On 2nd December we remembered Rupert Hardy Parker, Gt Grandson of Lt Col William Parker of Hanthorpe House, who was killed in an action 100 years ago on this day in 1917.
Rupert was the only son of Charles John Ernest Parker a Gentleman of Beaconfield House, Harrowby, Grantham and his wife Louisa Dempsey. Rupert’s father was a former Captain in the 3rd battalion Lincolnshire regiment, His Grandfather was a former Lt Col of the South Lincs Militia, His Gt Grandfather Lt-Col, deputy Lord Lieutenant and High Sheriff of Lincolnshire.
By the time of the war the family home was Ludshott House, Grayshott, Hampshire.
Rupert was educated at Wellington College, Crowthorne, Berkshire and an undergraduate of Christ Church College, Oxford and was due to start before joining the army at the outbreak of war.
Rupert was accepted on probation as a second lieutenant in the 3rd Battalion Lincolnshire regiment on 21st October 1914. After training he was transferred to the 2nd Battalion Lincolnshire regiment arriving in France on the 20th February 1915.
Rupert finally completing his probation in March 1915 and was confirmed as a second lieutenant.
During 1915 Rupert was twice wounded at Neuve Chapelle and Fromelles.
Rupert obtained a regular commission in June 1916.
Rupert, now a Lieutenant in the 2nd Battalion, saw action as part of the Battle of Passchendaele. On the 16th August 1917 the 2nd Battalion, Lincolnshire Regiment were removed from the front line following heavy losses at the Battle of Langemarck only three hundred men remained.
September, October and half of November saw the battalion in trenches around Basseville and Warenton or in support or divisional reserve in the region.
Officially the battle of Passchendaele ended in November 1917 with the front returning back to its previous routine of trench life, patrols, shelling and sniping. Although one final mass action had already been planned and was still carried out.
On the 1st December C Company paraded at 3:15pm and set out for the trenches near Passchendaele. The only way to the front line was by a duck board track across deep clinging mud. The enemy guns had found their mark on the track and only about 20 men reached the front line to take up the two posts on the left battalion front. An hour later the remaining three companies, detailed as assault troops started moving up. It shows the terrible nature of moving up in the fact that it took the first company 5 hours to reach the front of the duck board track. The first company was in position by 10pm and the last company by 12:20am.
The three companies started to attack at 1:55am (2nd December 1917) and immediately were spotted by the enemy who set up heavy machine gun fire. Before their own outpost line was reached every officer of the three companies became a casualty. The advance stopped about 30 yards from the enemy’s front trench and the battalion dug in. They were relieved from this position by the 8th Rifle Brigade and moved back to Camp St. Jean.
In this attack casualties were heavy. Captain A Cowe (Medical officer), Lieutenant Rupert H Parker and 16 other ranks killed. 2nd lieutenants Griffin (Later died of wounds), Eliot, Sowerby, Joyce, Green, Graves, Grant and Perkins along with 64 other ranks wounded. 25 other ranks were missing.
Lieutenant Rupert Hardy Parker was killed whilst leading his company in this ill fated action on the 2nd December 1917, where the men were asked to attack on a moonlight night, in snow and towards an heavily defended position.
Lieutenant Rupert Hardy Parker, 2nd Battalion, The Lincolnshire Regiment, is remembered with honour on the Tyne Cot Memorial to the missing which is located 9 km north east of Ieper (Ypres), Belgium.
Panel Ref: 35 to 37 and 162 to 162A
Rupert is also commemorated on the Morton memorial and also on a family memorial plaque in St Wulfram’s Church, Grantham.