RFA West Lancs Bdes
681275 DVR. R. PARKINSON. R.F.A.
Robert Parkinson was born in the last quarter of 1896 in Great Eccleston, Lancashire. His father was William Parkinson (b. 1849 in Great Eccleston), a farmer. His mother was Jane Clarkson (b. 1859 in Great Eccleston). William and Jane were married in 1892 and they had five children, though they lost two in infancy. Robert was the oldest, followed by Thomas (b. 1898) and May (b. 1900). In 1911, the family lived at Park Cottage Farm in Great Eccleston. Robert’s occupation is not recorded but aged 14 he was presumably working on the family farm.
Robert presumably served in the Territorials before the War. When he enlisted in the Royal Field Artillery he was assigned service number 3418 (which was later changed to 681275) and he was posted to “A” Battery of 276 Brigade. However, he did not go with the initial group who landed in France in September 1915, he was sent out with reinforcements later, though I don’t know precisely when.
55th Division relieved 42nd (East Lancashire) Division in the front line at Givenchy and Festubert on 15 February 1918. Here, it faced numerous strong enemy raids in March. Early April was at first much quieter but this was the quiet before the storm.
From the War Diary
9 April 1918 4.15am Enemy opened heavy H.E. and Gas bombardment on all Battery areas, Headquarters, and Wagon Lines. Batteries opened on “Counter preparation” and later on S.O.S. Hostile infantry reported attacking, and pressing back our Infantry on the Left. 164th Infantry Brigade still holding GIVENCHY. Continuous hostile shelling throughout the day. Enemy infantry at one time reached forward gun of A/276 Battery in GUNNER SIDING, but counter-attacked and driven off.
6.42pm A/276 Bty report all guns destroyed and personnel manning trench in front of position. Ordered to move personnel to Wagon lines with all material that can be salved. D/276 Battery moved forward gun back to main position. Throughout the day information received of enemy concentration. Batteries opened fire on all occasions, and with the exception of local encounters no further attack on a large scale developed on Group Front.
8.00pm Information received that 800 prisoners captured to date.
10 April 1918 7.30am FESTUBERT heavily shelled and enemy attacking in neighbourhood of LOISNE. (The enemy attack continued throughout the day but by) 8.30pm Infantry report enemy attack driven off. All Batteries ceased fire on S.O.S. lines but continued harassing fire at slow rate.
11-14 April The enemy attacked, were repulsed, re-grouped and attacked again, but the ferocity of the attacks slowly diminished. They make another effort on 18 April but again are repulsed. On 26 April 164th Infantry Brigade feel confident enough to mount a counter-attack which is initially successful but they are later forced back to their original line.
The enemy attack continued until 18 April, when it slackened off then ceased. On 20 April, the Division re-captured a number of trenches near Givenchy and skirmishes continued until the end of the month but neither side made any gains.
During May, the Brigade remained near Givenchy but there were no more attacks and on 27 May they were relieved from the line and withdrew to bivouac at Bois des Dames. They moved back into the line between 9-12 June and between 13-20 June they supported a number of infantry raids. Throughout July, August and September they engaged in harassing fire, mainly by night. Some relatively minor infantry raids were mounted but the action was mainly to disrupt the enemy and prevent any counterattack. On 2 October, the Brigade received information that the Germans had begun to withdraw and the Brigade then began its advance. They reached Hantay on 4 October. Shortly after this Robert was wounded in action and he died of his wounds on 10 October 1918, aged 22.
Service No: 681275
Date of Death: 10/10/1918
Regiment/Service: Royal Field Artillery, “A” Bty, 276th Bde. Cemetery/memorial reference: X. E. 4.
Cemetery/Memorial: LAPUGNOY MILITARY CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of William and Jane Parkinson, of Park Cottage Farm, Great Eccleston, Garstang, Lancs.
Robert’s brother Thomas also served in the Army. He was 115030 Cpl. Thomas Senior Parkinson, Machine Gun Corps. Tom was born in 1898 and he enlisted on 24 June 1916. He was posted to 34th MG Company. 34th MGC was attached to 11th (Northern) Division. For details of 11th Division campaigns see here. He was discharged on 21 February 1919 and he received a pension as at some point he was wounded, by shrapnel or gunshot. Tom married in 1929, and he died in 1979.