Saturday, January 02, 2016

370722 Rifleman Harold William Parkinson, 1/8th London Regiment

2537 Private Harold William Parkinson was a patient at Beechland House in 1917. He was there not due to wounds but due to sickness. His entry in Nurse Oliver’s album reads:

Rifleman Harold Parkinson
Post Office Rifles
Better known as
Bronchial Billy. Feb 28th 1917

[ha’penny stamp stuck in book]

By gum Its stuck HP

There is also a group photo of hospital patients pasted onto this page and it is possible that Harold is one of the many unidentified patients there. Nurse Oliver is certainly pictured (back row, third from left) as is the matron, Miss Marshall, who sits at the front with a small dog on her lap.

Harold Parkinson, the son of James Parkinson, was living at 10 Elm Park Avenue, South Tottenham, London when he enlisted with a reserve battalion of the 8th (City of London) Regiment (Post Office Rifles) on 9th September 1914. He was appointed acting corporal on the 26th September 1914 and posted to the 1/8th Battalion on the 10th February 1915. He arrived in France with the Post Office Rifles on the 18th March 1915 and was overseas for just over one year, returning to England on 22nd March 1916 as a result of sickness. He was discharged due to sickness on 22nd April 1917.

His reference to bronchial problems may indicate that he was gassed – he would certainly have been exposed to clouds of gas at the Battle of Loos in which the 1/8th London Regiment took part, and probably after that as well. There is, however, no reference to the reason for his discharge in the six pages of service record which survive in series WO 364.

Harold’s medal index card gives two army numbers for him; the second one: 370722, (which was allocated to him when the Territorials were re-numbered in early 1917), falls within the range of numbers allotted to the Post Office Rifles.

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