Stanley embarked in the Llandovery Castle at London Docks with his draft of 350 RAMC men on 21 August 1916. The Landovery Castle was a pre-war Union Castle liner, used as a troopship in the early years of WWI. The Llandovery Castle as Stanley knew itWhile Stanley was training at Tweseldown the ship was bringing the 11th East Lancs, The Accrington Pals, from Egypt to France in preparation for the 1916 Somme offensive. They were in the first wave of attack on July 1st and were virtually wiped out. A sister battalion, the 9th East Lancs, was in Salonika, and they too were to suffer badly in the action at Machine Gun Hill described on this Travoys webpage. Many were treated in the church at Smol, the church shown in the painting, which featured then as an Advanced Dressing Station .

The Llandovery Castle was later assigned to the Canadian forces and adapted as a clearly-marked hospital ship. On a return voyage to Europe from Halifax Nova Scotia, she was torpedoed on 27 June 1918 by German submarine U86 off the coast of Ireland in one of the most nefarious incidents of the War. Helmut Patzig, the commander of the U86, was convinccd she was carrying munitions, but finding no evidence, decided to shell the survivors' lifeboats in an attempt to conceal his breach of international convention. 146 lives were lost, of whom 14 were Canadian nurses. Captain Kenneth Cummins, then a young merchant navy officer, recalled the horror of coming across their floating corpses, Their aprons had dried out in the sun and were blown up by the wind like little sails (Times obituary 13.12.06.)

After the war, the Allies tried to find Patzig to bring him to justice, but he had disappeared.
                                                                                                                                                             The 1925 Llandovery Castle


Working in WWII in the Clyde shipyards on sketches for his shipbuilding paintings, Stanley recorded his delight at seeing what he thought was his former troopship sailing the Clyde. But this was a replica built by Union Castle in 1925 as a replacement. It was de-commisioned and scrapped in 1953.