Pte
Stanley Alexander Heathcote

Information about birth

Year of birth:
1893
Place of birth:
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia

General information

Profession:
Maltman

Army information

Country:
Australia
Force:
Australian Imperial Force
Rank:
Private
Service number:
2377
Enlistment date:
10/07/1915
Enlistment place:
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Units:
 —  Australian Infantry, 24th Bn. (Victoria)  (Last known unit)

Information about death

Date of death:
09/10/1917
Place of death:
Daisy Wood, Belgium
Cause of death:
Killed in action (K.I.A.)
Age:
24

Memorial

Distinctions and medals 3

Points of interest 2

#1 Place of birth
#2 Enlistment place

My story

Born in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia in 1893, Stanley Alexander Heathcote worked as a Malster (someone who prepares malt from grain usually to make beer) before joining the AIF aged 22 on 10 July, 1915. Private Heathcote was in the 24th Battalion, 2nd Division, 6th Brigade.

On the night of the 7/8 October 1917, the 6th Brigade returned to the front line position at the hamlet of Broodseinde, relieving the 5th Brigade. The War Diary states “The weather had not brightened—the mud made movement exceedingly fatiguing and there was a bitter wind with occasional squalls of rain”. This report paints a dismal picture of the situation of the 24th Battalion: fatigue mixed with inclement weather while preparing for an attack do not bode well for success. While the morning of the 8 October was warm and sunny resulting in the mud drying—by afternoon the rain had returned.
Starting at 5.20am, zero hour, on 9 October, 1917, the 6th Australian Brigade attacked with the 22nd, 24th, 21st, and 23rd Battalions. Once the 22nd Battalion had reached their first objective the first objective, the 24th Battalion followed, on the left of the 22nd Battalion. As soon as Stanley’s Battalion advanced, it came under heavy fire from the direction of Daisy Wood and also from Dairy Wood. The main points of resistance were the northern edge of Daisy wood and a strongpoint at D.23.b.5.2. South of the Wood there was also heavy machine gun fire encountered.

As the morning progressed, the situation of the 24th Battalion was not always clear but by 2.00pm, Daisy Wood had been cleared and the Battalion held the southern edge. Three small German posts were still holding out at this time (approximate location of D.23.a.90.35). When the 19th Battalion approached Daisy Wood from the North at 2.30pm they captured these posts.

Once Daisy Wood was cleared the 24th Battalion did not meet with active interference other than sniping and M.G. fire. The Battalion was not able to consolidate the eastern edge of Daisy Wood, as it had suffered too much casualties, but did establish posts throughout it. At dusk the line was stretched too thin and all positions were abandoned. The men withdrew to a line slightly behind the initial first objective.

Private Heathcote was originally reported as Missing In Action, but it was determined by a Court of Enquiry held on the Field on 04 April, 1918 that he was Killed In Action during the Battle. Aged 24 at the time of his death, Private Heathcote was posthumously awarded the: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal. His body has not been recovered and he is remembered on the Menin Gate Memorial, Ypres, Panel 23Q.

Files 1

Sources 8

"Passchendaele. The Day-by-Day Account", McCarthy C., London, Uniform, 2018, pg. 119-121.
Sources used
"The Red and White Diamond: The official history of the 24th Battalion Australian Imperial Force". Uckfield: The Naval & Military Press Ltd., 1920. pg. 190-195.
Sources used
Ancestry
https://www.ancestry.com/
Further reference
Australian War Memorial
https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/P10238069
Sources used
CWGC
https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/924127/heathcote,-stanley-alexander/
Sources used
Service Record
https://recordsearch.naa.gov.au/SearchNRetrieve/Interface/SearchScreens/NameSearch.aspx
Sources used
The Long, Long Trail
https://www.longlongtrail.co.uk/army/
Sources used
War Diary Australian Infantry, 24th Bn. (Victoria)
https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/C1338583
Sources used