A SERVICE of thanksgiving was held at St John’s, Leytonstone, on Sunday, for the life of the Revd George Parry, an army chaplain who died on D-Day, aged 29.
Padre Parry, a former curate at the church, joined the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department in February 1941. After serving in West Africa for nearly two years, he was assigned to the recently created 7th Battalion of the Parachute Regiment. He parachuted into France on 6 June as part of the Normandy landings, and was killed in action at Bénouville, where he is buried.
The service took place 72 years almost to the day after Parry’s memorial service at St John’s, which was conducted by the first Bishop of Barking, James Inskip. His current successor, the Rt Revd Peter Hill, preached at the service, and prayers were led by the Archdeacon of Ham, the Ven. Elwin Cockett, and the Revd D. J. Barrett CF, Senior Chaplain of the 16th Air Assault Brigade.
Padre Parry’s story was told through a series of readings, one of which was read by his niece, Lt Col. Lizzy Bernthal. After the service, she said that she knew little of her uncle’s life and death, because her late father had been too distressed to talk about him.
“Padre Parry gave up his life for his friends,” Bishop Hill said in his sermon. “His is a poignant story. . . He died seeking to protect the soldiers he was called to minster to. An unarmed army chaplain did not need to put his life on the line, but he did.”
Padre Parry’s story came to light when a journalist, Jenni Crane, bought a suitcase bearing his initials in a junk shop in London, and tracked down his story. She is making a documentary for BBC Radio 4 which will be broadcast at the end of the year.