Parish, Francis Woodbine

I saw this name on the War Memorial, but it wasn’t with the others and didn’t know if the soldier had died in the 1st World War or the 2nd World War.   Hawarden War Memorial, Right of Base – Francis Woodbine PARISH* Major:- 1/15 London Rt & T/Lt. Col.-K.R.R.C. (Kings Royal Rifle Corps.) and also William W. WRIGHT

I have now researched him and he died after WW1 but in 1921 from war wounds.   He is not on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database as his death occurred after the cut-off date of 31st August 1921.

Francis Woodbine Parish was born in 1885, the middle child of  Charles W. Parish and Frances M. Parish (nee Boyle). Their 2 other children were Walter W. born in 1881 and  Marjorie A.W. born in 1886. Frances died in 1889 and Charles re married the Honourable Helen Jane Sandilands, (Charles Woodbine Parish Senior’s Marriage allegation was dated the 15th January 1891 in the New Parish of St. Paul’s, Knightsbridge, where he stated he was a Widower). They went on to  have 2 children. Charles D.W. was born in 1891 and Hope Mary W. was born in 1893.

In 1891 there was a census which records the family living at 50, Ennismore Gardens, St. Mary & St. John Westminster. Head of the household was father Charles W. Parish, 42, a Company Director, who had been born in Brighton.  His wife Helen J. Parish, 37 had been born in Coston, Leicestershire. The listed children were Walter 10, Marjorie 4 and Francis 6. All the children had been born in Russia. There were 7 servants in the household including one who had also been born in Russia.

In the next census of 1901  Francis, 16,  was recorded as a Student,  in a Private School, “Parkside”, in Kingston Road, Erwell, Epsom. He was a Boarder.

I cannot find any trace of him in the 1911 census. He was already a serving soldier by then and probably abroad.

British Army WWI Medal Rolls Index Cards, 1914-1920 accessible on   [Francis Woodbine Parish] D.S.O.  M.C. tells us his address was 2, The Boltons, S.W 10. His Theatre of War of this war first served in was France and he entered therein on the 17th March 1915. He is not on the CWGC database as he died on the 13th October 1921and the list was closed in August 1921. I cannot find any Army Records for him other than his Medal Card.

The Hawarden Events Book, however,  in The County Record Office gives us some information about his army history and explains the connection with Hawarden.  In the Book 1921 (Page 41), it was noted  that Francis had married.

Family. Miss Dorothy Drew* married Captain Francis Parish at St. Margaret’s, Westminster.    Captain Parish had been acting as A.D.C. to Lord Gladstone in South Africa, where they met.

*Known as “Dossie” to her family.

Francis and Dorothy were to have 5 children. (Patrick E.G.W. 1913),   (David F.W. 1914),  (Nancy M.W. 1917), (Sheila Olivia 1919) and (John N.W.1921).

Sadly John was born only months before his father’s sudden death which is explained in the Hawarden Events Book 1921 (Page 75): –

On 13th October at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Montreal, Francis Woodbine Parish, Major 2nd Batn. K.R.R., D.S.O., M.C., died after a severe short illness of meningitis.   He made the brief trip across the Atlantic with his wife to gain health, strength and refreshment, but the trouble in the head attributable to his being knocked out on one occasion whilst on War Service in France came to him before landing in New York, and almost immediately after his arrival in Montreal the seriousness and severity of the attack necessitated immediate removal to Hospital where he received all possible attention from the able Doctors and attentive experienced Nurses.   His wife was near him during the few days of his illness and showed remarkable courage and devotion.   A memorial service was held in Montreal Cathedral by Bishop Farthing and was well attended.    Mr. Douglas Parish ( Francis’s Brother) arrived at New York in the “Acuitania” (sic) on Oct 28 and a week later sailed from Montreal in the “Minnedosa”(C.P.R. who showed marked attention) with Mrs. Parish and the Body for Liverpool.    There they were met by Mr. & Mrs. H.N. Gladstone in Motor Cars on Saturday morning 5th November and went direct to Hawarden.   The Coffin arranged with flowers and etc. by Mrs, H.N. Gladstone and other loving hands.

