As a result of their descent from Robert Parr (1754-1838) and Mary Pelling (1760-1820) from Great Meols, who married in 1779, all three Parr casualties were either second or third cousins to each other. Again, we do not know whether they were aware of their relationship or, if they were, whether it meant anything to them, but clearly the Parrs were another historic and vital component of the local population.
Fred was the third of the five children of James Parr (1863-1899) and Frances Kate Sherlock (1863-1908). In 1901, the family were living at 20 Church Road Hoylake (now Trinity Road). By 1911, both of Fred’s parents were dead and he was living at The Birches on Birkenhead Road in Great Meols, the home of his uncle, Samuel Parr (born in Moreton in about 1872). The seven-roomed house was also inhabited by Fred’s younger sister, Muriel, together with their grandmother Mary, their aunt Eliza and uncles William and Robert. All Fred’s uncles were employed in the family coal business. Their premises were on Station Yard, off Albert Road in Hoylake. In 1911 Fred was employed by the local council as a labourer; he later became a groundsman at West Kirby Park and finally a professional golfer at Denbigh.
He joined the Liverpool Pals on 6th November 1914. Personal details on his service records have required some unravelling because they appear to have been confused with those of Frederick Edwin Parr from Bootle, who was born in the same year and joined the same battalion three days after our man, but we can be reasonably sure that Fred was 5’ 5½” tall and that he had a 34½” chest with a 2½” expansion. He weighed 116lbs and had sallow skin, brown hair and brown eyes. He sported a mole on his right breast and his upper teeth might have been false.
Between 6th November 1914 and 6th November 1915 he was in the UK and arrived in France on 7th November 1915. By the time of his death, he had served for a total of two years and 122 days. Fred seems to have been a good soldier but, like so many of his comrades, suffered from ill health. He spent three days in a casualty clearing station in January 1916 and another six days, suffering from neuralgia, in March 1916. He was promoted to acting unpaid lance corporal on 17th February 1917, but had to go to number 96 Field Ambulance on 1st March. He was transferred to number 20 Casualty Clearing Station the following day, suffering from pleurisy. He died six days later from pneumonia which was considered to be the result of “military duty in the field”.
Telegrams reporting his death were originally sent to the next of kin of his namesake from Bootle who had died a year earlier, but, eventually, his uncle Joseph Sherlock, caretaker at Hoylake Town Hall and Council Offices, received a telegram apprising him of Fred’s death. Earlier that day, the family had been warned that he might have died by a neighbouring family whose son had written a letter which described Fred being taken to hospital. His possessions (assuming these were not the property of the other Fred Parr) were listed as: a pipe, a pocket book and religious books, a tobacco pouch, a wrist watch (broken) with strap, a purse, two pearl links, a plait of hair and a bag and were eventually sent home via a solicitor in Liverpool. His will was proved on 31st August 1917 and his estate was valued at £793 16s 1d and was passed to Samuel Parr coal dealer and Isaac Barlow insurance agent.
During August 1919, correspondence about Fred’s memorial plaque went to his brother, Lieutenant Charles James Parr of the 4th Cheshires, who was serving in Germany at the time.
Birth: March 1892
Death: 7th March 1917, died of pneumonia
Addresses: 20 Church Road, Hoylake (1901), The Birches, Birkenhead Road, Great Meols (11), 9 Cable Road, Hoylake (17)
Occupation: Labourer (11), Groundsman, Professional Golfer (14)
Unit: 20th Bn. The King’s (Liverpool Regiment)
Number and Rank: 22798 Lance Corporal
Medals: 1914/15 Star, Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: GH, H, France: Warlincourt Halte British Cemetery, Saulty V.C.3.
