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
20 members of our immediate and extended family — Parker-Degg, Hackett-Hodson, and Pipe-Legg — served in the armed forces during the Great War of 1914-1918. Eleven young men in the Hackett family served in the British Army, four of whom are buried in France.
Our deep interest in the Great War 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.
Originally Thomas' family had received notification that Tom was missing in action in November 1916. Tom's name was inscribed on the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing. However, his body was found during the 1930s and he was buried in London Cemetery and Extension, Longueval.
A need to find out what had happened to Tom 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 us 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 members of our family who served in the Great War:
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.
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 German Defence at Loos, 25 September 1915”
- “The German Defence on 1 July 1916 Battle of the Somme”
- “German Preparations for the 1918 Spring Offensive”
- “The Development and Trial of Airborne Gas by the German 4th Army in April 1915”
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:
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.
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.
- Graham advised on the Ypres Special Events Committee for several years during the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1991 he introduced The Poppy Parade and the dropping of poppy petals from the roof of the Menin Gate Memorial to the Missing at the annual Armistice Day commemorative service. Since then the Poppy Parade has been an integral feature of the Armistice Day ceremonies in Ieper.
- Graham arranged the purchase and presentation of six new bugles from the Royal Corps of Transport to the Last Post Committee to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the Menin Gate in July 1992.
- Graham is an honorary member of The Friends of Talbot House (TOC H), with whom he has been closely associated for many years, assisting as a volunteer with the renovation of the house and garden in the mid 1980s.
- He is a long-standing member of The Western Front Association and served on the National Committee for five years. In April 2008 Graham was appointed a Vice-President of The Western Front Association.
- Graham has been involved with the inspiration, organisation and renovation of numerous memorials on the Western Front, including the 38th Welsh Division Dragon at Mametz Wood, the Devonshire Regiment Memorial at Mansell Copse, the Marsden Smedley Memorial and the Butte de Warlencourt.
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. He is an honorary badged member of The Guild of Battlefield Guides. Graham is a member of the Salisbury Rotary Club and a Paul Harris Fellow.
For information about the Guild of Battlefield Guides see the website at:
David has over 25 years' professional experience as a software engineer. He is responsible for the development of the greatwar.co.uk and rembrella.co.uk websites.
Rembrella Ltd. was founded by the Parker family in 1998 with the launch of The Poppy Umbrella. The company is managed by Graham and Rona Parker and daughter Joanna Legg.
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. Rembrella exclusively supplies The Poppy Umbrella to ex-Service charities, military heritage museums and organisations dedicated to Remembrance to help support their good work.
For more information about this unique umbrella and how the idea came to Graham on a wet Armistice Day in Ypres visit our Rembrella website at:
Website: www.rembrella.co.uk The Poppy Umbrella & Fundraising
Contact: Joanna Legg, Graham Parker or David Legg at