Bertie PARKIN 1916 – 1942

3252568 Rifleman Bertie Parkin, 1st Battalion, the Cameronians [Scottish Rifles] died 19 April 1942 aged 26.  He is commemorated on the Rangoon Memorial, Burma[1] and the Butterknowle War Memorial.

Family Details

Bertie Parkin was born 21 March 1916, the son of Theodore and Charlotte Parkin [2] and brother to Olive May and Minnie [at least].[3] In 1939, the family lived at 1 Wood Row, Butterknowle where Theodore worked as a coal miner [hewer] and Bertie was a bus conductor.[4]  The Parkin family were a large and well-established family in the Butterknowle area.  Theodore was the oldest of at least 10 children of Hodgson and Penelope Parkin.[5]

Service Details

The service details of Rifleman Bertie Parkin and war diary of the 1st Battalion, the Cameronians have not been researched and the date he enlisted is unknown.

In December 1941, Japanese forces invaded Burma catapulting the nation into the Second World War.  By March 1942, the Japanese had captured the capital city Rangoon and their occupation of the country began.[6]  The 1st Battalion, the Cameronians [Scottish Rifles] was stationed in India when war broke out and initially commanded by Lieutenant Colonel A. Galloway and was deployed to Burma as part of the 1st Burma Brigade in the 39th Indian Division. [7] The following is an account of its postings from the outbreak of the war until the date when Rifleman B. Parkin died.[8]

  • 3 September – November 1940: at Barrackpore Barracks, Presidency and Assam District on internal security duties. One company served at Port Blair in the Andaman Islands from January until June 1940.
  • November 1940 – 14 February 1942: moved to Trimulgherry, Secunderabad area where it remained until mobilized 11 February 1942 and moved to Madras and sailed to Burma 14 February 1942.
  • 21 – 23 February 1942: Arrived at Rangoon, Burma and moved to Mingladon Barracks, 6 miles from Rangoon to join the 17th Indian Infantry Division 22 February, concentrating at Pegu.
  • 23 February – 12 March 1942: Joined the 7th Armoured Brigade at Pegu. Withdrew from Pegu 1 March reaching H’leyu 8 March.  Left the brigade 12 March due to losses. Located at Tharrawaddy area.
  • 12 March – 2 April 1942: Joined 48th Indian Infantry Brigade during the withdrawal to Prome and fought under 7th Armoured Brigade again on 29 March.
  • 2 April – 30 April 1942: After reaching Prome, it came under the command of the 17th Indian Infantry Division and formed the divisional reserve with the remains of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment and the 3rd Gurkha Rifles forming a unit of 500 rifles. 7 April, it moved to Magwe as Corps Reserve which became Magforce.  It remained Magforce until 18 April and fought on the Irrawaddy then went into Divisional Reserve at Monywa.   Rifleman Bertie Parkin, 1st Battalion, the Cameronians [Scottish Rifles] died 19 April 1942.  His family were initially informed that he was “missing in action”.

The 3 major engagements during this period were:

  • 2 – 8 March: Pegu
  • 29 – 30 March: Prome/Paungde/Shwedaung
  • 11 – 19 April: Yenangyaung

It seems that during the British retreat through Burma and following a vicious firefight with Japanese forces along the Madalay road, Rifleman B. Parkin, though badly wounded, was taken prisoner.  With no access to medical treatment, he died of his wounds 3 or 4 days later.[9]


Rifleman Bertie Parkin is commemorated at Face 10, the Rangoon Memorial, Burma [10] and the Butterknowle War Memorial.  The Rangoon Memorial is located in the centre of Tuakkyan War Cemetery and commemorates 27,000 land forces of the British Empire who died during the campaigns in Burma and who have no known grave.


[1] Commonwealth War Grave Commission

[2] 1939 England & Wales Register and England & Wales Birth Index 1916-2007 Vol.10a p.512 1916Q2 Auckland

[3] 1911 census

[4] 1939 England & Wales Register

[5] 1901 census

[6] CWGC


[8]     courtesy of dryan67

[9] Family details, letter from R.H. Sharpe of Houghton-le-Spring, a fellow POW [details from Andrew]

[10] Commonwealth War Grave Commission