No. 12/864, 12th Battalion, Royal Irish Rifles
Died of disease on Monday 17 February 1919 (aged 31)
Newtownards (Movilla) Cemetery, Co. Down (Grave 11. 123)
James Parkhill was born on 9 December 1887 in Roddenfort, Ballymoney, Co Antrim and he was a son of Robert and Christina Parkhill (nee Munroe) who were married in 1887 in Greenock, Scotland.
The Parkhill family lived at 2 Wilson’s Row and later in Castle Street, Ballycastle.
Robert Parkhill worked as a general labourer and then as a railway porter and he and Christina had five children including:
James (born 9 December 1887 in Roddenfort, Ballymoney)
John Munro (born 1889 in Greenock, Scotland)
Elizabeth (born 28 October 1891 in Ballycastle)
Joseph (born 3 October 1894 in Ballycastle)
James Parkhill worked as a labourer and was employed for a time by J. Fulton in Armoy. James Parkhill and Mary McMullan were married on 11 November 1908 in Ramoan Parish Church of Ireland Church (St James) in Ballycastle and they had one child, a daughter named Christina who was born on 30 October 1909.
Christina’s mother, Mary, had been in labour for two days and Mary died in childbirth in Ballycastle Workhouse Infirmary on 30 October 1909 (aged 22).
Christina Parkhill lived with her paternal grandparents, Robert and Christina Parkhill, in Ballycastle.
James Parkhill enlisted in Belfast on 12 October 1914, and he declared his age to be 24 years 10 months. He declared that he was Church of Ireland, a labourer, and a widower. In his attestation papers it was noted that he was 5 feet 3¼ inches tall and he cited his mother as his next-of-kin. He joined the 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles and was then posted to the 18th Battalion. On 19 July 1916 he went to France to the Base Depot, and he went to the fighting line with the 9th Battalion in 107th Brigade of the 36th (Ulster) Division. James Parkhill returned to the Base Depot on 12 October 1916, and he went to the 18th Battalion on 31 October 1916. He went back to France on 5 January 1917 with the 12th Battalion and on 22 March 1917 he sustained serious gun-shot wounds – a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula in his right leg and flesh wounds in his left leg and chest. He was taken to a Casualty Clearing Station (CCS) and from there he was transported to York Military Hospital on 10 April 1917. He stayed there until 12 November 1917 and on 13 November 1917 he was discharged from the Army when he was deemed to be no longer physically fit for active service. In November 1917 James Parkhill returned to Newtownards to live with his wife Margaret.
James Parkhill (a widower recorded as a bachelor in civil registration records) and Margaret Stritch (nee Beattie) were married on 11 February 1916 in Newtownards Parish Church of Ireland Church (St Mark’s). Margaret Stritch, a widow and a daughter of George Beattie, a labourer, lived at 1 Mary Street and later in Circular Road, Newtownards.
Mary Stritch (nee Beattie, sometimes Beaty) had previously been married to Patrick Stritch (sometimes Stretch). They were married on 9 December 1904 in Dublin Roman Catholic Pro Cathedral. Patrick Stritch, an ex-soldier from Dublin, was a son of John Stritch, a labourer. Margaret Beaty from Dublin was a daughter of George Beaty, a labourer. During the Great War Private Patrick Stritch (No. 19908) served with the 2nd Battalion, Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and he died on 12 October 1915 in the Military Hospital, Omagh, Co Tyrone. In pension records the cause of his death was recorded as heart failure contracted on active service.
Rifleman James Parkhill (No. 12/864) died of pneumonia in Newtownards Hospital on 17 February 1919 and was buried in Movilla Cemetery, Newtownards. After he died, the Officers and Members of the Newtownards Branch of the Irish Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers placed a sympathy notice in the Newtownards Chronicle.
It was James Parkhill’s widow Margaret who received his medals on 16 June 1922.
Margaret Parkhill (formerly Stritch, nee Beaty/Beattie) was widowed twice during the Great War.
During the Great War, James Parkhill’s brother Joseph also served with the 12th Battalion Royal Irish Rifles (No. 1779), and he was killed in action on 1 July 1916. Joseph Parkhill is commemorated on the Thiepval Memorial in France; in Ramoan Parish Church of Ireland Church (St James) Ballycastle and in the Book of Honour Ballycastle Heroes 1914 – 1918 written by Robert Thompson.