Harry Benfield Parkin
Date of birth: 1890
Date of death: 18.09.1917
Regiment: West Yorkshire (Prince of Wales's Own)
Family information: Son of Albert and Louisa Parkin
Service number: 201284
George and Harold enlisted into the Royal Navy, but Harry enlisted in the West Yorkshire Regiment serving with the 2/6th Battalion.
The 2/6th Battalion were part of the 185th Brigade of the 62nd Division (2nd West Riding). They landed at Le Havre in January 1917. The Division was made up of four battalions of the West Yorkshires, four battalions of the Duke of Wellingtons, two battalions of Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and two battalions of the York and Lancasters. Very much a West Riding Division.
Formed in 1914, they, along with 49th Division (1st West Riding), were in reserve at home throughout 1915 and1916. When the 49th Division went out to France the 62nd Division continued to train at home and supply drafts of men to the front. The 62nd Division went to France in January 1917.
The service records of Harry Benfield Parkin are among those lost in World War Two so it is not known when he joined the regiment or when he was promoted, eventually becoming a serjeant. It is most likely he was in France from January 1917.
During the early months of February and March the 2/6th Battalion served in the Ancre area and then moved to follow the retreat of the Germans to the Hindenberg line. In April they were fighting around Arras and continued in the general area. In November they were in the Battle of Cambrai, but by then Harry was dead.
Here he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal. The citation reads:
“For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty during a very heavy bombardment of the line, followed by a raid of storm troops. Though wounded during the bombardment he refused to leave his post and though all his men were eventually killed or wounded he succeeded in holding out single-handed and in killing an officer and two men who had penetrated the post. He was again severely wounded and on arrival of reinforcements was found propped against the trench in a pool of blood. But for his courage the enemy would have succeeded in effecting a lodgement in our line.”
It was a time of holding the line, patrolling and raiding the enemy. There was a raid on the German line by the 2/6th on 11th September. The Germans retaliated with a fierce attack in the early hours of 13th September. We know Harry was wounded on 13th September and died of his wounds on 18th September. It is very likely that this is the action described in his citation.
General Braithwaite GOC of 62nd Division praised the185th Brigade for their recent successful raids and to all ranks who recently repulsed the enemies raid on the morning of 13th.
Harry is buried in Grevillers British Cemetery, just west of Bapaume, where there were a number of Australian Casualty Clearing Stations.
It is likely this is where he was taken on 13th September. His Battalion were withdrawn from the front line late on that day.
Harry Benfield Parkin was born in 1890 at Mirfield, where his father Albert was a Police Constable. He was the second son of Albert and Louisa Parkin. Albert continued to serve in the Police Force and lived in the Spen Valley area until 1901. Sometime after he was made Police Sergeant at Knottingley and the family moved to live at the Police Station. By now there were five sons - George Byard, Harry Benfield, Frank, Harold and Albert Leslie and a daughter Gertrude.
Harry worked as a clerk for the North Eastern Railways along with Frank and their elder brother George was a School Teacher.