Squadron Sergeant Major William John Parkes (2717391) served in No. 3 Squadron, 2nd Battalion Irish Guards during the Second World War. Born in 1911, he was the son of Joseph Parkes and Esther W. Parkes of Belfast.
He died on 17th September 1944 aged 33 years old during 2nd Battalion’ push on to Valkenswaard, Netherlands as part of Operation Market Garden. His M4A4 Sherman Mark V came under fire on the main road, which became known as “Hell’s Highway”.
Parkes died trying to escape the turret of his stricken tank. Sergeant Carpenter of No. 5 Army Film and Photographic Unit photographed the Squadron Sergeant Major’s body slumped in the turret. Later in the day, William’s brother passed down the same road with 3rd Battalion Irish Guards past his brother’s body.
William John Parkes’ grave is in Section II, Row B, Grave 8 of Valkenswaard War Cemetery, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands. His name in on a family memorial in Belfast City Cemetery, Belfast. His headstone in the Netherlands bears the inscription:
At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.