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The history

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John Parsons | Phyllis Knight | Harry Knight | Fred Knight | William James Knight

David Thomas Parsons | The Butler family

      John Parsons     

John Parsons was born in the parish of Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire on 28th of September 1904. His father was Arthur Thomas Parsons, his mother was Sarah Anne Parsons (A Boscott by birth). He had two sisters (Mary and Agnes) and a brother Arthur Thomas (Arthur went on to become huntsman to the Flint and Denbigh foxhounds) . He also had a half brother George (Boscott). They lived at 32 Rock Hill in Chipping Norton and later, before Johns marriage at number 9.

A devout Catholic, he worked on the Heythrop and Ditchley estates as a farm laborer and married Phyllis Knight (again, of Chipping Norton) at The Holy Trinity in Chipping Norton on 26th of March 1927 and moved to Fulwell nr. Enstone in the parish of Spelsbury where his sons David (my father) and Anthony were born.

In 1923 John Parsons enlisted into the Royal Regiment of Artillery (Royal Garrison Artillery) as a Gunner and had his training from 1923-1926 at Aldershot as a Gunner and at Newcome Barracks in Lark Hill as a field Cook. On the 11th of February 1926 he was transferred into the regular army Reserve.

After war breaking out in 1939, John went to Europe with the B.E.F (as part of the Royal Artillery: number 5376021, 3rd Corps, 44th Home Counties Infantry Division, 58th Field Regiment serving under MAJOR-GENERAL E. A. OSBORNE) on the 1st of January 1940.

Royal Artillery Cap Badge "Where right and glory lead us"

The gun depicted on the cap badge is a 9pdr Rifled Muzzle Loader of about 1871, and the rammer used to ram the charge into the muzzle is also seen, to the left of the carriage wheel.
Ubique, surmounting the gun, means "Everywhere", and the Motto below Quo Fas et Gloria Ducunt, "Where right and glory lead us" 

Other men and women from Fulwell who served in the fighting forces of 1939-45 were Cyril, Ernest and Esther Benfield, Norman Bull, Herbert Gould (R.A.F), Dennis and Harold Wakefield (R.A.F).
(note: Dennis was at Normandy as part of the Royal Artillery and died from illness in October 1944.)
The B.E.F were driven back to the beaches of Normandy (Dunkirk) and managed to scramble back across the sea to England on the 5th of June 1940. Click Here for Dunkirk Memorial pictures

The Dunkirk Spirit was summed up by the New York Times on 1st June 1940 as follows:
“So long as the English tongue survives, the word Dunkirk will be spoken with reverence, for in that harbour, in such a hell as never blazed on earth before, at the end of a lost battle, the rags and blemishes that have hidden the soul of democracy fell away. There, beaten but unconquered, in shining splendour, she faced the enemy. This shining thing in the souls of free men is the great tradition of democracy. It is the future. It is the victory.” 

By this time John had been wounded with shrapnel and fought for fitness until going to North Africa on the 5th of January 1943, where he was shot and badly wounded in July/August of 1943 and came home on 5th of August 1943. We know that at least one shot wound came from a German plane and whilst his colleagues were diving for cover under a vehicle, John calmly got out of the drivers seat and was shot in the leg.
I can remember being told of a sea of white linen stained red with blood, stretched between palm trees in the desert.
On the 9th of January 1944 John was discharged from the army being unfit for service.

John, Phyllis and family continued through life living in the heart of the sleepy Oxfordshire hamlet of Fulwell near to villages like Spelsbury, Dean, Chadlington, Enstone, The Tews, Chipping Norton, Ditchley and Heythrop. Traveling anywhere on Foot or by Cycle, friends and relatives were never far away. The Viscount Dillon owned the Ditchley estate through the majority of those years. Other Ditchley and Fulwell family names are Cross, Wakefield, Hawtin, Bull, Gould, Jones, Humphries and Abbott.

During the Second World War evacuees started flooding out of London and a Mrs. Shearer was taken in and looked after throughout the war by the Fulwell Parsons's. She visited after the war many times and became a close friend of the family. When John arrived home wounded in 1943 Mrs. Shearer offered to go back to London but John would not hear of it and she stayed for six years from 1939-1945.
The Knight family in Chapel House, Chipping Norton had an evacuee too, a man called Len Page (see the evacuee pages).

