|Date of Birth||May 23, 1894|
|Place of Birth||London|
|Next of Kin||George James Parker Sr. (father), 428 4th Street North, Kenora, Ontario|
|Trade / Calling||Tinsmith|
|Service Record||Link to Service Record|
|Force||Canadian Expeditionary Force|
|Enlisted / Conscripted||Enlisted|
|Place of Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Address at Enlistment||Kenora, Ontario|
|Date of Enlistment||January 15, 1915|
|Age at Enlistment||20|
|Theatre of Service||Europe|
|Prisoner of War||No|
|Date of Death||February 15, 1973|
|Age at Death||78|
Private George James Henry Parker enlisted in Kenora, Ontario in January 1915 and served in France with the 52nd Battalion. He was married in England in 1918 but returned to Canada in January 1919 as a widower.
George was born on 23 May 1894 in London, England. His parents, George James Parker Sr. and Mary Ruth Hulford, were both born in Lambeth, London. George Sr. was a printer by trade and he and Mary Ruth were married in Lambeth in 1893. Their first two children were born in London, George James Henry and Ruth Helena (1895). By 1901 the family had moved to Kingston-on-Hull in Yorkshire where a son, Harry Ernest, was born in 1902.
In the summer of 1907 George Sr. and his wife and children immigrated to Canada, arriving in Montreal on 17 August on the SS Corsican. They settled in the town of Kenora in northwestern Ontario. The youngest child, John William, was born in Kenora in 1910. The war started four years later and George and his father both enlisted. George signed up in Kenora on 15 January 1915, when volunteers were being recruited for a third overseas contingent. The Kenora recruits were briefly attached to the 44th Battalion but when the 52nd Battalion was organized in mid-March 1915 they were transferred to the new unit.
The 52nd Battalion was based in Port Arthur and George was sent there in June 1915 along with the rest of the Kenora volunteers. They left for the east coast that fall and the men embarked for England on 23 November, sailing from St. John, New Brunswick on the SS California. After a few more weeks of training the unit was sent to France on 20 February 1916. They spent their first night in tents in a snowstorm before being moved to Belgium by train the next day. On 23 February they joined the Canadian Corps, becoming part of the 9th Brigade in the 3rd Canadian Division.
George’s service file notes that he was a bandsman. Band members accompanied their battalions on route marches and also put on concerts for the troops. During combat they served as stretcher-bearers, often rescuing the wounded under enemy fire and sometimes carrying them long distances through deep mud and over terrain destroyed by artillery shells. In June 1916 the Canadians were at the Battle of Mount Sorrel and starting in August they began to move south for the Somme Offensive. The 52nd Battalion boarded trains on 7 September and a week later they were in the Somme area. On 16 September they took part in an attack near the village of Courcelette and the unit suffered over 200 casualties.
Around the end of September George reported ill and he was admitted to No. 13 Stationary Hospital in Boulogne on 2 October. From there he was evacuated to England and sent to the Military Hospital in Colchester. He was diagnosed with chronic suppurative otitis media, an ailment he had suffered from since childhood. On 17 October he was transferred to the convalescent centre at Epsom and on 13 December he became a patient at the West Cliff (Westcliffe) Canadian Eye and Ear Hospital. After almost two months of treatment he was discharged to duty on 5 February 1917.
George served in Great Britain for the next two years, most of that time with the Manitoba Regiment Depot and the 1st Canadian Convalescent Depot. In January 1918 he was given permission to marry and he was married in February in the Wandsworth district in London. Sadly his wife, Annie Eliza Chapman, died later that same year. George embarked for Canada on 3 January 1919, sailing on the SS Scotian and arriving in St John, New Brunswick about two weeks later. He was discharged on 20 February in Winnipeg. His father, George James Parker, had enlisted in March 1916 and he served for two years in Canada and Great Britain.
George spent only ten months in Canada before returning to England to live. He arrived in Liverpool from Quebec on 3 December 1919 on the Empress of France. He was a tinsmith and he was going to an address in Urmston, Greater Manchester. He was married again in 1920 to Dorothy Violet Kemp. Dorothy was born in Lancashire on 28 December 1897, the daughter of Richard Kemp, a grocer, and Daisey Selina Case. George and Dorothy had at least one child, James Richard, who was born in 1924. George passed away in Urmston on 15 February 1973, at age 78. He was a retired tinsmith and the informant was his son James. Just two months later his wife died in Bridgewater Hospital in Eccles, Lancashire, at age 75.
George’s father passed away in Winnipeg in 1941 and his mother in 1943. They are both buried in St. James Cemetery in Winnipeg. His sister and brother-in-law, Ruth and Alexander Fearn, are also buried there. His brother Harry Ernest became a United Church minister and served as chaplain for the Royal Winnipeg Rifles during the Second World War. He died in British Columbia in 1985. His youngest brother, John William, lived in Winnipeg and served with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War. He passed away in Winnipeg in 1993
By Becky Johnson