PARKER, Arnold Leonard
(Service number 790)
|Aliases||Enlisted in Australia as Leslie Arnold WATSON|
|First Rank||Private||Last Rank|
|Date||5 February 1887||Place of Birth||Dunedin|
|Date||2 September 1914||Age||27 years|
|Address at Enlistment|
|Previous Military Experience|
|Next of Kin||Mrs W. TOMLIN, Willowbridge, South Canterbury|
|Religion||Church of England|
|Medical Information||Height 5 ft 10½ inches. Weight 11 stone 6 lbs. Chest 36 inches. Complexion fresh. Eyes brown. Hair brown. Scar under right knee cap. Does not present any of the following - scrofula; phthisis; syphilis; impaired constitution; defective intelligence; defects of vision, voice, or hearing; hernia; haemorrhoids; varicose veins, beyond a limited extent; marked varicocele with unusually pendent testicle; inveterate cutaneous disease; chronic ulcers; traces of corporal punishment, or evidence of having been marked with the letters D. or B.C.; contracted or deformed chest; abnormal curvature of spine; or any other disease or physical defect calculated to unfit him for the duties of a soldier. Can see the required distance with either eye; his heart and lungs are healthy; he has the free use of his joints and limbs; and he declares he is not subject to fits of any description. Fit for active service|
|Served with||Australian Imperial Forces||Served in||Army|
|Body on Embarkation||3rd Infantry Battalion, D Company|
|Unit, Squadron, or Ship|
|Date||20 October 1914|
|Embarked From||Sydney, New South Wales, Australia||Destination|
|Other Units Served With|
|Last Unit Served With|
|Campaigns||Egypt; Balkans (Gallipoli)|
|Service Medals||1914-15 Star; British War Medal; Victory Medal|
Award Circumstances and Date
Prisoner of War Information
|Date of Capture|
|Where Captured and by Whom|
|Actions Prior to Capture|
|PoW Serial Number|
|Date||17 June 1915||Reason||Medically unfit|
Hospitals, Wounds, Diseases and Illnesses
|Date||28 September 1974||Age||87 years|
|Place of Death||Sydney, New South Wales, Australia|
|Memorial or Cemetery||Rockwood Cemetery, New South Wales|
|New Zealand Memorials|
Arnold Leonard Parker was born on 5 February 1887 at Dunedin, the second son of Frank Stanley Parker and Janet (Jane) Ann Bradbury née Cockerill later Mrs Tomlin. Arnold and his siblings (four surviving brothers and one sister) were surely educated at Waimate, where their father was the police constable in the 1890s. In December 1900, A. Parker was listed among the names of the successful candidates for the Waimate District High School’s exhibitions. Frank Stanley Parker, born at Akaroa in 1858, was by 1886 was a constable in Dunedin, where the three oldest children were born. In 1886 he suffered a fracture of the right leg when he was assaulted in the execution of his duty. Constable F. S. Parker was appointed a Clerk of the Magistrate’ and Warden’s Courts and Receiver of Gold Revenue and Mining Registrar at Tapanui in February 1890, and also Clerk of the Licensing Committee. In 1891 he was appointed Inspector Weights and Measures, and in 1892 Inspector of Factories and Workrooms. Such was the role of country policemen. At Tapanui three more children were born, Ormond Leslie Parker dying there in infancy in 1892. In June 1895 Constable Parker took charge at Waimate. It was there, in July 1896, that he received a good conduct and long service medal for fourteen continuous years in the force. And it was at Waimate that the youngest child was born. Frank Stanley Parker, constable in charge of Waimate, was involved in the arrest of a prisoner in 1897. In April 1898 he reported that there had been 12 prosecutions under the Licensing Act and nine convictions in 12 months. He went into the hotels in the discharge of his duty. “Easter Sunday was a busy day with the Catholics, who came into town, and the Waimate Hotel was nearest to the church, and they mostly stayed there.”
Following the sale of the Waimate Estate in January 1900, Mr F. S. Parker was offering at public auction a 40-acre freehold farm alongside the Willowbridge railway siding, with fences, crops and a house. Did he own or lease this property? After six years in charge at Waimate, Constable Parker – “an active and efficient officer, not only as constable but also in the offices of clerk of the court, bailiff, clerk of the Licensing Committee, and old age pension registrar” - retired from the service on account of his illness. He acquired a position as court bailiff in Hawera. On 14 June 1901 the Mayor of Waimate presented him with a purse of 84 sovereigns, as a token of their high esteem, and of his long and valuable service in the town and district in many rôles. The next day he left Waimate, returning in October to take Mrs Parker and the family. Arnold had joined his father in Hawera in August. Frank Stanley Parker died on 26 September 1902, after a long and painful illness, at Hawera where he is buried. After his father’s death, Horace’s mother returned to Waimate. She married William Tomlin in 1904, and they had a daughter Sylvia Muriel Bell Tomlin, born in 1909, and an infant who died at birth in 1905. William died in 1918 and is buried at Waimate. The three youngest Parker children attended Waimate, Willowbridge and Hannaton schools after their mother’s return south. In 1920 Janet (Jane) Tomlin went to Christchurch and died on 18 September 1928 while she was living there with her daughter. She is buried in Bromley Cemetery. Her will was drawn up in 1919, named her five surviving Parker children - Arnold under his birth name not his assumed name, but not Sylvia Tomlin.
