Regiment: 6th (Poona) Division
Stanley Westlake was born in Beer on 26 June 1890. At the time of the 1911 census he was working as a grocer’s assistant, and lived with his family, including his parents John and Louisa, in Myrtle Cottage, Beer.
He was taken prisoner by the Turks after the surrender of the British garrison in Kut, Mesopotamia (now Iraq), and this report appeared in the Pulman’s Weekly News on the Stanley’s return in February 1919:
Kut Hero’s experiences - Brutal Turkish Treatment
Private Stanley Westlake, who was one of the besieged force in Kut, under Gen Townshend, and was taken prisoner when the town surrendered, has arrived home. Private Westlake, who remained a Turkish captive until the end of the war, was after his release taken to Aleppo, and then to Port Said. He was unable to proceed home with the first batch of prisoners on account of an attack of malaria. His non-arrival caused a certain amount of anxiety to his relatives and friends, but they were relieved on getting a letter from a fellow prisoner, stating that Stanley was detained in hospital at Port Said with a slight attack of malaria, and would in all probability be returning home shortly, with a few others, who were also detained in hospital.
He arrived at Southampton on Saturday, and was sent to King George’s Hospital, Waterloo, where he was well looked after, and arrived home on Thursday. In an interview, he says that it was starvation, and not the Turks, that beat the heroic garrison of Kut, and he speaks in high praise of General Townshend, whom he describes as one of the best of officers.
During the march to Baghdad, after being taken prisoner, some of them, (of which he was one) were so weak after the third day’s march that they fell out, and were placed in a cowshed until the arrival of the captured ‘Julnar’, and they were then placed on board, and taken to Baghdad, where he remained in hospital for about ten weeks, the sick being attended to by our own doctors.
After coming out of hospital a party of them had to do the long march to Ras-el-Ain which took about seven weeks. During the march he was ordered six strokes by the Turkish commander for some unknown reason. The Turks treated them very badly, both in the way of food, and also were very severe in meting out punishment for trivial offences and had it not been for the Germans they would have fared much worse, both in food and punishment.
Stanley has been at Niambin during much of his time in captivity, and has been employed from daylight until dusk at road-building, building houses, and blasting, with very scanty food, comprised of bread and water about 10am, and crushed wheat, which they used to boil and make gruel of, about 5pm, with a small portion of meat once a week.
Although, no doubt, he is feeling the effects of his hardships and the recent attack of malaria, he is looking better than his friends expected to see him.
* Required fields