b. 13/06/1897 Rishton, Lancashire. d. 21/08/1917 Epehy, France.
Hardy Falconer Parsons (1897-1917) was born at Rishton, Great Harwood, Lancashire on 13th June 1897. His father, the Reverend James Ash Parsons married Henrietta “Rita” Sophia Falconer in 1896. The family moved around regularly in Hardy’s childhood and lived in places such as Arnside, Westmoreland, Bristol, Islington, Newport (Wales), and St Annes-on-Sea, Lancashire. Hardy had two brothers, Ewart Moulton Parsons (born 1898) and Lyall Ash Parsons (born 1902). Tragically, Ewart was killed in a flying accident serving with the RAF in 1918.
Hardy was educated at King Edward VII School, Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, Kingswood School, Bath and Bristol University from October 1915, where his intention was to train as a medical missionary. He was attested to the Gloucestershire Regiment on 30th November 1915 and transferred to the Army Reserve on 1st December under the Derby Scheme. He was a member of the Bristol University Officer Training Corps from April 1916 and applied for a commission on 12th May 1916, declining a safe post in a government laboratory. Although rather frail, he managed to persuade the doctors to pass him for service, despite two previous bouts of pneumonia and spinal curvature. He was mobilised on 5th October 1916 and joined 6th Officer Cadet Battalion at Balliol College, Oxford the next day. He was commissioned on 25th January 1917 and went to France in March.
On 20th – 21st August 1917 near Epehy, France, during a night attack by the enemy on a bombing post held by his command, the bombers holding the post were forced back, but Second Lieutenant Parsons remained at his post. Single-handed and although severely scorched and burnt by liquid fire, he continued to hold up the enemy with bombs until severely wounded. His gallant action held the enemy long enough for the defense of the position to be consolidated.
Sadly, Hardy died of his wounds suffered in his VC action on the 21st and was buried in Villers-Faucon Communal Cemetery, France. As he never married, his VC was presented to his father by King George V at Durdham Down, Bristol on 8th November 1917. In addition to his VC, he was also awarded the British War Medal 1914-20 and Victory Medal 1914-19. The VC is held by the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum, Gloucester Docks.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: SOLDIERS OF GLOUCESTERSHIRE MUSEUM, GLOUCESTER.
BURIAL PLACE: VILLERS-FAUCON CEMETERY, FRANCE.
Hardy Parsons' medals including VC at the Soldiers of Gloucestershire Museum, Gloucester
Cemetery Plan courtesy of Kevin Brazier
ROW A, GRAVE 16
Kingswood School, Bath War Memorial
Family Grave in Canford Cemetery, Bristol
Kingswood School Bath Memorial Plaque
War Illustrated, 10th November 1917
Images from Rishton, Lancashire courtesy of Pam Holgate
Redland, Bristol (Steve Lee)