30 June 1897 ‒ 21 August 1917
Durdham Downs, 8th November 1917: Hardy Parsons’ father was presented with his son’s posthumous Victoria Cross by King George V. Exactly 100 years later, a plaque was unveiled in Salisbury Road, Redland to honour this brave young hero of World War I.
Around 100 people attended the commemorative event, including some distinguished guests: Cllr Lesley Alexander, Lord Mayor; Colonel Andrew Flint, Deputy Lord-Lieutenant for the County and City of Bristol; The Very Revd Dr David Hoyle, Dean of Bristol; Major General Robin Grist, CB OBE; Brigadier James Daniel, Lt Col Rupert Clements and cadets of Bristol University Officer Training Corps.
Hardy Parsons was a Second Lieutenant in the 14th Gloucesters, commanding a front-line trench near Vendhuile, France. A German attack forced back the troops holding Hardy’s post but he refused to retreat and single-handedly fought against enemy flamethrowers, rifles and grenades. He continued to hold the post against the enemy’s ‘liquid fire’, despite being badly burned, until a British counter-attack could be launched. He died of his wounds that day and posthumously received the Victoria Cross.
At the unveiling, the medals and cap badges of the military personnel glinted in the autumn sunshine. It was a deeply moving occasion, encapsulated by the haunting rendition of the Last Post by buglers from the 1st Rifles in Chepstow and the Salamanca Band of the Rifles from Exeter.
Historians Clive Burlton and Jeremy Banning skilfully organised the occasion and thanks are due to residents Chris and Jill Chart for agreeing to the commemorative plaque on their home.
It was also nice to see the younger generation there – ably represented by pupils from Redland Green and Dolphin Schools in Bristol and the head boy and head girl from Kingswood School, Bath (Hardy’s alma mater), who helped the Lord Mayor unveil the plaque.