Who's behind greatwar.co.uk?

This website was created in 1998 by Joanna Legg (née Parker), Graham Parker and David Legg. We develop and maintain it in our own time and at our own expense.

Our Family in the Great War

Corporal Thomas H Parker, 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers, killed in action on the Somme battlefield on 6 November 1916.
Corporal Thomas Parker, 2nd Royal Welsh Fusiliers, killed in action on the Somme battlefield 6 November 1916.

27 members of our family — Parker-Degg (3), Hackett-Hodson (22) and Pipe-Legg (2) — served in the armed forces during the Great War of 1914-1918.

Of the 27 servicemen, 18 were first cousins from one generation of the Hackett family from south Staffordshire. Their grandfather was a Waterloo Man, who had survived a serious injury at Hougoumont Farm at the Battle of Waterloo, 18 June 1815 and lived to the age of 85, one of the oldest surviving Waterloo veterans. One hundred years later almost all of his grandsons were serving in the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Flying Corps/Royal Air Force and Canadian Army. Two of these Hackett families each had 5 serving sons, losing two of those sons in the war. Of the 18 Hackett boys 4 died of wounds or sickness including one who was a wounded Prisoner of War, 2 were killed in action and 4 were disharged with injury or lasting disability attributable to their war service.

Our deep interest in the Great War first began in July 1962 with a visit to an uncle's grave on the Somme battlefield, that of Corporal Thomas Parker, 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers. After the war the location of Thomas' remains had not been known and his name was inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. However, his remains were later identified in the 1930s and matched to the burial records of the Imperial War Graves Service for the grave of an unknown British soldier buried in London Cemetery and Extension, Longueval.

A need to find out what had happened to Thomas when he was killed in action led to a deeper interest in the study of the battles of the Great War. Living in Belgium and Germany in the 1980s and 1990s enabled our family to make frequent visits to the Western Front battlefields. By popular request we began to take groups on study visits to the Western Front. In 1988 we founded Flanders Tours, which we ran from 1988-2000.

We dedicate this website especially to the many members of our family who served in the Great War:

Remembering Our WW1 Ancestors

Joanna Legg

Joanna Legg
Joanna Legg

Joanna (née Parker) began visiting the Western Front when her family was posted to NATO HQ at Mons in 1978. She graduated with a B.A. Honours degree in German from the University of Warwick and worked at the Imperial War Museum in the mid 1980s.

In 1988 Joanna and her parents founded the battlefield tour company called Flanders Tours, which the family ran on weekends for 12 years until 2000. From 1995 Joanna began research into the German Army to portray the battles from “the other side of the wire”. She has presented the German side of the story at numerous branch meetings and seminars for The Western Front Association and on the battlefields of the Somme, Ypres, Loos, Vimy and the Vosges.

Joanna is responsible for compiling the content on this website, the photography, drawing the maps and compiling the Battle Study on the build up and first few hours of the Second Battle of Ypres.

Second Battle of Ypres

Joanna has been a member of The Western Front Association since 1988 and joined the Thames Valley Branch when she moved to Berkshire. For ten years she was a regular speaker at WFA branches and seminars. The subjects of her talks included:

The Western Front Association

Joanna is a member of the Last Post Association and has attended many Last Post ceremonies at the Menin Gate since her first visit there in 1979:

The Last Post Association

Helen Shariatmadari, Director of episode 3 My Family at War, Eamonn Holmes and Joanna.
Joanna and Eamonn with Helen Shariatmadari, director of episode 3, My Family at War

In July 2008 Joanna took part in the filming of episode 3 of the BBC production My Family at War. Eamonn Holmes was one of eight presenters who participated in the My Family at War BBC TV series, to find out the role his grandfather Jack had played in the Great War of 1914-1918. Joanna and Eamonn spent a fascinating few hours in the exact location on the Somme battlefield where Jack had spent the night before going into action with the Irish Guards on 15 September 1916.

Lieutenant Colonel Graham Parker, OBE, (Retired)

Lieutenant Colonel Graham Parker, OBE (Retired)
Lt Col Graham Parker OBE

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Graham Parker who passed peacefully after a short illness on 8th March 2022. Graham reached the grand old age of 89 and was married for 66 years. We will miss you dearly.

Graham's keen interest in the Great War began in the 1970s, whilst serving as a Lieutenant Colonel on the Staff at NATO Headquarters, Mons, Belgium.

Following on from his research into his uncle killed on the 1916 Somme battlefield, Graham was asked to organise and guide tours for the military history society at the NATO base. Initially his tours were organised for Service personnel and their families serving in Belgium and Germany. The demand for places on his tours grew by word of mouth and most weekends he was committed to taking a group to visit the Western Front. Since that time he has guided several hundred tours to the 1914-1918 battlefields of Flanders and France for the general public, school groups, Veterans' Associations, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the National Defence College, TA units and the regular British Army.

Between 1988-2000 Graham and his family ran Flanders Tours in their free time at weekends. This earned them a reputation for thorough research and innovative Battlefield Walks on the Western Front.

Armistice Day Ceremonies in Ieper / Ypres

Last Post at the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing, Ypres

Talbot House (Toc H) Poperinge

The Western Front Association

Monuments and Memorials on the Somme Battlefields

Graham served continuously with the British Army and Civil Service for 45 years, 17 of which were spent in Belgium. He was appointed OBE in 1979. Graham was a member of the Salisbury Rotary Club and a Paul Harris Fellow.

David Legg (Retired)

David Legg
David Legg

David has over 35 years' professional experience as a software engineer. He is responsible for the development of the greatwar.co.uk website.

Rembrella Ltd.

Rembrella Limited logo

Rembrella Ltd. was founded by the Parker family in 1998 with the launch of The Poppy Umbrella. The company was managed from 1998-2022 by Graham and Rona Parker and daughter Joanna Legg.

The Poppy Umbrella

The Poppy Umbrella

Graham launched The Poppy Umbrella on the Royal Hospital Stand at the 1998 Chelsea Flower Show. During that show the Royal Hospital Chelsea sold almost 2,000 Poppy Umbrellas, raising a significant amount for the Royal Hospital from these sales. The Poppy Umbrella was exclusively supplied to ex-Service charities, military heritage museums and organisations to help support them in their good work.

Contact Details

Contact: Joanna Legg or David Legg at