|Memorial .||Guards Cemetery, Windy Corner, Cuinchy||IV. K. 15.|
Awards & Titles:
Family :Son of Russell Stephenson, of 28, South Audley St., London, W.I. Old Wellingtonian of Stanley House.
Unit : 2/Scots Guards
Action : The Battle of Festubert
Denys George Stephenson was a subaltern serving with F Company, 2nd Battalion Scots Guards at Festubert on the Western Front. On 16 May 1915 the company found itself at the 'point of the spear' of an attack made up of 2nd Scots Guards and 1st Royal Welch Fusiliers.
Accounts say that company, numbering some 80 officers and men, later to be called the 'Immortal Eighty', were ashamed that one of their number had recently been shot for desertion and felt this reflected badly on them. They resolved that the next time they went into action they would not allow themselves to be taken prisoner, nor would they surrender. A friend wrote:
"A company of Scots Guards, 80 strong, led by Denys Stephenson... pushing on and on, through the hail of machine-gun fire, until surrounded... by overwhelming masses of Germans. Retreat was impossible ... Surrender was possible, but unthought of by that band of heroes who, after piling up German dead around them, died to a man rather than voluntarily yield their arms to the enemy."
Stephen Graham picks up the story:
"Their bodies were discovered a week or so later when the British advanced. They were found encircled by a ring of dead Germans and true to their word they died to a man".
Stephenson had been in the Stanley, before going up to Trinity College Cambridge, and was one of seven OWs to die in the service of the Scots Guards.
He is buried the Guards Cemetery at Windy Corner, Cuinchy, and remembered at the West Window of the Church of St John the Baptist, Pewsey, alongside other family.
Festubert (15-25 May 1915) was really a continuation of the Battle of Aubers Ridge that had been called off on 10th May, and in places fought over the same ground with the same depressing outcome. Some minor tactical success was achieved but it did not justify the 16,000 casualties. It did however reinforce the lessons of Neuve Chapelle and Aubers Ridge and conditioned planning and thinking that evolved into the tactical planning of the Somme in 1916.
|Type||Lodge Name and No.||Province/District :|
|Mother :||Isaac Newton University No. 859 E.C.||Cambridgeshire|
|Joined :||Old Wellingtonian No. 3404 E.C.||London|
31st October 1903
4th February 1904
4th March 1904
Joined Old Wellingtonian Lodge No. 3404 (at the time Heroum Filii Lodge, from Isaac Newton University Lodge No. 859 on 15th November 1912
The project globally acknowledges the following as sources of information for research across the whole database:
- The Commonwealth War Graves Commission
- The (UK) National Archives
- Ancestry.co.uk - Genealogy, Family Trees & Family History online
- ugle.org.uk - The records of the United Grand Lodge of England including the Library and Museum of Freemasonry
- Book : 1921 - Masonic Roll of Honour 1914-1918 - Oxford University Press
- Document : 1933 - Masonic Roll of Honour - Freemasons' Hall Vestibule - United Grand Lodge of England
- Website : Old Wellingtonian (Heroum Filii) Lodge No. 3404
- Researcher : Tom Hawley
- Image : Imperial War Museum