THE AMAZING TALE OF THE BATTERED SUITCASE – AND A NATIONWIDE PETITION TO GET ONE OF ITS FORMER OWNERS A SECOND WORLD WAR MEDAL
A BATTERED SUITCASE bought from Bambino’s second-hand emporium in Crystal Palace has led its new owner on a quest to find out more about one of its former owners.
Now TV broadcaster Jenni Crane, who purchased the suitcase from the Church Road shop, has launched a nationwide petition on change.org to get The Reverend George Parry, who was murdered in cold blood on D-Day defending injured soldiers at a medical aid post, “a medal and the recognition he deserves”.
Launching her petition Jenni writes: “On May 22nd 2014, I purchased a suitcase that has taken me on an unexpected and quite extraordinary journey. “The owner of the suitcase had written his name on the top of the case : Rev GEM Parry CF.
“I have spent the last 18 months, researching the life of Padre Parry and I have since unearthed the most remarkable story about a man, who went to war and never returned home.
“Parry, aged 29 was the only padre to be killed on D-Day. Rev GEM Parry CF (George Edward Maule Parry) Service No: 173033. George Parry was born on 4th Feb 1915. He grew up in Leytonstone, E7.
“His father was a Canon and he was one of four brothers, all of whom were serving their country. “Parry studied Theology at Kings College, London from 1933-1937. “In 1941, Parry served in West Africa, the Gold Coast and after having been disembarked from West Africa Gold Coast and returning to the UK, George Parry was appointed as a Chaplain 4th class in Leytonstone.
“He went back to Africa the following year where he stayed until 1943. “In June 1944, Parry, Padre to the 7th Parachute battalion parachuted into Normandy, during Operation Overlord. “96 Padres were killed in WW2, Rev Parry being one of them, now laid to rest in Benouville Churchyard.
“There are many chilling reports of Parry’s death, this one taken from: The Argus, Melbourne, Wed, 12 July 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”.
“Army chaplains are unarmed and so a question was raised in Parliament by Sir Herbert Williams who asked: ‘If any statement could be made about the murder of Rev George Maule Parry, chaplain to the forces, by the Germans in Normandy.’
“Sir James Grigg, Secretary of War stated in the House of commons that the matter would be investigated.”
“Leonard Mosley, War correspondent for the Kemsley newspaper, attached with the Sixth Airborne Division, penned the following words about the brutal murder of popular Padre Parry:
‘I don’t think there was a man in the whole battalion who that day did not fight to avenge the death of Padre Parry.’
“Over 70 years have since passed and Padre Parry’s story can finally be told.
“I now want to get Parry recognition in the form of a memorial or medal. “With your help, I will be able to bring to the attention of parliament the unanswered questions of Padre Parry’s unlawful killing. “If YOU think that Padre Parry deserves recognition, then please sign and share this petition.
“Listen to “Suitcase – A story of fate” on BBC Radio 4. Coming soon.”
The petition ends witha letter to The Rt Hon Earl Howe – Minister of State and Deputy Leader of the House of Lords. Frederick Curzon:
“I would like recognition for brave Padre, murdered in cold blood, on D-Day. Parry is an unsung hero from Leytonstone and with your help, I believe that I can get Padre Parry a medal and the recognition that he deserves. Jenni Crane.”
Andy, who runs Bambino’s, told News From Crystal Palace he had bought the suitcase from a friend who had had it since the 1980s – and the suitcase had been one of his friend’s favourite possessions.
To sign the petition, please go to change.org ‘Recognition for brave Padre, murdered in cold blood on D-Day.’
Sir Herbert Geraint Williams, who asked the 1944 Parliamentary question, was Conservative MP for Croydon South from 1935 to 1945, when he lost his seat to Labour. In 1951 he was re-elected to Parliament as MP for Croydon East. No further Parliamentary questions appear to have been asked about Reverend Parry.
The King’s College London website – quoting the (unnamed) Bishop of Barking in a report in The Times dated July 1st 1944 – says he was one of four brothers. Another brother Peter was killed in North Africa in November 1942.
“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.
“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.”
Reminiscences on the website Paradata.org.uk say the day before they left Rev Parry – nicknamed ‘The Parachuting Parson’ – held a drumhead service for 610 men in a meadow near to Fairford airfield, Gloucestershire which was constructed in 1944 to serve as an airfield for British and American troop carriers and gliders for the D-Day invasion of Normandy during World War II.
The Reverend George Edward Maule Parry 173033 of the Royal Army Chaplains Department attached 7th Btn Parachute Regiment AAC, son of Allen James Parry, and of Muriel Constance St. John Parry, of Leytonstone, Essex is buried in grave 21 Benouville Churchyard which lies 10 kms north-east of Caen.
Of the 23 war grave burials in the churchyard, the majority belong to the 7th Airborne Division.
Further sources: The Argus, Melbourne, Victoria Wednesday 12th July 1944 back page; Commonwealth War Graves Commission website; Hansard; Wikipedia.