference to Burnley was that he himself was engaged to be married to one of Miss Haythornwaite’s friends and they had both hoped to travel to Burnley on Saturday 8th May to see their respective fiancés, once the ship had docked. Rose had lodged with Les Stanfield’s parents in Wright Street whilst serving with on the trans-Atlantic liners.
In August 1915, Stanfield’s parents were sent the balance of wages owing to him in respect of his sea service from 17th April until 8th May 1915, 24 hours after the liner had gone down! In addition, The Liverpool and London War Risks Insurance Association Limited granted his mother an annual pension of £25-16s-0d. (£25.80p.), payable at the rate of £2-3s-0d. (£2.15p.) per month, which would indicate that she was in some way dependant on him.
The Stanfield family continued to live at Wright Street, Egremont, until just before the Second World War and as late as 1953 the family was still trying to obtain compensation for Leslie’s loss. In July of that year, his brother Laurence applied for help to The National Disasters Relief Fund, the successors to the original Lusitania Relief Fund, which had been set up immediately after the disaster in May 1915, by the Lord Mayor of Liverpool. In his reply, the chairman of the fund, Percy F. Corkhill, stated: -
The Public Trustee has handed me your letter of the 21st instant. The “Lusitania” fund is practically exhausted - it was used for needy cases and your application has come too late to have consideration, although it will be filed for reference.
Percy F. Corkhill had been an original committee member and chairman of the original fund, nearly 40 years earlier!
Register of Births, Marriages and Deaths, 1891 Census of England and Wales, 1901 Census of England and Wales, 1911 Census of England and Wales, Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Cunard Records, Lancashire Daily Post, Laura Rogers, Wallasey News, Wallasey & Wirral Chronicle, UniLiv. PR 13/24, PRO BT 334.