b. 20/09/1881 Grantham, Lincolnshire. d. 28/11/1936 Stapleford, Nottinghamshire.
Walter Richard Parker (1881-1936) was born on 20th September 1881, at 5 Agnes Street, Grantham, Lincolnshire, the eldest of eight children to Richard and Kate Parker. Educated at Grantham elementary school, he was later employed as a coremaker at Stanton Ironworks Foundry. In 1902 he married Olive (nee Orchard), the daughter of Stapleford’s station master. They went on to have six children, three sons and three daughters. Tragically, all three of his sons died young.
Parker enlisted in the Royal Marines and rose to the rank of lance corporal prior to the outbreak of World War One. On the outbreak of the war, Parker was part of the Royal Marine Light Infantry which formed part of the Royal Naval Division which was posted to the Dardanelles.
On the night of 30th April/1st May 1915 at Gaba Tepe, Gallipoli, Turkey, Lance-Corporal Parker, a volunteer stretcher-bearer, went out with a party of NCOs and men to take ammunition, water and medical stores to an isolated trench containing about 40 men and several wounded. There were no communication trenches leading to the trench, and several men had already been killed in an attempt to reach it.
After crossing an area of about 400 yards swept by machine-gun and rifle fire, Lance-Corporal Parker was alone, the rest of the party having been killed or wounded. On his arrival he gave assistance to the wounded and when the trench was finally evacuated early the next morning, he helped to remove and attend the casualties, although he himself was seriously wounded.
By the time of his gazetting for the Victoria Cross in the London Gazette on 22nd June 1917, Walter had been invalided out of the Army due to the severity of his wounds. He was presented with VC by King George V at Buckingham Palace on 21st July 1917.
After the war, Parker struggled bravely to overcome his injuries. He was elected to the local pensions tribunal and became president of the Stapleford branch of the Royal British Legion. His later years, however, were characterised by his declining health. His daughter, Vera Constance (christened in honour of his VC), born in 1919 described her father as “a very sick man for a lot of years…when he knew he was dying, he set out to try and get my mother a pension. But the authorities said he had survived too long for his death to have been caused by his war wounds. When his doctor heard, he hit the roof. He said that he had treated him and that he was a complete wreck. He said it was a miracle that he had lived so long.”
Walter Parker passed away at his home in Derby Street, Stapleford, on 28th November 1936, aged 55. His coffin, draped with a Union Jack, was carried to Stapleford Cemetery by eight Royal Marine NCOs from Eastney Barracks, Portsmouth. His medals were presented by his family to the Royal Marines Museum. The Museum will be moved to the Portsmouth Dockyard from Southsea in the next few years.
LOCATION OF MEDAL: ROYAL MARINES MUSEUM, SOUTHSEA, HAMPSHIRE.
BURIAL PLACE: STAPLEFORD CEMETERY, NOTTINGHAM, NOTTINGHAMSHIRE.
Walter Parker's medals at the Royal Marines Museum, Southsea, Hampshire. (Picture - Thomas Stewart).
Parker's grave in Stapleford Cemetery, near Nottingham
Blue Plaque in Grantham, Lincolnshire
War Illustrated, 21st July 1917