Robert ‘Reggie’ Goulborne Parker was born at Browsholme Hall, the family’s ancestral home since 1507.
He was commissioned into The Green Howards (Alexandra, Princess of Wales's Own Yorkshire Regiment) as a 2nd Lt in 1919.
In 1931 he qualified as a Russian interpreter and two years later, after a posting to the War Office, was promoted to Captain. A three year posting as a battalion Adjutant followed before he returned to the War Office for another staff posting and by the start of World War II had been promoted to Major.
In 1943 Parker, by now a Temporary Lt Colonel, oversaw the conversion of the 10th (East Riding Yeomanry) Battalion of the Green Howards to airborne forces when it was redesignated as the 12th Parachute Battalion.
The sifting of men who were unsuitable or medically unfit for the rigours of paratrooping resulted in a reduced force of 15 officers and 163 other ranks attending RAF Ringway for parachute training on course 69, which ran from 21 June to 1 July 1943. The course instructors’ notes record that Lt Col Parker was “Exceptionally keen. Set fine example.” Inspite of the initial sifting process 16% of the course intake failed to qualify including 7 refusals.
In May 1944, shortly after his appointment and promotion to Deputy Commander 6th Airlanding Brigade, 6th Airborne Division received a royal visit by King George VI, Queen Elizabeth and Princess Elizabeth. The Queen was escorted by Parker during the royal inspection of the brigade.
For the Normandy landings in June 1944 an Armoured Reconnaissance Group commanded by Parker (and sometimes referred to as Parkerforce) was established to provide early warning of threats to 6th Airborne Division by the 21st Panzer Division or 12th SS Panzer Division. The force comprised the 6th Airborne Armoured Reconnaissance Regiment; A Company 12th Battalion The Devonshire Regiment; the 211th Airlanding Light Battery, and one Troop of the 3rd Airlanding Anti-Tank Battery. However, his task was not helped when eleven of the Recce Regt’s Tetrarch tanks became entangled in the rigging lines of abandoned parachutes and two more were put out of action by collisions with Hamilcar gliders!
Parker was subsequently awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his gallantry a few days later. The citation for the award records: “For conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty. At the outset of the attack on Breville on the night of 12th/13th June the Commanding Officer of the 12th Parachute Battalion was killed. Colonel Parker, who was on the spot, immediately assumed command of the Battalion. With the utmost gallantry and with complete disregard for his own personal safety Colonel Parker led the men on. By this time he himself was wounded, was in great pain and was suffering from loss of blood. On capture of the objective the Battalion was subjected to the heaviest mortar concentration. Colonel Parker was everywhere, cheering the men on, encouraging them and reorganising them for defence. At the conclusion of the operation the Battalion had been reduced to a mere handful of men. It was not until the morning that Colonel Parker in an exhausted condition finally consented to be taken to the Main Dressing Station. His brave action, his complete disregard for his own safety and his tactical skill was beyond all praise.”
He was promoted to Acting Brigadier in August 1944 and one of his temporary commands included 3rd Parachute Brigade in December.
Parker retired from the Army in July 1946 with the honorary rank of Colonel and went on to serve as the Honorary Colonel of the 12/13th Battalion of The Parachute Regiment, a Territorial Army unit, from 1959 to 1965.
He inherited the ancestral home, which he repaired in 1958 with the aid of the Historic Buildings Council, and from 1957 onwards opened the house to the public, personally guiding visitors. On his death in 1975 “Reggie” Parker left Browsholme to the present owner, his cousin and godson, Robert Redmayne Parker
Compiled by Harvey GrenvilleRead More