Parish, David Francis Woodbine Parish

David Francis Woodbine Parish was born on the 4th of October 1914, the son of Francis Woodbine Parish and Dorothy Mary C. Drew, daughter of Reverend Harry Drew and Mary Gladstone.

They had married in the Parish Church of St. Margaret, Westminster, London on the 22nd April 1912.  Francis Woodbine Parish was 27, a Bachelor and a Lieutenant in the Kings Royal Rifles, his address was 58, Ennismore Gardens, S.W.  and his father was Charles Woodbyne (sic) Parish, Gentleman.   Dorothy Mary Catherine Drew, was 22 and a spinster, her address was 17, Deans Yard, Westminster and her father was Harry Drew, (Deceased), Rector of Hawarden.

The 1921 census, which was taken on the 19th of June 1921 gives us an insight into the family, as Francis Wooodbine Parish was stationed in London at the Headquarters, 2nd London Infantry Brigade (Defence Force), 381 Cambridge Rd E 2.  This gives us more information on his life, he was born in Petrograd (St. Petersburg), Russia, he was 37 years and 3 months old and had been born in Whitchurch (St. John).   His wife Dorothy and children were living at Glynne Cottage Hawarden, she was now age 31 years and 3 months old and had been born in Westminster, London.   Her eldest son was Patrick, 8 years and 2 months old, born in Mahabaleshwar, Bombay Presidency, India.   David Parish was 6 years and 8 months old born in South Kensington, London.   Nancy Parish was 3 years and 8 months old.   Sheila Parish was 1 year and 9 months old and John Parish was 6 months old, all born in Burton, Cheshire.  There were 5 servants living in the house.

Francis Woodbine Parish was to die a few months later in 1921 after the First World War ended.   Francis died in Canada from Meningitis, after WW1 and being wounded in the war.   His name is on the Hawarden War Memorial after being added later with special permission.  Please click on the links to read the family story.

The Peerage Website tells us that the children of Francis Woodbine & Dorothy Mary Catherine Parish were :-

Commander Frank Reginald Woodbine Parish+4

Nancy Lydia Woodbine Parish+4

Patrick Edward Gladstone Woodbine Parish+1 b. 1913, d. 1979 (Age 66 years)

David Woodbine Parish1 b. 4 Oct 1914, d. 11 Feb 1942

Nancy Mary Parish+ b. 14 Oct 1917, d. 1999

Sheila Olivia Parish1 b. 1919, d. 5 Oct 2004

John Neville Woodbine Parish1 b. Mar 1921, d. 17 May 1941

Please click on to read the family history.

His brother John Neville Woodbine Parish was to die in the war as well, on the 17th  May 1941, age 20 years, whilst aboard the H.M.S. “Heron,” in a flying accident.    Please click on the link to read his story.

Their mother Dorothy Mary C. Parish (Nee Drew) (Dossie) was to outlive her two R.A.F. sons, she was to die in Taunton, Somerset, age 92, without ever marrying again. (Volume: 23 Page: 1431 March Qtr 1982).

David and John’s early schooling was at West Downs. Winchester and David joined in 1923 and John in 1929 and they are remembered on the West Downs School, Winchester – War Memorial.  – “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here Am I, Send Me.” Isaiah chapter 6, verse 8.

David was early in the war by the look of things, as he was Mentioned in Despatches in 1941-

“The undermentioned are granted a commissions for the duration of hostilities as Pilot Officers on probation.”  :- (David was one of 11 Sergeants who are mentioned)

Number               Name /Text        London Gazette Details

21st August 1941.  105172              904942 David Francis Woodbine PARISH                London Gazette issue : 35283 , Issue Dated 1941-09-23 , (11/52 pages).

According to the Great Britain, Royal Aero Club Aviators’ Certificates, 1910-1950 about David Francis Woodbine Parish, he was born on the 4th October 1914 in London, his residence was Greenham Barton, Taunton, Somerset, in Rank, Regiment or Profession there was a blank.   The Certificate was taken on a Gypsy Honet Moth, Gypsy Maj:130 at Exeter Aero Club, on the 28th June 1939.

R.A.F. Chivenor was near Barnstable in North Devon, originally a civil airfield it was taken over by the R.A.F. in May 1940 for use as a Coastal Command Station.   It remained in R.A.F. use until 1995. 236 Squadron was one of 13 squadrons based there.

I tried to find out more about his time in the R.A.F. and to what happened on that fateful night, so turned to the R.A.F. Commands website* and they seem to think that David was on a Beaufighter, which he had been flying mostly with William Duncan whilst in Chivenor, in the January of that year, according to the Record of Events that I managed to decipher, without downloading, from the National Archives. For £3.50, you can download this and I would have done, but it didn’t tell us what happened on the night he died.

* Commands

Many thanks to the Forum for their help.

Below is my transcription of his time in January 1942 and as you can see at the bottom, 236 Squadron was being transferred abroad, and they did get to Malta, where I believe again, that David was transferred early for him to be on the fateful flight.

