George William Pickering, Private 290091, 1/7th Battn, Cheshire Regt
Died 31st October 1917 as a prisoner of war in Turkey, aged 22
Son of Mr. G. Pickering, of 8 Smyth St, Macclesfield.
More information will be added here when research is complete.
George joined the local 7th Cheshire (Territorial) Regiment prior to the outbreak of the war, with service number 1388. He was mobilised in August 1914 and later transferred to another battalion of the Cheshire Regiment and drafted to France on 4 May 1915. At some point he was allocated the service number 290091.
George was stated to be missing in the Macclesfield Times on 18 May 1917:
HURDSFIELD SOLDIER MISSING
Mr and Mrs Pickering, 8 Smyth St, Hurdsfield, have received official intimation that their son, Private George William Pickering, who had previously been reported wounded at the battle of Gaza on March 26th, is now posted as wounded and missing. It is possible that he became detached from his unit and is now a prisoner in the hands of the enemy.
Private Pickering has seen a good deal of fighting. Twenty-one years of age, and a native of Hurdsfield, he received his education at the Daybrook Street School, and before joining the Territorials, prior to the outbreak of war, was connected with the Hurdsfield Boy Scouts and Boys’ Brigade. He attended the Church and Sunday School and was also associated with the Mill Street Mission. In civil life he was a fireman on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway and was in lodgings at Newton Heath, coming home to his parents at the weekends.
Private Pickering was mobilised with the local Territorials in August 1914, and subsequently transferred to another battalion of the Cheshire Regt for service in France. After being at the front for two months he was shot above the left eye and recovered from the injury in a French hospital. Sent back to the trenches, he was again unfortunate, scalding his foot while in the cook-house. He came over to England for hospital treatment at Bristol, and upon recovering had ten days’ leave of absence. He reported at Oswestry, where he remained until October 1916, when he rejoined his old battalion in Egypt.
The following week, the newspaper stated that he had sent a postcard to his parents telling them that he was a prisoner of war:
A PRISONER OF WAR
Pleasing information reached Mr and Mrs Pickering, 8 Smyth St, Hurdsfield, during the weekend, when they had a postcard from their son, Private George William Pickering, Cheshire Regt, stating that he was a prisoner of war in Jerusalem. He had previously been officially reported wounded and missing after the Gaza battle on March 26th, and his parents had heard nothing from him. On the card, which was dated April 2nd and arrived at Macclesfield on May 18th, Private Pickering says he is in hospital at Jerusalem, where he is being well cared for. He has been wounded in both legs and is making favourable progress… A younger brother, Private Anson Pickering, is now in training at Kinmel Park.
The circumstances of George’s death are not known; he was later assumed to have died between 1st and 31st October 1917. He was originally buried in Nigde Cemetery, Turkey, and his body was later exhumed and laid to rest in Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery, Iraq.
Private George Pickering is buried in Grave Ref. XXI. V. 29. of the Baghdad (North Gate) War Cemetery in Iraq. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission holds casualty details for Private George Pickering, and he is listed on the Imperial War Museum’s Lives of the First World War website.
The floral tributes laid when the Macclesfield Park Green War Memorial was unveiled on 21st September 1921 included one with the words “From Ethel Sheldon, in grateful memory of the following boys of the Cheshire Regiment, who died in captivity: R. Broadhurst, F. Cliffe, G. Lockett, and G. Pickering.” Ethel Sheldon, of Glen Bank, Macclesfield, was the secretary of the Macclesfield Branch of the Cheshire Regiment Prisoners of War Aid Association and arranged for fortnightly food parcels to be sent to the prisoners of war.
In Manchester, Private Pickering is commemorated on the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway war memorial at Victoria Station (Hunts Bank entrance). He is also named in the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Roll of Honour for 1919.
Brother of Anson Pickering, who survived the war but died in 1922. Both George and Anson are remembered on a family memorial in Macclesfield Cemetery, grave ref. I 6751.
WWI British Army Registers of Soldiers’ Effects (Ancestry)
WWI British Army Medal Rolls Index Cards (Ancestry)
Commonwealth War Graves Commission website
Lives of the First World War website
The Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Society website
Cheshire Regiment Prisoners of War Aid Association (Macclesfield Branch) Memorial Scroll, Cheshire Regiment Museum, Chester Castle
Macclesfield Times: 18 and 25 May 1917