East London D-day hero chaplain remembered

A South London woman has unearthed a tragic story of a Leytonstone chaplain killed in World War Two after discovering his name on an antique suitcase.  As the local paper, the News Shopper, reported, ‘Jenni Crane, 35, bought the suitcase last year when shopping in Crystal Palace with the intention of using it as decoration and storage for her shoe collection.  But when she discovered the name Rev GEM Parry and E11 postcode written on it, she started a journey of discovery about the life of the military chaplain.

George Edward Maule Parry was briefly the curate at John’s Church, in Church Lane, Leytonstone, in the early 1940s before he was killed on June 6, 1944.  Parry was serving with the 6th airborne division and was killed aged 29 while defending wounded men during a German raid on a medical aid post.’

The Argus, Melbourne, reported on July 12, 1944: “Parry was killed with a knife or bayonet while defending helpless wounded men during a German raid on a medical aid post. The Germans set upon the wounded in a frenzied state, shooting and bayoneting them, Rev. Parry threw himself between the Nazis and the wounded troops.”

Military chaplains are unarmed.

Writing in the Times shortly after Parry’s death, the Bishop of Barking described his local links: “The Rev.George Edward Maule Parry, C.F., was one of four sons of Canon Allen James Parry, till recently Vicar of St. Peter’ s, Upton Cross, and Rural Dean of West Ham. All four were on service, two in the Regular Army. Two have now given their lives for their country, Peter in North Africa in November, 1942, and now George in France. George was educated at Farnfields Preparatory School, Bickley; Weymouth College; King’ s College, London; and he was trained for Holy Orders at Bishop’ s College, Cheshunt. I have watched his career from childhood. At every turn he had amply fulfilled expectations, and I entertained high hopes of him when he began his ministry under Canon Brown, Vicar of St. John’ s, Leytonstone, a masterhand, in 1938.His vicar died on the day that war began and George was severely tested in having to take charge of an important parish while still scarcely fledged. He won the love of the people, as he did some months later when he took charge of a Forest Gate parish, whose vicar was a chaplain to the forces. In 1941 he joined up as a chaplain himself and served for 19 months in West Africa. In 1942 he was transferred to the Parachute Regiment with which he preceeded to the invasion. Already several fine chaplains have lost their lives in France. George Parry adds lustre to their number.”

Jenni Crane is making BBC Radio 4 programme about the forgotten soldier, speaking to antiques experts while searching for family members. Alongside the radio documentary, Ms Crane has started a campaign to get recognition for Padre Parry and for him to be awarded a medal.

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One Comment on “East London D-day hero chaplain remembered”

  1. Elizabeth Maddocks (nee Parry) Says:

    My father, Ivor Allen Parry, was George Parry’s cousin. My father was in the RAF and was in North Africa from 1941 until the end of 1944 and I believe he was able to visit Peter Parry’s grave while out there.

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