Parker, Leonard Edward John (Leonard)
No. 20/168, 13th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Died as the result of an accident on Monday 17 December 1917
(aged 20 in CWGC records; aged 25 on death certificate)
Newtownards (Movilla) Cemetery, Co. Down (Grave 11. 97)
Leonard Edward John Parker was born in Catford, Kent and he was a son of Edward Thomas Parker and Lilian Parker who lived at 47E Dartmouth Road, Forest Hill in London.
Prior to the outbreak of the Great War Leonard Edward John Parker worked as a cinematograph operator and, when his employer (Company Sergeant Major Fry) joined the Ulster Division, Leonard followed his lead.
Leonard Parker enlisted in Kingston-on-Thames, Surrey in May 1916, he joined the 20th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and subsequently went to France with the 13th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles in 108th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division. He was wounded in action and, when he recovered, he was attached to the 19th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and stationed in Newtownards.
On 17 December 1917, around thirty men were engaged in bombing practice with three officers observing from behind a partition of sandbags. At 3.00 pm Corporal Parker entered the bombing trench, took up his position and threw one bomb without incident. He pulled the pin from another bomb and raised his arm to throw it. When he was holding the bomb directly above his head, ready for throwing, it exploded. Corporal Parker (aged 25) was killed instantly and several others were injured, including Major William Charles Hall (aged 52) who died at 11.00 pm that evening.
An inquiry held the following day found that Major William Charles Hall and Corporal Leonard Edward John Parker died ‘from wounds accidentally received and caused by the premature explosion of a bomb while engaged in bombing practice at Newtownards Camp’.
Major Hall’s remains were removed to Narrow Water Castle, Warrenpoint and he was buried in Clonallon Parish Church of Ireland Graveyard.
Corporal Parker was buried with full military honours in Movilla Cemetery Newtownards and there is an inscription on his CWGC headstone: