Monday, 12 September 2011
200209 A/Cpl Archie Walter Parker, 4th Suffolk Regt
I never met Archie Parker, but I received several letters from him in 1987 and 1988 and the following extracts are taken from these.
"My name is Archie Walter Parker and I was born in Ipswich, Suffolk on the 20th September 1895. I joined the 4th Battalion, Suffolk Regiment in 1912. Our drill hall was at Ipswich so it was easy to go there from our homes. We used to go about two nights a week which was very handy. I joined them because they were only territorials and we had regular work to go to. I was in the local A Company and my number was 1630, later 200209.
[The 1911 census shows Archie living at 65 Rendlesham Road, Ipswich with his parents Albert William Parker (aged 43), Emma Parker (aged 40) and eight siblings. Millicent, at 21, was the eldest, whilst Arthur Wilfred Parker, at nine months, was the youngest. Fifteen-year-old Archie was working as a boot packer for a boot manufacturer.]
"In 1914 we went to Yarmouth for camp for a fortnight - as we thought - and then the war broke out so we had to come back to Ipswich to be mobilized at our drill hall. We went to Felixstowe, doing duty on the coast, and our billet was a large golf house from which the golfers had had to leave in a hurry, leaving a lot behind. We were then relieved and we went in the country to sleep in the fields. One was in Tiptree in Essex, near a strawberry field. Then we went to Colchester, having to march about ten miles to the Severalls Hospital which was then a lunatics' hospital. We slept in tents there and we had to run around the hospital twice before breakfast. We used to march down to Colchester and do sentry duty at an officers' billets and we used to go out to a village called Elmstead to train doing trench building and the like.
"One day our officers asked who would volunteer to go to Egypt, Malta or Gibralter. Many of us did and we ended up on an old cattle steamer at Southampton. We landed in Le Havre, France, and what a surprise! We could do nothing about it, there it was. We marched up a steep hill and went into tents where there were some troops who had been wounded. I met a soldier there who had been wounded and was from Ipswich, and afterwards both he and I worked for the same firm. Then we went by train to Rouen for about two nights, and then to St Omer. This was the British Headquarters where General Roberts died and my brother, who was a sergeant, went down to the station as a bearer.
[Archie's brother was 1100 Sergeant William George Parker, later 83371 CQMS Machine Gun Corps, and later still RQMS MGC]