Private/Captain James Chalmers Park 15/1063. MC

Private/Captain James Chalmers Park (M.C)

Died. 21/9/1965 Birmingham General Hospital.

James Chalmers Park was born in Hunslet, on the 6th October 1893 (23 hours before his identical twin brother John Francis Chalmers Park) to James Chalmers Park (an etcher and watercolour painter) from Wetherby, and Sarah Eliza Chalmers Park (nee Buckle), an infant teacher from Leeds. His siblings were twin brother John, Sylvia Katherine and Harold Kenneth.

James along with his twin brother John, attended Leeds parish church school, where they both rose to be joint senior choristers. They also took a music scholarship at Leeds Grammar school.

In September 1914, James and his twin brother John enlisted, as Private soldiers in the “Leeds Pals”, they were posted to “A” company, 3 Platoon, section 9, where they also became signallers, their Commanding Officer being Captain R.M.S. Blease. Private J.C Park served with the "Pals" in Colsterdale, Egypt and France.

On the evenings of the 6th and 7th March 1916,whilst on board "H.M.T Ascania" bound for France, the "Pals" held two musical concerts and on the 6th Pte J.C Park did a pianoforte solo - "Prelude in C sharp minor", and on the 7th accompanied Pte A.C Axe, on the pianoforte during the whole concert.

On the 1st of July 1916, during the first day of the "Battle of the Somme" James carried his twin brother John off the battlefield, where he had been shot in the shoulder.

A commission was soon to come, and on the 29th of May 1917 he was commissioned as a 2nd/Lt, into the 10th Battalion, West Yorkshire Regiment. During a period out of the line, James became so angry at the loss of friends killed by a German sniper, that he volunteered for a dangerous mission to flush him out. He successfully completed the mission by killing the sniper and for this action he was awarded the Military Cross.

James Chalmers Park ended the war a Captain, the same rank his great grandfather had been promoted to 100 years earlier, at the Battle of Waterloo!

After the war whilst living at the family home of 3 Belmont Grove, he joined the Leeds based tobacco company of "Hurst and Co" as a sales representative, he continued his musical interest, becoming a church organist at North Rigton, and then at St Matthews Church, Holbeck.

In 1924 he became the conductor of the XXV String Orchestra, of which his brother John had formed in 1923.

On the 8th September 1933, at the age of 39 he married Barbara Ellison, a "Cellist" with the XXV, at St Matthews Church, Holbeck, with his own choir singing the hymns. The marriage was blessed with a son, James Chalmers Park Jnr.

After the outbreak of World War Two, James spent a further 6 years in the army, although remaining in England, he was in charge of camps testing Tanks which would be used in the desert war, having been involved with them since their appearance in World War One. He ended the war as a Colonel.

James Chalmers Park died, at the age of 71, whilst on a visit to Birmingham, on the 21st September 1965.

His wife Barbara died 27 years later on the 24th January 1992.

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