Herbert PARKER
Rank: Corporal
Number: 45382
Unit: 15th Battalion CHESHIRE Regiment
Date of Death: 20 April 1918
Age: 23
Cemetery: Martinsart British Cemetery, Somme, France

In the late summer of 1890, Ralph Parker married Sarah Elizabeth Ferns at St Thomas' Church, Hazel Grove. It's not known if they had other children before Herbert was born between January and March 1896. By the 1901 Census, Ralph, aged 32 was working as a house keeper for a contractor. Sarah, also 32, worked as a tailoress.

Unlike many local men, Herbert did not rush to enlist when war was declared in August 1914 and he continued to work as a carter. On 11 October 1915, he married Annie Howard of 120 Carrington Road at St Paul's C of E Chruch, Portwood. A few months later, their son was born. They named him Ralph, after his grandfather and he was baptised at St George's Church on 5 April 1916. Perhaps they were living nearby at Ralph and Sarah's home at 2 Lorne Grove, Shaw Heath.

Around the same time, Herbert decided to enlist in the army. He probably went overseas toward the end of 1916. The first few months would have been comparatively quiet but from August onwards, the Battalion was involved in the Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele), including major actions in the October. A month before he was killed, Herbert survived a massive German attack which was launched on 21 March and raged for several days, forcing the British troops into retreat.

On 20 April, the Battalion was in the front line to the east of the village of Mesnil-Martinsart, approximately 6 kilometres north of the French town of Albert. Herbert was selected to be part of a small group which would attack a German outpost in No Man's Land. The raiders left the Cheshires' trench at 4.30am. The Battalion's War Diary records what happened:-

"A small attack by a party of 25 men under 2nd Lieutenant W N D Tyson was undertaken with a view to taking and holding an enemy post known to the Battalion as "Lone Tree". This post had been causing a great deal of trouble by machine gun fire. After Stokes (mortar) and rifle grenade bombardment for 2 minutes, the party set out but unfortunately failed to reach its objective owing to heavy enfilade machine gun fire in the course of which 2nd Lt. Tyson was wounded; 4 Other Ranks killed and 14 wounded."

Herbert was one of those killed but the casualties may not all have been suffered in the original attack as the War Diary continues and confirms that the party did in fact have some success "One enemy post was captured and the garrison killed but as daylight came, enemy machine guns and snipers caused heavy casualties. It was too light to work and the post had to be evacuated. A large number of the enemy were killed during the operation. Our stretcher bearers did splendid work but the enemy fired on them and inflicted several casualties." .

Lieutenant William Tyson recovered from his wounds but was killed in action a few months later on 29 September.

After the War, Annie remarried to a Mr Johnson and lived at 15 London Road, Hazel Grove.

As well as his commemoration on the War Memorial at Stockport Art Gallery, Herbert's name is also inscribed on the Memorial at St George's Church. Some of the family background information is taken from an earlier research project into the names on that Memorial.

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