Serjeant 240621 Eric Vernon Parsons

 Parsons Eric Vernon 96 424x600
Photograph courtesy Imperial War Museum: www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205386824

Killed in Action on Thursday, 21st March 1918, age 30.
Commemorated on Bay 6 of Arras Memorial, Pas De Calais, France.

2nd/6th Bn., Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby Regt.). 178th Brigade of 59th Division.

Son of S. M. and Selina Parsons, of "Sycamore", Ocker Hill Rd., Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Tipton, Enlisted: Ashbourne, Derbys., Resident: Tipton.

First landed France & Flanders, post 31st December 1915.
Medal entitlement: British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.

Commemorated on the St. Mark's Memorial.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.

Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1603331/

Genealogical Data

1901 Census
16 Ocker Hill Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Samuel. M. Parsons (49, Foreman - Roll Turner, born Tipton), his wife Selina (49, born West Bromwich), and their 4 children: Arthur (24, Moulder, born West Bromwich), May (23, born Tipton), Albert William (18, Sugar Boiler, born Tipton), Eric Vernon (13, born Tipton).

1911 Census
20 Oakden Street, Lambeth, London.
Eric Vernon Parsons (23, Boarder, Single, Waiter, born Ocker Hill, Tipton).

Personal Data

After Eric's death, his outstanding army pay and allowances amounted to £21/8/11d (21 pounds, 8 shillings and 11 pence); this was paid to his father, Samuel M., in October 1919. His War Gratuity was £8/0/0d (8 pounds exactly), this was also paid to his father in October 1919. The value of the War Gratuity suggests that Eric had enlisted in December 1916.

Action resulting in his death

Eric was killed on the first day of the German Spring Offensive while his battalion was in the front line trenches at Mory L'Abbaye in the Bullecourt Sector, about 10 miles south of Arras. The battalion was to lose 125 men this day defending their lines when the German attack swept through their positions. Eric has no known grave and is commemorated on the Pozieres Memorial.

The War Diary merely states:
21 March 1918 -
Very heavy enemy barrage on front line from 5am to 9.30am. Enemy attacked at 9.30am. Battalion suffered very heavy casualties.

A narrative written later contained the following more detailed account,
"During the night 20/21st March my patrols were very vigilant but they failed to notice anything unusual in No Man's Land. At 5am the enemy opened a terrific bombardment with guns of all calibres on to Railway Reserve, and the same time commenced shelling the posts in front of that line with trench mortars. The bombardment was continuous until 9am. Simultaneously with the artillery lifting the enemy infantry came forward. This attack was easily stopped and the enemy driven back to its own trenches.
At 10am my left company in Railway Reserve reported that the enemy was attacking in strong force from the direction of Tank Avenue. I was able to reinforce this part of the line where some extremely bitter fighting took place at close quarters. At 10.30am a force of the enemy moved round my flank and occupied Sidney Avenue, the whole of the Railway Embankment was at this time enfiladed from the south by trench mortars and machine guns. I was suffering very heavy losses and it was not possible to collect men to make a bayonet charge which I had ordered to be made.
The enemy after this, by bombing, eventually captured the trenches on the embankment up to the Regimental Aid posts. He had also penetrated on my left. After collecting signallers, runners, servants, Battalion HQ fought (with practically no cover from the rear) until the ammunition was spent, and most of the officers and men were casualties. It was not until we were entirely surrounded that that part of the Railway Embankment near Battalion HQ was taken by the enemy."
Detail courtesy of Graeme Clarke.

Newspaper Cuttings