King Edward’s School and the Great War

Memorial Roll of Honour 1914 - 1918


Parker, Cecil William Hannington

Acting Captain ▪ Royal Flying Corps

Cecil William Hannington Parker, born on 6th September 1894, was admitted to King Edward’s School in September 1908 as a Foundation Scholar, after several years at Edgbaston Preparatory School. He lived with his mother, Ada, and his father, the Reverend WH Parker, as well as five siblings, at St Peter’s Vicarage, Harborne.

At School, Cecil threw himself into community life. He was Secretary of the Debating Society, described as: “a forceful speaker…most successful in replying to speakers by members of the opposite side, though he is so eager to do this that he sometimes speaks on both sides.” He once contended that, “Shakespeare is essentially romantic, while Snow Hill Station is essentially unromantic.” He was also a leading light in the Musical and Dramatic Society, performing in the annual Greek Play (Aristophanes’ Peace), of July 1911, alongside JRR Tolkien, RQ Gilson and several other Edwardians who would go on to die in the war. In December 1913, Cecil gave a performance in the annual Open Concert with fellow pupil WD Featherstone, who later died on the Somme in 1918; the critic, writing in the School Chronicle, opined that, “honestly I cannot say that I was either [amused or made to think]…CWH Parker did as well as anyone could as Ex-Chancellor, but I remember CWH Parker as a very successful actor in a play that is really a play.”

In 1912, Cecil won a scholarship to Sandhurst, but was refused entry due to “insufficient chest measurement.” Instead, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Worcestershire Regiment in May 1914, and left for France in October of the same year. After taking part in the First Battle of Ypres, he was invalided home and, once convalesced, was selected for service in the British Cameroons (now parts of Nigeria and Cameroon). He was on the passenger ship, Falaba, when she was torpedoed, and thereafter spent nine months on Home Service before returning to the front in March 1916. After reaching the rank of Acting Captain whilst distinguishing himself in actions at Bazentin-le-Petit and High Wood, for which he was singled out by the Brigadier-General, Cecil was later promoted to Captain, attached to the Royal Flying Corps. He was killed in a flying accident near Arras on 27th December 1916, aged twenty-two, and is buried in Couin British Cemetery. He left his estate of £82 to his father.