Crowd gathers in North Finchley to commemorate first Allied death

A paving stone was unveiled in the street where Private Parr lived

A paving stone was unveiled in the street where Private Parr lived

First published in News
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Times Series: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

A large crowd gathered to commemorate the first Allied death of the Great War.

People gathered in Lodge Lane, North Finchley, to pay tribute to Private John Parr, recognised as the first Allied soldier killed in the Great War. His death was recorded on August 21, 1914, near Mons in Belgium.

Private Parr lived in Lodge Lane from 1909 to 1914. A paving stone bearing his name was unveiled in the street at the ceremony.

Shirley Parr, a relative of the soldier, said: “I started researching two years ago, which is when I found out about him. It’s nice to commemorate John for what he did.

“It’s nice to think we have all come together. What they have done is fantastic.”

Iris Hunt, the great niece of John Parr’s mother, read out the letter from his mother to the War Office in October 1914. She laid a white rose on the paving stone, which also saw five wreaths placed next to it.

The ceremony included a speech from the Mayor of Barnet Councillor Hugh Rayner, and a dedication by the Archdeacon of Hampstead the Ven Luke Miller.

The last post was also played on the bugle by Anna Wood, followed by two minutes’ silence.

Barry Atkinson, vice chairman of Barnet War Memorials Association, said: “Last year I went to where John is buried. The last Allied soldier killed in the war lies ten metres away.

“It was great to get all the members of the Parr family together. There are people from the family meeting here for the first time.”

James Brown, 30, a youth worker at St Barnabas Church, Woodside, said: “John Parr went to the same church I work at.”

Mr Brown, who lives in Whetstone, added: “It’s important to commemorate. The amount of people who went to war is staggering. The thing that stands out for me is all the siblings that went together.”

The private signed up in 1912, aged 14, at barracks in Mill Hill. He told the army he was 17.

Totteridge councillor Richard Cornelius said: “It was nice so many people turned out. He was a local hero.”

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