Second Lieutenant Beresford Frank Parsons (Royal Flying Corps, was killed on 23rd January 1917 when an aeroplane in which he was a passenger, crashed in Charlton Park, Malmesbury, Wiltshire. He sustained a fracture of the base of the skull and was buried with full military honours at Yardley Cemetery.
Beresford Frank Parsons, known as Frank, was born in Birchfield, Handsworth, Staffordshire on 18th March 1892. He was the second of the two sons of parents Frank Bernard Parsons (1860-1939), an architect, and Louisa Ellinor (née Srawley) who had married in 1886 at St Paul’s Church, Birmingham and went on to set up home at Garthowen, Church Road, Yardley. Frank attended Solihull Grammar School from 1902-1905 and King Edward’s High School, Birmingham 1905-1908, where he was a Cadet Lance Corporal in the Officer Training Corps (OTC).
After leaving school, he became an apprentice at Birmingham Corporation Gas Works 1908-1912, during which period he also attended Birmingham Technical School, where he obtained 1st class honours, passing the subjects of Chemistry, Heat Light Sound, Machine Construction, Machine Design, Mechanical Engineering and Gas Engineering. He was admitted to the Institute of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) as a graduate member on 17th January 1913.
On the outbreak of war, Frank was working as an assistant engineer at the Nechells Gas Works. On 2nd September 1914, he enlisted in the 6th Battalion Royal Warwickshire Regiment (Territorials) with his brother, Harold Richard Parsons (1888-1975), who had also attended Solihull School. The boys received consecutive service numbers – 2678 and 2679 – and first saw active service in France in March 1915. Both were subsequently commissioned – Harold as Second Lieutenant in the Royal Warwicks, and Frank in September 1916 as Second Lieutenant with the Royal Flying Corps.
According to a newspaper report in the The Scotsman, 25th January 1917, Frank was an observer in an aeroplane being piloted by Second Lieutenant Fenton, an Australian. The men got lost and, after stopping to enquire the way, found the engine failing. When turning to descend again, they found there was insufficient speed for flight and the men fell some 100 feet. Lieutenant Cyril Boyd Fenton (1897-1922) was also seriously injured, sustaining a fractured base of the skull, a compound fracture of the right leg, and various cuts and bruises. He was unconscious for three weeks but was then reported to be “doing splendidly”. He returned to active service seven months later but was captured by the enemy in March 1918, and interned in a Prisoner of War camp in Germany. He returned to England in December 1918 but died of cancer in Australia in 1922.
Second Lieutenant Beresford Frank Parsons is commemorated on the war memorial at Yardley, and on the roll of honour at the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, as well as at King Edward’s School. However, his name appears to be missing from Solihull School’s war memorial.
His brother, Harold, survived the war and named his only son, born in 1923, Frank Beresford Parsons, presumably in memory of his late brother.
If you have any further information, please let us know.
Heritage & Local Studies Librarian
tel.: 0121 704 6977