|Biographical Note||Captain John Scott Parker OBE was the Chief Horticultural Officer of the Imperial War Graves Commission in France and Belgium from 1918 to 1935.|
John Scott Parker was born on 15 December 1872 in Watford, Hertfordshire. He was a fruit grower before the First World War and carried the title of Gentleman. He married Beatrice Elinor Wyndham on 19 August 1869 and they had four children.
During the First World War, Parker was commissioned as a Captain in the Directorate of Graves Registration & Enquiries in France, having being one of those debarred by age and other reasons from taking part in a combat role. The Commission’s horticultural work commenced in 1916 with the sowing of annuals and grass initially but by the autumn, it was decided some permanent planting in suitable cemeteries was required. Parker succeeded Mr Arthur C. Blunt as Chief Horticultural Officer on 7 September 1918, on the recommendation of Mr G.H. Woolaston and with a reference from Captain Arthur W. Hill of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew.
Captain Parker established four large nurseries for the propagation of plants and shrubs needed in France and Flanders and it was under his responsibility that desolate cemeteries covered with untidy heaps of sterile soil, exposures of hare chalk and areas of blown sand were transformed into fertile and flourishing places of peace and remembrance. In addition, Parker also had to revitalise cemeteries and nurseries damaged or destroyed through the course of the war. He later worked in cemeteries in Italy and in those of Gallipoli, Greece and the Middle East. In June 1924, he was awarded an Order of the British Empire for his work with the Commission. Parker retired from the Commission on 31 January 1935.
Captain John Scott Parker died in Bristol on 11 February 1938, aged 65. His funeral was held at Bitton Church, Gloucestershire, on 15 February 1938. Colonel Henry Chettle represented the Commission at the service and four Commission gardeners (Mr Prince, Mr Cassin, Mr Roberts and Mr Peach) carried the coffin. Captain Parker was buried in the east end of the churchyard.
In November 1938, Parker’s son, Charles Guy Wyndham Parker, requested Sir Reginald Blomfield design a memorial for Captain Parker, similar to the Cross of Sacrifice but Blomfield refused. Instead, a memorial tablet designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens was placed in Bitton Church in honour of Captain Parker.