Lieut.-Colonel John PARKES, M.C., D.C.M.
Commanded the 9th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment from Aug 1939 to September 1939.
Commanded the 7th Battalion Worcestershire Regiment from September 1939 to June 1940.
John Parkes was born at Kidderminster in 1894.
He rose from the rank of private soldier in 1914 to Commanding Officer of 7th battalion Worcestershire Regiment (T.A.) in 1939.
It is recorded that he began his long service with the Worcestershire Regiment two days alter the outbreak of the first world war, when he sold his civilian clothes for 2/6d. and enlisted into the Regiment. Within a month he was made a sergeant in the 1/7th Battalion and shortly after he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (London Gazette 14th January 1916) for reconnaissance behind the enemy lines in France.
He was commissioned in the field and given the rank of 2nd Lieutenant.
He was transferred to the 1/6th Battalion Gloustershire Regiment and given the acting rank of Captain whilst he commanded a Company.
He was also attached to the 2/13th London Regiment with the acting rank of Captain.
Jonn Parkes was awarded the Military Cross for the following unusual act of gallantry. A British aeroplane had crashed in "No Man's Land" in front of the trenches at Vimy Ridge. John Parkes, then a subaltern in the front line, dashed out and under a hail of bullets rescued the dazed pilot and brought him back to safety behind the lines, only moments before the Germans started to shell the crashed aeroplane which soon burst into flames. General Fanshawe, the Divisional Commander, later in the day personally congratulated Lieut. Parkes on his bravery.
Lieut.-Colonel J. Parkes
After the First World War he spent 18 months in the Middle East organising the return of Turkish prisoners of war.
In 1919 he began ten years as assistant manager of the Baldwin family's Swindon steel works. He became manager at Stour Vale in 1930. The works became the first to produce what was known as wide cold reduced sheet for car bodies.
His command of the 7th Battalion came about as a result of his recall to military service at the outbreak of the Second World War when he was 46 years of age. After serving in France and Belgium during the "phoney" war, he was recalled to industry in 1940—and remained so until his retirement at the age of 65. He gave his services as an adviser for a number of years.
Lieut.-Colonel John Parkes, died at his home in Evesham on 1st October, 1967 (Age 73). His funeral took place at the Worcester Crematorium, Astwood Road, on 5th October 1967, and was attended by a very large number from his fellow officers and friends of the Worcestershire Regimental.
An officer who served under him at Dunkirk in May 1940 recalled the following story:
"His flair for soldiering was legendary. In an emergency his experience produced instinctive solutions, as on the River Escaut in 1940, when the 5th Brigade had to take up widely dispersed defensive positions, by night.
Daybreak found the late 2nd Lieutenant D. Lunt's platoon and a whole company of the Camerons jointly occupying a heavily wooded copse on a forward slope fully exposed to the enemy, which was soon under long range machine-gun and mortar fire. At first light we went out to find out just what positions our companies had taken up. At about 06.00 hrs. we located Mr. Lunt's platoon, which had joined forces with the Camerons; it was significant that the Territorials were in the right place. Already their combined casualties were very high and Donald Lunt had been mortally wounded, but there was no question of withdrawing, which would have meant the abandoning of the casualties.
Colonel Parkes assured Major Rioarke that he would return with his M.O. (Lieutenant R. Pilcher), and that he would evacuate all his casualties, that night. In this he involved himself and the 7th Battalion in an heroic endeavour which was to last throughout the day and well into the night. This meant mobilising almost every stretcher in the Brigade, detailing the method and then the leading of two companies as carry parties and getting them in and out of the copse and to the transport, nearly a mile away. It was a sorry procession which withdrew, but it included all the dead and wounded. On that occasion alone, John well qualified for his rating as "A Regular during war-time."