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14788036 Works Sergeant
Royal Engineers

Lieutenant Colonel Edward De Santis
2001. All Rights Reserved

The following information is taken primarily from Sergeant Parnell’s Soldier’s Release Book, Class "A" (Army Book X 801) and the History of the Corps of Royal Engineers, Volume X, 1948-1960.

James Parnell was born on the 22nd of May 1925. He was only 14 years of age when World War 2 started, but he was called up for military service in the Royal Engineers on the 29th of June 1944 at the age of 19. Parnell was a Motor Driver in civilian life when he enlisted in the Army. After entering the service he passed the trade tests for Driver First Class, Class I and IA. On the 25th of September 1944 he passed the Heavy Goods driving test. He was posted to the 653rd Road Construction Squadron, R.E. in November of 1944 and served with that unit until his discharge in 1947.

Following the war, the 653rd Road Construction Squadron was assigned to the British Forces in Palestine where the squadron came under the control of Brigadier R.H. Perry, CBE, MC, Chief Engineer Palestine and Transjordan. The squadron was one of five units of engineer specialists troops deployed on construction tasks in the area. The other units were the 344th, 796th and 887th Electrical and Mechanical Companies, R.E. and the 659th Artisan Works Company, R.E.

On the 26th of September 1947, Sergeant Parnell’s commanding officer wrote this about him on his Release Leave Certificate (Army Form X 202/A):

Sgt Parnell has served with this unit since Nov 1944 during which time he has been employed as MT Sgt and was most efficient both in the office and workshop and a good organiser. He drives all types of vehicles up to 10T Mack tractors and is an excellent driver. He is also a good fitter. I do not hesitate to recognise him for position in a reputable transport organisation.

Sergeant Parnell left Palestine as his enlistment neared an end and disembarked in the United Kingdom on the 9th of October 1947. He proceeded immediately to the Military Dispersal Unit in York, arriving there on the 10th of October, where he was given 55 days of release leave. Sergeant Parnell was discharged from the Army on the 5th of December 1947.

In addition to campaign medals for World War 2, Sergeant Parnell would have been entitled to the General Service Medal 1918 with clasp [Palestine 1945-48].