Chester James Parker was born in Charters Towers, Queensland, Australia. His father was James Athol Parker [1875-1954] and his mother was Margaret Ann nee Brennan [1894-1974]. They had eight sons and two daughters. Chester James was their second son.

He passed the Junior and Senior Public Examinations from the Townsville Grammar School where he had a brilliant scholastic career and was enrolled as an undergraduate member of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Queensland in March 1935. He was selected as the Queensland Rhodes  Scholar for 1938.     

A local press report, at the time, said “He intends to take the Law course when his English honors course is finished and will read at Oxford for the Bachelor of Arts in the Honors School for Jurisprudence. He will proceed to the degree of Bachelor of Civil Law. At the end of three years he will be admitted to the English bar and will return to practice in Queensland.“    

At the outbreak of the war, he joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and was serving as a Lieutenant on HM Submarine Thorn on 6 August 1942 when she was sunk whilst attacking a convoy about 30 nautical miles south-west of Gavdos Island in position 34º25'N, 22º36'E.

At 1230 hours an escorting aircraft was seen to machine-gun the surface of the sea and the Italian torpedo boat Pegaso moved in to investigate. Four minutes after the aircraft attack, Pegaso picked up a contact and carried out seven attacks after which contact was lost. This attack most likely resulted in the loss of HMS Thorn. HMS Thorn was declared overdue on 11 August 1942.

He is commemorated on the Portsmouth Naval Memorial.