235587 Corporal George Parmley, 1/4th battalion, the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry died of wounds 16 October 1917 and is buried in Wimereux Communal Cemetery, France.[1]  He was 27 years old and is commemorated on the Evenwood War Memorial and the Roll of Honour, St. Paul’s Church, Evenwood.

Family Details

 George Parmley was born in 1890 [2] at Middleton-in-Teesdale to Joseph and Margaret Parmley. The family moved to Gordon Lane, Ramshaw and George was one of 10 children, all born at Middleton-in-Teesdale: [3]

  • Elizabeth bc.1884
  • Mary bc.1885
  • Edith bc.1887
  • George born 1889
  • Lily bc.1892
  • Oliver bc.1895 died when aged 4/5
  • Oswald bc. 1897 died when aged 16/17
  • Sydney bc.1902
  • Frederick born 1904
  • Reginald bc.1906

In 1901, the Parmley family lived at Gordon Lane, Ramshaw.  40 year old Joseph worked as a coal miner (hewer).

By 1911, the family lived at Provident Terrace, Evenwood Joseph (aged 52) and Margaret (aged 46) having been married for 26 years.  They had 3 daughters and 5 sons at home who were Mary aged 23 (her husband Jacob Sparks was not recorded at this property), Edith aged 19, George aged 21 who worked as a coal miner as did his father, Oswald aged 10, Sidney aged 8, Fred aged 6 and Reginald and Blanche (twins aged 2). [4]

In 1911, George married Selina Robinson (bc. 1892) from Witton Park.  At the outbreak of war George and Selina lived at Bill Quay to the east of Gateshead.  They had 4 children:

  • Maud bc.1910
  • George bc.1912
  • Joseph bc.1913
  • Thomas born in March 1918, 5 months after George was killed.

Selina died 22 February 1919 from influenza leaving her mother to look after her 4 children, all under 10 years of age.[5]

Military Details

 The service record of George Parmley has not been researched so the date he enlisted is unknown.  George Parmley enlisted into the 5th Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers at Walker-on-Tyne, being allocated the regimental number 246683.[6]  The 5/NF was a Territorial Force established in 1908 and based at Walker-on-Tyne.  He became a Corporal [7] prior to joining the 1/4th Battalion, the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI), regimental number 235587. [8]

The 5th Battalion, the Northumberland Fusiliers was part of the Northumberland Brigade, Northumbrian Division.  In May 1915 the Brigade became the 149th Brigade of the 50th Division.  Other units in the Brigade were: [9]

  • 1/4th Bn., the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 1/6th Bn., the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 1/7th Bn., the Northumberland Fusiliers
  • 1/5th Bn., (Cumberland) Battalion, the Border Regiment
  • 149th Brigade Machine Gun Company
  • 149th Trench Mortar Company

The date George Parmley joined the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry is unknown. 1/4th KOYLI was formed in August 1914 at Wakefield as part of the 3rd West Riding Brigade, West Riding Division.  12 May 1915, the formation became the 148th Brigade, 49th Division. Other units in the Brigade were:

  • 1/5th Bn., the KOYLI, joined August 1914 left February 1918
  • 1/4th (Hallamshire) Bn., the York & Lancaster, joined August 1914
  • 1/5th Bn., the York & Lancaster, joined August 1914
  • 148th Machine Gun Company joined 6 February 1916 left 1 March 1918
  • 148th Trench Mortar Battery formed 12 June 1916

The 49th Division served with distinction on the Western Front throughout the war. The 4th Battalion arrived in France in April 1915 and within three weeks was in the thick of the fighting at Hooge. Because Corporal George Parmley was not awarded the 1914 or 1914-15 Star he did not enter France until after 31 December 1915 so he did not have taken part in this action. Long periods in the line followed until in the summer of 1916 when, from July to September, the Division took part in the battle of the Somme.

