Victoria_Cross_of_canada

THE

 

TO THE VICTORIA & GEORGE CROSS

COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE

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b. 29/08/1912 Sheffield, Yorkshire. d. 16/09/1942 Sudan.

 

DATE AND PLACE OF GC ACTION: 16/09/1942 Khartoum, Sudan.

 

Graham Leslie Parish (1912-1942) was born on 29th August 1912 in Ecclesall Bierlow, Sheffield, Yorkshire, the second son of Stephen Owbridge and Ethel May Parish (nee Mundy-Knight). He had an older brother, Roland and a younger sister named Joan. At the time of his birth, his father was a Provision Stores Manager but was called up as Private M/303166 at the outbreak of World War I. Sadly, Stephen Parish died of malaria whilst serving with 10/11th Mechanical Transport Company, Army Service Corps, on the 4th November 1918, just one week before the Armistice. He was buried in Alexandria (Hadra) War Cemetery in Egypt. At the time of his death, his family were living in St Ronan’s Road, Sheffield, and Ethel was making a living as a milliner.

 

Graham attended Abbeydale School and then Firth Park Grammar School where he passed his Matriculation at the age of 15 but as he was too young to start work at the Library, he went to work at Bertram Hosier, a bookshop near the old Empire Theatre. As a young man he joined the Boys Brigade at St Peter’s Church, Sheffield, which honoured him after his death.

 

As soon as he was old enough, in 1929, aged 17, he joined Sheffield Central Library and worked his way through all the examinations until in 1939 he was promoted to the post of Borough Librarian at Lytham St Annes, Lancashire. On the outbreak of World War II, Graham didn’t immediately enlist, and in fact, he received a white feather in the post. As a result, and to prove doubters wrong, he enlisted with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in February 1941.

 

He took part in Operation Millenium, the first 1,000 bomber raid on Cologne on 30th May 1942. On 16th September 1942, he was navigator of a Wellington bomber being delivered to the Middle East Command. Shortly after take off, the port engine failed and the pilot attempted to return to the airfield, but the Wellington struck a building and burst into flames. All of the crew except Sergeant Parish and a passenger named Flowers, whose legs were broken, succeeded in getting free from the burning aircraft. At the time of the crash Parish was in the astro-hatch and Flowers was by the emergency door in the floor of the bomber. When the blazer subsided, Parish's body was found leaning against the rear gun turret; Flowers was beside him with his arms over the navigator's shoulders. It was clear that Parish had carried him from the emergency door to the rear turret, a distance of 8 yards, presumably in the hope that they could both escape through the turret. Sergeant Parish could have made his escape through the astro-hatch but his unselfish desire to assist Flowers cost him his life.

 

Parish was initially interred in El Fasher Fort with full military honours, then reburied in a different part of the cemetery. He was then moved a third time to Khartoum War Cemetery, Khartoum, Sudan. Graham’s posthumous GC was announced on 30th March 1943, and the GC was presented to his mother at Buckingham Palace by King George VI. His medals including his GC, 1939-45 Star, Africa Star, and War Medal 1939-45 are privately held.

 

LOCATION OF MEDAL: PRIVATELY HELD.

BURIAL PLACE: KHARTOUM WAR CEMETERY, KHARTOUM, SUDAN.

PLOT II, ROW C, GRAVE 7.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Graham Leslie Parish GC

parish parish grave

TWGPP

st clements danes aldwych raf gc memorial

St Clements Danes Church, Aldwych, London

“The KING has been graciously pleased to approve the posthumous award of the GEORGE CROSS to:-

 

1115314 Sergeant Graham Leslie Parish, Royal Air Force.

 

Sergeant Parish was the navigator of an air¬craft during a delivery flight from the United Kingdom to the Middle East Command. Shortly after taking off from an airfield in Anglo-Egyptian Sudan one morning in September, I942, the port engine failed and the pilot attempted to return and land on the airfield. Owing to the rough nature of the ground, full use could not be made of the brakes. The aircraft struck a building on the airfield and immediately burst into flames. All of the crew with the exception of Sergeant Parish and a passenger, whose legs were both broken, succeeded in getting free of the blazing bomber. At the time of the crash Sergeant Parish was at the astro-hatch and the passenger was at the emergency door which is in the floor of the fuselage. This door was unusable as the undercarriage had collapsed and the fuselage was resting on the ground. The fire, which com-pletely destroyed the bomber, was so intense that no assistance could be given to the navigator or the passenger. When the blaze subsided Sergeant Parish's body was found leaning against the rear gun turret and the passenger was beside him with his arm over the airman's shoulder. As the passenger could not walk, owing to his broken legs, it is clear that Sergeant Parish has carried him from the emergency door to the rear turret, a distance of eight yards, in the hope that both could escape through the turret. Undoubtedly both were overcome and burned to death in the attempt. Sergeant Parish could have made his escape through the astro-hatch but his unselfish desire to assist the passenger cost him his life. He displayed gallantry of the highest order.”

2nd April 1943

transcribed by Terry Hissey

parish gc

Boys Brigade, NMA