The Airmen's Stories - Sub/Lt.(FAA) J Reardon-Parker
The wartime service of John Reardon-Parker is one of the strangest stories of all Battle airmen and at time of writing (April 2010) is far from complete.
Reardon-Parker was born in 1919 in Blackburn, Lancashire and registered with the name John Reardon. His father was shown in the 1911 census as an insurance agent. His mother's maiden name was Parker. On 29th November 1932 Mrs. Reardon changed her name by deed poll to Reardon-Parker. Her son adopted the same name, although on some documents they both appear as Parker-Reardon.
John attended Blackburn Queen Elizabeth's Grammar School and on leaving he was engaged on 7th September 1935 as a Wireless Operator with the Post Office.
Above image courtesy of www.591-antrim-parachute.info
He entered the Air Branch of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve on 21st February 1939, rated as a Midshipman. He joined 804 Squadron at Hatston, Orkney on 11th June 1940, flying Gladiators on dockyard defence.
He was later with 757 Squadron at Worthy Down and in April 1941 he joined 752 Squadron at Piarco, Trinidad. This was the home of HMS Goshawk, a FAA training establishment. On 28th November 1941 Reardon-Parker's commission was terminated. 'Terminated' could indicate the normal end of a time-limited commission or imply misconduct.
He is next recorded as joining the Parachute Regiment and, in September 1943, reporting for parachute training course No. 81 at RAF Ringway, now Manchester Airport.
The next trace comes on the night of 5th/6th June 1944 - D-Day.
On this night two Stirlings from 620 Squadron at Fairford, EJ116 and
EF295, were detailed to drop men from parachute units to secure the area around the Orne and Caen Canal bridges. EF295 carried a troop of fifteen engineers from 591 Parachute Squadron RE, their job was to clear wooden poles and obstructions from areas designated as landing zones for the following forces.
Both Stirlings were off-course and EJ116 was shot down by flak near Chateau Grangues in the village of the same name east of Caen. There were no survivors. EF295 was also hit and this detonated some of the explosives that the engineers were carrying. The pilot managed to bring down the aircraft in the chateau grounds but eight of the crew and parachutists were killed, the remainder being badly injured. These men were brought to a stable block in the grounds by German soldiers who had arrived on the scene.
For unknown reasons, but perhaps as a response to an attempted escape, eight members of 591 Squadron were taken out and shot by the Germans. The following day, 7th June, one of the survivors still in the stable block died from his injuries. This man was Lance-Corporal John Reardon-Parker. Although not proven conclusively, it seems highly likely that this is the same man who flew with 804 Squadron in 1940.
All the dead were buried by the chateau occupants in the grounds before being reburied in Ranville War Cemetery in 1945.
(Below: the 52 men lost from both Stirlings are commemorated on a memorial in Grangues Church)