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Edwin Schofield Pickard

Sapper Edwin S. Pickard, 145655, Royal Engineers, 79th Field Company

Edwin Schofield Pickard was born in Birstall on the 13th September 1886 and baptised at St. Peter’s Church Birstall on the 6th October 1886. He was the second child and eldest son of Frank Simpson Pickard and his wife, Mary Elizabeth (nee Schofield), who married in early 1883. The couple had six children, the four eldest being born in Birstall and the youngest two born in Appleby Bridge.

In 1891 the family were living in Shipley, where Frank Pickard was employed as a draper, but by 1901, Bradford-born Frank, wife Mary and their six children were living in Horbury where he worked as a woollen cloth miller. Edwin Pickard, then aged 14, was a football stitcher for a local athletic goods manufacturer. By 1911 Edwin was still living in Horbury but he was now boarding at the home of his married sister at Ring O’ Bells Yard, and still working as a football stitcher. Two of his sisters, Laura and June, aged 22 years and 19 years, were also living in the same house as boarders.

At the age of 29 years and 2 months, Edwin Schofield Pickard of 8, Albert Street, Ossett enlisted at Ossett on the 7th December 1915 and joined the Royal Engineers, 79th Field Company with service number 145655. He was 5’ 3” tall with a 31” chest measurement. His father Frank was named as his next-of-kin. Edwin Pickard was posted to army reserve until the 8th December 1915, mobilised on the 1st March 1916 and then posted to the Royal Engineer’s Army Ordnance Depot at Chatham, Kent as a harness maker. He embarked for France on the 22nd August 1916.

Sapper Edwin Pickard was killed on the 22nd October 1917 and his mother subsequently received an allotment of his pay to the value of 7/- which was the army pay due to Edwin at the time of his death. In 1917, the army returned Edwin’s surviving effects to his father at Albert Street, Ossett. They comprised letters in a case, wallet, religious book, disc, and ring. Edwin Schofield Pickard was posthumously awarded the British and Victory medals.

The 79th Field Company, Royal Engineers served with 18th (Eastern) Division. The 18th (Eastern) Division was established in September 1914, as part of Kitchener's Second New Army. The Division initially concentrated in the Colchester area but moved to Salisbury Plain in May 1915. They proceeded to France in July and concentrated near Flesselles. In 1916 they were in action on The Somme in The Battle of Albert capturing their objectives near Montauban, The Battle of Bazentin Ridge including the capture of Trones Wood, The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Thiepval Ridge, The Battle of the Ancre Heights playing a part in the capture of the Schwaben Redoubt and Regina Trench and The Battle of the Ancre.

In 1917 they took part in the Operations on the Ancre including Miraumont and the capture of Irles, the fought during The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line and in The Third Battle of the Scarpe before moving to Flanders. They were in action in The Battle of Pilkem Ridge, The Battle of Langemarck and The First and Second Battle of Passchendaele.

Sapper Edwin S. Pickard was killed in action in the build up to the Second Battle of Passchendaele, which took place between the 26th October and the 10th November 1917.

Chateau Wood, Ypres in late 1917

Above: Soldiers of an Australian 4th Division field artillery brigade on a duckboard track passing through Chateau Wood, near Hooge in the Ypres salient, 29 October 1917. The men belong to a battery of the 10th Field Artillery Brigade.

Sapper Edwin Schofield Pickard, aged 30 years, son of Frank S. and Mary Elizabeth Pickard, of 8, Albert Street, South Ossett, died on the 22nd October 1917. He is remembered on Panel 1 of the Ploegsteert Memorial,1 Comines-Warneton, Hainaut, Belgium. The Ploegsteert Memorial stands in Berks Cemetery Extension, which is located 12.5 Kms south of Ieper town centre, on the N365 leading from Ieper to Mesen (Messines), Ploegsteert and on to Armentieres.

The Ploegsteert Memorial commemorates more than 11,000 servicemen of the United Kingdom and South African forces who died in this sector during the First World War and have no known grave. The memorial serves the area from the line Caestre-Dranoutre-Warneton to the north, to Haverskerque-Estaires-Fournes to the south, including the towns of Hazebrouck, Merville, Bailleul and Armentieres, the Forest of Nieppe, and Ploegsteert Wood. The original intention had been to erect the memorial in Lille.

Most of those commemorated by the memorial did not die in major offensives, such as those which took place around Ypres to the north, or Loos to the south. Most were killed in the course of the day-to-day trench warfare which characterised this part of the line, or in small scale set engagements, usually carried out in support of the major attacks taking place elsewhere. It does not include the names of officers and men of Canadian or Indian regiments (they are found on the Memorials at Vimy and Neuve-Chapelle) and those lost at the Battle of Aubers Ridge, 9 May 1915, who were involved in the Southern Pincer (the 1st, 2nd, Meerut and 47th Divisions - they are commemorated on the Le Touret Memorial).

Berks Cemetery Extension, in which the memorial stands, was begun in June 1916 and used continuously until September 1917. At the Armistice, the extension comprised Plot I only, but Plots II and III were added in 1930 when graves were brought in from Rosenberg Chateau Military Cemetery and Extension, about 1 Km to the north-west, when it was established that these sites could not be acquired in perpetuity. Rosenberg Chateau Military Cemetery was used by fighting units from November 1914 to August 1916. The extension was begun in May 1916 and used until March 1918. Together, the Rosenberg Chateau cemetery and extension were sometimes referred to as 'Red Lodge'.

Berks Cemetery Extension now contains 876 First World War burials.

Hyde Park Corner (Royal Berks) Cemetery is separated from Berks Cemetery Extension by a road. It was begun in April 1915 by the 1st/4th Royal Berkshire Regiment and was used at intervals until November 1917. Hyde Park Corner was a road junction to the north of Ploegsteert Wood. Hill 63 was to the north-west and nearby were the 'Catacombs', deep shelters capable of holding two battalions, which were used from November 1916 onwards.

The cemetery contains 83 Commonwealth burials of the First World War and four German war graves


1. Commonwealth War Graves Commission web site