Our People - Arthur Parker
1 May 1917
#14811 Sergeant Arthur Parker
12th (Service) Battalion, King's (Liverpool Regiment)
61st Brigade, 20th (Light) Division
Killed in Action 1 May 1917 age 22
Thiepval Memorial, Somme, France. Ref: Pier and Face 1D 8B and 8C
William James Parker and Emily Hosker were aged 21 when they were married at St. James's Church, Moss Side, Leyland on 12 July 1894. William was a bleacher and Emily a weaver. Their first son, Arthur, was born early in 1895 and baptised at St. James's 31 March 1895. They had two other children, Amy, baptised at St. James's 10 January 1897 and Ethel, born about 1906. William originally hailed from Carlisle, while Emily was a local woman from Cuerden, near Bamber Bridge.
In 1901, the family lived at 3 Broad Street, Leyland and William was working as a 'maker of cotton goods. Emily was at home with Arthur, 6 and Amy, 4. Arthur attended school at Balshaws Grammar School on Church Lane.
By 1911 William and the family had moved to 127 Leyland Lane, also known as Brook Cottage as it was once the nearest house to the Wade Brook. William was still in the cotton industry at a local bleachers - he was described as a 'maker of cotton piece goods.' Emily was at home. Arthur at this time had followed his father into the cotton trade and was employed as a feeder on a stentor frame at a bleaching works. A stentor frame was a device for drying cotton goods after they had been bleached. Both father and son were likely employed by Stannings in Leyland. Amy was working for a draper as a dressmakers apprentice, while the youngest, Ethel, was at home with mum.
Between 1911 and 1914, Arthur had secured a position as a clerk at Leyland Motors Limited. He was connected with Leyland St. James's Church and Sunday schools, and was assistant scoutmaster and secretary of St. James's Band of Hope Society.
Arthur attested at Southport on 1 September 1914. He was living with his parents in Leyland and was still occupied as a clerk. He was 19 years and 250 days and had no previous military service. His service record gives a lot of detail about him which would otherwise be lost. His medical examination showed he was 5 feet 7 and a half inches tall, weighed 144 and a quarter pounds, had a chest measurement of 37 inches with an expansion of 3 inches, a dark complexion, hazel eyes and brown hair and no distinctive marks. He had good physical development and a pulse of 72. He had been vaccinated at infancy with two vaccination marks on his left arm and his vision was normal. He was Church of England.
Arthur joined the 12th (Service) Battalion, King’s (Liverpool Regiment) (KLR) at Seaforth, Liverpool later the same day. The 12th Bn KLR formed part of the Second New Army (K2), then moved to Aldershot and joined the Army Troops 20th Division. Arthur was posted Private on 8 September 1914 and appointed unpaid Lance Corporal 1 November 1914. He was fully inoculated (2 doses) November 1914.
The 12th Bn KLR became part of the 61st Brigade of the 20th Division and moved to Witley January 1915 and Arthur was vaccinated on 28 January 1915. The Battalion then moved to Salisbury Plain February 1915. Arthur was appointed paid Lance Corporal 1 February 1915 and promoted Corporal 3 May 1915. He was obviously showing much promise as he was appointed paid Acting Lance Sergeant 14 March 1916 and confirmed in appointment Lance Sergeant 14 March 1916.
Arthur’s Battalion mobilised for War on 27 July 1915 (1) and landed at Boulogne, from there they were sent to Flanders where they took part in the Battle of Mont Sorrel from 2 to 14 June 1916 (Ypres Salient). Sometime in the next month they were moved to the area of the front around the Somme. They took part in the Battle of Delville Wood from 14 July 1916 to 3 September 1916, during which Arthur was appointed Sergeant and he was confirmed in this rank on 9 August 1916. He missed the end of this battle due to being treated for Pyrexia (fever) of Unknown Origin from 29 August 1916 to 4 September 1916. His battalion were active throughout the rest of the Battle of the Somme, taking part in the following actions:
Arthur was treated for Rheumatism from 18 December 1916 to 19 December 1916. He was killed in action in or around Havrincourt 1 May 1917 during the German retreat to the Hindenburg Line. It would seem that he must have been killed while undergoing routine duties by either rifle fire or shell fire. The War diary of the 12th Battalion reads as follows:
The family plot at St. James's, Leyland says that Arthur was laid to rest close to where he was killed at Havrincourt Wood. It is not in question that his battalion was in the line at Havrincourt at the time, but it would seem that if he was laid to rest where he fell, the grave and marker was lost in the upheaval of war, as Arthur does not have any known grave and he is remembered on the Thiepval Memorial, Somme. He is remembered locally at Balshaws School, Leyland, the Civic Memorial, Leyland, St. James's Cross, Leyland and the South Ribble Memorial, Lostock Hall. Arthur was awarded the 1914-15 Star, British War Medal and Victory Medal. A local newspaper reported his death as follows:
Arthur left effects of £8 18s. 8d. paid to his father William on 29 November 1917 and a further 7s. 6d. paid to his father on 14 March 1918. Army Form W. 5080 (plaque and scroll commemoration) from the Infantry record office was signed by William James Parker 14 July 1919 and witnessed by the Vicar of St.James, Leyland. A War Gratuity of £15 10s. 0d. was paid to William on 9 October 1919. These memorials appeared in the newspapers on the first anniversary of his death:
Footnote: (1) Arthur's service record says that he was in France from 23 July 1915 and his Medal Index Card shows 24 July 1915, but all histories of his regiment show that they embarked 27 July 1915.
Note: During my research into Arthur Parker, I was surprised to find that my cousin x 4 removed, William Nelson and his daughter Catherine were the witnesses at the wedding of Arthur's parents William and Emily. William Nelson ran the smithy shop on Dunkirk Lane, Leyland. It is likely that Emily and Catherine were friends and of course, it was also good luck to have a blacksmith at your wedding!
Number 446 Leyland Lane. This was the house that Arthur Parker grew up in. It was formerly number 127 Leyland Lane - Brook Cottage. The streets of Leyland were re-numbered in the 1930s
A cutting from the c. 1910 Ordnance Survey map of Leyland. Brook Cottage can be seen at the centre. This area is much changed, being well built up in the modern era, but the cottage still survives intact.
Image courtesy of the National Library of Scotland.
Image from a French language historical website
An aerial photograph of the Havrincourt area in March 1917 - a few weeks before Arthur Parker's death. The top of the image is in the South-East. This image was scanned from a photograph in the Dalton Family Papers, held by Cultural Collections at the University of Newcastle, NSW, Australia. It is from a collection of photos and letters by William Dalton, who served in the A.I.F. during World War I.
A full battlefield map of the Havrincourt area in March 1917 can be found at the excellent National Library of Scotland online map collection.