Edwin Parker was born in Hadfield,Derbyshire in 1891. His parents were Alfred,originally from Ashton-under-Lyne, and Sarah who was born in Cornwall. They had six children, four of whom survived infancy - the other three being Alice, Leonard and Alma. By the time of the 1901 census Edwin was with his parents and sister Alice at 13 Howard Street in Hyde and father Alfred worked as a weaver in a cotton mill. They were still in Hyde when Leonard was born c.1903 but when the youngest child, Alma, was born in 1908 that was in Royton's neighbour Shaw. They had moved to Royton by 1911 when they were living at 2 Earle Street. Edwin, 20 by that time, was working as a piecer in one of the local cotton mills.
Edwin Parker married Mary Alice Spencer - the sister of William - on November 1st 1913 and a son, Edwin, was born on March 1st 1914. They lived together at 3 Clare Street
He enlisted in the army in Shaw on January 9th 1915 and joined the King's Own Royal Lancaster Regiment. He reached their depot in Lancaster three days later and was posted to the regiment's 3rd Battalion. This was a training unit that remained in England throughout the war. When Edwin joined them they were in Sunderland and it's possible that he was still with them when they moved down to Plymouth at some point in the spring of 1915.
Edwin was sent out for active service and arrived in France on May 2nd 1915. He was sent to join the 2nd Battalion KORL. This prewar regular army unit had come from India and had been in France since that January. Edwin was one of the 240 fresh troops the battalion received on May 3rd. The 2nd KORL had spent a few days out of the front line prior to that but the evening following Edwin 's arrival they marched back into the front line. For the following three days they were under artillery bombardment whilst the Second Battle of Ypres raged on. Then on May 8th, they were to be overwhelmed and annihilated in a massive German attack during the Battle of Frezenberg Ridge. Edwin Parker was one of the wounded and his war was over. Another Royton man, William Butterworth, who had joined the battalion on the same day as Edwin was killed.
At 05:30 that morning the enemy opened up on the battalion's front line with a massive artillery bombardment that within the space of an hour had pretty much wiped out A and D companies of the 2nd KORL. At 06:30 the German fire shifted to the support trenches manned by B & C companies before attacking with infantry. The Germans got to within a 100 yards of the new KORL front line before being forced to go to ground by the defenders. Then at 10:50 the artillery fire increased again as cover for a fresh assault. At around about that time a shell landed on the Battalion HQ killing the Colonel and seriously injuring the other officers there. It soon became clear that it was impossible to hold the position and orders were received to withdraw to the village of Potijze. During that retreat many of the survivors of B&C companies were mown down or found themselves surrounded and had no choice but to surrender. At roll call at the end of the day, out of c.1100 men who had started out there were only 67 left. The rest were either dead,wounded or prisoners.
Edwin returned to England - it's not known what the exact nature of his wounds were but he was discharged from the army on July 17th 1915 as being no longer physically fit for service. A second son, Leonard, followed for Edwin and Mary Alice in 1917. In August of that year Edwin's brother in law William Spencer was killed in Flanders.
Edwin was to be one of the many struck down by the 1918 flu pandemic which claimed many millions of lives around the world. On November 10th of that year, the day before the Armistice, he died at home at Clare Street aged 26. His causes of death were given as Influenza & Chronic Bronchitis. He was buried in Royton Cemetery on Saturday November 16th. In April 1919 his 19 month old son Leonard also died and was buried with him.
Edwin Parker is not recorded by his nation as being one of the war dead and does not lie in a war grave but Royton saw things differently and his is one of the names on the town's memorial.
Date of Death:10/11/1918
Regiment:King's Own (Royal Lancaster) Regiment
Grave Ref:Section 3A, Grave 170