Monday, June 27, 2016

William Parr Stevens

100 years ago, today William Parr Stevens died of wounds in France.

The Stevens family were pioneer farmers in the Peachey Belt area. John arrived in 1836 on the Buffalo when he was 27 years old. A market gardener and farmer he resided in Adelaide, Unley and the Peachy Belt. John married Ann Burgin and had five children. The eldest son Charles Bennet was born on the 20 August 1840 at Unley.

Charles followed in his father’s footstep, working as a farmer and labourer living at Peachy Belt. He married Elizabeth Parr in 1865. Charles and Elizabeth Parr had six children, three boys and three girls all born at Peachy Belt. The youngest, William Parr was born on the 10 February 1883.

William enlisted on the 19 July 1915, he was 32 years old, single and worked as a labourer. He left Australia on the 27 October 1915 for Egypt. He was transferred to the 4th Division Pioneer Battalion on the 18 March1916. In June 1916 he proceeded to join the BEF from Alexandria, Egypt to Marseilles, France. Pioneer Battalions were essentially light military combat engineers organised like the infantry and located at the very forward edge of the battle area. They were used to develop defensive positions, construct command posts and dugouts, and prepare barbed wire defences. These soldiers held many skills from building, construction and maintenance to road and track preparation. They could also, and did quite often, fight as infantry.

While fighting in the field, William received shrapnel wound in his buttocks and abdomen. He was admitted to the Casualty Station, but died of his wounds on the 27 June 1916. He is buried in the Bailleul Cemetery by the Reverend C. K. Whalley.

William’s effects were returned to Australia. They consisted of dice, letters, photos, cards, belt, Testament, Prayer Book, diary, writing pad, pipe, knife and coins. The memorial Plaque, Scroll and photos of the grave were sent to his father.

Lest we forget!

 Photo: Chronicle newspaper Saturday 15th July 1916 page 43

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