Parsonage, William

William Parsonage was born the 4th of January 1916 in Caergwrle, according to the British Armed Forces and Overseas Deaths & Burials.   He was the third son of Richard & Sarah Mary Elizabeth Parsonage (nee Hughes), who had married at the Wesleyan Chapel, Wallasey on the 1st November 1904, this, according to Richard’s Attestation Papers.   At the time of Richard’s entry into the Army, they were living at Lower Street, Caergwrle.

However on the 1911 census, way before WW1, Richard Parsonage, 29 was living at 33, Moss Hill, Moss, Denbighshire and he was a Collier (Hewer) for Westminster Colliery.   His wife Sarah Mary Parsonage, 28, tells us that they had been married for 6 years and 5 children had been born, all still living, but she had been born at Hol(e)mwood, rest unable to decipher. (any help appreciated),   their children were twins, Ruth & Mabel, age 5 years, Richard, 4, John, 3, all born Birkenhead and Sarah Hilda, 6 months, born in Holywell (Denbigh) (sic).

Richard Parsonage had answered the call to arms when WW1 started, he enlisted on the 2nd September 1914 at Caergwrle in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, Regimental No. 13121, saying he had been born in the Parish of Gwersylt, he was 32 years and 8 months old and his trade was Boilerman.   He also states that he had served in the Special Reserve, Cheshire’s.   He was 5 feet 9 inches, his chest measurement was 32 inches, range of expansion 2 inches. And his religion was Presbyterian.

However he was discharged as “Not being likely to become an efficient soldier,” on the 31st March 1915.  Then he re-enlisted on the 5th July 1915 into the Royal Welsh Fusiliers under No. 32507 and eventually was transferred to the Royal Army Medical Corps on the 23rd February 1918 under that number, this information was written in 1925 and I have found the Attestation form for his re-enlistment and it states that his regimental number was changed in 1915 from 32507 to 137675.

It seems that there was a brief moment when Richard was transferred to Class “P” Army Reserve to resume civil employment at Smitheston Asylym in Greenock*, on the 14th June 1918 and then rejoined the Colours on the 3rd July 1918.   There is a card from Fold3 below which confirms this.   There is also a letter, to the Army as well.


I have downloaded his WW2 Attestation Papers, too many to relate here, but if anyone would like them, please contact the website.

So Richard was in the Army fighting leaving Sarah  and a large family of 7 children living at Caergwrle, more children were born later.

I have no information on William’s early or teenage years, nor have I any information on when he enlisted or was conscripted, but he is still at home when the 1939 National Register was taken on the 29th September 1939 as he is seen on it with some of his large family, some of whom had married and were living elsewhere.

On the 29th September 1939 the family were living at Meadows Croft, Sarn Lane, Caergwrle, Hawarden, Flintshire, Wales and this source gives us the dates of birth for all the family living there that day, except for the closed or redacted entries.     Richard Parsonage, had been born on the 19th January 1881 and was a Steelworks Labourer, his wife Sara had been born on the 24th January 1880 and she is described as “Incapacitated.”   John Parsonage who had been born on the 28th October 1909 was single and an Unemployed Labourer (Steel Works).   Louise Parsonage had been born on the 9th September 1913, was single and was doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.”   Women who did not have a job, on this register, are mostly described as such.  William Parsonage, had been born on the 4th January 1916, was single and a Colliery Lampman.   Muriel M. Parsonage had been born on the 17th February 1924 was single and again described as doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.    There were 2 redacted or closed records.*

* For individual people, records remain closed for a century after their birth (the 100-year rule), unless it can be proven that they passed away before this milestone.

So, it seems, William was to find himself in the Royal Navy and aboard the H.M.S. “Prince of Wales” on the 10th December 1941.   Please click on the links to read about the terrible events on that day.

Sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse – From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Location – South China Sea

Result   Japanese victory

Belligerents –  United Kingdom, United Kingdom Royal Navy,  United Kingdom, Royal Australian Navy

Japan, Japan Navy Air Service

Malayan campaign

The sinking of Prince of Wales and Repulse was a naval engagement in World War II, as part of the war in the Pacific, that took place on 10 December 1941 in the South China Sea off the east coast of the British colony of Malaya (present-day Malaysia), 70 miles (61 nautical miles; 110 kilometres) east of Kuantan, Pahang. The Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser HMS Repulse were sunk by land-based bombers and torpedo bombers of the Imperial Japanese Navy. In Japanese, the engagement was referred to as the Naval Battle of Malaya (マレー沖海戦, Marē-oki kaisen).

The objective of Force Z, which consisted of one battleship, one battlecruiser and four destroyers, was to intercept the Japanese invasion fleet in the South China Sea north of Malaya. The task force sailed without air support. Although the British had a close encounter with Japanese heavy surface units, the force failed to find and destroy the main convoy. On their return to Singapore they were attacked in open waters and sunk by long-range torpedo bombers. The commander of Force Z, Admiral Sir Tom Phillips, elected to maintain radio silence and an alert was only sent (by the Repulse) one hour after the first Japanese attack.

With the attack on Pearl Harbor only three days earlier, the Malayan engagement illustrated the effectiveness of aerial attacks against even the heaviest of naval assets if they were without air cover. This added to the importance for the Allies of the three USN aircraft carriers in the Pacific: USS Enterprise, Lexington, and Saratoga.[N 1] The sinking of the two ships severely weakened the British Eastern Fleet in Singapore, and the Japanese fleet was only engaged by submarines until the Battle off Endau on 27 January 1942.