John worked for the rest of his life as a Laborer and maintenance man on the Ditchley estate (where Winston Churchill stayed for part of the war) until his death on the 1st of November 1990 at the war memorial hospital in Chipping Norton.

There are many more stories, records and photos at the Chipping Norton Museum - For more info please call in to the Museum, next door to the Co-op, High Street, Chipping Norton.

John Parsons Army Dates abroad

BEF (Royal Garrison Artillery)  1/1/1940 - 5/6/40

North Africa (1st Army) 5/1/1943 - 5/8/1943

Discharged 9/1/1944 (Army catering corps).


      Phyllis Knight     

Phyllis Knight was born in Chipping Norton on 25th of December 1905 at 7 Chapel House. Her father was William James Knight and her mother was Rose Emerson with sisters Kath, Elsie (Lily), Rose, May and Gus and brothers Albert (joined the regular army), Harry, William James and Fred. Joining the Mothers Union in September 1931 and spending her adult life with John in Fulwell nr. Ditchley. Phyllis died on the 8th of December 1989 at the Horton in Banbury.


      Harry Knight     

Phyllis's brother Harry trained and fought with the Grenadiers (number 26754) and was posted to Holland in 1914.
On Dec 28 1916 he was badly wounded in the thigh and was left stranded in a bomb crater in enemy territory. Harry realized he was in grave danger but could not move. He looked up only to see the top half of a German coming towards him from the brow of the crater. He reached for his gun but the German managed to communicate that he was not going to harm him. The German explained in broken English that he hated the War, had never believed in it and wanted out. Harry was then carried by the German back to the British lines (where the German was captured providing his ticket out of the fighting) and to safety where he was immediately transferred to a field hospital in Holland and came home where he recovered at Patrick Stead Hospital in Halesworth. 
Harry's thigh wound was bad and the wound kept splitting open as the Hospital staff had next to no proper bandaging. A major visited the men one afternoon and was horrified to see the nurse attempting to patch the wound. She was promptly told to take all dressings off and to leave the wound completely open. This approach possibly aided either a swift recovery or a sharp demise!
On arrival back in Chipping Norton a long queue of War wounded were being processed back into work and Harry was told that he was to become a builder at Hook Norton. Harry exclaimed 'But I cannot build!' only to be fobbed off and told to move along. Much to the men's delight the Official was told where to get off and Harry upturned the makeshift table sending official papers flying, much to the delight of the gathered crowd! 
Harry went on to live out his life at Chapel House in Chipping Norton where he became head gardener at Heythrop Park and later moved to Over Norton. His son, Dennis (Now 65 and living in Bicester) served in the Grenadiers as well, continuing the great family tradition.


      Frederick William Knight     

Phyllis's cousin Fred had been killed in France in the first world war. He was a horseman with Lord Strathcona's Horse (Royal Canadians). He died aged 21 a few weeks before the end of the war. Another victim of the mass World War One slaughter including places like Ypres, the Somme, Messines and Passchendaele.


      William James Knight     

Phyllis's other eldest brother William James had been employed as a coachman to Major Daly at Over Norton Park and was killed at Souchez, nr Arras, again, behind the Hindenburg line in France in the first world war. A Lance Corporal (14532) in the 2nd battalion of The Oxford. and Bucks Light Infantry and was buried at Cabaret-Rouge British Cemetery, Souchez, Pas de Calais. He died on Wednesday 1st May 1918 aged 30, leaving a wife (Annie Maria) and two children (Edna and Doris) who were then based in Over Norton. Long time resident (and then neighbor) Harry Barnes has a very early memory of seeing William in his soldier's uniform returning to duty during the Great War. William said 'Goodbye' to Harry's mother, kissed her and added 'I shan't be coming back'. William, along with 14 others from the small village, never did come back. What must it have been like to return to those horrors of war with little chance of return? 


This historical site has been recorded so we do not forget the sacrifice made by so many, in so many ways, for us to live on in peace and in freedom.