Stanley John Choat was born into a family of builders where he worked as a carpenter. He joined the army early in the war, went to France in July 1915 where he won the Military Medal. He married on leave in August 1817 but was killed in action the following month.
Stanley was born in Moulsham on 26th April 1889, the youngest child of Charles William Choat and Harriet Choat (nee Collin). He was christened at London Road Congregational Church, Chelmsford on 31st January 1892. His sister Minnie Violet Choat who had been born in Chelmsford on 16th August 1887, was christened the same day. Their father had been born in Chelmsford in 1860; his mother in 1856 in Braintree. The couple had married at St. Paul’s Church in Paddington, London on Christmas Day 1882.
Their other three children were: Charles Collin Choat (1883-1946), Lilian May Choat (born 1885-1891), and Minnie Violet Choat (1887-1972) all in Chelmsford.
The 1891 census found Stanley aged one living with his parents and three siblings at 11 Mildmay Road, Chelmsford. His father was a builder as he was when the 1901 census found 11 year-old Stanley living with his parents and two elder siblings at 2 Mildmay Road (later renumbered as 7). A decade later 21 year-old Stanley was recorded by the 1911 census living with his parents and sister Minnie at 1 Mildmay Road (later renumbered as 5). He was a carpenter and joiner working for his father who was a builder.
Stanley enlisted at Chelmsford and landed in France on 19th July 1915.
He married Elsie Elizabeth Southam at London Road Congregational Church, Chelmsford on 9th August 1917. The following day’s Essex County Chronicle reported:
“Wedding of Military Medalist. - Yesterday, at the London Road Congregational Church, the Rev. T. Mundle officiating, the wedding took place of Cpl. S. J. Choat, M.M., R.E., youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Choat, of Mildmay Road, with Miss Elsie B. Southam, of High Street. The bridegroom, who was one of the first to enlist in Kitchener’s Army, has been at the front for about two years, and is home on ten days’ leave. The ceremony was a quiet one, and there were no bridesmaids. The bride, who wore a fawn costume, was given away by her father, and the best man was Mr. Colin Choat, the bridegroom’s eldest brother, who is with the Fortress Engineers.”
A similar report appeared in the same day’s Essex Weekly News”
“War wedding. - Yesterday the marriage of Corpl. S. J. Choat R.E., M.M., youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Choat, of Mildmay-rd, and Miss Elsie E. Southam, of High-st., took place at the London-rd. Congregational Church, the Rev. T. M. Mundle officiating. The bridegroom arrived home on leave from the Front on Tuesday night. The ceremony was of a quiet character and there were no bridesmaids. The bridegroom was attended by his brother Colin, who is also serving in the Engineer.”
The Supplement to the London Gazette of 17th September 1917 announced the award of Stanley’s Military Medal.
Three days later he was killed in action while serving as Serjeant 43637 in No 3 Section of the 82nd Field Company of the Royal Engineers. He was aged 28. He is buried at Klein-Vierstraat British Cemetery (grave: III. D. 9).
On 28th September 1917 the Essex Weekly News carried a family announcement regarding his death:
“Choat. - Killed in action, on Sept. 20. Stanley J. Choat, M.M., Sergt., Royal Engineers, youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Choat, of Chelmsford, aged 28 years.”
An identical notice appeared in the day’s Essex County Chronicle which also carried a report of his death:
The same day’s Essex Weekly News reported:
“Sergt. Stanley J. Choat, M.M., R.E., killed in action on Sept. 20, was the youngest son of Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Choat, of Chelmsford. Deceased enlisted on Sept. 3, 1914, and went to the Front in the following July. He was of fine physique and very popular Before joining the Forces he was with his father in the building business of Messrs. Choat and Son. He was entitled to the Military Medal for gallantry, but would never say what the deed was. He used to play football for the Y.M.C.A. team, of which he was captain. On August 9th last deceased was married to Miss Elsie E. Southam, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Southam of Chelmsford. His section commander writes to the deceased’s widow:’His death was a heavy blow to me as I had great regard for him, both as a
CHOAT, STANLEY JOHN,
Serjeant, 82nd Field Company, Royal Engineers
man and as a soldier. Your husband died doing his duty nobly as a soldier. I was close beside him when the shell burst, and had him immediately taken to the dressing station, but his life was over before he got there, He suffered no pain, as he was struck on the head and became unconscious immediately. His section feel the loss as if each man had lost his brother.’”
His cousin, Richard Frank Choat, had been killed serving with the same unit on 28th July 1916.
Stanley is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford, the Moulsham War Memorial at St. John’s Church, and was commemorated at the now demolished London Road Congregational Church, Chelmsford. He was entitled to the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, and Victory Medal.
His mother died a few weeks after Stanley, on 18th October 1917, aged 69. The Essex County Chronicle of 19th October 1917 reported:
“Death of Mrs. Choat. - We regret to announce the death of Mrs. Choat, wife of Mr. Chas. Wm. Choat, of Mildmay Road, which occurred yesterday after a very short illness. Mrs. Choat had not been feeling well since the news arrived of the death of her younger son., Sergt. Stanley Choat, who was killed in action two months ago. On Wednesday she became suddenly worse, and an operation was necessary, but the patient did not rally from it. She leaves one son and one daughter, with whom, as with Mr. Choat,himself, and Mrs, Stanley Choat, much sympathy will be felt. The son is in the Fortress Engineers, and the daughter is the wife if Rifleman Cyril Killick, who unfortunately is reported missing. The funeral will take place in the London Road Cemetery on Wednesday.”
A similar report appeared in the day’s Essex Weekly News:
“Death of Mrs. Choat. - We regret to state that yesterday Mrs. Harriet Choat, wife of Mr. C. W. Choat. builder of Mildmay-rd., died at Chelmsford Hospital after an operation. Deceased, who was admitted to the Hospital on Wednesday. recently lost her younger son, Sergt.. S. J. Choat, M.M., R.E., who was killed at the Front on Sept. 20; and leaves another son, who is shortly proceeding to the Front. The sad termination of her illness is much regretted by a numerous circle of friends, and great sympathy is felt with the bereaved husband in this his second loss within a month.”
The 1918 register of electors listed Stanley’s father still at 1 Mildmay Road. His father died on 21st December 1934, aged 74.