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I’ve only just heard of you, Stanley,
Or rather, Horace Albert, I presume.
Yes, Stanley, christened Horace Albert,
But changing his name for reasons unknown;
Stanley Butler, my dad’s dead cousin,
Who played with dolls at home
Instead of trains and guns and soldiers,
And wasn’t interested in kicking a ball
Or fighting hard in the street or schoolyard,
And was bullied by my dad for so-called effeminacy.
Stanley Butler, officially Horace Albert,
Who did his duty on H.M.S.Hood,
And went down with her on May 24th. 1941,
In the cold North Atlantic passage,
Between Iceland and Greenland,
When the fifth shell fired from the Bismarck
Hit H.M.S. Hood’s magazine.
H.M.S. Hood, the pride of the Royal Navy,
Sunk in 2 minutes when that 10 mile shell
Hit the right spot and blew the Hood in two,
And Stanley Butler, or Horace Albert,
Already divided in two, on earth and air,
Went to a God knows what death
In fire and water with 1,500 others.
That doll playing sensitive boy,
Not bothered with football or fighting,
Now doing his duty for King and for Country
In the cold North Atlantic,
Where two miles down on the deep dark sea bed,
A plaque bears the name of Horace Albert Butler,
Together with 1,500 others.
Rest In Peace, Stanley.
My cousin and my sister and my brother starting researching this family story only at the beginning of December. At that point, we didn’t know if it was true – did he go down on the Hood or was my aunt misremembering? Eerily, within a week of finding out about Stanley, a TV programme about the Hood showed up his name right before our astonished collective eyes.