LANCE SERJEANT ARTHUR JOHNATHAN PARSONS
LONDON REGIMENT ROYAL FUSILIERS
1ST JULY 1916 AGE 19
BURIED: GOMMECOURT BRITISH CEMETERY NO. 2, HEBUTERNE, FRANCE
Mrs Parsons, Arthur Johnathan's mother chose his inscription and no, I haven't spelt his name wrongly, that's how it appears on all the documents. She was a widow, her husband having died in 1904 when Arthur was seven and his sister, Alice, two. In the 1911 census Mrs Parsons describes herself as 'domestic'; Arthur, aged 14, was working as a 'boy in deposit office'. Their accommodation in St Thomas's Street, Islington, had three rooms, and that included counting the kitchen as a room.
Arthur volunteered in 1914, served in Gallipoli during 1915, and transferred to the Western Front early in 1916. He was killed in action in the Fusiliers' diversionary attack at Gommecourt on 1 July 1916, one of the 57,450 casualties - killed, missing, wounded - suffered by the British Army on the Somme that day; one of the 19,240 men killed.
'Boys' like Arthur Parsons had become valuable soldiers by 1916, the fact that at nineteen he was a Lance Serjeant is an indication of his quality. It won't only have been his mother who missed him.