Samuel Parkes V.C. - Tamworth’s Forgotten Hero.
Private Samuel Parkes won his VC in The Legendary Charge of The Light Brigade in 1854. He was the first Private Soldier in The British Army to receive this award which was presented to him in person by Queen Victoria on 26th June 1857. He died in 1864 and was buried in an unmarked grave in London and remained in that grave, lost to his home town and village, and also to the country until 1999 when his grave was discovered by his great-great-great Nephew Peter Elkin. Peter arranged to have a memorial stone laid on his grave. Samuel Parkes VC was found, but until then he truly was "Tamworth’s Forgotten Hero"
This is the title of a book, written by Peter, commemorating the life of Samuel Parkes VC.
The Victoria Cross was instituted by Royal Warrant on January 29th 1856 and first presented by Queen Victoria in London’s Hyde Park on June 26th 1857. Since then, it has been presented only 1,355 times. The Victoria Cross is the highest award for gallantry and bravery that can be bestowed on a member of the British and Commonwealth forces.
Tamworth’s Forgotten Hero’, is the true story of Private Samuel Parkes VC. He was the first private soldier in the British Army to receive the Victoria Cross, the highest military award for bravery in the British Commonwealth and United Kingdom. He died in 1864, was laid in an unmarked pauper’s grave in the Brompton Cemetery, South West London. His whereabouts were unknown and one of the bravest men who had ever lived was allowed to slip into obscurity. Tragically, In Tamworth the town where he was baptised and Wigginton, just outside Tamworth, the village of his birth, he was not merely forgotten, but scarcely even known about. He has no memorial and records were scarce. To the average Tamworth and Wigginton person, Samuel Parkes VC, the first private soldier in the British Army to win this award was not only lost to both the town and village, he may as well never have existed. In February 1999 I discovered where my ancestor, Samuel Parkes VC was buried and In May 1999 I laid a memorial stone on his Grave in Brompton Cemetery, South West London.
A memorial brass plaque was dedicated to him on October 24th 2004, in St. Editha’s Parish Church Tamworth, where he was baptised in 1815.
In 2011 it is proposed to erect and dedicate a monument, which will take the form of an 8ft Obelisk in Wigginton, the place of his birth.
This will be the ultimate memorial, provided and paid for by the villagers of Wigginton and will be known as the Samuel Parkes VC Wigginton War Memorial. As well as honouring their favourite son it will also honour the Wigginton servicemen and women who have lost their lives in service to their country
In a spiritual sense, I brought Samuel home to Tamworth and Wigginton 147 years after his death. I have writen my book, ‘Tamworth’s Forgotten Hero’. It is a Poignant book, touching at times, alarming at others, sometimes even slightly amusing, but at all times most readable. It details Samuel’s life, the story about his deed and the citation as listed, the story about the quest for his grave, my mission to present day Crimea and my own walk through the ‘Valley of Death’. I have Samuel’s actual words describing the event and much more.