John Reginald "Reg" Park (1894-1916)
Darlington man served with King's Royal Rifle Corps under Anthony Eden
John Reginald Park (Reg) was the eldest son of John and the late Eleanor Ann Park nee Winn. Reg was born in 1894 at Easby, a village near Richmond in the North Riding of Yorkshire. His father was a Corn Miller and Farmer. John and Eleanor had other children – Eleanor Annie (Nellie) born 1896, Thomas (Tom) in 1897, Ada (Mary) in 1899 and William Arthur (Will) born at the end of 1903. Their mother died early in 1904. At some time after her death the family moved to Darlington. By 1911 the family were living at 13 Grosvenor Street, John was working as a grocer’s assistant, Reg was an ironmonger’s assistant, Nellie was the housekeeper and Tom was a messenger. The two younger children were at school.
Reg’s attestation papers show that by 1915 the family lived at 11 High Northgate and that he was 21 years and 9 months old. He was unmarried and still worked as an ironmonger’s assistant. The papers were signed in September 1915 and he joined the 21st King’s Own Rifle Yeomanry a unit set up in August 1915, by an 18-year-old Robert Anthony Eden, in the Northern Counties. It formed part of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps (Sixtieth Rifles). Eden was to recruit a platoon from County Durham with the promise that, dependant on passing the necessary tests, he would command the platoon.
By Spring 1916 Reg was at Dunscombe Park at Helmsley, North Yorkshire. By summer 1916 he was in France and soon in the trenches. He was highly thought of by his captain, Anthony Eden, who wrote “. I soon found that I could rely upon Reg Park as a staunch and wise ally”. As such Reg was promoted to sergeant by June 1916, the loss of non commissioned officers (NCOs) being significant. Reg wrote home to say the unit was almost under continual enemy fire and that he dreaded gas attacks most of all.
On 15 July the family received news that Reg had been killed. He is commemorated at the Berks Cemetery Extension in Belgium and was posthumously awarded the Victory Medal and the British War Medal. Captain Anthony Eden was deeply touched by the loss and wrote more than once to the family. He later fulfilled a promise he made to the family by personally bring some of Reg’s effects back to the family.
(Grateful thanks to Mrs Margaret Wood for research on this ).
Civil Parish: Darlington
Contributed by swejk, darlington | Margaret Wood
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