Allied Warships

HMS Prince of Wales (53)

Battleship of the King George V class

HMS Prince of Wales as completed. (Photo below)

Navy      The Royal Navy

Type      Battleship

Class      King George V

Pennant               53

Built by Cammell Laird Shipyard (Birkenhead, U.K.)

Ordered               29 Jul 1936

Laid down           1 Jan 1937

Launched            5 Mar 1939

Commissioned  31 Mar 1941

Lost        10 Dec 1941

Loss position      3° 34’N, 104° 26’E


Prince of Wales, a 35,000-ton King George V class battleship built Birkenhead, England, was completed in March 1941. In late May, while still not fully operational, she was sent into action with the German battleship Bismarck and received significant damage from heavy gunfire.

Following repairs, Prince of Wales carried Prime Minister Winston Churchill across the Atlantic to Newfoundland. There, on 9-12 August, Churchill joined U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt for the Atlantic Charter conference, the first meeting between the two English-speaking leaders of what was emerging as the Grand Alliance against the Axis powers. Following her return to British waters, Prince of Wales went to the Mediterranean, where she successfully engaged Italian planes off Malta in late September. Sent to the Far East with the battlecruiser HMS Repulse to counter the swiftly developing Japanese threat in the region, she arrived on 2 December 1941.

On 8 December, the day of the Pearl Harbor Raid on the other side of the International Date Line, the Japanese landed in northern Malaya. Prince of Wales, Repulse and four destroyers were sent to attack the invasion force. After finding no targets, the British ships were returning to Singapore when, late in the morning of 10 December, they were attacked by a strong force of Japanese high-level bombers and torpedo planes. With no friendly planes to protect them, both heavy ships were hit several times. Repulse sank at about 1230. Prince of Wales (Capt. John Catterall Leach, DSO, RN *with Admiral sir Tom Spencer Vaughan Phillips, KCB, RN aboard**) capsized in position 03º34’N, 104º26’E and followed Repulse to the bottom less than an hour later. The first capital ships to be sunk by air attack while operating on the high seas, their loss further shocked a naval world already stunned by the events at Pearl Harbor only a few days earlier.

Winston Churchill described the sinking of this ship as the greatest shock of his life. 



Prince of Wales

Country                United Kingdom

Ship Class            King George V (1939)-class Battleship

Commissioned  31 Mar 1941

Sunk      10 Dec 1941

Displacement    35,000 tons standard

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

10 Dec 1941        Japanese submarine I-58 spotted British battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battlecruiser HMS Repulse off British Malaya, launched five torpedoes, but all of them missed; beginning at 1117 hours, Japanese aircraft began to attack. Overwhelmed, HMS Repulse was sunk at 1233 hours (513 killed), followed by HMS Prince of Wales at 1318 hours (327 killed); destroyers HMS Electra, HMS Express, and HMS Vampire rescued 1,862 survivors. On land, the British commanders dispatched the 1st Battalion of the 14th Punjab Regiment and the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Gurkha Rifles regiment to Changlun and Asun in northern British Malaya to counter the Japanese advance; contact was made at Changlun at 2100 hours, where two Japanese tanks were destroyed before the Punjabi troops fell back toward Asun.

German battleship Bismarck

(Excerpt from the above website)

In the course of the warship’s eight-month career under her sole commanding officer, Captain Ernst Lindemann, Bismarck conducted only one offensive operation, lasting 8 days in May 1941, codenamed Rheinübung. The ship, along with the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, was to break into the Atlantic Ocean and raid Allied shipping from North America to Great Britain. The two ships were detected several times off Scandinavia, and British naval units were deployed to block their route. At the Battle of the Denmark Strait, the battlecruiser HMS Hood initially engaged Prinz Eugen, probably by mistake, while HMS Prince of Wales engaged Bismarck. In the ensuing battle Hood was destroyed by the combined fire of Bismarck and Prinz Eugen, which then damaged Prince of Wales and forced her retreat. Bismarck suffered sufficient damage from three hits to force an end to the raiding mission.

The destruction of Hood spurred a relentless pursuit by the Royal Navy involving dozens of warships. Two days later, heading for occupied France to effect repairs, Bismarck was attacked by 16 Fairey Swordfish biplane torpedo bombers from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal; one scored a hit that rendered the battleship’s steering gear inoperable. In her final battle the following morning, the already-crippled Bismarck was engaged by two British battleships and two heavy cruisers, and sustained incapacitating damage and heavy loss of life. The ship was scuttled to prevent her being boarded by the British, and to allow the ship to be abandoned so as to limit further casualties. Most experts agree that the battle damage would have caused her to sink eventually.

So William tragically, onboard H.M.S. “Prince of Wales” was involved in very epic battles and also involved with carrying Winston Churchill across the Atlantic Ocean to meet U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and being involved in a battle leading up to the sinking of the “Bismark .”

William’s parents were to be alive to suffer  William’s loss and bear the grief of losing their son, as Richard, I believe, died in the July quarter of  1947 age 65 years (Flintshire (Mold) HAW/31A/56) and Sarah died in the June quarter of 1954 age 71 years (Hawarden Vol. 8a Page 467).

William was loved and missed so much by his large family, they made sure that he was to be remembered for perpetuity by adding his name on the Hope WW2 War Memorial.

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