Your amazing discoveries – the first British casualty of the First World War

Cyclists on the Ypres-Poperinghe Road, July 1916. Records suggest that Private Parr served in the Army Cyclist Corps. Image © IWM (Q 838)

Cyclists on the Ypres-Poperinghe Road, July 1916. Records suggest that Private Parr served in the Army Cyclist Corps. Image © IWM (Q 838)

Every Friday from 12pm we’ve been asking you to share the incredible discoveries you’ve made using Lives of the First World War on our Facebook page. This week we take a look at one of the amazing discoveries Debbie Cameron shared with us, the soldier who is believed to have been the first casualty from Great Britain.

Private John Parr

The grave of John Parr in St Symphorien cemetery. Image © IWM / Debbie Cameron.

The grave of John Parr in St Symphorien cemetery. Image © IWM / Debbie Cameron.

Private John Parr was born in 1897 in London. The 1911 census shows him as having been underage when he joined the army in 1912, lying about his age to sign up two years before the First World War had even begun.

The real mystery though surrounds the circumstances of his death, with some sources suggesting that he may have been one of the first, if not the first casualty from Great Britain.

The first major engagement of German and British troops in Europe came at the Battle of Mons on 23 August 1914, and there are conflicting reports of when Private Parr went missing around this time. Sources that Debbie has linked to his life story, including an article which quotes a letter from Private Parr’s mother, suggest he was shot down at Mons on the 23 August 1914, while others suggest it might have been even earlier than this.

Whether Private Parr was indeed the first British casualty of the First World War or not, it’s undoubtedly an interesting mystery and incredible discovery. You can remember Private Parr’s  life and discover more about his story on his Life Story page.

What’s your amazing discovery you’ve made on Lives of the First World War? Share them with us every Friday on Facebook from 12pm.

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