April 1917:  4/KOYLI was at Neuve Chapelle and in October it fought in the grim battle of Passchendaele where Corporal George Parmley died of wounds. [10]

31 July – 10 November 1917:  The Third Battle of Ypres (Passchendaele) [11]

The offensive had 8 distinctive phases:

  • Battle of Pilckem, 31 July to 2 August
  • Battle of Langemarck, 16 to 18 August
  • Battle of the Menin Road, 20 to 25 September
  • Battle of Polygon Wood, 26 September to 3 October
  • Battle of Broodseinde, 4 October
  • Battle of Poelcapelle, 9 October
  • First Battle of Passchendaele, 12 October
  • Second Battle of Passchendaele, 26 October to 10 November

A total of 54 Divisions were thrown into battle and many visited the Ypres Salient during “Third Ypres” and on more than one occasion.  For example, the 11th Division saw action at Langemarck, Polygon Wood, Broodseinde and Poelcapelle.  The 49th Division did not see action until the 6th phase, the Battle of Poelcapelle. [12]

The “Third Ypres” offensive cost the British nearly 310,000 casualties, the Germans slightly less and it consumed all of the available reserves.  The village of Passchendaele was entered 6 November and the whole campaign ended a few days later when more of the ridge was taken.  It achieved none of its objectives although the Germans could no longer look down on the Ypres.  The Salient had been deepened by about 5 miles and the Germans had been prevented from attacking the French when its army was in disarray following the failure of the Nivelle Offensive.  From the outset, it was obvious to the German Fourth Army that a new attack was being prepared and the previous year they had begun to strengthen their defences.

11 July:   an air offensive began.

18 July:  a massive artillery bombardment commenced.

31 July:  the attack itself began when the British Fifth Army attacked north-east from the Ypres Salient.  Initially, good progress was made but a strong counter-attack resulted in only a 2 mile advance.  Heavy rain fell on the first night flooding the swampy ground whose drainage system had been totally destroyed by the 10 day bombardment.  As a result the whole operation was held up.

 The Battle of Poelcapelle: 9 October 1917 [13]

9 October:  The 49th Division formed part of the Second Army which together with the 66th Division was attached to the 2nd ANZAC Corps.

The British front was described as

“a disjointed line of shell-craters and shallow ditches…thousands of shell-holes, many of which overlapped each other, were at least partly full of water and many the smaller ones were already overflowing.  The canals, the “bekes”, the intricate system of drainage ditches torn by months of shelling were everywhere spreading their waters horizontally throughout the low-lying and level plains, for the molasses-like top-soil could neither absorb it nor allow water to sink through.”

The attack was scheduled for 5.20 on the 9th October.  General Plumer’s Second Army, the II Anzac Corps, comprising the 49th and 66th Divisions would lead the attack and advance along two parallel spurs towards the flattened village of Passchendaele.  Two brigades from each division were selected for this action.

The offensive  was of the established tradition on the Western Front – a massive artillery bombardment in theory would stun and disorganise the enemy front line troops, knock out his machine-guns, cut wire entanglements, neutralise his opposing batteries then the infantry would advance behind a creeping barrage and occupy the ground.  Tanks would not be used – they would not be able to cross the gluey battlefield.  There was no military innovation. The front was 8 miles in width and it was planned to take the advance 4 miles.  About 31,000 British and 6,000 French would participate.  The German Fourth Army lay in wait, 100 yards away in some places such as the flattened village of Poelcapelle held jointly by both sides and fully a mile away elsewhere.

The following account will concentrate only on the action of the 49th Division.  It commenced the march from its assembly areas east of Ypres at about 7pm in order to arrive at the jumping-off positions by midnight.

“Nine thousand drenched troops began their march at dusk in full battle order – water bottle on the right hip, haversack moved rearward, an extra 50 cartridge bandolier over the right shoulder and under the left arm and a Mills bomb in each side pocket.

Grave difficulties were immediately encountered.  The engineers had not been able it improve the infantry’s sorry duckboard tracks beyond marking them with tapes and lamps (it had been deemed more essential to make roads for the heavy guns) and by nightfall conditions were such that the men could barely walk.  The boards were now coated with slime or submerged or shattered every few yards.  The heavy laden troopers (60lb. of clothing, equipment and weapons were carried per man) kept slipping and colliding.  Many toppled into shell-craters and had to be hauled out by comrades extending their rifle butts.  And falling into even a shallow hole was often revolting for the water was foul with decaying equipment, excrement and perhaps something dead or its surface might be covered with old sour mustard gas.  It was not uncommon for a man to vomit when being extricated from something like this…   Throughout that wretched evening the wind slapped the rain against the numbed faces and hands of the wading troops.  By midnight, 5 hours later, only a little more than a mile had been covered.  Everyone could now see that it would be touch-and-go whether the 5.20 attack would be mounted on time.”

