21224 PTE. W. E. PARR. L.N.LAN.R.
William Edward Parr was born in Ashton, Preston, on 24 July 1888. His father, William b. 1868 in Great Ecclestone was a coal miner and navvy; his mother was Emma Eckersley b. 1867 in Wigan. William had two younger sisters, Annie and Ethel. In the 1890s the family moved to Alston near Longridge where William met his wife Jane Marsland (b. 1887 in Dilworth). The two were married in 1908 and the following year had a son, Albert Edward. William had started work as a tenter at the age of 12 or 13 and it seems that shortly after they married the Parrs moved to Lostock Hall where William presumably worked in the mill. Sadly their records in the 1911 Census haven’t yet been found.
William joined the Loyal North Lancashire Regiment at the same time as fellow villagers, Tom Hilton and William Hibbert. 6th (Service) Battalion L.N.LAN.R. was part of Kitchener’s New Army and was created on 8 August 1914. The three men almost certainly enlisted together in February 1915, and they arrived with other reinforcements from England at Suvla Bay on 14 November 1915, 6Bn having first arrived in Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. By the time the new draft arrived in November, the decision had been taken to abandon the campaign and evacuate the Gallipoli Peninsula, but it would be an enormous and dangerous task to evacuate 80,000 men, with all their equipment and stores, from open beaches, under attack from an active and enterprising enemy. However, the Battalion did manage to withdraw and in mid-December sailed for Moudros on the Greek island of Lemnos. Around this time, British forces near Baghdad, in Mesopotamia, had come under severe attack and it had been decided that reinforcements, including 6Bn, would need to be sent. A month later they transferred to Egypt where they were re-equipped for their new theatre of war. They left Port Said on 14 February, arriving at Basra on 5 March, where they transferred to river boats and proceeded up the River Tigris to Sheikh Saad where by 1 April they formed part of a British Army of 30,000 men and 127 guns whose objective was to relieve the British and Indian troops besieged by the Turks in the city of Kut-al-Amara. The British had some initial success in an attack from 6-9 April, during which William Parr was missing presumed killed – alongside Tom Hilton. William was 27 years old.
During this action, 6Bn had 7 men killed, 6 officers and 79 other ranks wounded, and 4 officers and 165 other ranks missing. Ultimately, however, the attempt to relieve Kut was a failure; the city surrendered on 28 April, after 24,000 men had been killed, wounded or taken prisoner in trying to bring it aid. The loss of Kut has been described as "the most abject capitulation in Britain’s military history." The army commanders were replaced, the army reorganised and re-trained and a new campaign was launched, eventually leading to the capture of Baghdad on 11 March 1917.
After the War, William’s wife and son emigrated first to Canada, where she met and married Joseph Metcalf in 1921, and then moved to the US.
Service No: 21224
Date of Death: 09/04/1916
Regiment/Service: The Loyal North Lancashire Regiment, 6th Bn.
Panel Reference: Panel 27.
Memorial: BASRA MEMORIAL