A WELL-KNOWN and loved soldier from Todmorden has died after being injured in a blast in Afghanistan.
Corporal Jack Stanley, of the Queen’s Royal Hussars, passed away in hospital in Birmingham on Sunday.
The 26-year-old’s death has been a massive shock to his many friends in Todmorden who had thought he was recovering from the injuries he suffered in an explosion two months ago.
Susan Landale, landlady at Jack’s House pub, where Cpl Stanley was a regular whenever he was home on leave, said: “He’d fought so hard and turned a corner.
“We knew his injuries were horrific and he wasn’t OK but we thought he was getting better.
“His death has come as a huge shock for everyone round here.”
She said the news broke on Sunday tea-time, and still has not hit home.
“On Monday everyone just wanted to be together but it hasn’t sunk in.”
Corporal Stanley was a Section Commander who went out to Afghanistan in October last year. He was hurt on February 3 while on a patrol tasked to improve the understanding of the area and the local population.
While moving from a compound and crossing into a field, Corporal Stanley was caught in the blast from an improvised explosive device and suffered serious injuries.
He was immediately evacuated by helicopter to the Camp Bastion Role 3 Medical Facility being transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham where he battled his injuries for two months before dying on Sunday.
“He was one of the nicest people that you could ever meet,” said Mrs Landale.
“He always thought of other people and always put his friends and others first.
“I can’t think of one person who I’ve ever heard say a bad word about him.”
The pub hosted a leaving party for him in September before he left for Afghanistan.
When they heard he had been injured, people in Todmorden started fund raising for him. Wristbands with the message ‘I support Jack Stanley’ went on sale, with the first batch selling out in a matter of weeks.
Fund raising events including a music festival in June have also been planned in his honour.
He leaves behind his mother, Brenda, his father, Tom, his sister Rachael, who are understood to live in Littleborough, and his girlfriend Sarah.
His mother said: “Jack was a kind, generous lad with a ready smile. His dedication to his regiment was equalled only by his passion for Bolton Wanderers Football Club.
“He fought so hard to stay with us and the devastation we feel cannot be described. The world is duller without him and heaven brighter.”
Corporal Stanley, a former Todmorden High School student, joined the army in January 2003 and, after training, joined The Queen’s Royal Hussars in December 2003.
He deployed to Iraq on in 2006 and the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said even then he was already making a name for himself as a gifted young soldier.
On his return from Iraq, he was put into Reconnaissance Troop, where he excelled. Such was his talent for soldiering, he remained in Reconnaissance Troop, including a return to Iraq as a member of the Brigade Reconnaissance Force.
His talents were not confined to soldiering and he was also an outstanding footballer and a key member of the regimental team which won the British Army Cup in 2010 and the Cavalry Cup in 2011.
He was described as “an enormously popular soldier and a lynchpin of his company’s tight-knit community with his ready laugh and positive attitude”.
The MOD also said: “To those he worked for he was a steadfast and talented commander; to his peers a stalwart comrade in arms; to his subordinates a trusted leader and role model and to his many friends a joy to be around. He was, in short, an exemplary soldier and by those who had the honour to call him a friend and serve with him, he shall be sorely missed and never forgotten.”
Lieutenant Colonel Ian Mortimer, Commanding Officer, The Queen’s Royal Hussars Battle Group, said: “Right from the beginning he made a huge impression. Such was his ability and flair for soldiering he was quickly singled out to join the Regiment’s Reconnaissance Troop where he excelled.
“He was utterly dedicated to his friends and the regiment, and this just shone through in everything he did.
“Hugely popular with all ranks he was known for his quick wit and ready smile, even in the darker moments. Professional, fit, robust and utterly determined, he thrived on the challenges of army life, whether it was on operations in Iraq, or here in Afghanistan.
“He was fantastic at his job and also a renowned footballer. Both on and off the sports-field he excelled. He epitomised the very best of his generation. We have lost a most outstanding soldier who was an inspiration to all. Junior soldiers aspired to be like Stan.”
Major Alexander Porter, Officer Commanding C Company, The Queen’s Royal Hussars Battle Group, added: “It has been an honour and a privilege to command Corporal Jack Stanley for the last 13 months.
“His enthusiasm, sense of humour and professionalism were infectious and his subordinates had a clear sense of loyalty to him.
“Corporal Stanley’s performance in Afghanistan was outstanding. As an indication of his dedication to the job in hand, only weeks before the incident I had appraised the Brigade Commander of his actions when treating an Afghan Uniformed Policeman who had been severely injured whilst out on patrol.
“As a friend and sportsman, his competitive streak was tireless; on numerous occasions I would be certain of victory in our regular cross country running competitions, only to see Corporal Stanley effortlessly breeze past me in the final few hundred metres.
“The whole company are shocked and saddened by this devastating loss of a life in its prime. We have all been deprived of one of the army’s finest soldiers and he will be dearly missed.”
Warrant Officer Class 2 Graeme Davidson, Company Sergeant Major, C Company, The Queen’s Royal Hussars Battle Group said: “Corporal Stanley had the ability to lighten up any situation and with one swift comment he could have the whole company in fits of laughter. He inspired his men and lead by example on the battlefield showing courage and determination when it was needed most.”