Kenora Great War Project


Personal Details
Date of BirthMarch 2, 1896
Place of BirthExeter, Devon
Marital StatusSingle
Next of KinWilliam Parsons (father), 17 the Mint, Exeter, England
Trade / CallingLocomotive fireman
Service Details
Regimental Number865163
Battalion1105th Battery
ForceBritish Army
BranchRoyal Field Artillery
Enlisted / ConscriptedEnlisted
Place of EnlistmentExeter, England
Address at Enlistment17 the Mint, Exeter, England
Date of EnlistmentSeptember 19, 1914
Age at Enlistment18
Theatre of ServiceIndia and South Arabia
Prisoner of WarNo
Survived WarYes
Death Details
Date of DeathJanuary 1, 1970
Age at Death78

Parsons, Edward John

Sergeant Edward John Parsons immigrated to Canada with his family in 1913, a year before the war started. He returned to England in August 1914 and served with the Royal Field Artillery until the end of the war.

Edward was born in Exeter, a river port city in the county of Devon in southwest England. His parents, William Thomas Parsons and Rebecca Soper Rice, were both born in Exeter. William worked for a chemist as a porter and warehouseman. He married Rebecca in 1892 and they had at least five children but three of them died young. Edward, their second son, was born in Exeter on 2 March 1896. At the time of the 1911 census he was 15 years old, living at home and working as a hot water fitter for an ironmonger. Also in the household were his parents, his brother Henry William, age 17, and another brother, just two weeks old and   not yet named. The baby boy, Bertie James, died in May 1911, a few weeks after the census was taken. Two years later the Parsons family immigrated to Canada. Edward and his father arrived in June 1913 on the SS Laurentic, their destination Kenora, Ontario. Henry and his mother came the following month, arriving in July on the SS Megantic and going to Kenora to join William and Edward. In Kenora the two brothers found work as locomotive firemen. A year later, when the war started, Henry stayed in Canada but Edward and his parents returned to England.

Edward arrived in Avonmouth, Bristol in August 1914 on the Royal George and he enlisted the following month, signing up with the Royal Field Artillery on 19 September in Exeter. His occupation was locomotive fireman and he said he had served for two years and four months with the 4th Wessex Brigade, RFA. Edward was sent to India in December 1914 and he served there for almost two years. During that time he was promoted from Gunner to Bombardier (October 1915), then to Corporal (August 1916). Shortly after his promotion to Corporal his unit, the 1105th (Howitzer) Battery, was moved to Aden, an important British port on the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula. The British had been involved in campaigns in that region before Edward arrived but there were no major battles after 1915. Some areas near Aden were in the hands of the Ottomans and the British built an eleven-mile defensive perimeter around the city. Edward spent two years in Aden. He was promoted to Acting Sergeant in October 1917 and in March 1919 his unit left for England on the HT Karadeniz. They were demobilized two months later. Edward was awarded the British War and Victory Medals.

After the war Edward asked to be repatriated to Canada, stating that he had lived in Ontario before the war and providing the date he returned to England, the name of the ship and the port. Unfortunately, the passenger record could not be found. Edward made his home in England and he passed away in the county of Devon in 1974.

His brother Henry William Parsons enlisted in Canada and served with the 27th (City of Winnipeg) Battalion. He was invalided back to Canada in 1918 and married later that same year. His wife, Mildred Bush (née Yeomans), was a widow whose husband had died in the war. Henry and Mildred lived in Kenora and Henry passed away there in 1970.

By Becky Johnson

Photo at the top is the Victory Medal.

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