William Henry Parnell

Service:                Army

Rank:                    Private

Service No:           266250

Unit:                     1st/ 6th Bn. Gloucestershire Regiment

                               (“B” Company)

William was born in Bristol in 1880; he was the 2nd child of William and Hanhah Parnell his father worked in a tannery as a leather finisher he was from Ireland; his Bristolian mother was a dressmaker.  As a 11 year old in 1891 William was living with his parents & a further 5 siblings at 13 Worsley Street. In 1899 William married Minnie Simkiss  they were living at 40 Brunswick Street in 1901, Williams occupation recorded as confectioner.Their son < Frederick was born in 1902 & daughter Minnie in 1911. The 1911 census records the family resident at 51 Blackswarth Road, St. George, Bristol; William now being employed as a galvanisers labourer, his parents were living at 147 Avonvale Road at that time.

The territorial battalions 1/4, 1/5 and 1/6th landed in France at the end of March 1915. 1/6th Battalion was formed at St Michael’s Hill Bristol in August 1914. Being part of Gloucester and Worcester Brigade in South Midland Division they moved on mobilisation to Swindon but very quickly on to Maldon in Essex. On  30 March 1915 the division landed at Boulogne, then on 15 May 1915 the formation became the 144th Brigade, 48th (South Midland) Division.

In 1916 The Battle of Albert* The Division held the line between the 56th (London) and the 31st Divisions, both of which were heavily engaged at Gommecourt and Serre respectively on 1 July 1916. Two of the Warwickshire battalions of the Division attacked on that day and suffered heavy casualties in assaulting the Quadrilateral (Heidenkopf)). The Battle of Bazentin Ridge* in which the Division captured Ovillers . The Battle of Pozieres Ridge*  The Battle of the Ancre Heights*  The Battle of the Ancre*

* the1916 battles marked * are  phases of the Battles of the Somme 1916

 During 1917, The German Retreat to the Hindenburg Line, in which the Division occupied Peronne , The Battle of Langemarck** The Battle of Polygon Wood** The Battle of Broodseinde** The Battle of Poelcapelle**.The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line

In March 1917, the German armies on the Somme carried out a strategic withdrawal known as Operation Alberich. They destroyed everything on the ground that they left: flattening villages, poisoning wells, cutting down trees, blowing craters on roads and crossroads, booby-trapping ruins and dugouts. The withdrawal was to an immensely powerful and shorter line, positioned to take every tactical advantage of ground.

** the battles marked ** are  phases of the Third Battles of the Ypres

William was killed in action on 30th March 1917. He is remembered with honour on the Thiepval Memorial, Pier & Face 5A and 5B


Image by Doug Crew

William was awarded The British War Medal &  The Victory Medal.


Commonwealth War Graves Commission

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1901 & 1911 UK household census