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War Memorials

In Memory of
Private 27413
17th Sherwood Foresters (Notts & Derby) Regiment
Killed in Action on Thursday, 27th September 1917
Age 29

Plot XII Row E Grave 14
Hooge Crater Cemetery, West Flanders, Belgium

Commemorated in Perpetuity
by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission
Remembered with Honour

Hooge Crater Cemetery, Belgium1

Frank Parkes was born in Nottingham in 18882, the fourth, of six children of Abraham (b. c1859, Nottingham) and Caroline, his wife (b. c1862, Nottingham, née Clark). By the time Abraham and his family moved to Beeston, probably in about 1909, he had already established himself as a curtain lace maker in Lenton, Notts. It seems likely that he had seen the opportunity to fill the vacuum that had occurred when Wilkinson's lace empire finally folded in 1906 - with both a market and a skilled workforce up for grabs. Grasping those opportunities, Parkes moved part of his manufacturing operation to Beeston and rented the front section of Anglo-Scotian mills from the Pollard family, which had acquired the complex from the liquidators. And, he was clearly here to stay, having gone as far as to excavate the floor level by four or five feet to accommodate his curtain lace machines. By 1911, Abraham, his wife and their three youngest, unmarried children were living at 89 Imperial Road in the fashionable Imperial Park area of Beeston. Frank. then aged 22 and his younger brother Henry, were working as lace makers, presumably for their father, and their sister Ethel was working in the company office3.

In 1912, Frank married Sophie Meller, following which the couple set up home at 1 Grove Cottages, Castle Boulevard, Nottingham4. Their daughter Ethel, who was to be their only child, was born in 1916.5.

Frank enlisted with the Sherwood Foresters in June 19156, at a time when the Army was still depending on volunteers to maintain its numbers, in the face of the attrition on all the fighting fronts in which it was engaged. Training began immediately - apparently with 19th Battalion, which was formed in August of that year as a training unit. Just over a year later, on 3 July 1916, Private Parkes landed in France and was attached to 17th Battalion. This Service battalion, originally named the Welbeck Rangers, had been formed by the Mayor of Nottingham in June 1915 but had been taken over by the War Office in December of that year. It had first landed in France in March 1916 and was immediately engaged in various actions on that front with considerable early losses. At the time of Private Parkes' arrival, the battalion was in trenches in the Givenchy area, carrying out small-scale raids against the enemy, designed to divert German forces away from the large-scale battles that were in progress on the Somme. For the battalion as a whole, this was to continue into August but Frank's involvement came to a sudden end on the 17th of that month, having developed inflammation of the connecting tissues of his right leg. Treatment was begun at 1 Canadian General Hospital at Etaples but, towards the end of September, it was decided to repatriate him for further treatment. He left for England on 22 September 1916.

By 12 February 1917, Frank was considered fit enough to return to France and to join his battalion. However, within 5 days, he was again admitted to hospital, this time to 36 General Hospital in Calais. Over the next five months, there were several attempts to release him to his battalion but each time he was once more admitted to hospital. However, on 12 July 1917, he was considered fit enough to return to action. It was just in time for him to face the horrors of the Third Battle of Ypres - also known as Passchendaele - which started at the beginning of July. The battalion was involved from the beginning, at The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, then the Battle of Langemarck, both in August. In September they took a full part in both the Battle of Menin Road and the Battle of Polygon Wood which, although generally successful, resulted in heavy casualties. It seems that it was in that In the Polygon Wood action on the 27th September, when the battalion was under heavy shell-fire, that Private Parkes was killed.7.

Private Parkes was buried originally as an unidentified soldier, alongside two other fallen comrades, near where they fell. Almost two years later in September 1919, nearly a year after the Armistice, their remains were exhumed and reburied8 in Hooge Crater Cemetery, located four kilometers east of Ypres in West Flanders, Belgium. Hooge Chateau and its stables were the scene of very fierce fighting throughout the First World War. On 31 October 1914, the staff of the 1st and 2nd Divisions were wiped out when the chateau was shelled. From 24 May to 3 June 1915, the chateau was defended against German attacks and in July 1915, the crater was made by a mine sprung by the 3rd Division. On 30 July, the Germans took the chateau, and on 9 August, it and the crater were regained by the 6th Division. The Germans retook Hooge on 6 June 1916 and on 31 July 1917, the 8th Division advanced 1.6 Kms beyond it. It was lost for the last time in April 1918, but regained by the 9th (Scottish) and 29th Divisions on 28 September. Hooge Crater Cemetery was begun by the 7th Division Burial Officer early in October 1917. It contained originally 76 graves, in Rows A to D of Plot I, but was greatly increased after the Armistice when graves were brought in from the battlefields of Zillebeke, Zantvoorde and Gheluvelt and a number of nearby smaller cemeteries. There are now 5,916 Commonwealth servicemen of the First World War buried or commemorated in this cemetery. 3,570 of the burials are unidentified.9.

