Project Bugle: Hero died with a ‘glorious name’

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A soldier told the parents of a Soothill war hero who was killed in action 100 years ago that their son “died a death which leaves behind it a glorious name.”

Private William Parkinson, of Soothill, died on May 11, 1916, when the front of his dug-out was blown in during WWI.

The young man, who was the son of Oaks Road contractor Harry Parkinson, enlisted a month after he turned 20.

Five months later he was on the Western Front with a battalion of Borderers, and was there for nearly five months before being killed.

His Comrade Private Joe Asquith, of Lady Ann Road, Soothill, wrote to Pte Parkinson’s parents and a friend in Thornhill Lees, Dewsbury.

“He was one of a party that was buried in a dug-out by a shell that fell on the doorway and completely blocked the entrance.

“When they were got out, it was found that Charles [William] and another had passed away.

“It’s a very sad thing to have to witness these affairs: in fact, we can hardly realise what has happened, and in the dark hours which the affair has brought upon you let me saw how sorry I feel for you who mourn the loss of a loved son.

“It will be a great blow: but there is the grand knowledge that he died a death which leaves behind ita glorious name: one which will live forever.

“I hope you will have the strength to bear the sorrow: and though the clouds may seem dark around you, may you find a streak of sunshine to cheer you up.”

In national news, King George thanked the British Army after it revealed that 5,041,000 volunteers had joined its ranks.

But conscription had just begun, meaning all able men between 18 and 41, single or married, had to enlist.

An article in this paper at the time read: “Married men who shirked their duty by failing to attest to Lord Derby’s scheme are to be ‘fetched’ like the slackers amongst the single men.”

The Military Service Bill was passed by 328 votes to 36.

The stories included in this article have been provided by Project Bugle, a Heritage Lottery-funded volunteer group which commemorates soldiers from Batley and Birstall who died during WWI.