Ernest Frederick PARKER

Poppy

PARKER, Ernest Frederick

Service Number: 34381
Enlisted: 27 October 1916, Blackboy Hill, Western Australia
Last Rank: Gunner
Last Unit: 102nd Field Artillery (Howitzer) Battery
Born: Perth, Western Australia, 11 November 1883
Home Town: Perth, Western Australia
Schooling: Perth High School and St Peter's College, South Australia
Occupation: Barrister& Solicitor
Died: Killed in Action, France, 2 May 1918, aged 34 years
Cemetery: Le Peuplier Military Cemetery
Le Peuplier Military Cemetery, Caestre, Nord Pas de Calais, France
Memorials: Australian War Memorial Roll of Honour, Hackney St Peter's College Fallen Honour Board, Wembley Downs Hale School Honour Roll 1, Wembley Downs Hale School Memorial Grove
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World War 1 Service

27 Oct 1916: Enlisted AIF WW1, Private, SN 34381, Blackboy Hill, Western Australia
11 May 1917: Involvement AIF WW1, Gunner, SN 34381, Field Artillery Brigades, Enlistment/Embarkation WW1
11 May 1917: Embarked AIF WW1, Gunner, SN 34381, Field Artillery Brigades, HMAT Ascanius, Melbourne
2 May 1918: Involvement AIF WW1, Gunner, SN 34381, 102nd Field Artillery (Howitzer) Battery , Merris (France)

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Biography

From the book Fallen Saints -  Ernest Frederick Parker was born in Perth Western Australia in November 1883 and was educated at Perth High School as well as the Collegiate School of St. Peter in South Australia. He was a good student and in spite of defective vision was an exceptionally gifted golfer, cricketer, and tennis champion.

E. Parker playing for West Australia against Victoria, in his second innings made 117 runs in 61 minutes. His score included 22 fourers. [i]

In the Australian Open Men's Singles champions of 1909, he was runner up to Tony Wilding who was Wimbledon Champion from 1910 to 1913 inclusive. (Captain Anthony Frederick Wilding was killed in action on 9 May 1915 while serving with the Royal Marines at Neuve-Chapelle, France.) [ii]

Although beaten by Wilding in the Singles Championship Ernest and his partner won the Doubles Championship that year with Wilding and his partner being runners up. Before the war he was a Barrister& Solicitor in partnership with his father in the firm of Parker & Parker of Perth.

Ernest won both the Singles and Doubles Championship in 1913 and when war was declared the following year he was twice rejected through poor eyesight; he persisted and was finally accepted on 27 October 1916.

At the beginning of November he was posted to Blackboy Hill Western Australia and was transferred to Maribyrnong Victoria in March. There he joined the 12th quota of reinforcements for the 10th Field Artillery Brigade and sailed from Melbourne with that quota aboard the HMAT Ascanius on 11 May 1917.

He was hospitalised for five days during the voyage due to seasickness and no doubt he was pleased when he disembarked at Devonport, England on 20 July.

Following two months training at Larkhill on the Salisbury Plain he sailed from Southampton on 19 September and two days later marched into 1st Divisional Artillery at Rouelles. There he was taken on the strength of 1st Division Ammunition Column and on 10 October, was posted to No 2 Section until posted to 5th Battery, 2nd Field Artillery Brigade on 6 November. 

In January 1918 after returning from two weeks Paris leave he attended a three-day course at the Divisional Pigeon School. At the completion of the basic course he was detached to the Divisional Signal School where he underwent further communications training before rejoining his unit in the field on 4 April 1918.

Gunner Ernest Parker, 102nd Howitzer Battery, 2nd Brigade Australian Field Artillery was killed in action on 2 May 1918; he was 34 years of age.

In his will he asked that his Alcock Tennis Champion Cup be given to the Western Australian Lawn Tennis Association to ensure competition for it continued after the war. [iii]

Witness statements [iv]

When interviewed at the end of August 1918, Gunner Nelson Bowen said Ernest wore glasses came from Western Australia and had been an interstate tennis and cricket player. He said on 2 May they we were they were at in action at Croix Rouge when Parker was killed by shell fire while in the office which landed right outside. ‘I buried his body at a cemetery about 1 kilometre from where the railway from Caestre to Borre crosses the road to Croix Rouge.’

In September, Driver Herbert Arthur said on 2 May while they were at t Caestre Ernest and Gunner Robert Fenton Irvine were killed by the same shell and were later buried in separate graves at La Brearde. ‘Crosses are erected. I have seen graves and saw them killed.’