The 49th (1st West Riding) Division encountered such problems and just made it on time.

“…the men…could hardly be recognised as civilised creatures.  From head to foot they were daubed with slime.  Their faces were clay-white like those of corpses…like men who had been buried alive and dug up again.”

The Germans shelled the roads with their heavier guns causing hundreds of casualties.  By one way or another, the Allied troops had splashed their way to their assigned positions.  Bayonets fixed awaiting Zero-Hour.  The rain continued.  German eyes surveyed the wasteland and the enemy front from thousands of fortified pill-boxes and observation posts virtually undamaged by the bombardment and protected by 2 belts of dense wire entanglements had not been broken up.

“As the British walked forward, the classic drama of the Western Front was again enacted…the rain perversely stopped and in perfect visibility German machine gunners began to play upon the advancing waves of men, their bullets lashing and spurting from the pill-boxes and from behind parapets…the British …moved from crater to crater but even in the craters they were not safe, for the German gunners streamed bullets against the edges of the holes and wounded many men lying near the rims.”

The attempted advance of the 49th Division was hampered by one mishap after another, for instance:

  • the Ravebeke, a little canal shown on the maps to be only 5ft. wide that day spread to 150ft. with water waist deep in the centre and one of the 2 brigades, presumably the 148th did not cross it.  The 146th Brigade crossed further north and advanced several hundred yards to be hit by shrapnel and heavy machine-gun fire from pill-boxes on the higher ground.
  • Messenger pigeons released to communicate with HQ were so terrified by the din of the German barrage that they refused to leave their bearers.

By 10am, the German 16th Rhineland Division was “master of the field”.

The 49th Division suffered 2,585 casualties and had not advanced at all.  The 66th Division had lost 3,119 men, and gained 500yards of No-Man’s-Land but had not even dented the main German positions on top of the ridge.  The 2nd Australians suffered 1,253 casualties and had not advanced their line.

The King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry 1st/4th Battalion War Diary reported the action as follows:[14]

9th October 1917


 Orders were received on the 7th October, 1917, from the 148th Infantry Brigade that the 49th Division would resume the Offensive West of Passchendaele on the 9th October 1917 in conjunction with the 66th Division on the right and the 48th Division on the left.

The attack of the 49th Division was carried out with two Brigades.

148th Infantry Brigade on the right. 146th Infantry Brigade on the left. The 147th Infantry Brigade being in reserve. The attached map shows the frontage, Battalion boundaries and objectives allotted to the 4th Y & L Regiment, 5th Y & L Regt., and the 5th Bn. K.O.Y.L.I.

This battalion was in reserve with orders immediately after zero to take up a position in reserve on the South Side of the WIELTJE Road immediately north of the RAVEBEEK.

At 12.15 a.m. the Battalion led by LT. COL. H. MOORHOUSE, D.S.O. moved from the Old German front line, immediately followed the  5th K.O.Y.L.I. The night was intensely dark, the trench grid track was in bad repair and progress was consequently very slow. The head of the battalion reached the support line behind ABRAHAM HEIGHTS at zero. This was at least 800 yards from our position of assembly. Before the battalion had closed up the enemy placed a heavy barrage on the ridge and caused a certain amount of delay and a number of casualties. The Commanding Officer issued orders to the battalion to move forward in attack formation in two waves. Z.Coy. on the right and X, Y & W Coys on the left. In the advance on the forward slope of the ridge many casualties were caused by enemy machine gun fire at each side of and from a strong enemy position of the BELLE VUE SPUR. 2/Lt. P.F. BEAUMONT was killed and Captain J.W. MOREHOUSE. 2/Lt. H. NICHOLIS, 2/Lt. J. BRANALD, and 2/Lt. W.B. GREAVES wounded at this stage of the operation. To take up our position north of the RAVEBEEK companies were forced to close on to the MEETCHEELE-GRAVENSTAFEL road on account of the condition of the ground caused by the overflowing of the RAVEBEEK which was badly damaged by shell fire. On the left, enemy machine gun and rifle  fire caused many casualties and on the right many men were temporarily lost owing to the fact that it was impossible to get them through the mud. Requests for reinforcements were received from the 5th Y. & L. Regt., on the left and the 4th Y. & L. Regt. on the right.

Z & Y Coys under LIEUT. G.H. CHADWICK and CAPT. R.W. MOORHOUSE respectively were sent forward on the left and W &  X Coys under LIEUT. G.H. BROOK and 2/Lt. G. E. PARSONS (Capt. J.W. MOREHOUSE having being previously wounded) on the right. The advance up the slope was done by sections owing to the heavy machine gun and rifle fire from WOLF COPSE on the left and BELLE VUE on the top of the ridge. During this advance CAPT. R.W. MOORHOUSE was killed whilst gallantly leading his company. Many casualties in the ranks were also suffered. Half an hour afterwards LT. COL. H. MOORHOUSE, D.S.O. was also killed by a bullet when leaving his headquarters. Owing to the heavy machine gun fire and the fact that the companies averaged not more than from 30 to 40 strong a position was taken up by Z and Y Coys on the slope about 400 yards N.E. of the point where the RAVEBEEK crosses the road, while W & X Coys formed a defensive flank on the right of the 4th Y. & L. Regt.  A large gap having occurred between the battalion and the 146th Infantry Brigade on the left a defensive flank was formed by a party of Z Coy.

5.30 p.m. The enemy intensely bombarded the area from the Ravebeek to the top of ABRAHAM  HEIGHTS for at least an hour. A party of the enemy who were assembling on the BELLE VUE SPUR were dispersed by rapid fire and no counter attacks developed.



Intense enemy bombardment of our forward area.

7p.m.  An attempt was made by a party of S. Company under Capt. T. Chadwick to take two Pill Boxes on the crest of the Ridge. These were found to be so heavily wired that it was impossible to get near them. The battalion under the command of CAPT. T. CHADWICK was relieved by the New Zealand Imperial Force, and bivouacked the night in a field near the Asylum, Ypres.

 Total casualties:



2/LT. P.F. BEAUMONT and 17 other ranks.

Wounded: 2/LT J.W. HUNTINGTON, 2/LT. W.B. GREAVES, CAPT. J.W. MOREHOUSE and 2/LT. H. NICHOLLS and 147 other ranks.

Wounded and missing: 2/LT. J. BRAMALD.

Missing: 19 other ranks.

It must be assumed that 235587 Corporal George Parmley, 1st/4th K.O.Y.L.I. was one of the 147 other ranks wounded.

Later research records that 1/4 KOYLI lost the following: [15]

  • 9 October – 28 Other Ranks killed in action, 3 Other Ranks died of wounds
  • 10 October – 3 Other Ranks killed in action, 4 Other Ranks died of wounds
  • 16 October – 1 Other Ranks died of wounds (235587 Corporal George Parmley)
  • 17 October – 1 Other Ranks died of wounds

It is confirmed that Lt. Col. H. Moorhouse, Capt. R.W. Moorhouse, Second Lieutenant P.F. Beaumont and Second Lieutenant Bramald were killed in action.  Another casualty amongst the officers was Second Lieutenant C.W. Uncles killed in action 9 October.  A total of 5 officers and 40 Other Ranks lost their lives as a result of this action.

And what of the wounded?

The British stretcher-bearers firstly retrieved the seriously wounded British then the moderately wounded British then the British dead then the German lightly wounded.  The German seriously wounded had to be ignored and the enemy dead in No-Man’s-Land were never touched except for souvenirs.  Walking wounded were encouraged to make their own way to the regimental-aid posts located a few hundred yards behind the action.  Doctors worked on routine first aid and serious amputations.  Men were then passed back to another dressing station except for those still needing surgery and they moved to a Casualty Clearing Station.  Here ambulances lined up in their hundreds to take casualties to hospitals where the men would “find peace or permanent disability or an anticlimactic death after all.”  Roadside dressing stations were in constant danger.  German long range artillery regularly peppered the roads and intersections around Broodseinde, Poelcapelle, along the Menin Road and beside the Ypres-Staden railway – doctors themselves were wounded or killed there.

“The faces of the dead everywhere were brown and aghast, their white teeth always showing”

The Australian War Memorial, Australian Military Units reports as follows: [16]

“Like earlier battles in the Ypres offensive, the aim of the Poelcappelle attack was to secure a series of objectives in turn, protected by a heavy artillery barrage, the troops involved would be drawn from the 49th and 66th British and 2nd Australian Divisions.  Rain however had begun to deluge an already poorly drained battlefield and adequate numbers of guns were unable to be brought within range.  The infantry’s advance also wallowed in the mud.  The Australians were able to secure some of their objectives for a short time but with little artillery support and both flanks open, they were forced to withdraw.  The 2nd Australian Division sustained 1,250 casualties in the battle.”

