Parsons, Frank Clark (1920-1944)
Sherborne School, UK, Book of Remembrance for former pupils who died in the Second World War, 1939-1945.
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Credit: Sherborne School Archives, Abbey Road, Sherborne, Dorset, UK, DT9 3AP.
Details: Frank Clark Parsons (1920-1944), born 7 June 1920, son of Albert Frank Parsons and Elsie Jane Parsons, of 26 Percy Road, Boscombe; grandson of Mr Frank Parsons of Fawley, Wilfred Road, Bournemouth.
Attended Sherborne Preparatory School.
Attended Sherborne School (Westcott House) May 1934-July 1938; 6th form; House Prefect; 2nd XV (1937); PT Instructor; Corporal in OTC.
Undertook a two year's course in dairying at University College, Reading. When war broke out he was permitted to complete his studies and took his diploma in September 1940.
WW2, Gunner, 85 Mountain Regiment, Royal Artillery. Went through his training in Lancashire and was sent overseas in June 1942 and was with the 8th Army at the battle of Alamein. After a short period of illness he was sent to the Lebanon area and then, early in 1944, was transferred to the Italian front and attached to a mountain artillery regiment. He died of wounds at Monte Cavallo, Italy, on 23 October 1944, aged 24.
Coriano Ridge War Cemetery, Italy, XVII, E. 3. Inscription on his headstone: ‘O VALIANT HEART" MAY LIGHT PERPETUAL SHINE UPON HIM’ www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/2636055/parsons,-fran...
Sherborne School: War Memorial Staircase; Book of Remembrance; Mr & Mrs Parsons gave £100 to found a prize at Westcott House in memory of their son.
Obituary, 'The Shirburnian', July 1945: 'Frank Clark Parsons also came from the Prep. in 1934 and left in 1938 to take a two years' course in dairying at Reading University, obtaining his Diploma in 1940. He was a House Prefect and a 2nd XV colour. He joined the Royal Artillery and went to North Africa in June 1942, being present at the Battle of El Alamein. Early in 1944 he was transferred to a mountain battery in Italy, where he died of wounds received in action in the following October. He steadfastly refused to take a commission, preferring to remain a plain Gunner. His Colonel said of him that he was a first-class soldier, an exceptionally good signaller and one of the men he could least afford to lose.'
Extracts from letters to his parents:
From Major J. Liell R.A., commanding his Battery – 461/85 Mountain Regiment R.A.:
“He was doing duty as Observation Post wireless signaller and, during a period of relief, was back with the mules an drivers, two or three hundred yards behind the Observation Post. There was a considerable amount of enemy shelling, one round fell near the party wounding your son and one of the mule drivers. At about 12 noon I saw your son as he was being evacuated to the Regimental Aid Post. He appeared quite serene, told me he was not in pain and spoke quite cheerfully. About two hours later I called at the First Aid Post but he had been sent back to the Advanced Dressing Station. The Medical Officer told me that your son’s wounds were serious: shrapnel had penetrated the back and there were internal injuries. On my pressing him he told me there was very little chance of his recovering. On the following day my Colonel told me that he had visited the Advanced Dressing Station and was informed that your son had died shortly after admission. He was posted to my Battery almost exactly a year ago when the Regiment was converted to a Mountain Regiment. It has been a very strenuous year, first intensive training for 6 months and latterly almost continuous action for 3 months. He was reserved, but undertook the most unpleasant jobs in a very pleasant, cheerful way. He was of course an absolutely first class signaller. It is, I think, partly for that reason that he has not had promotion. It would take some time to explain but briefly the intelligent men are chosen and trained as signallers and specialists and such men are so difficult to replace that promotion is abnormally slow and they can seldom be released for other jobs where they would have a better chance. Some weeks ago your son was in an Observation Post with me and was telling me about his work and the business. It has made me realise very vividly the void his death will leave. I am afraid I have expressed myself very badly, in fact it seems almost impertinent to write to you. Will you please accept my sympathy and that of every officer and man in the Battery on your sad loss. We have lost a first class soldier and a friend.”
From Lieut-Colonel F.W. Webb, 85th Mountain Regiment, R.A.:
“I am writing this letter to try and express to you the very real and deep sympathy which the whole of my Regiment feels for you and in your terrible loss. Your son was a good solider and, a first class one. Quiet and well liked by all his comrades, he was an exceptionally good signaller, and to describe his Battery Commander’s remark to me at the time “one of the men whom I could least afford to lose.” It’s very sad that always the best are taken. You may like to know the sad details of how he came to meet his death. He was a member of an Observation Post party right up in the front line on 20th October, and while carrying out his duties in his usual efficient and reliable manner he was seriously wounded by the explosion of a German shell alongside him. He was with the signaller’s mule at the time and the Basuto mule driver was also badly wounded and died later. Both men were quickly given first aid and sent back by stretcher but my Medical Officer reported that evening to me that he was afraid there was very little hope. By the next morning he had been operated on in the hospital, and the surgeon told me later that it was hopeless. I went down to the hospital that afternoon hoping to see him as I was assured that he was conscious and quite free of pain. Unfortunately I was too late, for the surgeon said that he had died very suddenly half an hour before. Up to five minutes before his death he was talking quite cheerfully and had no idea how serious his wounds were. He said he felt no pain whatever at any time. Then he suddenly went to sleep and died almost immediately. His main wounds – in fact all his wounds – were in the lower part of his body and his spine was shattered, so that he was completely paralysed below the waist and felt nothing at all. I am very sorry indeed about it and I hope you will realise my own deepest sympathy as well as that of everyone else in the regiment.”