Many people will remember the late Harry Parker as a teacher who worked at Pendorlan for many years. He was born in Canada in 1918, but when his Mother died his Father brought the family back to live here where they had family connections.
His great grandfather was employed by the railways as superintendent engineer to lay the original track from Chester to Holyhead with the coming of the railways and was given a house for his lifetime at the foot of Penmaenhead.Joseph’s son was a high ranking official doing test runs on the trains. Three generations of the family were buried in Old Colwyn cemetery.
Harry attended the Grammar School in Eirias Park. During the war he enlisted in the Denbighshire Yeomanry 61st medium regiment along with many other local men.
Harry was interviewed by Cindy.
Listen to Captain Harry Parker’s memories here:[audio:http://colwynbayheritage.org.uk//wp-content/uploads/2011/11/Heritage-Group-Harry-Parker-2006.mp3]
Transcription of the interview:
‘I went to Colwyn Bay Grammar School and joined the territorial army in 1939. In August I was called up with the Denbighshire yeomanry 61st Medium Regiment ( with Captain Cutler. ‘Medium’ is to do with the size of the weaponry). I was demobbed in July 1946. Most of the local men joined the TA battery in ‘39. There was one in Wrexham and one in Llanrwst also. There is a book published called ‘The Freedom of the burghers’. It was bestowed on the 61st medium and in the book are all the names of all the men in the TA who were called up. There was Ray and Sid, the two brothers of Captain Cutler. I was a Surveyor and Quartermaster.
After Dunkirk formed new units, I went to Hull and was posted to Yorkshire, where I met my wife. The 61st became a training regiment. Then I went to the Middle East, Italy, South of France, Marseilles and Germany and was also involved in the surrender of Dunkirk. I stayed away the whole time and had no leave to return home. I was not here in Colwyn Bay during the wartime years. I did have some leave in 1940 and 1941 before I was posted abroad.’
Harry maintains that Colwyn Bay would have a population of only about 6,000 in 1939. The influx of the 5,000 from London caused some animosity. They recruited many temporary clerks The permanent civil servants were inclined to look down their nose at the temps who were not proper civil servants but the locals were saying how fortunate they were to have come to this lovely place away from the bombing.
‘They couldn’t have functioned without the recruitment of the local people like my late sister. She worked at the Ministry doing various clerical work in some of the divisions Tea, Cereals or something. The London civil servants were billeted on local families in private houses. My uncle had proper civil servants billeted on to them and they were paid only one guinea a week, £1.1s, therefore the name guinea pigs was coined’.
They had to rely on local people for clerical support work – some were taken from school – but they would be enlisted as soon as they were old enough. Some daughters would not be allowed by their fathers to join the WAFs then they had to find an alternative employment like the land army or munitions.