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Roland Valentine Whisker (1897-1921)

Stanley coal miner served as a corporal in the Durham Light Infantry

Roland Valentine Whisker was born in Stanley in 1897. His father was John Whisker (1868-1908), a colliery horse-keeper who was born in Whitehaven, Cumberland. His mother was Isabella Whisker nee Carr (b 1871), a coal miner’s daughter from West Pelton. His parents married in Chester le Street in 1887 and had six known children giving Roland four brothers and one sister, who died in infancy. In 1901 the Whisker family lived at 22 Middle Street, Stanley. By 1911 they had moved to 9 Shafto Terrace, Shield Row where Roland was working as a pony driver in a local coal mine.

Roland attested in the Durham Light Infantry (DLI) on 1 September 1915. He initially served as a private in the 8th Battalion with the service number 8/4243. At some later date he was transferred to the 5th Battalion, DLI, renumbered 203369, and promoted to lance corporal. Roland fought in the Battle of the Somme in July 1916 and during this battle suffered from the effects of gas. He was later involved in an explosion and these two incidences left him suffering from shell shock. This led to Roland being discharged due to sickness on 28 September 1917. Roland was awarded Silver War Badge number 254311 on discharge. This badge was awarded to servicemen who were honourably discharged due to illness or injury.

Following these experiences, a newspaper article suggests Roland struggled to return to his life he had before the war, not being able to return to his previous employment in the colliery. Roland did use his skill as an athlete as goalkeeper in the Twizell United Football Club.

Roland died of sickness on 30 June 1921 and he was buried in St Andrew’s Churchyard, Stanley. The inscription on his headstone reads “In loving memory of Roland Valentine Whisker the beloved son of Isabella and the late John Whisker who departed this life June 30th 1921 aged 24 years. Also, Samuel son of the above who departed this life September 23rd 1929 aged 36 years as a result of injuries received in the Great War”. Roland’s funeral was reported in the Stanley Times which is attached below.

Roland Valentine Whisker was also awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal for his service in World War One.

Civil Parish: Tanfield

Birth date: 1897

Death date: 30-Jun-1921

Armed force/civilian: Army

Residence: 22 Middle Street, Stanley (1901 census)
9 Shafto Terrace, Shield Row (1911 census)

Organisation membership: Church Lad’s Brigade, St Andrew’s, Stanley
Twizell United A.F.C

Employment: Coal miner – pony driver (1911 census)

Family: Parents: John Whisker (1868-1908), Isabella Whisker nee Carr (b 1871)
Siblings: John Robert Whisker (b 1889), Selina Whisker (1890-1893), Samuel Whisker (b 1893), Norman Whisker (b 1899), John Carr Whisker (b 1904)

Military service:

Durham Light Infantry
8th Battalion
Durham Light Infantry
5th Battalion
Lance corporal

Medal(s): British War Medal
Victory Medal
Silver War Badge

Memorial(s): St Andrew’s Churchyard, Stanley

Gender: Male

Contributed by David D, Stanley, Co Durham