John Parker Jnr was born 28 Jan 1890 in Woolwich, London the son of a Royal Artillery Corporal (Later Warrant Officer). A baptismal record exists for John in All Saints Rotherhithe dated 2 Mar 1890.
His father, John Parker Snr, was born around 1864 in Staveley, Cartmel, Lancashire. His mother was Harriet Maria Parker (Nee Keeble) who was born around 1869 in Chislehurst, London. John Snr and Harriet married on 19 May 1889 at St Mary Magdalene, Woolwich and according to the 1911 Census they had 3 children, 2 of which were alive in 1911.
In 1891 the family were in Woolwich and were still there in 1901 when John Snr was a Staff Sergeant Gymnastic Instructor. Also present in 1901 was daughter Amy Dorothy Parker born in Woolwich in 1892.
In 1911 the family were living in the Black Horse Pub in Tilshead, less sister Amy who had married Hugh Crail in Bulford in 1910. John Snr is recorded as the Inn keeper and Army Pensioner and John Jnr is recorded as a Potman (a man who serves drinks in a pub or bar).
The Western Gazette obituary for John Jnr reports he had gone to Canada as a schoolteacher but returned to Liverpool from Montreal Quebec on the RMS Grampian (as a civilian but probably with elements of the Canadian Expeditionary Force) on 28 Nov 1914.
When he returned, he initially enlisted in the Public Schools and University Corps then in short order was posted to the 20th Service Battalion Royal Fusiliers. His potential was obviously recognised and after Officer Training at Sandhurst he commissioned into King’s Own (Royal Lancaster Regiment). His father had re-enlisted and was apparently a Regimental Sergeant Major in the same regiment.
After a short period at the front on 19th May 1915 John Jnr was then attached to 4th Squadron Royal Flying Corps as an observer. He was graded as a qualified observer on 8th July 1915, 8 days before being forced down.
No. 4 Squadron was formed at Farnborough in 1912 and quickly moved to Netheravon where it remained until the outbreak of the First World War. The more useful aircraft in its inventory were sent to France under the command of Major G. H. Rayleigh on 16 August 1914, to carry out reconnaissance in support of the British Expeditionary Force. On 19 August Lieutenant G. W. Mapplebeck flew the squadron’s first mission over France, a reconnaissance flight searching for German cavalry in the vicinity of Gembloux, Belgium.
The contingent in France was reinforced on 20 September by the personnel who had remained behind in England, forming C Flight, equipped with Maurice Farman “Shorthorns”. It concentrated on the reconnaissance role.
Role: Reconnaissance / Bomber
Manufacturer: Farman Aviation Works
First flight: 1913
Introduction: May 1914
John’s plane was forced down on 16 Jun 1915 and he died in a German Field Hospital in the area of Baupaume on 21 July 1915. His colleague Corporal Victor Judge the pilot was taken prisoner. He too was wounded. Victor was repatriated at end of war and died aged 35 on 23 June 1924.
The Western Gazette report, validated by the Tilshead Church stained glass window citation, states that a German plane dropped a message on the 4th Squadron airfield saying John Junior had died at a German hospital after a desperate air fight.
Victor Thomas Judge RFC record supports the newspaper report on the incident. ‘Plane forced down at Baupaume’.