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Ernest Parkinson was born at 71 Aqueduct Street in Preston in 1895 to Robert and Maria Parkinson (nee Sumner). His parents got married in Emmanuel Church in Preston on the 22nd February 1880 and Ernest was one of six surviving children; Ada (1880), Albert (1881), Walter (1885), Ernest (1895)*, Frederick (1897) and Robert (1901).

When the 1901 Census came along the family was still living in the house where Ernest had been born at 71 Aqueduct Street in Preston. Ernest`s maternal grandmother, 81 year old Mary Sumner was also with the family at the time. Ernest`s father Robert, his brother Walter and sister Ada were all working in one of the local mills whilst his brother Albert was a hairdresser.

By the time of the 1911 Census the family had moved to 87 Aqueduct Street and Ernest`s father had changed his occupation and was now a Life Insurance Agent. His grandmother Mary Sumner had passed away and his sister Ada had married and left home. The Census record also shows that Ernest had also started work by this time and had gone into the same profession as his brother Albert and was working as an apprentice hairdresser.

After the outbreak of war Ernest enlisted into the 4th Battalion (TF) of the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, his papers dated 14th October 1914. He was issued with the service number 2913 (later changed to 200801) and posted to the 2/4th Battalion LNL. At his medical inspection he was recorded as being 5`6” tall and had normal vision and was in good physical condition, all of which proved him fit for active service.

The 2/4th Battalion LNL was formed in Preston in October 1914. They moved to Ashford in September 1915 and placed under the command of 170th Brigade in 57th (2nd West Lancashire) Division. Whilst the Battalion was in training at Ashford Ernest developed scabies and had to spend 4 days in hospital (28/9/15 – 2/10/15).  From Ashford the Battalion moved on to Aldershot in July 1916 and then to nearby Blackdown in October. On the 8th February 1917 they landed at Le Havre in France. On the 28th July 1917 Ernest was wounded with a gun-shot wound to his forearm which resulted in him being admitted to a field hospital for treatment. After being passed fit he re-joined the Battalion on the 8th August 1917. Ernest was granted two weeks home leave from 5th to the 19th February 1918 but for some reason he did not return until the 21st February which resulted in him being charged and then punished with the loss of 2 days` pay.

From early May until the last week in August the Battalion was in and around the old British front line, east of Fonquevillers and Hebuterne. When they left this area in late August 1918 the Battalion marched to Bailleulmont, arriving there on the 25th of the month and after resting up until late afternoon they then moved up to the Hindenburg Line, taking up a position in Shaft Avenue in support of the 172nd Brigade.

Sadly, Ernest was killed in action on the 29th August 1918 and the following is the Battalion account of the operations of that day;

“Moved up to the front line, taking over from the 2/4th South Lancashire. Zero hour was 1 p.m. and our first objective was the Hendecourt-Bullecourt road, the second being Greyhound Trench. The first objective was to be taken without a barrage; and our left flank was unprotected owing to the Canadians being 1,000 yards away. We succeeded in gaining our objective, and the battalion on our right, the 2/5th King`s Own Royal Lancaster, captured Riencourt. Our objective was taken by 2 p.m.

The Battalion held onto its objective during the night of the 29th-30th, although the enemy attacked about 12.35 p.m. on the 30th in large numbers, he was beaten off three times suffering heavy casualties. Owing to the Battalion on our right having to retire from Riencourt, we were ordered about 1.30 p.m. to withdraw to Cemetery Avenue, and this line the Battalion held until relieved about 4 p.m. by the 171st Brigade, when we moved back to the support area, and the following night was passed in Tunnel Trench”.

The Battalion War Diary does not give any detail with regard to their losses for the periods of August and September 1918. Ernest`s papers also note that he was a qualified despatch rider but whether he was killed in this capacity is not clear.

Ernest`s father had passed away in 1912 so his mother Maria, as his next of kin, was notified of her sons` death and his obituary later appeared in the Preston Guardian;

His personal effects were posted to his mother Maria on the 28th April 1919 and these comprised; letters, photographs, cards, a photo wallet, cap badge, 2 copper coins, pocket book and wallet.

After the war Maria Parkinson also received the British War and Victory Medals that Ernest was awarded along with his Memorial Plaque and Scroll.

Ernest was originally buried in one of the smaller more isolated cemeteries but after the war his remains were exhumed and he was reinterred in H.A.C. Cemetery, Ecoust-St.Mein.


Ron Crowe
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