Private/Lieutenant John Francis Chalmers Park (O.B.E) 15/701

Private/Lieutenant John Francis Chalmers Park (O.B.E)

Died. 11th June 1989.

John Francis Chalmers Park was born in Hunslet, on the 7th October 1893 (23 hours after his identical twin brother James 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 James, Sylvia Katherine and Harold Kenneth.

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

After leaving school John was apprenticed to Arthur Wigleys (Printers) which later became part of “Alf Cook & Sons (printers) of Leeds.

In September 1914, He and his twin brother James enlisted as Privates 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.

The Park twins served with the “Pals” in Colsterdale, Egypt and France.

On the 1st July 1916, the first day of the “Battle of the Somme” Signaller J.F.C. Park was wounded. “The Yorkshire Evening Post” later reported:

“Pte J.F.C. Park was wounded by a shell, and was assisted by his twin brother, signaller James Park, of the same company. The wounded soldier, whose home is at 3 Belmont Grove, Clarendon Road, is doing well at Cardiff hospital.”

After recovering from His wounds J.F.C Park was commissioned on the 28th August 1917 as a 2nd/Lt with the Yorkshire Regiment, with whom he served out the rest of the War.

After the war He tried to return to the printing trade, but was unsuccessful.

He later tried, unsuccessfully, to learn the piano and violin, but in 1923 formed the LEEDS XXV String Orchestra, which in 1924 he handed over control of, to his twin brother James, the reason was a move to West Hartlepool to take a position in the printing trade.

In 1930, He was offered and accepted a post with the “Herald” newspaper in Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia, then after 2 years he went to Bulawayo to become works manager of “Philpott & Collins” Printers.

In March 1938 He married Janet Elder, a violinist with the XXV String Orchestra, whom He had met in Cape Town.

He later formed and conducted the “Bulawayo Philharmonic Orchestra" for which in 1957 he was invited to Buckingham Palace to receive the O.B.E from Queen Elizabeth 11, for services to Rhodesian music.

He died in Bulawayo on the 11th June 1989 and is buried locally.

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