Charles William "Will" Parker  1896-1916

Charles W. Parker 1915

Charles William Parker, "Will" to his family, was born June 15, 1896 in Scalby, Yorkshire, to John William Parker and Sarah Ann Estill, the second eldest of seven children.

The Salvation Army helped families with no future in England to immigrate to places throughout Canada and other countries. Will Parker, his parents and his 6 siblings arrived in Coombs, BC July 10, 1910. With them came James Foster, his wife Agnes Bowker and their 5 children. The Foster family took Lot #1 and the Parkers #2. These two families were the first settlers of the Coombs Colonists. Little did they know that in about 5 short years both would lose their eldest sons during WWI.

Will immediately went to work alongside his father clearing and farming their land and working for other Colonists as well. His father was also logging in the area, helping to build the railway linking Parksville to Port Alberni and Will would work with him. Will also hunted and fished to help feed the family.

In 1912 his father bought land on present day Parker Road in Qualicum and the family left Coombs. That original Parker home burned down August 4, 1914 - the day the Great War started. The family lived in 3 tents provided by the Jones Family of Arrowsmith Farms while their log house was being rebuilt.

September 11,1914 Will went to Vancouver and signed his attestation papers. He sailed with his friend Victor Walter Jones and the 23rd Battalion, Canadian Infantry, Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force on the SS Missanabie February 23, 1915. From there he was stationed at Shorncliffe for further training and was transferred to the 14th Battalion in May 1915. From Shorncliffe Will was sent to the “theatre of war” in France May 5, 1915. In April 1916 he was wounded slightly then sent back to the battlefield.

In a letter home to his younger brother Ted, dated August 4, 1916 Will mentions ordinary things like dreaming of venison dinner, thinking of his friends, and wished that his younger brother Frank had not signed up and been sent overseas. He also said that the front is not a very health place at the best of time. He thought the war might be over soon. The letter was written in the trenches somewhere in France.

Early September 1916 found Acting Corporal Parker and the 14th Battalion CEF fighting with Britain and Australia near Courcellette, France. September 7 The Daily Colonist from Victoria, BC would report: “Artillery on both sides has been active north of the Pozieres and around the Mouquet Farm, north of the Somme.”

Headquarters files would then report “On September 7, 1916 Acting Corporal Charles William Parker was killed during a heavy bombardment of our lines hear Mouquet Farm, Courcelette, but no more detailed information is available.” The report also stated “Killed in Action” “Body not recovered.”

Our Parker Family will be forever linked to the Foster and Jones families. James and Agnes Foster’s son Leonard also died overseas in WWI and is buried in Barlin Communal Cemetery Extension there. His nephew would one day marry Will’s great-niece. The Jones family saw three of their sons go to war and two return. Their son Gordon Pierce Jones was killed in action and buried at Caix British Cemetery. Gordon’s sister Henrietta May would marry Will’s brother Frances Henry in 1923.

Charles William Parker dead at age 20 years 3 months. Leonard Foster dead at age 18 years 7 months. Gordon Pierce Jones dead age 22 years 7 months. Three of the 61 names at Parksville’s Cenotaph.

If you visit the Parksville Cenotaph, view the Memorial banners in the town or attend the Legion in Qualicum please pause a moment to reflect and honour all our local soldiers.

Information submitted by Kerry Parker

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