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Americans at War in Foreign Forces

                                          1914 -1945


Commonwealth Forces WW II: Sea

FromAmericans at War in Foreign Forces:

Among the 22 Americans who initially joined the Royal Navy through the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, A.H. Cherry was preceded by John Stanley Parker. In 1940, Parker was, like others who would precede their countrymen to war, alarmed at the potential he saw for Hitler’s designs on Europe. He was also a restless man who had grown up in the best schools, gone to Harvard, and enjoyed the country and yacht clubs of Boston and Bedford, though his family was not of exceeding wealth. He had served in the U.S. Navy in the previous war, but he was now 50 years old. The stock market crash of 1929 had set back his own business ambitions, and reduced him to a job he hated as a “customers man” in a Boston brokerage house. An attempt to rejoin the Navy at the Charleston Navy Yard was rebuffed, and Parker continued on north. His son Frank had preceded him into Commonwealth service by joining the Canadian Black Watch in October 1940, but the elder Parker was turned away from that group. Then he heard that the Royal Navy was in search of experienced yachtsmen to serve as naval officers. Back in Boston, he was referred to the British Consul in Washington. There, he was met with bureaucratic indifference and traveled to Halifax to meet with Vice Admiral Bonham-Carter. In another indication of the confusion between different sources with different agendas about the legality of such enlistments, Parker carried with him a personal letter from Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles, which said that Americans would not lose their citizenship in such cases as long as they enlisted outside of American borders, but were liable to be punished if they then went into a war zone. Parker’s efforts remained frustrated. What followed was a months’ long dance between himself and various British consular officers in America who seemed only to respond to Parker and similar others in patronizing ways; a sense in Whitehall, London that it would be desirable to have such Americans in the fold; and the real-world need by Bonham Carter for good men, nationality and age, evidently, be damned. The Vice Admiral won the day and, on June 7, 1941, Parker was commissioned as a (Temporary) Lieutenant in the RNVR. It seemed not to be noticed that this by now very well known man gave his age as forty years. With two confederates, he was one of the first three World War II Americans to enter the Royal Naval College at Greenwich, London.

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