Stanley Foster-Jackson

Stanley Foster Jackson. Photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum. © IWM (HU 116263)

1st September 1887 – 4th June 1915. Manchester Regiment (6th Batallion, “D” Coy Company).

Stanley Foster-Jackson was a Manchester FC player who was killed in Gallipoli in June 1915, fighting with the 6th Manchesters. Foster-Jackson was born in Hale in 1887. He was one of those people who excelled at every sport. He played cricket for Cheshire, and was a champion swimmer and golfer. He was best, of course, at rugby union, where he played full-back, and earned caps for Lancashire. Unfortunately, Foster-Jackson’s rugby career ended suddenly whilst at the peak of his condition, after he was severely injured during a match in Edinburgh in 1912.

Foster-Jackson made his living (and increased his fortune) working as a stock broker in central Manchester. He, like many of his club-mates, was also an officer in the Manchester Regiment territorials during peacetime. By the time the war came, he’d been involved for almost a decade. Consequently, he was soon involved in hostilities, leaving his Timperley home for Egypt in 1914, almost immediately after he was wed to Winifred Parkin in August of that year. On the 4th June 1915, he was killed in Gallipoli, during the 3rd Battle of Krithia.

The University of Manchester notes one eulogy of Foster-Jackson, given by his commanding officer.

Stanley has laid down his life as one of a very gallant band of friends who died leading their men in a splendid charge. We were always rather proud in the sixth of our officers being “public school men,” and I always think of Stanley as a type of all that is summed up in this expression. His physical powers, his keenness on games, his absolutely open and true-hearted nature, were all qualities which appealed to the young fellows who made up the battalion, and made him a leader among them.

At the start of the war, there was some controversy about the recruitment of men of “games”. Some insinuated that amateur footballers might lack the soldier’s discipline (and professionals may lack the impetus). However, men like Foster-Jackson did much to reverse this stereotype, and soon the rugby union player was seen as the ideal soldier. Indeed, dying in war during a “splendid charge” represented the pinnacle of Muscular Christianity and the Corinthian Spirit. Yet, attacking the heights of Krithia with a frontal charge was also the pinnacle of the tragedy of the war, where the ancient tactic of a brave and direct assault was no match whatsoever to the semi-automatic rifle and heavy artillery. Was it delusion that led us to commend Foster-Jackson laying down his life in this way? Or was it simply a way of giving his death a cause?

Likely it was neither, and he was just doing that which he’d been taught to do.

Winifred was pregnant when Stanley died. Their daughter, Denys, was born in September that year.

Foster-Jackson is buried at Twelve Trees Corps Cemetery, Gallipoli. Grave 11. A.4.

SOURCES
Manchester University
Manchester Guardian
Trafford War Dead
Andrew Renshaw, ed – Wisden on the Great War: The Lives of Cricket’s Fallen 1914-1918
Imperial War Museum 
World Rugby Museum

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