Hardy Parsons (Victoria Cross)
1897 - 1917
Hardy wanted to be a missionary doctor, and hated war. He came to Oxford for officer training.
Methodist minister’s son
Hardy Falconer Parsons was born in 1897 near Blackburn, Lancashire. His father was a Wesleyan Methodist minister, so he lived in several places as a child. When his family moved to Westmoreland he went to Kingswood School in Bath, a Methodist foundation.
An unlikely soldier
In 1915 Hardy began studying medicine at Bristol University, intending to become a missionary. He trained as a Methodist local preacher and was an unlikely soldier, a man in relatively poor health, to whom ‘the idea of war was utterly repellent’. In 1916 he persuaded doctors to pass him fit for service, and in October he began officer training in Oxford.
Joined a ‘bantams’ battalion
Hardy was commissioned Second Lieutenant and joined the Gloucestershire Regiment. He was tall but he joined the 14th Battalion which was originally for ‘bantams’, men under the minimum army regulation height of 5ft 3ins. In March 1917 he went to France, where his unit was shadowing the German army as they retreated to the Hindenburg Line.
‘The gallant officer succumbed to his wounds’
There was an ebb and flow of local attacks in the trenches, and at Epehy Hardy’s bravery led to his being awarded the Victoria Cross:
The bombers holding the block were forced back, but Second Lieutenant Parsons remained at his post, and, single-handed, and although severely scorched and burnt by liquid fire, he continued to hold up the enemy with bombs until severely wounded …. The gallant officer succumbed to his wounds.
George V presented Hardy’s Victoria Cross to his father
Hardy died on 21 August 1917, aged 20. He was buried at Villers-Faucon Communal Cemetery. His Victoria Cross was presented in November to his father by King George V.
Hardy’s brother also died
Very sadly for Hardy’s parents, his brother Lieutenant Ewart Moulton Parsons of the RAF died in a flying accident near Eastbourne in July 1918, also at the age of 20.