Sources: BR, CWGC, SR, MC, Prob., FT, GB, BN, Census: 1901, 1911
HAROLD SAMUEL PARR
Harold was third cousin once removed to Fred Parr and third cousin to William Parr. They were all descended from Robert Parr (1754-1838) and Mary Pelling (1760-1820) of Great Meols. Harold’s parents were Joseph Parr (1872-1896) and Elizabeth Deborah Salem (1867-1922). In 1911 the widowed Elizabeth was living with her 40 year-old sister, Louisa Salem, and her three children, of whom Harold was the youngest, at 30 Walker Street, Hoylake.
Harold joined the Denbighshire Hussars (Yeomanry) in Wrexham in December 1915. By that time, the Hussars had become a dismounted unit, but Harold’s photograph shows him wearing a cavalryman’s bandolier. Later, he was transferred to the 16th Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. In fact, in 1917, the Denbighshire Hussars were incorporated into that regiment as the 24th (Denbighshire Yeomanry) Battalion and went on to serve in Palestine. Harold only ever served as an infantryman on the Western Front.
He had only been in the trenches for a few weeks when he was killed by an exploding shell in the Ypres area of Belgium. The battalion chaplain wrote to his parents, “You will feel this news very deeply, but I hope you will console yourself by realising that your son died for his country, and for the cause of right and freedom. He gave his all that others might live … He is mourned by all his comrades. Please accept my very deep sympathy.”
Birth: June 1897
Death: 29th October 1916, killed in action
Address: 30 Walker Street, Hoylake (11-14)
Occupation: “Employed by two local tradesmen” (15)
Units: 1/1st Bn. The Denbighshire Hussars (Yeomanry), 16th Bn. Royal Welsh Fusiliers
Numbers: and Rank 1715, 11192 and 54511 Private
Medals: Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: GH, H, Belgium: Essex Farm Cemetery III. J. 18.
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, MC, FT, BN, Census: 1911
Bill Parr was a cousin to the above Parrs – second once removed to Harold and third to Frederick. He was a small bud on a branch of a family tree which was one of the most prolific and ancient growers within the genealogical forest of north Wirral. The Parrs had been in the area since the 18th century at least, but, due to cross fertilisation with neighbouring trees, Bill’s ancestors also included people with the names Bird, Bethell, Chatterton, Cookson, Washington and Young. A maternal great grandfather was Robert Bethell, who was born in 1816 in Parkgate and became coxswain of the Rhyl lifeboat in the 1850’s.
Bill was a member of one of the New Army battalions. It had been formed in Shrewsbury right after the declaration of war and became part of 42nd Brigade, 14th (Light) Division. By the time of his death, he had been at the front for ten months. He fell on a famous day in the history of the British and Commonwealth armies – Easter Monday 1917, the first day of the Battle of Arras, a battle which has largely been forgotten about due to its falling between the infamous battles of the Somme and Passchendaele, but which was largely a success. Some records say that Bill died on 8th April, but his company commander made it clear in a letter to his wife that he died on the morning of the 9th. His battalion was involved in the First Battle of the Scarpe, attacking Telegraph Hill.
The unnamed officer reported that Bill had “won the respect and friendship of men and officers alike” and went on to say that “… it was when advancing to the final objective, having driven the Germans in panic out of their trenches, that your husband met his death. He was struck by a piece of shell. It will be a consolation for you to know that he suffered no pain, being killed instantaneously. He died the finest death a man can die, setting a fine example of coolness and courage.” Given the well-known practice of shielding loved ones from the unimaginably horrible destruction of human bodies which resulted from warfare on the Western Front, we can only hope that the officer’s words are true.
Birth June 1890 in Hoylake
Death 9th April 1917, killed in action, aged 27
Address: 5 Back Sea View, Hoylake (1891 – 1911)
Occupations: Golf Caddy (11) Window Cleaner (14)
Unit: 5th Bn. King’s (Shropshire Light Infantry)
Number and Rank: 24382 Private
Medals: Victory and British War
Commemorated and Buried: GH, H, France: Tilloy British Cemetery, Tilloy-les-Mofflainesrance III. D. 4.
Sources: BR, CWGC, SDGW, FT, BN, DA, Census: 1891, 1901, 1911