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William Henry Parsons was the son of James and Emma Parsons, of 37 Vernon Street, Hill Fields, Coventry.

On 3rd September 1902, William, aged 18 years 7 months, enlisted in the Army on a short service engagement of 3 years in the Colours, followed by 9 in the Reserves. He had till now been working as a bicycle mechanic.

At his enlistment medical he was described as being 5ft 7in tall, weighing 124lbs. He was of fresh complexion with hazel coloured eyes and brown hair.

In November 1902 Private Parsons joined the 1st Battalion, Loyal North Lancs, but was then posted into the 2nd Battalion in Gibraltar the following April. He was appointed as a ‘bandsman’. William spent a year in Gibraltar, followed by 18 months in South Africa between April 1904 till September 1905.

During this first period with the LNL, William received three Regimental entries for misconduct.

  1. Urinating his bed – confined to barracks for 7 days / pay for bedding.
  2. Creating a disturbance in camp, then breaking out of camp remaining absent till the following day – deducted one days pay.
  3. Reporting sick without cause – confined to barracks for 8 days and forfeited his only good conduct badge.

In September 1905, on the expiration of his service in the Colours, and his transfer to the Reserve, his conduct was described as ‘Fair – a good worker’. He was now 21 years 8 months old.

As a reservist, he attended a training camp on Wedgnock ranges, Warwick in 1909, 1911 and 1913.

At the beginning of August 1914, Private Parsons was recalled to the Army, and on 12th August he sailed to France with the 1st Battalion.

The Battalion were soon present and ‘under-fire’ during the infamous ‘Retreat from Mons’.

The Battalion had been billeted at Pargnan since the 19th September, however had twice been called back to support portions of the line.

On the 23rd/24th September (at around the same time as his ‘Reservist’ commitment of 9 years was about to expire), William was admitted to the No 2 Field Ambulance, as having sustained a ‘shell wound’ to his back. Twelve other men (including Lieutenant J. H. Miller) were also wounded by shrapnel on this day.

On 1st October 1914, the British Red Cross reported that William had died from his wounds at the No 1 B.R.C.S Hospital at the Hotel Astoria in Paris. He was 31 years old.

William had been a talented footballer. When the Coventry Evening Telegraph reported that he had died 22nd October, they mentioned he started his football career at Brook Villa, and was later with Foleshill Great Heath and St Michaels. William had been a full back of the ‘robust and bustling’ type and possessed great agility. 

For his War service, William was awarded the 1914 Star with clasp, British War Medal and Victory Medal – all of which his father, James later acknowledged as having been received.

Private William Henry Parsons is buried in the City of Paris Cemetery.

Rank: Private
Service No: 6847
Date of Death: 01/10/1914
Age: 31
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 1st Bn.

Paul McCormick
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