The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Hugh Love Parker

PARKER, Hugh Love

Hugh Love Parker was born in Crown Street, in the Gorbals area of Glasgow, on the 16th of December 1886 to James Parker and Eliza Love. James was a Blacksmith, an ‘Engineer’s Blacksmith’ in the 1901 census. Hugh had a brother James, and at least three half-siblings from his mother’s earlier marriage. In 1901, aged fourteen, Hugh was an ‘Office Boy’.

In the 1911 census he was found as a Lance Corporal with the 11th Hussars at Lydd in Kent, on the Romney Marshes. He subsequently worked for a tobacco company in Egypt, and he married Helen (Nelly) Walker in Alexandria, probably in 1916. They were back in England in 1917 where a daughter Elizabeth was born, and where Hugh enlisted with the Cameron Highlanders. He fought in France but in late 1917 he was brought back to England and admitted to the Queen Alexandra’s Military Hospital, Millbank in London. Here he was treated for neurasthenia, then the common diagnosis for shellshock, and discharged in April 1918.

In June Hugh Parker was appointed to the position of Adjutant on RMS Leinster, and was responsible to Captain Birch for all the military personnel on board. He survived the sinking of the 10th of October and wrote a report of the event the following day. Under instructions from the Captain he had fetched the weighted books to be put overboard, organised the release of the life rafts and spoken to the passengers on the saloon deck, urging them to stay calm. After the second torpedo had hit the ship he managed to get into the last lifeboat that got away safely. As that boat was overcrowded he dived back into the water and swam to a life raft. There he helped to pull a passenger, Maud Marsham Rae, on to the raft and hold her there, along with six other persons. After about two hours they were rescued by a destroyer and taken to Kingstown.

After the event Hugh Parker received a medal from the Royal Humane Society for his brave actions. In the King’s Birthday Honours the following June he received an MBE for his services during the war. He went on to have a successful career as a ‘Cotton Expert’, travelling frequently between Egypt, England, the United States and Canada. He and Nellie had a son Ronald, born in 1921, who died in 1940 while serving with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve. Hugh died in Surrey in 1960 at the age of seventy-three, leaving over £10,000 to his widow.


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