Arnold Leonard Parker, also known as Leslie Arnold Watson, appears to have gone from his home at Willowbridge, South Canterbury in 1914. He was recorded in the 1911 and 1914 New Zealand electoral rolls as a farmer at Willowbridge. Almost straight away he enlisted in the Australian Forces as Leslie Arnold Watson, which name he used for the rest of his life. Why did he change his name? On 25 August 1914 at Waimate, a warrant was issued for Arnold Leonard Parker, a labourer, native of New Zealand, age twenty-seven. He was about 5 feet 9 inches tall, of slim build, with fair freckled complexion, with long dark-brown hair, brown eyes, and artificial upper teeth. He was wanted for failing to provide adequate maintenance for his unborn illegitimate child. The complainant – the mother of the child – was named in the Police Gazette notice. The child was born on 12 October 1914, and lived in South Canterbury for life. Arnold Leonard Parker had obviously left for Australia by the date of the warrant. He attested on 2 September 1914, aged 27 years. He was a farm labourer, single, and of Church of England affiliation. He was a well-built man, standing at 5 feet 10½ inches, and weighing 11 stone 6 pounds. His complexion was fresh, his eyes and hair brown. He bore a scar under his right knee cap. His sight was good; his heart and lungs healthy; and he had free use of his joints and limbs. He was free of all diseases and defects which may have rendered him unfit for the duties of a soldier. Arnold (Leslie) nominated his mother as next-of-kin – Mrs W. Tomlin, Willowbridge, South Canterbury.
Leslie Arnold Watson (i.e. Arnold Leonard Parker) embarked with the 3rd Infantry Battalion, D Company, on 14 October 1914 at Sydney, New South Wales, per the “Euripides”. Having been assessed as medically unfit, he began his return to Australia on 4 May 1915 from Suez on the “Ceramic”. He saw service in Egypt and at Gallipoli, for which he received the 1914-1915 Star, the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. He wrote to the Defence Department on 7 July 1971, to claim the Anzac Medal, stating ‘I took part in the “Gallipoli Landing” from 25th April to the December 16, 1915-1916.’ A note was inserted in his file – ‘No record of Gallipoli service. Emb for Australia on SS Ceramic from Suez on 4/5/15 medically unfit.’ It may be that he didn’t go beyond Egypt because of disease. He was discharged on 15 June 1915 as medically unfit. He remained in New South Wales, Australia, working as a labourer, and living possibly all their married life at the same address.
He married Thelma Annie Jones (1900-1988) in 1917 in Victoria, Australia. Leslie and Thelma were to have fourteen children born in twenty years. Their eldest, Stanley Victor Watson, served in World War II, as did their son Horace Gilroy Watson. A daughter, Thelma Annie Watson, was born in 1920 in Waimate, South Canterbury, NZ. On 7 October 1944 his wife, Thelma, madea Statutory declaration – “I am the legal wife and next of kin of Leslie Arnold Watson, who served in the Australian Imperial Force as No. 790, 3rd Bn. That the Next of Kin Badge issued to me by the Department of Defence in respect of my relationship, as above, has been lost. That the circumstances under which the said loss occurred are as under: Lost off dress in the city.” She had asked if her badge had been returned and, since it had not been, applied to the AIF Central Records Office for a replacement Next of Kin Badge, as she had lost hers off her dress in the city (Belmore, NSW). She received a replacement. On two occasions (1933, 1963) information was sought from his file but no reason is apparent.
Leslie Arnold Watson died on 25 September 1974 at Sydney, aged 87 years. he was survived by his wife and fourteen children. He is buried in the Rockwood Cemetery, New South Wales. His oldest brother, Horace Lancelet Parker, who also served in the Australian Imperial Force under an assumed name – Charles Holdsworth – was killed in action in 1916 in France. Another brother Rupert Reginald Parker also served in World War I. His youngest brother, Lawrence Victor Parker, also died in New South Wales (in 1970), having lived there from1928 at least.
Auckland War Memorial Museum Cenotaph Database [26 April 2015]; Attestation Paper for Australian Imperial Force (National Archives of Australia) [09 February 2014]; First World War Embarkation Rolls (www.awm.gov.au) [09 February 2014]; The AIF Project (www.adfa.edu.au) [04 November 2014]; New Zealand Army WWI Nominal Rolls - Vol. 5 New Zealanders in Australian Expeditionary Force (interactive.ancestry.com.au) [09 February 2014]; trees.ancestry.co.au [08 February 2014]; Evening Star, 29 April 1886, Timaru Herald, 30 July 1896, 30 June 1897, 10 January 1900, 21 December 1900, 05 & 14 June 1901, 2 October 1902, North Otago Times, 16 April 1898, Waimate Daily Advertiser, 13, 15 & 22 June 1901, 29 August 1901, 22 October 1901, 30 September 1902, Hawera & Normanby Star, 27 September 1902, Oamaru Mail, 13 April 1915, Press, 19, 20 & 21 September 1928 (Papers Past) [07 & 17 September 2013; 09 February 2014; 08 April 2019]; NZ BDM Indexes (Department of Internal Affairs) [2013; 12 April 2019]; Cemetery records for Bromley, Hawera, Howick, Mataura, Ruru, Tapanui, Waimate, Bromley (South Canterbury Branch NZSG Cemetery Records) [16 February 2014; 09 April 2019]; NZ Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au) [2013; 13 April 2019]; Australian Electoral Rolls (ancestry.com.au); Wise’s PO Directory, 1897, 1901; NZ Gazette entries; probate record for Janet Ann Bradbury Tomlin (Archives NZ/FamilySearch) [10 April 2019]; New Zealand Police Gazette (ancestry.com.au) [12 April 2019]
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