Many people gathered at Rishton’s War Memorial today to see a paving stone laid in tribute to a soldier originally from Rishton, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for his outstanding bravery during the First World War.
The commemorative paving stone was laid at Rishton War Memorial at 11am on 21st August, in tribute to Hardy Falconer Parsons VC, a local hero of the First World War.
Hardy, a Rishton lad, was just 20 years old, and a temporary second lieutenant in the 14th (Service) Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment, British Army, during the First World War. On 20/21st August 1917 near Epehy, France, during a night attack by the enemy on his bombing post, the bombers holding the post were forced back, but Second Lieutenant Parsons remained at his post. Single-handed and although severely burnt by liquid fire, he continued to hold up the enemy with bombs until severely wounded. Second Lieutenant Parsons died of his wounds and was awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in the face of the enemy that can be awarded to British and Commonwealth forces.
Hardy was born in Rishton on 13th June 1897, the son of Reverend James Ash Parsons and Henrietta Parsons, of Leysian Mission, City Road, London. He was buried at Villers-Faucon Communal Cemetery, France.
Unveiling the commemorative paving stone, Deputy Mayor, Cllr Mohammad Ayub, said; “Hardy Parsons VC was a local hero and it’s a great honour to be able to unveil this commemorative paving stone here today to pay tribute to him and remember his valour.”
Cllr Ken Moss said; “Hardy was a Rishton lad, and to be awarded the Victoria Cross, as he was for his outstanding bravery and heroism during the First World War, at just twenty years old, should never be forgotten. It is right and fitting then that a paving stone memorial is laid here in Rishton, Hardy’s home town, as a lasting reminder of his immense courage and ultimate sacrifice.”
Joining the Deputy Mayor of Hyndburn, Cllr Mohammad Ayub, to commemorate the incredible bravery of Second Lieutenant Parsons was the Vice Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire, Colonel Alan Jolley OBE TD DL, and representatives from Hardy Parsons’ own regiment The Gloucestershire Regiment. Also in attendance were representatives of the University of Bristol Officers Training Corps and The Rifles alongside members of the local Royal British Legion, local Councillors and Lancashire Constabulary.
The establishment of commemorative paving stones to honour Victoria Cross (VC) recipients in England from the Great War is part of the national First World War Centenary campaign, which will see commemorative paving stones laid at the birth places of Victoria Cross recipients of the war in towns right across the country from 2014 to 2018.