Sadly cannot find February’s records, nor cannot find any Operational records of the flight when David went missing, but I have transcribed the Operational Records of January 1942, see below.   I believe that they were based in Chivenor,

Operational Records

 1st Jan 1942 Beaufighter 1 (Airplane Type and No. partially obscured –  C 4793 )– would need to download to get all details) P/O PARISH A/A, and Sgt. KENT- Escort.  Up – 09.27, Down – 12.34, Comple??? Escort to CONFLICT I, without incident, ?/?, receiving signal from vessel thanks for Escort.

7th Jan 1942 C 4793 P/O PARRISH  A/A and Sgt. DUNCAN, Escort– Up 12.35 Down 16.04 – Met and escorted CONFLICT II and IV, without incident.

8th Jan1942 F4730 P/O PARISH A/A and Sgt. DUNCAN Escort – Up 13.55 Down 17.01- Escort to Fishing vessels off S. Ireland, carried out without incident.

9th Jan 1942 O 4793? P/O PARISH Fishery Patrol and Sgt. DUNCAN  – Up ??.?3 Down 16.22 Fishery Protection Patrol completed without incident.

10th Jan 1942 Y 4795 P/O PARRISH  A/A and Sgt. DUNCAN Escort – Up 09.5? Down 13.15 Met and escported ???? AIR LINER from Chivenor without incident.

13th Jan 1942 Beaufighter ? O.???? P/O PARRISH  A/A and Sgt. DUNCAN Escort Up 09.46 Down 11.2 Escorted in ?C. 3 AIR LINER until ???? clouds completely obscured the above  making necessary for a/c to return to base.

20th Jan 1942 H. 48??  P/O PARRISH  A/A and Sgt. ANDERSON Escort – Up ??.4?   Down 1?.?? Met and escorted TINCTURE, while minesweeping off S. IRELAND, without incident.

From 11?? Hrs. Squadron ceased to be operational due to all aircraft being posted overseas.

So it was to be, I believe, that he and William Duncan were to be together possibly on Beaufighter T4915, when the following took place, many thanks to R.A.F. Commands Forum.

“On the 11th February 1942, Blenheim Z9823 was one of four aircraft* which took off from RAF Station Luqa, Malta, to carry out a shipping sweep of Kerkenna Islands, Tunisia. On returning to base, the gunner of the leading aircraft received by W/T the stand off signal “Air Raid in progress”. The formation circled a point 50 miles south of Malta for 15 minutes, during which no more stand off signals were received.    The Gunner then wirelessed for instructions. The reply was in the form of a QDM, when the formation was attacked by enemy fighters, and Z9823 shot down into the sea. A search was later conducted but no survivors were found.”

*David & William Duncan was in one of the other aircraft, possibly Beaufighter T4915, that was lost that day, their bodies were never recovered.

Another account:- (Sqdn 236 was probably under the auspices of 21 Sqdn, till they had all transferred., just my supposition.)…y-1942/page/2/

“BLENHEIMS ATTACKED ON RETURN TO LUQA” – Blenheims of 21 Squadron at Luqa were ambushed today as they returned to base from a shipping sweep over the Gulf of Gabes. As the lead aircraft approached Malta, the radio operator was alerted that an air raid was in progress. The formation moved into a holding pattern to the south of Malta. After fifteen minutes, the leader radioed for further instructions. Almost immediately the Blenheims were swooped on by enemy fighters. One aircraft piloted by Sergeant John Stubbs was shot down into the sea. A search vessel found no survivors.”

See also-

And –


On the England, Andrews Newspaper Index Cards, 1790-1976 and also the Chester Chronicle – Saturday 28 February 1942 about David F W Parish it states:-

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.)

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)

David Francis Woodbine Parish in the England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966, 1973-1995 – PARISH, David Francis Woodbine of Greenham Barton, Taunton, died 12th February 1942 on War Service.   Probate London 24 August to Dorothy Mary Catherine PARISH, Widow.

Plaque in the Church :-

St Augustine’s Church

Eastacombe Lane

Heanton Purchardon

North Devon


EX31 4DG


David’s crew member was Pilot Officer (Wireless Op./Observer) DUNCAN, WILLIAM, Service Number 115561, age 24, Son of William Duncan, and Christina McBride Duncan, of Dundee.  His Inscription:- Son Of Christina And The Late William Duncan, 1 Rustic Place, Dundee, Scotland.


And – Extract from the website:-

On 12 June 1942, a Beaufighter conducted a raid which Moyes said was “perhaps the most impudent of the war”.[17] T4800, a Beaufighter Mk 1C of No. 236 Squadron, flew from Thorney Island to occupied Paris at an extremely low altitude in daylight to drop a tricolore on the Arc de Triomphe and strafe the Gestapo headquarters in the Place de la Concorde.[17]

Report can be seen on the National Archives website and the occasion is described in the “Record of Events.”


Learn more about the other soldiers on the Hawarden Memorial

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