Samuel Parker was born in 1890, the 2nd son and 5th child of John, an agricultural worker, and Emma (formally Mitchell), living at Lute House, Winkleigh. The 1911 census describes him working as a cattleman at Hill Farm in Winkleigh. The Parker family at that time was probably the largest in the village; no less than 17 children were born to John and Emma. The Parker family tree is on this site, as is a photograph of the whole family taken about 1912. No family in Winkleigh contributed more to the war effort than the Parkers of Lute House. Five sons served in the army, 4 returning safely, while Sidney (whose name is preserved on the Memorial Cross and whose story is written on the site) was killed at Passchendaele on 26th October 1917 leaving a young wife and baby daughter. Together with the records of three of the brothers (Henry, Frederick and Sidney) Samuel’s military documents were destroyed with so many others in the London blitz. Only those relating to Eli survived, to enable us to trace his army career, which was spent in India serving in the Royal Field Artillery as a driver. We know from Henry’s medal card that he served with the 6th Devons Territorials in India and then presumably in Mesopotamia.
From the photos in the Western Times' December1st 1916, we know that Sam served with the Devons in India. No further details, but the number indicates a renumbering from the 6th Devons Territorial battalion, when renumbering of the Territorial Army took place in March 1917. The number could also represent a direct enlistment into the 6th after that date. In any case it is possible that our Sam (if indeed this is his medal card) chose to join the 6th Devons before the close of the Derby scheme in December 1916, to follow his brother Henry (265494) and serve with him in India, or more likely in Mesopotamia. This man was awarded only the British and War medals. The Bronze Star was not awarded to men sent to India as this was not considered a war zone.
The full story of the 6th Devons in India 1914-1915, and from 1916 in Mesopotamia, can be read in the account of Thomas Knight, whose name appears on the Memorial Cross, killed at the battle of Dujailah on 8th March 1916. The subsequent history of the 6th Devons in Mesopotamia can be seen in the attached document to this account, ‘1st/6th Devon Regiment 1914-18’. Other relevant documents on the web-site include ‘How Turkey entered the War’, a map of the battle of Kut-el-Amara and the transcript of a pamphlet ‘Dujailah Days’ which can be found on the memorial site to Thomas Knight.
It is greatly to be hoped that a descendent of the Parker family will come forward to help us give a fuller picture of Sam’s service.