Lives Lived and Lives Lost - Portsmouth and the Great War

Both George Henry and his mother Emily were born in Portsmouth, but his father Henry John Parkin, was born in Glasgow 24th September 1851. The family were originally from Sheffield and had moved north to Glasgow in the 1820s to continue the family business of silversmith, knife manufacture and electroplating.
Henry John spent much of his early working life in the Royal Navy which would account for his connection to Portsmouth which he must have known well. On 28th April 1878 he married Emily Garrett who had been born at Portsmouth in 1855 to parents, John and Margaret Garrett of 24 Ivy Street. Within a year their first child George Henry was born.
Henry signed on for 10 years in the coastguard Service in 1879. His first posting as coastguard was at Herne Bay in Kent, where he was joined by Emily and George soon after.
On the 3rd May 1880 the second son Alfred John was born at the Coastguard Station in Herne Bay, as were the next two children, Christopher (b. 1882) and James (b. 1886). Henry was later posted to Corn Hill Coastguard Station, St Margaretís Bay, near Dover, where the fifth child Emily was born in 1888.
Henry finished his Coastguard service in 1889. In the census of 1891 the family were back in Portsmouth and living at 27 Durham Street, but Henry was not listed. He did not appear in any subsequent census.
In 1901 the family were living at 12 Wellington Street, off St. James's Road, Southsea, when Emily and George Henry were listed as Corset Maker and General Labourer respectively. Four years later Emily died and in 1911, the children had moved to 4, Melbourne Street, close to their previous address, when George Henry, the head of the household, was described as a Draper's Porter whilst his brothers Alfred and James had jobs as polishers in an electroplating business.
Early in 1914, shortly before the outbreak of the Great War, George Henry, aged 36, married Caroline Wylie (b. 1878, Devon) at Portsmouth. They set up home at 20 Gold Street, Southsea. George Henry did not volunteer for armed service in the first wave of enthusiasm but was called up in 1916 and subsequently joined the Royal Garrison Artillery. Corporal George Henry Parkin served as a gunner with the 123rd Siege Battery until 9th July 1918 when he lost his life as a result of injuries sustained in the battle of Le Hamel (4th July).
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) lists Gunner George Henry Parkin (352231), Royal Garrison Artillery, died on 09/07/1918, age 41. Buried at Bellacourt Military Cemetery, Riviere (Grave Ref: III.A.9.). Husband of Caroline Parkin, of 20, Gold St., Southsea, Portsmouth.
George Parkin is remembered on the RGA Memorial, Royal Garrison Church and on the Cenotaph. He is not listed in the 'National Roll of the Great War'.
Tim Backhouse
July 2014