Sydney Ernest Parkes

(page updated 29/08/2016)

I am grateful to Jackie van Bergen of  Ku-ring-gai Historical Society,, for sending me information about Sydney Parkes.

First of all a very fine fine photograph of him. This came from Ancestry and credit to “pmacks1” – I’d be interested in getting in touch.

SE Parkes_thumb[2]


Secondly his conscription poem.

Parkes HE Conscription poem_thumb[1]

I am pleased to have found a picture of Sydney from RSL Virtual War Memorial. I am obliged, to Mark Tucker for directing me there. A photograph adds so much to the character. He looks like what I have thought of him – a tough professional soldier!


I have visited Gallipoli in October 2015, where one of my objectives was to visit Sydney’s final resting place – Shrapnel Valley, ANZAC. It is a peaceful setting just a short walk from the Cove with views up into the hills.

Shrapnel-Valley-Cem-SE-Parkes-Grave-20-10-15-9.jpg Shrapnel-Valley-Cem-SE-Parkes-Grave-20-10-15-8_thumb.jpg Shrapnel-Valley-Cem-SE-Parkes-Grave-20-10-15-3_thumb.jpg Shrapnel-Valley-Cem-SE-Parkes-Grave-20-10-15-2_thumb.jpg Shrapnel-Valley-Cem-SE-Parkes-Grave-20-10-15-13_thumb.jpg Shrapnel-Valley-Cem-SE-Parkes-Grave-20-10-15-5_thumb.jpg

Before all the papers lower down this page, I think this extract says the really important things about Sydney Ernest. The extract comes from;




There were three sergeants of the 6th Light Horse Regiment, who now are resting in little shallow graves in Gallipoli. Never again will they watch the sun go down in splendour into the Agean Sea. When we go marching into Berlin they will be with us — but only in spirit; and when the war is over and the boys from the bush ride home again, there will be three sergeants missing. But their names will be emblazoned on Australia’s roll of honour. And we of the Sixth won’t forget Sergeant Sid Parkes, Sergeant F. R. Tresilian, and Sergeant Fred Ellis.

Sid Parkes was small and slight, so small that he was almost rejected by the medical examiner. He had to show his South African record, and remind the doctor that giants were not wanted in the Light Horse, but light, active, wiry horse- men. So he just scraped through and went into camp. I remember him at Rosebery Park. Not much over five feet three, only about nine stone, but active and strong. He knew his mounted drill like a book, and he knew how to handle men; so he soon got his three stripes — and stuck to them. The men liked him. The officers appreciated him. We saw several other sergeants made and unmade, but Parkes of B Squadron was a fixture.
Already he had seen four years’ peace service, and eighteen months’ active service in South Africa with the New South Wales Mounted Rifles. So he brought the lessons of his previous experience to bear on his new job. On parade he did his duty well. Off duty he was a humorist, and as care-free as a schoolboy. On the transport he entered into all the fun going. In Egypt he played the game. Somehow, I always thought Parkes would come safely through the war. We joked together the night we first went into the trenches, never anticipating ill. Yet he was the first man of the regiment killed in the trenches. A sniper’s bullet came through a loophole and killed him on the spot.

Roll of Honour – Sidney Ernest Parkes

Service number: 188

Rank: Sergeant

Unit: 6th Australian Light Horse

Service: Australian Army

Conflict: 1914-1918

Date of death: 24 May 1915

Cause of death: Killed in action

Cemetery or memorial details: Shrapnel Valley Cemetery, Gallipoli, Turkey

War Grave Register notes: PARKES, Serjt. Sidney Ernest, 188. 6th Australian Light Horse. Killed in action 24th May, 1915. Age 36. Son of Ebenezer and Matilda Hozier Parkes. Native of England. II. D. 5.

Source: AWM145 Roll of Honour cards, 1914-1918 War, Army

You can view Sydney Ernest’s Roll of Honour Particulars below:

This is Sydney Ernest’s Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry File:

This is Sydney Ernest’s Service record:

Or view his Service Record online at:

Extract from the 6th ALI Regimental Diary on the day Sydney Ernest was killed:


The 6th ALI Regimental Diary for May 1915:

CWGC Casualty details:


Shrapnel Valley Cemetery:


PS – Ernest was my grandfather’s second name – Malcolm Ernest Hancock



3 thoughts on “Sydney Ernest Parkes

  1. Thanks for this posting and his brother Corporal Spencer Parkes was killed on the 13th October 1917, aged 40, whilst serving with the 54th Battalion, his memorial is on the Menin Gate Bay 27. He left a widow Alice Maud and three children, John Spencer, Alisa Ellen and Kathleen Audrey.

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