General Haig’s Diary contains the following entry:

“Tuesday 9 October, A general attack was launched at 5.30 am today from a point SE of Broodseinde on the right to St. Janshoek on the left (1 mile NE of Bixschoote).  The results were very successful.” 

The 49th Division was not involved in action on the 12th October or between the 26th and 10th November 1917.  These battles more commonly known as the First and Second Battles of Passchendaele.

The London Times reported on the joint British-French offensive as follows:


 Conditions of extraordinary difficulty and discouragement…seem to have made no difference.  The blow has been struck as surely and with results as decisive, as any of the former blows…The story is the same story I had to tell so many times, the story of an attack pushed with perfect determination and gallantry to final and complete success.  The Germans on the whole fought badly.” 

Corporal George Parmley died of wounds 16 October 1917. It is assumed that he was taken to hospital at Wimereux and died of wounds a week later.  He is buried in Wimereux, a small town about 5km north of Boulogne in the Pas de Calais, France.  From October 1914 onwards, Wimereux and Boulogne formed an important hospital centre and until June 1918, the medical units at Wimereux used the communal cemetery for burials with the south-eastern half having been set aside for Commonwealth graves.

There are 3 other local soldiers who were killed in this engagement:

  • 54339 Private Norman Christon, 1/5th Battalion, the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) was killed in action 9 October 1917 and is buried in Dochy Farm New British Cemetery, Belgium.  [17]  He is commemorated on Cockfield War Memorial.
  • 54397 Rifleman Herbert Hall, 1/7th Battalion, the West Yorkshire Regiment (Prince of Wales’s Own) was killed in action 9 October 1917 and is buried in Tyne Cot Cemetery. [18]  He is commemorated on Cockfield War Memorial.
  • 54506 Rifleman Matthew Thomas Raine, 1/7th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment, 146th Brigade, 49th Division. He was killed in action 9 October 1917.   He has no known grave and is commemorated on the Tyne Cot Memorial.[19]  He is commemorated on Evenwood War Memorial.

News of his Death

The Church Magazine reported as follows:[20]

“We have received the sad news of the loss of another of our local lads George Parmley has gone down.  It is a hard blow for those who love him and it is a matter of deep sorrow and sympathy for us all.  I can think of nothing more splendid than the way these lads are behaving.  As I have so often said, these boys have fallen but they are far from lost.  On the contrary they are, in fact, I firmly believe saved and their names and examples are an education which will always light up the way to God and Sacrifice.”


 Corporal George Parmley is buried at grave reference VI. D. 16 Wimereux Communal Cemetery.  There are 2,847 Commonwealth burials and amongst them is Lt. Col. John McCrae, author of the poem “In Flanders Fields.”  [21]


 Corporal George Parmley s commemorated on the Evenwood War Memorial and the Roll of Honour, St. Paul’s Church, Evenwood.

 Memorial Column to the 49th (West Riding) Division:  Behind Essex Farm CWGC cemetery on the western bank of the Yser Canal, just to the north of Ieper is the Memorial Column to the 49th (West Riding) Division inaugurated in 1924.

 Tyne Cot Cemetery, Zonnebeke:  At the CWGC cemetery there is a memorial to:

“The memory of all ranks of the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry and to the memory of those who served in the Great War 1914 – 1918.”

York Minster:  The name of Corporal George Parmley is contained within the KOYLI  Roll of Honour.


[1] Commonwealth War Graves Commission

[2] England & Wales Birth Index 1837-1915 Vol.10a p.225 Auckland 1889 Q3

[3] 1901 & 1911 census and family details

[4] 1911 census and family details

[5] Family details

[6] Assumption from his Regimental Number & Soldiers Died in the Great War

[7] Photographic evidence

[8] CWGC


[10] &

[11] Various sources including:




[13] Various sources including

& “In Flanders Fields” Leon Wolff (1959)

[14] 1/4 KOYLI War Diary

[15] Officers & Soldiers Died in the Great War


[17] CWGC

[18] CWGC

[19] CWGC

[20] Evenwood Church Magazine November 1917

[21] CWGC


PARMLEY G. photo


PARMLEY G George &  his wife Selina

George &
his wife Selina

PARMLEY G.  Headstone