Richard Been Stannard VC DSO RD

b. 21/08/1902 Blyth, Northumberland. d. 22/07/1977 Sydney, Australia.

Richard Been Stannard (1902-1977) was born on 21st August 1902 in Blyth, Northumberland, the eldest of five children born to George Davis Stannard (1873-1912) and Elizabeth Jane (nee Knowles). He had younger brothers called Knowles and John, and two sisters, Mary Helen and Ella. By 1911, the family were living in Cowpen Quay, Blyth, but tragedy struck the family a year later, when George’s ship, the Mount Oswald, was lost with all hands on a voyage from Baltimore, USA in February 1912. Richard was then educated at the Royal Naval Merchant School for orphans of merchant seamen.

Richard B Stannard

Stannard went to sea as an apprentice in the Port Line ship Port Victor in 1918 and in March 1929 joined the Orient Line and was also appointed a probationary sub-lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve. He was promoted Lieutenant in 1932. In 1928 at West Ham he married Phyllis May, nee Tomkin and they had two daughters.

He was awarded the Victoria Cross for his command of the armed trawler HMS Arab at Namsos, Norway, between April 28th and May 2nd, 1940 when his vessel was subjected to 31 bombing attacks. When Namsos jetty was hit and ammunition set on fire, Stannard ran Arab’s bows against the wharf and endeavoured for two hours to extinguish the fire with hoses from the forecastle. He succeeded in saving a part of the jetty which was invaluable in the evacuation of Namsos. He established an armed camp under shelter of a cliff where off duty seamen could rest with safety. When another trawler was hit and about to blow up, he with two others boarded Arab and moved her 100 yards to safety. When leaving the fjord Arab was attacked by a German bomber which ordered him to steer east or be sunk. He kept on his course, held his fire till the enemy was within 800 yards and then shot the aircraft down. Stannard sailed his ship with damaged rudder and propeller and cracked main engine castings back to England.

He was promoted Lieutenant-Commander on June 29th and presented with the Victoria Cross by King George VI at Buckingham Palace on September 3rd, 1940. He was captain of the destroyer Vimy which with the Beverly sank U18 on February 4th, 1943 in the Atlantic for which he was made a Companion of the Distinguished Service Order.

He was promoted Commander on June 30th, 1947 and Captain in May 1952. In 1947, he had rejoined the Orient Line and in 1955 was appointed Marine Superintendent of the Orient Line in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. In 1960, he became Marine Superintendent of the P&O Orient Lines of Australia. From then until 1973, he served on the Council of the Royal Humane Society of New South Wales. Stannard died on 22nd July 1977 in Sydney, New South Wales, and was cremated at the Rookwood Crematorium, Sydney. His medals including the VC and DSO are not publicly held.





Richard Yielding – Stannard VC Plaque at Rookwood Cemetery and Crematorium, Sydney.

Steve Lee – Replica Stannard VC Medal Group on display at HMS President London.