Parry, John Armfield

John Armfield Parry was born in Dyserth on the 21st of March 1892 and was the youngest of seven children.

His parents, Peter and Mary Parry, were born in Rhuddlan and Dyserth respectively. They were married in 1875. Their first child, Peter, was born the following year. He was followed by Joseph(1878), Barnard (1880), Sarah (1883) Thomas (1887) Mary (1889) and John (1892). The family was bilingual. Peter Parry was a stonemason by trade.

For most of their married life they lived in Ochr y Foel, which literally means ‘on the side of the mountain’- the mountain being Moel Hiraddug. By 1911 both Peter senior and son Thomas were employed by the railway company; the father as a stone mason and Thomas as a railway clerk. John, then aged 19, was a postman. The census indicates that the parents had already lost one of their seven children.

Some time after 1911 John must have emigrated to Canada because on the 31st of July 1916 he enlisted in the Canadian Infantry (West Ontario Regiment) in Kamloops, British Columbia. He declared his religion as ‘Methodist’ so he had, in all probability, attended Capel Bethel when living in Dyserth. He served as a Lance Corporal with the 47th Battalion which was part in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF).

The 47th Battalion, which was authorised on the 7th of November 1914 as the ’47th Battalion, CEF’ embarked for Britain on the 13th of November 1915. It disembarked in France on the 11th of August 1916, where it fought as part of the 10th Infantry Brigade, 4th Canadian Division in France and Flanders until the end of the war.

John Parry’s records show that on the “29th of April 1918 he died of wounds ( Shrapnel wounds compound fracture right arm, legs and left shoulder) at Number 57 Casualty Clearing Station.”

The Casualty Clearing Stations (CCSs) were part of the evacuation chain from the front line. They were manned by troops of the Royal Army Medical Corps, Royal Engineers and the Army Service Corps. The CCS was meant to give a temporary stay for the soldier, either to get him fit enough to return to the front or to be transferred to a Base Hospital for further treatment.

Casualty Clearing Stations were generally located on or near railway lines, to facilitate movement of casualties from the battlefield and on to the hospitals. Although they were quite large, CCSs moved quite frequently, especially in the wake of the great German attacks in the spring of 1918 and the victorious Allied advance in the summer and autumn of that year. Many CCSs moved into Belgium and Germany with the army of occupation in 1919 too. (The Long, Long Trail – The British Army in the Great War 1914-1918)

Number 57 Casualty Clearing Station was based in Aubigny between March and August 1918 which explains why John Parry was buried in the Aubigny Communal Cemetery Extension.

Before March, 1916, Aubigny was in the area of the French Tenth Army, and 327 French soldiers were buried in the Extension to the West of what is now Plot IV. From March 1916 to the Armistice, Aubigny was held by Commonwealth troops and burials were made in the Extension until September 1918. The 42nd Casualty Clearing Station buried men in it during the whole period, the 30th in 1916 and 1917, the 24th and 1st Canadian in 1917 (during the capture of Vimy Ridge by the Canadian Corps) and the 57th in 1918.

So…………….the young man from Wales, seeking adventure and a new life in Canada, met his end in tragic circumstances not that far from home.

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