Towards the end of 2007, I started to research the ancestry of my partner Gillian, whose family surname is Stanley. This was originally sparked off in August 2007 with an enquiry from her cousin's partner Eleanor trying to find links to the Channel Islands which, according to family legend, were the roots of their common grandmother.
At the time of the initial enquiry, all we knew about the grandparents (maternal) in question was their surnames - Bowen (male) and de Gruchy(female). The Bowen link was known to be Welsh, quite close to Bristol, and the de Gruchy link was reputed to be Guernsey. A search through marriage records in the early 1900s on Ancestry only brought up one possibility, that being one between a James Bowen and an Annie Maud de Gruchy in Paddington, London in the June quarter of 1908. The place of marriage seemed to completely contradict the family legends of the origins of the relevant Bowen and de Gruchy links. Nevertheless I passed the marriage reference to Eleanor for her to pursue.
Meanwhile, whilst retrieving the Christmas decorations from the loft, we uncovered Gillian's father's Naval Uniform, which had lain there untouched since we moved into the house some 13 years ago! With some interest sparked in her ancestry, we examined what else was with the uniform - a couple of photo albums containing photos of his time in China aboard HMS Cornwall between 1931 and 1933, a ratings cap band from HMS Auckland and a framed photograph taken on the deck of HMS Nelson on 17/07/1928. The later was very interesting with Gillian's father standing a couple of places away from King George V! - this photo is shown in the Stanley photo gallery.
Gillian's main recollection of her father was that he was blown out of his ship HMS Auckland during WWII and spent 13 hours in the water before being rescued, at times being shot at by German aircraft. Verification of this story was my first main task. Internet sources for WWII ships and their history is very extensive and it was not long before I found that HMS Auckland was sunk on 24th June 1941 whilst escorting a petrol tanker into Tobruk. The story is quite horrific with the convoy, which also contained another escort HMAS Parramatta, being attacked in late afternoon ~17.30 - by 3 squadrons of German Ju88 - Stuka - dive bombers. The stern of HMS Auckland was blown off and she lost all steering control and veered towards HMAS Parramatta! About an hour later, she was raised some 5 to 6 feet out of the water by an internal explosion and sank. This certainly verified the sinking, but what about the time in the water? In early March 2008, I found a family history account of Cyril Claude PHILLPOTT (1914 - 1982) who had been on HMS Auckland and had spent 11 hours in the water before being rescued.
Even more spectacular was the discovery, amongst some loose photographs in Richard Stanley's collection, of actual pictures, taken by someone on HMAS Parramatta, of the sinking of HMS Auckland - some of these are shown in the Stanley et al photo gallery.
Subsequent research on the Stanley et al lines are detailed on other pages, accessible from the top of this page.