5659, 2nd Bn., Sherwood Foresters (Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire Regiment) who died of wounds on 4 November 1918, aged 20
Remembered with honour
St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen SIII.N. 28.
ERNEST WILFRED PARRY was born on 26th August 1898 at 106, Barrow Hill, the home of his grandfather, coal miner Richard Parry. The 3-bedroomed cottage, on what is known as the “Blocks” at Barrow Hill, was tied to Richard’s employment by the Staveley Coal and Iron Company. Ernest was the illegitimate son of Richard’s daughter, Agnes Parry, who worked as a domestic servant.
When Ernest was almost two years old, his mother married Hampshire born, railway guard, Henry Day on 16th June 1900. His half-brother William Henry was born in January 1901 and the family moved to live on Wellington Street at New Whittington shortly afterwards. Sadly, William died in 1903.
Ernest was only 8 years old when his mother died in 1907 and no record of his whereabouts over the next few years have yet been found. Henry Day possibly re-married and moved away from the area with his work on the railways. It is known from Army Form 5080 that Ernest had two half-sisters although their whereabouts were unknown by his next of kin – his mother’s brother, Albert Edward Parry, and his wife Annie Ada who lived at 42, Wood Street, Holmewood.
According to the Derbyshire Times, Ernest worked at the Hardwick Colliery as a coal miner and “was a member of the Young Men’s Bible Class at the Holmwood Mission Church, and also held an office in the Hardwick Lodge of the S.E.I.D.”
Medical records reveal that Ernest was 5’3 ½ ” tall, weighed 119lbs and had brown hair, a fair complexion and grey eyes. He was assessed as medical category A.
According to his service records, Ernest was “deemed to have been enlisted” on 26th August August 1916, his 18th birthday. This was, in effect, notice of conscription into the forces. It was almost two years later that he was actually called up on 16th April 1918 and posted to the 7th Battalion, Sherwood Foresters (Notts and Derby Regiment) on 19th April 1918, aged 19 years and 8 months. On 18th September 1918, having completed his training, Ernest arrived in Calais from where he was posted three days later to the 2nd Battalion, 71st Brigade, 6th Division.
At the beginning of October, the battalion was entrenched near Tertry on the Somme and moved up to the front line on 8th October where it assembled for an attack at Doon Mill and Doon Mill Copse. As a result of the action, 9 officers and 152 Other Ranks were killed or wounded.
As the battalion moved forward, to Grancourt on 9th October, “there was a fair amount of shell fire in the area and a few casualties resulted.” At dusk on the 10th, the battalion again went forward and, early that morning, “orders were received to attack the enemy who were reported to be retiring.” The objective was the high ground east of Bohain. The battalion was relieved by the 18th Infantry Brigade during the night of 11th October. The casualties were listed as 2 officers and 26 other ranks killed, 8 officers and 130 other ranks wounded and 26 other ranks missing.
At some point during the above actions, and after just 20 days serving on the Front, on 11th October 1918, Ernest is reported as being treated for a gunshot wound to his back in hospital at Rouen, where he sadly died on 4th November. Ernest’s pension for service abroad amounted to 47 days, most of which had been spent in hospital.
Ernest Parry is buried in plot S. III. N. 28. at the St. Sever Cemetery Extension, Rouen. During the First World War, Commonwealth camps and hospitals were stationed on the southern outskirts of Rouen.
A base supply depot and the 3rd Echelon of General Headquarters were also established in the city. Almost all of the hospitals at Rouen remained there for practically the whole of the war. They included eight general, five stationary, one British Red Cross and one labour hospital, and No. 2 Convalescent Depot.
A number of the dead from these hospitals were buried in other cemeteries, but the great majority were taken to the city cemetery of St. Sever. In September 1916, it was found necessary to begin an extension, where the last burial took place in April 1920.
According to the original headstone schedules, the family inscription on Ernest’s headstone reads, “As the years roll on We miss him more.” Ernest Parry was posthumously awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
Quotes from: War Diary 6th Division, 2nd Bn., Notts and Derby Regiment, October-December 1918 and A Short History of the 6th Division Aug 1914-March 1919. Major-Gen T.O. Marden