Very much one of the ordinary people that went to war, Alan Parsons, died early on in the war on 1st September 1915, shortly after arriving in France. We know little more about Alan or the circumstances that led to his death but we do know about his parents – James and Emma Barham Parsons. Emma was a postmistress who later moved to Three Bridges after the war. It was not unusual for families to lose more than one child in the war. In Emma’s case, all three of her children, Alan, Douglas and William, were killed.
When soldiers died in war, a temporary cross was erected at their burial. You can see examples of some of these original grave markers inside Turners Hill Church, at the bottom of the tower erected to commemorate local people who had died.
After the war had ended, the Imperial War Graves Commission provided proper grave markers to replace these temporary crosses. These are the gravestones which we are familiar with in war cemeteries today; engraved with the casualties’ details, regimental insignia, and often a personal message from loved ones. In an act of extreme crassness, the government charged relatives 3 1/2d per letter for their personal inscriptions.
Emma, living on her own in Eastcote, North Road, Three Bridges after the war, paid 4 shillings and 11 pence, not once but 3 times to have the epitaph ‘Peace Perfect Peace’ engraved on the gravestones of each of her sons. You can see William’s grave, marked by its military gravestone around to the right as you leave the church.