Bombardier Frank Parfitt

Frank was born around 1880 in  Andover, Hampshire, the son of Mr T. and Mrs E. Parfitt of Stoke Charity, Sutton Scotney, Hants.  He was unmarried and his mid thirties by the time war broke out in 1914.  In the notice of his death published in the Surrey Adverstiser at the end of January 1916, he is described as having been a long time employee of Messrs Kingman and Sons, pesumably a local company. His occupation was listed as ‘carman’.  This suggests that he worked with horses, as carmen were employed as hauliers of goods (using horse-drawn transport), often by railway companies.  It is, therefore, unsurprising that he served with the Royal Horse and Field Artillery (68th Brigade). He achieved the rank of Bombardier, the artillery equivalent of Corporal in the infantry, and so was  a non-commissioned officer.  His death on 30 December 1915, in an air raid on Salonika, was sometime after his thirty-fifth birthday. He was buried in a numbered grave at Lembet Road Military Cemetery in Salonika, Greece.

Frank’s military record is evidence of the extensive operational range of British, Commonwealth and Imperial forces during the First World War.  The Balkan theatre where he was killed and buried lay on the Eastern Front. During the autumn of 1915, Serbia, which had thus far managed to contain the attempts by Germany’s ally Austria-Hungary to sudue it, was faced with a new dilemma. Its old adversay, Bulgaria, abanonded its neutrality and sided with the  Central Powers. It joined the war against Serbia on 1st October; following invasions from three of the four Central Powers, the Serb capital, Belgrade, was captured on 15th.  It was in the context of the enhanced threat to their small eastern partner that Britain and France decided to intervene by despatching forces to Salonika to support Serb resistance. However, this could not prevent Serbia being overrun and by the end of the year the allies had been forced to retreat to Salonika; the 28th Division, despatched specifically to reinforce existing British forces in the region, only arrived after Serbia had been overrun. Initially, the British faced little action apart from occasional air raids, one of which, of course, claimed the life of Frank.

Fairbank Papers  A British serviceman’s diary of the Salonika campaign (1915-1918)

Find My past  Record of time, place of death and CWGC in Salonika (Balkan Theatre).

Salonika Campaign Society 1915-1918

Surrey Advertiser, 31/01/1916: FARNHAM MAN KILLED AT SALONIKA

Sutton Scotney War memorial

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