He died in battle - as his wife and three children waited at home on Wearside

David Parton.
David Parton.
Have your say

It was known as the third Battle of Ypres and was waged for around four months.

Like many others before, and many more afterwards, the First World War action at Passchendaele saw thousands of bloody and senseless deaths on both sides.

David Parton.

David Parton.

One of those to fall was Private David Parton from Sunderland who died 100 years ago this year.

Thanks to the information provided by David’s descendants George Carpenter and Anthony Carpenter, Chris Cordner looks back on the tale of a Wearside dad-of-three who would never get to see his wife and children again.

Like many others, he did his best to serve his country.

Tragically, David Parton wasn’t alone in paying for his loyalty with his life.

The place is a perfect location to honour our fallen heroes, and it was a privilege to visit them

George Carpenter, speaking about Tyne Cot Cemetery

Private David Parton 36607 was the son of Thomas and Jane Parton. By the time he went to The Front in the Great War, he had a wife and children of his own.

Back home on Wearside, his wife Mary (whose maiden name was Dale) was doing her best in an age when there was no benefit system to speak of.

She was in charge of their three youngsters who were five-year-old Alice, little Percy who was two-and-a-half, and one-year-old David.

In peacetime, David worked at the shipyards but all that changed when the world plunged into conflict.

George and June Carpenter.

George and June Carpenter.

Private Parton enlisted into the 10th Battalion Durham Light Infantry Sunderland Regiment. He served his country until October 13, 1917. It was the day his life ended.

He was killed in action in Sanctuary Wood, at Passchendaele, which was in Ypres, Belgium.

Sanctuary Wood is believed to have got its name because it is where British casualties were treated after being injured in battle. It was seen as a safe spot because it was behind British lines at the time.

But as the war raged on, it became anything but safe. The British launched an offensive in the area in 1917 and the Germans later had their own counter offensive. Sanctuary Wood became the heart of battle.

Passchendaele. Photo: Press Association.

Passchendaele. Photo: Press Association.

David paid the ultimate price for his involvement and - tragically - so did his family back home after his death.

George Carpenter explained more. They were hard times back home and there was no welfare system. It meant poor Mary had somehow to bring up three children who had lost their father.

Sadly, only two of the children survived. David junior would die as a three-year-old when he contracted influenza in 1919 during the epidemic.

George added: “Due to hard times and no welfare support, Mary remarried and had four more children.

“However, she died at the early age of only 48. Alice and Percy grew up and both married.”

Alice Parton married James Snell who came from Silksworth and was a coal miner. George told us: “Their union produced four children and they were June, David, Rita and Barry.”

It was George’s family tree interest which unravelled the story of David.

George was a glazier in Sunderland and his wife June worked alongside him, running a little hardware shop.

David’s grave was in the Tyne Cot Cemetery outside of Passchendale. Tyne Cot is the name given by the Northumberland Fusiliers to a landmark in the area.

George and June found out more when they visited David’s grave in 1992.

Sadly, June passed away this year at the age of 85.

George is now 87 himself and his son Tony continued the story.

He said his great great grandfather David “was not alone” in dying on the field of battle. “There were thousands like him.

“It was a difficult time for the families they left behind.”

George described the experience of visiting Tyne Cot as one which will stay with him forever. He added: “The place is a perfect location to honour our fallen heroes, and it was a privilege to visit them.”

We would love to hear from more people who would like to share the stories of their ancestors.

It could be from any aspect of their family tree, whether it is to ask for help to get further back into their lineage, or to tell us about interesting people in their families.

Perhaps they are planning a family reunion or want to tell us of their links to a famous person. Whatever the reason, email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk.