Monday 28th May 2022, Stapleford Nottingham saw our final clean and restorations under the Armed Forces Covenant funding that has supported us throughout the last twelve months. With the support of the AFCF the Victoria Cross Trust has become sustainable in the medium term allowing us to continue with our work to care for the graves of the brave and to maintain their memories. Walter Parker VC's grave and those of two other first world war casualties were the focus of the team's work
Walter Parker VC
His citation reads.
Lance Corporal WALTER PARKER GABA TEPE, GALLIPOLI, Turkey 30 April/1 May 1915 He was 33 years old and serving in the Royal Marine Light Infantry when he volunteered to go to the assistance of a party of men in an isolated trench, even though several men had already been killed attempting to reach them. He joined a group of men and they crossed 400 yards of open ground under fire, carrying vital supplies. Parker was the only man to make it across, the rest of his party being killed or wounded. He tended to the wounded despite being wounded twice himself. When the trench was evacuated, he was wounded again.
He died from ‘brain fever’ on 28 November 1931, having never fully recovered from his wounds.
Courtesy of Brazier, Kevin. The Complete Victoria Cross : A Full Chronological Record of All Holders of Britain's Highest Award for Gallantry . Pen and Sword. Kindle Edition.
Walter Parker VC's grave is regularly tended by local veterans and a Walter Parker Day is held annually in Stapleford in April. A Memorial Service, in his honour, is held annually at St Helens Church Stapleford on the Sunday nearest 30th April by the local RMA.
The assessment of the grave was for a thorough low pressure high temperature steam clean with our specialist Doff equipment and the replacement of gravel that had become stained.
Work to restore included ensuring that the remaining lead lettering was firmly embedded into the stone work before the steam clean commenced. The results of this are clear to see and with a refresh of gravel the grave is restored to a standard befitting of Walter Parker VCs status. As an extra mark of respect the Union Jack is placed over the memorial and a few words of remembrance spoken by observers and local veterans.
It is rarely the case that VC recipients are alone and unsupported in their actions and so when VC graves are assessed the team always looks for nearby military graves and the opportunity to clean and restore those memorials. In Stapleford and near to Walter's grave the team found and restored the graves of George Smith who died whilst a prisoner of war in December 1918 and Thomas Bowley killed in action June 17th 1917. Sadly Thomas Bowley's grave had lost lead lettering before the restoration was commenced but his stone now gleams as it did when first set.
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The grave of George Smith was more complex and required more work to repair and reset the kerbs to the grave but once again the final outcome restored the grave to its original glory.