            The funeral took place with military honours, a full choir and lovely music, on the afternoon of the 8th November, the body being buried close to H. Drew’s, the grave by desire thus becoming a double one laterally.   Bright sun, deep snow a brave widow and her 2 little boys, Patrick (7) and David (5) made the scene memorable.   In Paddy as he was familiarly known, the writer has lost one who soon became a great friend and much appreciated companion.   He was a man of sterling qualities known to and recognised by his friends, brother officers and especially the soldiers who served under him, his high standard of life having a most excellent influence upon all who came in contact with him.    Viscount Gladstone on whose Staff Paddy served in South Africa has paid him a fine tribute anonymously in “The Times” of October.   Hawarden showed very special sympathy by full attendance and in other ways on Nov. 8th.   The 5th R.W.F. provided an (Illegible) of 50 men and a Firing Party, and 4 skilled Buglers of the 2nd K.R.R.came specially from Winchester, and acted as Pall Bearers headed by 2 brother Officers Co. Parker and Col. Wyndham, Col. Freer Ash of the 5th R.W.F. was also present and also the Band.  R.I.P.

            On Armistice Day Nov. 11, Mrs. S.E.GLADSTONE and her 2 daughters sailed from London in the P.and O.S.S. “Morea” for Bombay with Miss Margaret Wicjham** returning to her Bengal Sisterhood with renewed health.   Mrs. W.B. Gladstone, her daughter Daphne and son Neville were in the same Steamer.

            The Hawarden School children at 11 a.m. after a very short service in Church laid a Wreath of Laurel on the Village Memorial, the Rector saying a few appropriate words.    The Lord Lieut., Mr.s H.N. Gladstone, Mrs. Drew, Mrs. F. Parish, Mrs Lyttleton,  Miss Helen Gladstone E, Mrs. Tilney Bassett and other were present.”

So Dorothy managed to be able to go to the Church and Churchyard for the service a few days after her Husband was buried.

Taken from the Hawarden Events Book 1923 (page 82) :-

Under the entry, “On Sunday 11th November, Armistice Day, the writer wrote: – ” It may be noted that on special grounds the name of Major Francis Woodbine Parish was added to the lists of those who fell in the War.    War Office having decided that his illness and death were attributable to wounds suffered in France”.

The writer, I believe, was William Gladstone

Another point of interest had been recorded in the Hawarden Events Book 1919 (Page 66) : –

The 4th child and second daughter of Dorothy Parish born at Burton Manor on Sep 11 was baptized in Hawarden Chancel by Bishop of St. Asaph, H.N. Gladstone standing in as sponsor for one of the Godfathers, Gen. Smuts.   The child was christened on —– and named Sheila.”


Dorothy & Francis’s children were in  the 2nd World War:

David Francis Woodbine Parish who had been born in 1914 gained his Aviators’ Certificate in 1939. He died in 1942. (Please click on the link to read his story.)

Newspaper Notices

Missing – Parish – Missing in Feb., 1942 on air operations in Middle East, P/O David F.W. Parish, R.A.F.V.R.    Any information gratefully received by Mrs. Francis PARISH, Greenham Barton, Near Taunton. ( Hand written date 25th February 1942)

Parish – Previously reported missing between Malta & Libya, now presumed killed in Feb., 1942 P/O., David F.W. Parish, R.A.F.V.R., second son of the late Lt.-Col. Francis W. Parish, D.S.O.,M.C. 60th Rifles, and Mrs. Parish, Greenham Barton, near Taunton, Somerset.   Please no more letters except from his friends.  (Hand written date 4th September 1945.)


 ‘In Memory of Pilot Officer David Francis Woodbine Parish, 105172, 236 Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve who died age 27 on 11 February 1942 Son of Lt.-Col. Francis W. Parish, D.S.O., M.C., and of Dorothy Parish, of West Brompton, London. His brother, John Neville Woodbine Parish, also died on service.

Remembered with Honour Malta Memorial’

Commemorated in perpetuity by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Then John N.W. Parish

Parish – In May 1941, killed flying. John N.W. Parish, Sub-Lieut., R.N.V.R., Fleet Air Arm, beloved youngest son of the late Lt.-Col. Francis W. Parish 60th Rifles, and Mrs. Parish, of Greenham, Barton, Taunton, aged 20. (Hand written date 19th May 1941) Please click on the link to read his story.

And finally

Dorothy was to die in Taunton, Somerset, age 92, without ever marrying again. (Volume: 23 Page: 1431 March Qtr 1982). She had suffered the loss as a result of war of her husband and two of her sons. She outlived her third son, Patrick.

Learn more about the other soldiers on the Hawarden Memorial

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