Distant relatives meet for first time learning about hero grandfather

A group of distant relatives who had little knowledge of one another have reconciled by learning about their hero grandfather.

The descendants of First World War hero Private William Frederick Parnham, a father-of-eight who was killed in action in 1917, all set out to learn more about his life.

Relatives of William Frederick Parnham, from left Grandaughter Dorothy Mayes, Grandaughter In Law, Marion Ball, Great Grandson Keith Mayes, Keith's Wife Janice Mayes, Grandson Kelvin Parnham and Grandaughter Audrey Waby

Relatives of William Frederick Parnham, from left Grandaughter Dorothy Mayes, Grandaughter In Law, Marion Ball, Great Grandson Keith Mayes, Keith's Wife Janice Mayes, Grandson Kelvin Parnham and Grandaughter Audrey Waby

However, they all set off from different angles and with varied knowledge because, being a father-of-eight, he had left a large number of relatives with families of their own.

Keith Meyes, aged 70, Pte Parnham’s great grandson, set up a Facebook group on the 100th anniversary of his death in August 2017 to find out more about his legacy.

There he was greeted by a message from Kelvin Parnham, Keith’s second-cousin and William’s grandson, who had information passed on from his father Arthur, William’s son.

Keith said: “I had seen some information about my great grandfather last year and that it was 100 years since his death, but I never knew much about him.

Kevin Mayes is pictured with a picture of his Great Grandfather

Kevin Mayes is pictured with a picture of his Great Grandfather

“This is when Kelvin posted a load of photographs about William in the Facebook group and we discovered there were more of us around here.

“I have only just met Kelvin even though we both live in this area. He is my mum Dorothy’s cousin, although I had never heard about him before now, and she had only heard of him by name.”

All the family knew individually is William married Mary Ball in 1902 after the birth of their first child, Frederick, on February 14 1901 - Keith’s grandfather.

William and Mary went on to have a further four sons and three daughters between 1903 and 16 - including Kelvin’s father Arthur.

Memorial Scroll of William Frederick Parnham

Memorial Scroll of William Frederick Parnham

However, each family member had individual medals and information about his life.

Kelvin too was intrigued by William’s life and, after reading about him in your Chad’s Armistice article on October 10, he brought forward information, medals and postcards he has collected from William’s time in the War.

This allowed him to reconcile with his cousins Dorothy Mayes and Audrey Waby, who both knew each other but had never met Kelvin.

Audrey, aged 83, William’s granddaugher, has fond memories of their grandmother Mary and is “ecstatic” to be united with Kelvin.

British War Medal of William Frederick Parnham

British War Medal of William Frederick Parnham

She said: “I have been lucky enough to visit my grandfather’s memorial in Ypres, and throughout the years I was told a lot about his life by my grandmother.

“Everyone knew her as Pol, rather than Mary, and boy, was she a character. She was ever so funny and I always remember having a great laugh with her.

“It is amazing that trying to find out more about my grandfather has brought us together, I just cannot believe we have all lived so close and yet not known each other.”

Pte Parnham enlisted into the Armed Forces in Mansfield and served with the 7th Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment in France.

He landed on April 24, 1915, and was killed in action on August 8, 1917, aged 38.