Private Parkes was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal10. His financial effects, amounting to 1 13 10d were paid to his widow, as sole legatee, on 16 November 1918 and she was also paid his War Gratuity of 10 on 18 November 1919. She was also awarded a pension of 20/5d a week with effect from 3 June 1918 for herself and their child11. At that time her husband's death had not been confirmed and that remained the case until his burial was identified, on 19 September 1919. by means of his identity disc - which was sent to her at that time.

Towards the end of 1919, Sophia married Alick B Gunn, himself a serving soldier in the Great War, and they set up home at 4 Baron Street, Radford, Nottingham12. She died towards the end of 1926, aged only 3613. It appears that Frank and Sophia's daughter, Ethel Parkes, then lived with her Parkes grandparents before marrying John Stoneman in 1935. After this marriage ended in divorce, she married widower Clifford Edward Somerfield, a roadworks contractor, and was to live out her life in West Bridgford, where she died in 2009, aged 94.14.

Abraham Parkes's business was to prosper in Beeston - and later also at Draycott, Derbyshire - through two generations, with their part of Anglo-Scotian Mills becoming known locally as "Parkes' Factory". In 1934 they opened an additional factory on Nuart Road, at the rear of the Commercial Inn property. It then traded as A & F.H. Parkes, recognising that his second son, Frederick Henry Parkes (b. 1882), who had originally trained as an architect, had become a partner in the business and was to take it forward in the years to come. Abraham's eldest son, Thomas, a cabinet maker, had emigrated to the USA in 1910. Another son, Henry Bristowe Parkes (1890-1966) also worked in the lace trade. His eldest daughter, Elizabeth Ann Parkes (1880-1954) married Charles Coombes who was also believed to be in the lace trade. His youngest child, Ethel Parkes (1893-1975) married Arthur Hilary Bristowe (1880-1959), an Australian mining engineer who served in the Great War and was commissioned. At some point, he became the works manager of the Chilwell Shell Filling Factory and took a very active part in the rescue operations following the explosion there on 1 July 1918. For his 'great courage and presence of mind', he was awarded the Edward Medal, on 21 January 191915.

In addition to his entry of the memorial in Beeston Parish Church, Private Parkes is also remembered on the Lenton War Memorial and the memorial in St Peter's Church in Radford, Nottingham.

1The photograph of Hooge Crater Cemetery is from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
2His birth was registered in Nottingham Registration District in Q1/1888 (Ref 7b 353).
3Beeston, 1911 Census, Piece 20428 RD429 SD3 ED3 Sched 98.
4Their marriage was registered in Nottingham Registration District in Q3/1912 (Ref 7b 791). Their address is from Frank's Army Service Record.
5Ethel Parkes was born on either 17th April 1916 (Frank's Army Service Record - where she is recorded as 'Ettie') or 16th April 1916 (as recorded on her death registration)
6Details of Frank's enlistment, deployment and service are from his Army Service Record, available at ancestry.com.
7Details of 17th Battalion's deployment and action are from the Forces War Records website (www.forces-war-records.co.uk/units/319/sherwood-foresters-nottinghamshire-and-derbyshire-regiment and from its War Diary.
8Details of the exhumation and transfer to Hooge Crater Cemetery are from documentation on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. The return of the disc is documented in Frank's Service Record.
9The description of Hooge Crater Cemetery is based on that on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission website. (http://www.cwgc.org)
10Details from Frank's Medal Card and Service Record - available on ancestry.com.
11Details from "Army Register of Soldiers' Effects, 1901-1929" - available on ancestry.com. The award of a pension is from his Army Service Record
12Their marriage was recorded in Nottingham Registration District in Q4/1919 (Ref 7b 101), The Baron Street address is recorded in the documentation connected with Frank's CWGC record, and is included in later documents in his Service Record.
13Sophia's death was registered in Nottingham Registration District in Q4/1926 (Ref 7b 383).
14Ethel's marriage to John Stoneman was registered in Derby Registration District in Q4/1935 (Ref 7b 1579). She married Clifford Edward Somerfield in Basford Registration District , Q2/1946 (Ref 75 566).
15Summarised from Parkes family details in David Hallam's Beeston database with additional detail from 'Nottingham Lace - 1760s-1950s' by Sheila A Mason.

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