The first American volunteer to be killed in action in the history of the Royal Navy.
American John Stanley Parker, Lieutenant, Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve
Killed in Action in the North Atlantic on 18 October 1941
(Photo courtesy of Mr Eric Dietrich-Berryman)
While a little known fact, twenty-two American men made their way to Great Britain prior to American entrance into the war and joined the Royal Navy. After minimal training, they were commissioned as officers in the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. Several of these men served as pilots in the Fleet Air Arm but most served at sea. Out of the 22 men, two were killed in action.
On 18 October 1941, the first to die of the American volunteers commissioned into the RNVR was John Parker. According to the excellent book, “Passport Not Required” by E. Dietrich-Berryman, Charlotte Hammond and R.E. White, USNI Press 2010, Parker became the first American volunteer to be killed in action in the history of the Royal Navy.
Violet and John Stanley Parker in Halifax in 1941–just before he shipped out with the Royal Navy
(Photo courtesy of Diantha Parker)
Parker was on duty as Officer of the Watch aboard HMS Broadwater when she was struck by torpedoes fired from German U-Boat 101. The torpedoes blew off the entire part of the ship from just abaft the bridge. Parker was one of the dozens of men who were killed.
Ironically, John Parker was serving on one of the fifty out-dated and surplus US Navy destroyers the USA had sold to the British. His particular ship had been re-christened HMS Broadwater. All of these ships were designated “Town Class” destroyers and named for towns with common names in the UK and USA.
He was a brave man who knew how much danger he was in but he was determined to join the British in their fight against the bestial madman, Adolf Hitler.
Lest We Forget
John Stanley Parker, Lieutenant, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Killed In Action 18 October 1941
A radio interview by John Hockenberry with one of the authors of “Passport Not Required” can be found here: