Memory Lane: How community said thank you to Great War soldier Harold

Harold Parker, a farmer who was born and died at Great Gonerby (1894-1979). He served in the First World War. Pictured here in the Lincolnshire Yeomanry before the outbreak of war. T
Harold Parker, a farmer who was born and died at Great Gonerby (1894-1979). He served in the First World War. Pictured here in the Lincolnshire Yeomanry before the outbreak of war. T

The centenary of the outbreak of the First World War has prompted Nigel Welbourn to tell us about his grandfather, Harold Parker, from Great Gonerby.

The story gives a fascinating insight into the way the community viewed the young man who went off to war, and gives glimpses of what life was like afterwards.

Harold Parker, a farmer who was born and died at Great Gonerby (1894-1979). He served in the First World WarA certificate produced by the Gt Gonerby Comforts fund after the war.

Harold Parker, a farmer who was born and died at Great Gonerby (1894-1979). He served in the First World WarA certificate produced by the Gt Gonerby Comforts fund after the war.

Harold was born in Great Gonerby in 1894, 20 years before the outbreak of the war, and died in the village at the age of 85 in 1979.

Nigel writes: Harold worked for his father, Charles Parker, who was a farmer and wheelwright at Great Gonerby.

His First World War service included surviving a night bailing out in an overcrowded lifeboat from his troop ship that was torpedoed and sunk.

Fortunately the sea was calm during the night, but, as soon as they were rescued, the next day a storm developed.

Harold Parker, a farmer who was born and died at Great Gonerby (1894-1979). He served in the First World War one of his medals awarded in 1919 for his service in Afghanistan (in the North West Frontier area).

Harold Parker, a farmer who was born and died at Great Gonerby (1894-1979). He served in the First World War one of his medals awarded in 1919 for his service in Afghanistan (in the North West Frontier area).

He served in the North West Frontier border area (at that time between Afghanistan and India) and because of his great horsemanship skills he was made Rough Riding Sargent with responsibility to keep the more difficult war horses in check.

Towards the end of the war Great Gonerby residents sent him an extremely kind letter.

It said: “Your friends and well-wishers of the above parish beg your acceptance of the accompanying Christmas present and card. They feel under a lifelong debt to you for the many sacrifices you have made during the Great War, which, very apparently, is in its closing stages. May an honourable peace reward your loyalty; and may we soon have the pleasure of welcoming you home.”

It was signed EL David, Hon Sec Christmas Presents Committee and was dated November 1918.

After the war a certificate was produced by the Great Gonerby Comforts fund and presented to Harold.

It thanked him for his bravery and self sacrifice in defence of King and country and ‘our homes’.

In 1919 he was awarded a medal for his service in Afghanistan.

After the war he married Everelda Eve (a teacher at Caythorpe) known as ‘Lil’ in 1921.

The agricultural depression after the war saw the family move out of Court Leys Farm in Great Gonerby and establish a smaller farm at No10 Grantham Road Great Gonerby, known as The Laurels.

At that time the house was gas lit, served by well water and surrounded by open fields.

They had a herd of Lincoln Red cows and milk was dispatched to Grantham daily.

His sister Dorothy Smallman also lived in Great Gonerby and his only daughter Mary was married in St Sebastian church at Great Gonerby in 1946 to Eric Welbourn.

Harold loved playing bowls in Grantham and won many cups and trophies.

He was a jolly man who loved to play practical jokes.

Once he called on houses in Great Gonerby pretending to be a tramp. He loved the story about his false teeth, but otherwise he didn’t speak much about the war.

He never whinged, it was just somethig he did and then moved on with the rest of his life.

I am his last surviving relative and so these artefacts came to me. I am glad to have the opportunity to share them in Memory Lane .

“I live in Guildford, Surrey, but remember visiting Harold and Lil most weekends with my parents. After Harold died my grandmother lived in a care home in Grantham before she died.”