680426 SGT. J. PARKINSON. D.C.M., R.F.A.
(I am grateful to Jim Rawcliffe who tells me James Parkinson is the brother of 695094 LBDR. WILLIAM PARKINSON, R.F.A., who died of flu in Alexandria on 20 November 1918.)
James was born in the last quarter of 1892 in Bamber Bridge (see the above biography for more family details). Before the War he was a weaver at Eccles’ Mill on School Lane. James was in the Territorials before the War and had service number 1580. This was later changed to 680426. James served in 276 Brigade and landed in France on 29 September 1915.
276 Brigade was part of the Divisional Artillery for 55th (West Lancashire) Division. In 1916 they saw action during the Battle of the Somme, at Guillemont (4-6 September) and Ginchy (9 September); then after a short period of rest they were back in action at Flers-Courcelette (17-22 September) and Morval (25-28 September). At the end of the year, they moved to the Ypres salient which at the time was considered a ‘quieter’ sector.
In 1917, at the opening of the Third Battle of Ypres, 55th Division led an attack on three farms, Spree, Pond and Shuler Farms, south of Frezenberg (31 July – 2 August). They made little progress but suffered heavy losses. They were then withdrawn from the fighting, only to return to almost exactly the same spot two months later, where this time they succeeded in taking their objectives but again suffered heavy losses. 55th Division’s darkest hour came in November 1917 when they faced the German counter-attack at Cambrai. The defensive line effectively collapsed and allowed the Germans to make a rapid and bewildering advance. The reputation of the Division fell sharply in the eyes of military command and they were withdrawn for intensive training.
In 1918, the Division was in the line near Givenchy when on 9 April the Germans launched the second phase of their Spring Offensive – Operation Georgette or the Battle of the Lys. This time, the Division held the line staunchly and the defence of Givenchy effectively prevented the German operation succeeding. 276 Brigade was in action for the whole month of April and it’s most likely that it was for bravery during this action that James was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. They were still in this area in September, supporting the infantry with harassing fire. James was demobilised in the Spring of 1919 but I don’t know what happened to him after the War.
This photograph was sent to me by James' granddaughter, Sue Parkinson.