The Airmen's Stories - P/O E G Parkin
Eric Gordon Parkin was born on 21st April 1917 in Barnsley, Yorkshire. His father worked in administrative roles in collieries, but is shown in the 1939 register as living at Wokingham, Berkshire, with employment as a milk recorder for the Ministry of Agriculture.
Parkin joined the RAFVR on 13th September 1938 as an Airman u/t Pilot. He began his elementary flying training at 8 E&RFTS Woodley but was called to full-time service on 3rd September 1939 and sent to 4 ITW Bexhill in November.
In February 1940 was posted to 8 FTS Montrose.
In May 1940 Parkin completed the course and went to 6 OTU Sutton Bridge on the 27th. After converting to Hurricanes he was posted to France. Within a few days Parkin joined 501 Squadron there.
In mid-June the squadron prepared to return to the UK, Parkin was flown to Caen then to Dinard and two days later to Jersey, from where he sailed in a coal boat with P/O RS Don to Weymouth, arriving on the 17th. The squadron re-assembled at Croydon on the 21st.
In the late evening of 31st July 1940 the squadron took off from Hawkinge to return to Gravesend. Parkin's aircraft had a starting problem and he took off later, arriving at Gravesend in failing light. He undershot the runway and touched coils of barbed wire on the boundary. The Hurricane turned over and Parkin was injured. He was admitted to Gravesend Hospital, later transferred to Halton and did not rejoin 501 until 5th February 1941.
Parkin is reported to have said after the war that he fell asleep due to exhaustion during the final approach to Gravesend.
With a non-operational category, he was posted away for an instructors course on 16th April 1941 and was instructing until the end of the war. Parkin was released from the RAF in 1946, joined the RAFVR in 1947 and then rejoined the RAF in December 1953.
He retired on 21st April 1972 as a Flight Lieutenant.
He was an instructor at the British Airways Flying Club. He died on 23rd July 2008 at Wallingford, Oxfordshire and was cremated on 4th August at Oxford crematorium, after a service at St Helen's Church, Benson.