680960 GNR. W. E. PARKER.  R.F.A.

 

William Edward Parker was born on 29 January 1886 in Dilworth, near Longridge, in Lancashire.  His father was John Parker (b. 1840 in Dutton), an overlooker in a cotton mill.  His mother was Elizabeth Pickup (b. 1840 in Alston).  John and Elizabeth were married in 1862 and they had 11 children, though only 6 survived infancy: William was the youngest, his older siblings were: Alice (b. 1864), Jane (b.1865), Richard (b. 1867), John (b. 1877) and Thomas (b. 1879).  In 1911, William and his older, unmarried sister Alice were living with their parents at 197 Preston Road, Longridge.  William was a carpenter.

 

William enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery in 1915 and was posted to “B” Battery of 286 Brigade.  He was assigned service number 680960.

 

After training, the Brigades left for France in early 1917 and were involved in the heavy fighting to defend the town of Armentières, on the French-Belgian border.  In July 1917 they suffered their first attack by the new mustard gas.  In late September the Brigade was relieved from the front line and withdrew for a period of training, and returned to the line at Langemark about 35km north of Armentières, not far from the small village of Passchendaele, which would be the scene of some of the bloodiest battles of the War.  On 9 October 286 Brigade returned to action engaging in harassing and destructive fire on enemy strongpoints, but also suffering their heaviest losses of the war so far, with many soldiers being gassed.  On 27 October, 285 and 286 Brigades were placed under temporary command of the Canadians as they began the final attack on the village of Passchendaele.  On 28 October, the War Diary reports: “Bombardment and barrage against enemy strong-points and harassing fire by 57th Divisional Artillery Group on front of the XVIII Corps. …  11th Bde RFA (the old name for 286Bde) took part in barrage and bombardment of enemy strong-points on our own front.  1 Other Rank killed in action.  5 Other Ranks wounded.”  These operations were repeated on the following day, and 5 Other Ranks were wounded in action, 11 Other Ranks were gassed and 1 Other Rank was missing (later confirmed dead).  William died of wounds at 46th Casualty Clearing Station (Mendinghem) on 2 November 1917.  He was 31 years old.

 

During the fighting at Passchendaele in October 286 Brigade lost over 300 men, killed and wounded – almost half their full complement. 

 

Rank:  Gunner

Service No:  680960

Date of Death:  02/11/1917

Age:  31

Regiment/Service:  Royal Field Artillery, "B" Bty. 286th Bde.

Grave Reference:  VI. F. 48.

Cemetery:  MENDINGHEM MILITARY CEMETERY

Additional Information:  Son of John and Elizabeth Parker, of 197 Preston Road, Longridge, Preston, Lancs.

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