Born: 1891, Ipswich.
Died: 22nd January 1916; age 25; KiA.
Enlistment Location: Ipswich.
Date of Entry Therein: 10th October 1914.
Rank: Private: Service Number: 3/8044
Regiment: Suffolk regiment, 2nd Battalion.
Medals Awarded: Victory, British War & 1914 Star + Clasp.
Relatives Notified & Address: Son of John Parsons, of 11, Bishops Hill, Ipswich.
1891 64, Albion Street, Ipswich.
John was 17 months old and living with his parents.
John Parsons, 25, a Fitter – Foundry, born Ipswich.
Florence Emily Parsons (nee Grainger), 23, born Ipswich.
1901 38, Kemball Street, Ipswich.
John was 9 years old and living with his parents & siblings.
John, 36, a Plough Fitter.
Henry George Parsons, 7, born Ipswich.
George William Parsons, 5, born Ipswich.
Florence Emily Parsons, 3, born Ipswich.
Sidney James Parsons, 1, born Ipswich.
1911 131, Bishops Street, Ipswich.
John was 20 years old and Unemployed. He was living with his parents & siblings.
John, 46, a Plough Fitter.
Harry, 18, a Moulder.
George, 16, a Moulder.
Sidney James parsons, 11, born Ipswich.
Amy Elizabeth Parsons, 9, born Ipswich.
Stanley Parsons, 5, born Ipswich.
Soldiers’ Effects to John Parsons – father.
John is also remembered on the war memorial at Holy Trinity Church, Ipswich.
Suffolk Regiment, 2nd Battalion:
The Suffolk Regiment diary noted:
“A terrific explosion occurred. The ground shook violently and an immense column of earth shot up in front of the Bluff carrying away the south-eastern face of it. The explosion was not followed by any bombardment or attack and for the moment no one realised what happened. Men in the trenches next to the canal were buried several feet deep; ammunition boxes were hurled hundreds of yards; and all the surrounding trenches upon which the Battalion had spent so much labour, as well as the systems of tunnels within the Bluff, collapsed completely.”
Dazed and confused, command was quickly regained. The War Diary noted that “the garrison of trench 28 immediately opened rapid fire” as the men awaited the counter attack they felt sure would come. Lieutenant Dix, finding none of his men had survived the explosion, took what men he could find and immediately manned the right hand lip of the crater against attack. They waited for the enemy, but thankfully, they nor their artillery came.
The official figures for killed wounded or missing that day will probably never be known. The official figure now, is 45 Suffolk men killed that day; all of whom were privates and NCOs. No officers of the Battalion are recorded as being killed that day.
The Battalion received a special commendation for their actions that night by the commander of 3rd Division; Major-General R. Haldane, who described their actions in a Divisional Memo which was typed out and pasted into the War Diary by the then Adjutant; Captain H.C.N. Trollope. It concluded: “The conduct of the Battalion under these trying circumstances , was excellent, all ranks behaving in a soldier-like manner, so that their position, which might easily have become serious, was never in danger.”
Of all the amazing incidents that occurred that night, perhaps the tale of No. 4142 Sgt Harry Bragg was probably the most courageous. The Regimental History modestly recorded his award of the DCM as being “for conspicuous gallantry” but the truth was far more amazing. Bragg and his men were manning the front line just yards from where the mine was detonated. Initially blown upwards, they were subsequently buried under almost four feet of earth. Bragg succeeded in digging his way out, then single handedly dug out four of his comrades; one of whom was wounded. They then manned the crater for the remainder of the day and what was describes as “hot fire.”