Pte. George Louis Parris (1899 – 1918)
George Louis Parris was born in Offham on 13 February 1899, the sixth of 12 children to James Parris, a council labourer, and Jane Standen. In 1901 the family resided at 3 Kettle Cottage in Offham, but by 1910 the family had moved to Platt, and were living at 15 Whatcote Cottages. In November 1909 George and four of his siblings had transferred from Offham School to Platt School.
The four oldest Parris brothers all joined the Grenadier Guards before the war, with three eventually seeing action on the Western Front. George enlisted with the Royal Fusiliers in Maidstone during 1917 and GS/71666 Pte. G L Parris was eventually sent to France on 16 March 1918, where he joined the 24th Battalion.
By the summer of that year he was based on the Somme, and would have taken part in an action on 23 August when the British attacked along a 33-mile front that ran from Mercatel (5 miles south of Arras) to Lihons (north-west of Chaulnes). In this, the 24th, attacking south east of Ayette, faced heavy artillery fire from the start and in crossing the Arras – Achiet-le-Grand railway, also suffered rifle fire from a small post on their right. The way ahead took them further into danger and soon, in face of heavy fire from all arms, also found themselves encountering machine-gun fire from both flanks. Pressing on, the battalion were finally able to reach their objective and consolidated a position on the ridge west of Behagnies.
Two days later at 3:30 a.m. the 24th resumed their advance and began an assault on Behagnies. The attack appears to have surprised the Germans, and the British managed to take the town before defences could be properly manned.
Just over two weeks later George was in action again when the battalion was involved in an attack near Moeuvres. The battle began at dawn on 12 September and during the morning of the following day, George was mortally wounded by machine-gun fire. He was just 19 years old. His Captain wrote to George’s father:
Dear Mr. Parris,
It is with deep regret I have to inform you of the death of your son, which occurred September 13th. He was hit by machine gun bullets in an attack on that morning, and died soon afterwards, suffering very little pain. He was buried with some more of the battalion behind the firing line. He is a great loss to the Company and was greatly loved by his Platoon. I wish to convey to you the Company’s and my deepest sympathy in your great loss.
His grave is in Vaulx Hill Cemetery in the Pas de Calais and he was awarded the British War and Victory Medals. A memorial service was held for him in Platt Church in October 1918 and it was noted that he had been a member of the Church choir and also the Platt Guild.