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William Henry Parkinson was born on 8 February 1884 in Preston.  His father was Pilkington Bamber Parkinson (b. 1851 in Blackburn), a licensed victualler.  His mother was Ellen Porter (b. 1856 in Preston).  Pilkington and Ellen were married in 1876 in Preston and they had 10 children: Sarah Ellen (b. 1878), Mary Elizabeth (b. 1879), Christopher (b. 1881), then William Henry, Eli Parker (b. 1886), John (b. 1887), Agnes (b. 1889), Albert (b. 1891), Edith (b. 1894) and finally Charles Edward (b. 1895).  Pilkington died in 1908 when William was 24, but by this time William was married and had a family of his own.  William was married in 1903 to Alice Parker (b. 1880 in Preston), and they had three children: Mary Ellen (b. 1903), Esther (b. 1908) and Hilda (b. 1910).  The family moved from Preston to Lostock Hall between 1903 and 1908 and they lived at 9 King Street, where William worked as a watchmaker and repairer and Alice was a weaver in the mill.


William enlisted, probably in 1916, and was posted to the 2nd Battalion of the Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) and assigned service number 30240.  In 1916, the Cameronians were engaged in the early phase of the Battle of the Somme and again in the spring of 1917 as the Germans retreated to the Hindenburg Line but the battle in which William lost his life was the Battle of Pilckem Ridge, which was the opening battle of what would become known as the Third Battle of Ypres.  The attack was launched on 31 July and that afternoon there was a heavy downpour of rain which hampered the attack.  Heavy rain continued through the early days of August, turning the battlefield to clinging mud.  On the opening two days, 2Bn Cameronians had 66 officers and men killed, among whom was William Henry Parkinson.  He was 33 years old, leaving a wife and three young daughters.


General Haig, commanding the British forces, claimed the battle as a success: casualties for such a large battle were deemed low, ‘only’ 31,850 men from 31 July – 2/3 August, compared to 57,540 casualties on the opening day of The Somme.  The line advanced about 3000 yards and numerous German prisoners were taken.


Rank:  Private

Service No:  30240

Date of Death:  01/08/1917

Regiment/Service:  Cameronians (Scottish Rifles), 2nd Bn.

Panel Reference:  Panel 22.



I haven’t found records of military service for any of William’s brothers (Parkinson is a fairly common name), however I have discovered that at least 4 of William’s siblings (Sarah, Eli, Agnes and Albert) all emigrated to the US, probably around the time of their father’s death, between 1908 and 1911.  Eli has draft papers for the Canadian and US armies and Albert for the US Army, both for the first and second World Wars, though it doesn’t look as though either of them actually served.

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