CWG: Rifleman Ernest Parsons

Rifleman Ernest Parsons

Ernest Charles Parsons was born in 1881, and was one of six children to bricklayer Robert Parsons and his wife Mary Ann. Robert was a labourer and bricklayer from Watford, while Mary Ann was born in Arundel, West Sussex. The couple moved to where his work was, having their first children in Hertfordshire and Sussex They finally settled in London, which was where Ernest was born.

Where he first left school, Ernest worked as a painter, but soon found a career as a postman., something he would continue to do through to the outbreak of war.

Ernest married Frances Olive Eynott on 28th February 1904; they went on to have a daughter, Doris, the following year. It seems, however, that their marriage was destined to be a short one; Frances passed away within a couple of years.

With a daughter to raise and a living to earn, Ernest married again. Elizabeth Kate Dew was born in Fulham in 1883, and the couple married in the spring of 1907. Again, however, their happiness was to be short; Elizabeth died eighteen months later.

Widowed twice, and with Doris now a toddler, Ernest moved back in with his parents in Chiswick. He continued his work as a postman, but alongside this had been an active volunteer in the London Regiment (Post Office Rifles) since early 1908.

Rifleman Parsons’ initial year’s service was extended and extended and, by the time of the outbreak of the First World War, had been serving for some six years.

By 1914, Ernest had found love for a third time, and married Lilian Frances Cromie on 25th March that year. With war imminent, his time was take up more with military duties; while part of the territorial force, Rifleman Parsons had been officially mobilised.

The sudden intermingling of men from different parts of the country in small, packed training camps made the perfect environment for illness and disease to circulate. Ernest had initially contracted bronchitis while on service in 1912; this had dogged him intermittently oved the next few years until, in March 1915, it was serious enough for the Medical Examination Board to declare him unfit for military service.

Ernest moved his family to Worthing, in West Sussex, presumably as the air was fresher there than in the bustling capital. He may also had had family in the area, as his mother had been born just up the road in Arundel. Sadly, though, it seems that his health was not to recover sufficiently, and he passed away on 4th October 1918, at the age of 37.

Ernest Charles Parsons was buried in the Broadwater Cemetery in the town, not far from where his widow and daughter were then living.

Coincidentally, when researching another soldier, Lance Corporal Edgar Godden, this turns out to be the address where he also died, just ten months earlier on 22nd December 1917. There is no apparent other link between the two men.

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