Private Thomas Henry Parkes, from Solihull and Hockley Heath, died of wounds on 24th October 1915 at Gallipoli, serving with the 8th Battalion, Duke of Wellington’s (West Riding Regiment). He was the youngest of the seven surviving children (out of 12 born) of parents William Parkes, a bricklayer, and his wife Rhoda (née Hayes) who had married at St Alphege Church, Solihull on 27th July 1874.
By 1891, William (from Knowle) and Rhoda (from Hockley Heath) were still living in Solihull High Street, with their five co-resident children all listed as being born in Solihull. Three of the children were baptised at St Alphege Church between 1874 and 1882, but there appear to be no baptisms for their remaining children, including Thomas Henry who was born in Solihull around 1893.
By 1901, the family had moved to Hockley Heath. Thomas was still there ten years later, aged 18, working as a farm labourer and recorded as the head of the household. However, his parents were both inmates Solihull Workhouse in 1911. The workhouse was often the only resort for those too old or too ill to support themselves, and whose families weren’t in a position to care for them. As William died between July-September 1911, only a few months after the census was taken, it seems likely that he died in the workhouse. The admission and discharge registers for Solihull Workhouse haven’t survived so we don’t know when Rhoda left the workhouse. However, she was listed as the next-of-kin for Thomas’s effects after he was killed in 1915. She seems to have died at Warwick in 1927, aged 74.
Thomas was remembered at a memorial service for the fallen held at St Patrick’s Church, Salter Street, on 3rd September 1916, although his name is not actually recorded on the war memorial plaque in the church. As well as being commemorated at Hill 10 Cemetery in Turkey, he is remembered locally on the village memorial at Hockley Heath, and on the war memorial at Umberslade Baptist Church although, rather confusingly, the name is recorded on the Umberslade memorial as “T. Parkes R.N.”
Neither we, nor researchers from Friends of Umberslade Baptist Chapel, have been able to identify a T. Parkes from the area who served in the Royal Navy, so we think this is actually ‘our’ Private Thomas Henry Parkes. The only T. Parkes from the Royal Navy who died was Ordinary Seaman, Thomas Henry Parkes, who died on H.M.S. Defence on 31st May 1916. In peacetime, he was a weaver, born in Nuneaton, and was still living there in 1911.
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