Cecil Charles Parmenter came to Chelmsford from Colchester as a infant with his large family which settled in Springfield. After leaving school he worked for the Great Eastern Railway before joining the army. He was killed in action in August 1918 near Arras. his home was in Gainsborough Crescent.
PARMENTER, CECIL CHARLES,
Private, 13th (Service) Battalion, Royal Fusiliers
A Lewis-gun team rushed across and took the Germans in the rear. Indeed, this was a fight of fights. The team were picked off one by one, but not before they had so demoralised the Germans that a sudden rush finished the struggle. The cutting was like a rabbit warren. It was simply alive with Germans, and their surrender was almost embarrassing. Dug-out after dug-out was cleared. One of them disgorged a German staff, including an officer who spoke English. He was promptly pressed into service, and went round with the mopping-up party. His authoritative orders to come out and surrender were obeyed with alacrity.
Out of this cutting at least 400 Germans were taken, with many light and heavy machine guns. The position had been thought so Germans that a sudden rush finished the struggle. The cutting was like a rabbit warren. It was simply alive with Germans, and their surrender was almost embarrassing. Dug-out after dug-out was cleared.
One of them disgorged a German staff, including an officer who spoke English. He was promptly pressed into service, and went round with the mopping-up party. His authoritative orders to come out and surrender were obeyed with alacrity. Out of this cutting at least 400 Germans were taken, with many light and heavy machine guns.
The position had been thought so secure that in one of the dug-outs a meal had just been taken. Hot coffee lay on the table. It was one of the greatest days experienced by the battalion, and their right flank was apparently in the air. Patrols were sent down for 1,000 yards without locating any other troops. The cutting was crossed, and the advance was resumed.
Through the battalion's collecting station that day over 1,000 prisoners passed, and the battalion's casualties from the 21st to the 27th inclusive were little more than a fifth of this number. Captain J. Marguard and Second Lieutenant A. McCarthy were killed in this engagement, and 5 officers were wounded.
Among those who were killed in that period was Cecil was killed in action on 25th August 1918. Cecil was aged 18.
Today he lies at Achiet-le-Grand Communal Cemetery Extension (grave: IV. E. 10), some 19 kilometres south of Arras. His remains are thought to be among 645 graves that were brought in after the Armistice from the battlefields around Achiet-le-Grand and from many small burial grounds.
News of Cecil’s death appeared in the Essex County Chronicle on 13th September 1918:
“Mr. and Mrs. Parmenter, of 21 Gainsborough Crescent, Springfield, have received the news that their son, Pt. Cecil Parmenter, Royal Fusiliers, was killed in action on August 25, aged 18 and a half years. Deceased was formerly employed on the G.E.R. [Great Eastern Railway].”
The same day’s Essex Weekly News reported:
“Mr. and Mrs. Parmenter, of 21 Gainsboro’-crescent, Springfield, Chelmsford, have received news of the death of their son, Pt. Cecil Parmenter, of the Royal Fusiliers, who was killed in action on Aug. 25. He was 18 and a half years of age and was formerly employed on the G.E.R..”
Cecil was born at Colchester in 1900, the son of Shadrach Parmenter. and Henrietta Maud Parmenter (nee Culvenor). His father had been born c1867 in Kirby-le-Soken; his mother c1875 in Colchester. The couple had married in Kirby-le-Soken on 13th October 1893. At time both were resident in the parish - Shadrach was a mechanic.
Shadrach and Henrietta had ten children by 1911 and at least two others afterwards.
Cecil’s siblings included Ronald Shadrach Parmenter (born on 3rd June 1894 at Colchester, died 1970), Winifred Evelyn A. Parmenter (born in 1896 at Colchester, died in 1976), William Edward Ralph Parmenter (born in 1898 at Colchester), Rose Olive Mary Parmenter (born 5th October 1901 in Chelmsford and baptised at Holy Trinity Church in Springfield on 17th June 1902), Herbert Henry George Parmenter (born on 11th October 1902 in Springfield, died in 1987), Edwin Pritchard Parmenter (born on 4th April 1904 in Springfield, died in 1979), Arthur Ernest Leslie Parmenter (born on 19th July 1906 in Springfield and privately baptised at Chelmsford Hospital on 7th September 1906, died in 1993), Harold Jack Parmenter (born on 23rd September 1907 in Springfield, baptised at Holy Trinity Church in Springfield on 21st December 1907, and died in 1991), Lilian Violet Mildred Doreen Parmenter (born on 23rd December 1907 in Springfield, baptised at Holy Trinity Church in Springfield on 15th September 1910, died in 1976), Alec Ernest Parmenter (born on 7th October 1910 in Springfield, died in 2001),
Alfred Raymond Parmenter (born on 22nd March 1912 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church in Springfield on 15th September 1915, died in1918) and Kathleen Muriel Georgina Parmenter (born on 25th February 1914 and baptised at Holy Trinity Church in Springfield on 15th September 1915).
The family moved to Chelmsford around 1900. Cecil was aged one at the time of the 1901 census and living with his parents, three siblings, a grandmother and a boarder in Upper Roman Road, Chelmsford. His father was an iron turner.
In 1911 the census recorded 11 year-old Cecil, his parents, nine siblings and a boarder at 21 Gainsborough Crescent in Springfield (today’s number 49). Cecil’s father was a turner at an electrical engineer’s; while brother Ronald was also a turner, at an iron foundry.
Cecil enlisted in Chelmsford and saw service in the Middlesex Regiment, and later as Private G/79078 in the No. 2 Company 13th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers. The latter battalion had been formed in Hounslow, Middlesex in September 1914 and landed in France in July 1915. It was attached to the 111th Brigade in the 37th Division.
Cecil was involved in action near Achiet-le-Grand, Pas de Calais, France on 23rd August 1918. A post-war account reported:
“The 13th Royal Fusiliers, attacking on the south-west, had a more stirring time. No. 2 Company, under Captain Whitehead, M.C., on the left front, skilfully turned the brickworks west of Achiet le Grand, capturing 60 prisoners and 11 light machine guns; but No. 3 Company, on the right, met with intense machine- gun fire on the top of the railway embankment. The Germans were in good cover, and could not be easily located. The attack was held up temporarily, and then, under cover of a heavy and sustained fire, the men were enabled to crawl up the embankment and enfilade the enemy.
Cecil is commemorated on the Civic Centre Memorial, Chelmsford and on the Springfield Parish Memorial at All Saints’ Church. He was entitled to the British War Medal and Victory Medal.
The 1918 register of electors listed Cecil’s parents at 21 (today’s number 49, pictured) Gainsborough Crescent, Springfield.
Cecil’s youngest brother Alfred Raymond Parmenter died aged six from heart failure following influenza in the flu pandemic of 1918 and was buried at Springfield Holy Trinity Church on 4th November 1918.
Cecil’s father died on 31st December 1943, aged 76; his mother followed in 1949, aged 74.