After the war, when filling out the particulars form for the Australian War Memorial Honour Roll, Ernest’s father included two press clippings covering his son’s outstanding Tennis and Cricket career. He noted that his only son had been twice rejected for service on account of poor vision and that  although he wore glasses full time, he continued to play first class Tennis but was forced to retire from Cricket. Ernest had obviously played a lot of football for in his notes his father reports his son had ‘Football knee, which necessitated him wearing an elastic kneecap’ and that he had twice seen him carried off the Tennis Court with a dislocated knee. Mister Parker stated that he like many of his friends was of the opinion that his son should not have been accepted for Active Service, particularly as he was an only son.

His letters to me showed, that although he liked the work on the guns when in action, he found the other work most trying and beyond his physical strength, and it was a constant struggle to carry on. He was killed by a stray shell while his battery was out of action. Taking all the circumstances into consideration he was, I think, one of the heroes of the war. [v]

Ernest’s Cousin, Francis Parker while serving as a major in the Boer War with the 1st Contingent of Western Australian Mounted Infantry was awarded the DSO and mentioned in despatches.  During the Great War he served with the 3rd Australian Field Artillery Brigade until on 18 March 1915 he died of meningitis in Cairo. [vi]

‘Peaceful penetration,’ or as the diggers called it ‘nibbling’ or ‘winkling’ steadily advanced the front line through the use of  small, independent, operations. Operating in small groups the Australians used innovative and interesting tactics to isolate and capture a number of German outposts along the line at Amiens, Hébuterne and Hazebrouck. 

Cyril Gilbert Holt Counsell of Brighton, South Australia was born at Rose Park in 1896. He was educated at the Reverend Moore’s school at Glenelg before attending the Collegiate School of St Peter where he served a period of two years in the senior cadets.

After leaving Saint Peter’s in 1911 he was employed in the office of Mr J A Riley in Adelaide for 12 months before leaving to work on Edward Goode’s sheep station ‘Barooka’ near Kingston, South Australia. He later worked for his uncle, Charles Counsell, as the overseer of ‘Lyndon’ sheep station at Barcaldine, Queensland until he returned to Adelaide to enlist in the AIF. [vii]

On 10 April 1916 he was posted to B Company, 2nd Depot Battalion, at Mitcham Camp where at the beginning of July he joined the 8th quota of reinforcements for the 32nd Battalion; this quota sailed from Adelaide aboard HMAT Ballarat on 12 August.

He disembarked at Devonport, England on 30 September, and was attached to the 8th Training Battalion. While there he was admitted to No 10 Camp Hospital at Hurdcott and upon recovery proceeded to France in December; he was taken on the strength of the 32nd Battalion in the field on 7 February 1917. 

When the Germans withdrew in early 1917 the battalion participated in the follow-up but missed most of the heavy fighting to breach the Hindenburg Line. During the second battle of Bullecourt the 8th Brigade was deployed to protect the 5th Division’s flank and in September took part in the Battle of Polygon Wood, Belgium.

After being wounded in action on 1 October 1917 Private Counsell was admitted to 3rd Australian Field Ambulance with wounds to his head and back and transferred to 18th General Hospital; Camieres the following day.  He rejoined his unit in the field on 14 October and was granted leave in England 10-27 February 1918 and upon his return resumed his position as a Lewis Gunner in B Company. 

Private Cyril Counsell was killed in action near Sailly-le-Sec on 15 May 1918; he was 20 years of age.

His cousin Lieutenant George Smith of the 11th Battalion when killed in action at Gallipoli in May 1915 was also only 20 years of age. [viii]



[i] St Peter’s School Magazine - W K Thomas & Co, Adelaide, May 1910, p. 50
[ii] Commonwealth War Graves Commission - "Debt of Honour Register" website, Wilding, A F, viewed 6 April 2006
[iii] National Archives of Australia: B 2455, Parker Ernest Frederick / 8007159, viewed 3 July 2005
[iv] Australian War Memorial, Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau files, Parker, Ernest Frederick / 2090211, viewed 6 April 2006
[v] Australian War Memorial, Roll of Honour Cards 145, 1914-1918 War, Army, Parker, Ernest Frederick, viewed 6 April 2006
[vi] ibid, Parker, Francis Maitland Whyborn, viewed 6 April 2006
[vii] ibid, Counsell, Cyril Gilbert Holt, viewed 6 April 2006
[viii] ibid

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