Killed in Action Egypt on Sunday, 23rd April 1916, age 19.
Commemorated on Panel 3 and 5 of Jerusalem Memorial, Israel.
Queen's Own Worcestershire Hussars (Worcester Yeomanry). 5th Mounted Brigade.
Son of Harry and Lois Parsons, of 4, Barnett St., Tividale, Tipton, Staffs.
Born: Old Hill, Enlisted: Worcester, Resident: Dudley.
First landed Egypt, 30th November 1915.
Medal entitlement: 1914-15 Star, British War Medal, Victory Medal.
Soldier's Papers at National Archives did not survive.
Commemorated on the Tipton Library, Dudley Clock Tower, and Christ Church, Coseley memorials.
Commemorated here because he appears on a Tipton memorial.
Link to Commonwealth War Graves Site: www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/1646596/
1 Hipkins Street, Tipton, Staffs.
Harry Parsons (33, Traveller, born Cradley Heath), his wife Lois (34, born Tipton), and their 3 children: Eric Douglas (5, born Cradley Heath), Horace Norman (4, born Old Hill), and Leslie Ewan (6 months, born Tipton).
25 Wednesbury Oak Road, Tipton, Staffs.
Harry Parsons (43, Commission Agent, born Cradley Heath), his wife Lois (44, born Princes End), and their 3 children: Eric Douglas (15, Errand Boy, born Cradley Heath), Horace Norman (14, Assistant in Printing Trade, born Old Hill), and Leslie Ewan (10, School, born Princes End).
In 1915 and 1916 the Turkish Army, led by German military advisor Friedrich Kress von Kressenstein, pushed into Egypt intending to capture the Suez Canal and halt its use by Britain and the British Empire. This saw heavy fighting in the Sinai Peninsula.
The Worcester Yeomanry were transferred to Egypt in late 1915, and in early 1916 were repulsing the Turkish attacks towards the Suez Canal. The Worcester Yeomanry were able to capture the important oasis of Katia, 40 miles east of Port Said but with the enemy on high ground overlooking them. There was insufficient time to reinforce their position or acquire reinforcements before the Turks attacked on April 23rd 1916 (Easter Sunday).
Two squadrons of the Worcester Yeomanry held Katia and faced 2,000 Turks and 1,000 German and Austrian troops, mounted on camels and supported by artillery and machine guns. The Yeomanry suffered heavily from shell fire destroying their horses, forcing the men to make a fighting retreat on foot. The mounted Turks overlapped them on both flanks, shooting many down and taking prisoners. A counter attack by the Warwickshire Yeomanry and Gloucestershire Hussars pushed the enemy back and allowed the remnants of the Worcester Yeomanry to escape, and Katia was abandoned.
The Worcester Yeomanry lost 88 men on the 23rd April at Katia of whom only 2 men have known graves. The remainder, including Horace Parsons, are commemorated on the Jerusalem Memorial.
A number of the Dudley survivors of that black day for the Worcester Yeomanry would meet up on Easter Sunday every year to commemorate their fallen comrades in a liquid fashion in the public houses of Dudley! The following detail was provided by the Worcester City Museum web site www.worcestercitymuseums.org.uk/coll/object/oldobj3/obapr.htm
Queen's Own Worcestershire Hussars at Katia 23rd April 1916.
On the 23rd of April, 1916, the Queen's Own Worcestershire Hussars - only about 420 men strong - was on outpost duty guarding the Suez Canal, when they were attacked by an overwhelming force of 3,000 Turkish infantry.
Despite the heavy odds, they dug in the best they could at Oghratina and Katia. They were hoping to hold off the Turkish attack for as long as possible, until help could arrive from the main garrisons along the edge of the Canal. Help never did arrive, and after hours of fighting in the hot sand under the burning sun, they were forced to surrender or face annihilation.
Corporal A. G. Dabbs recalls:
"It was just about midday, terribly hot lying on the sand ... Suddenly I saw the right flank beginning to fall back and saw that the Turks were in amongst them. Then the Turks opposite us leapt up shouting 'Allah, Allah' and charged us. I stood up and fixed my bayonet and waited for the end, hoping it would come quickly. I felt very miserable to think that I had to die, especially in a hole in the desert like this, and I wondered how my people would get to know of it and who would be alive to write and tell them. I wondered which of the advancing Turks would kill me and if I should be able to kill one or two before I was done in. We had almost stopped firing and the Turks too and it was strangely quiet except for their shouting.
Then the Colonel suddenly said "It's no good, boys, throw done your rifles." Very gladly I obeyed although feeling very cheap and very much conquered as I held up my hands."
The prisoners faced a harrowing march across the desert without proper supplies of food or water to Beersheba and on to Jerusalem. It was the start of an 800 mile journey deep into Turkey, where they would spend the rest of the war in appalling conditions. Many would die from ill-treatment, disease or malnutrition.
In Jerusalem they were received in style - they were believed to be the first Christian prisoners marched into the city since the Crusades in the Middle Ages. Corporal Dabbs described the scene:
"Suddenly we rounded the corner of a hill and came upon Jerusalem, a beautiful sight, the city within the walls being all white houses with flat roofs and scarcely any windows - very Oriental looking, and the whole place full of churches of every style and of mosques.
Here evidently our coming was expected - flags were flying everywhere, a red carpet was down on the platform and many high officials were waiting to meet us. Also, what we found very interesting was a large stage erected above the platform and crowded with Turkish ladies - the wives of the officials below - all in black with black veils. As their lords and masters were below them and could not see possibly them many of these ladies became very free, throwing back their veils and smiling and waving their hands at us.
Then we were marched out of the station into the hot, sun-steeped road and formed up in two's in order that we should look a longer line. There were hundreds of spectators lining the road ... They all looked very sorry for us and we certainly looked very extraordinary objects for some had lost their helmets and had tied handkerchiefs around their heads, others had lost their jackets and marched in their shirt sleeves, and none of us had shaved for a fortnight."
At Katia nearly 250 men were taken prisoner, and over 100 were killed or died of wounds. Afterwards, the Regiment could muster only 54 men fit for duty. Their sacrifice held the Turkish attack long enough for a proper defence of Suez to be organised, though, and the Canal - Britain's supply life-line to India and the rest of the Empire - was kept open.