Mrs Pat Fazey visited the museum recently. She is originally from Yorkshire but has lived in Newent, North Gloucestershire for the past 17 years. We helped Pat research Private Pickering who was probably a distant cousin several times removed.
John Mason Pickering was born in the third quarter of 1877. By the time of the 1881 census he is 3 years of age and living with his parents John and Ann in the hamlet of Newbridge in Pickering. His father is a quarry labourer and he has 4 sisters, Rachel, Mary, Elizabeth and Grace.
In the 1881 census he is aged 14 and working as a “farm Servant at Brook farm in the Pickering area. The farm is run by the Banks family.
In 1904 (January to March) there is a record of marriage to an Edith Emily Cruce in the Eccleshall Bierlow district of Sheffield.
In the 1911 census John and Edith are residing at West Thorpe, Hoylandswaine near Pennistone. Aged 34 he is still working as a farm labourer. The couple have two daughters, Hilda Pearl aged 6 and Ruby Annabelle aged 1 and before 1914 they have son John.
Before enlisting in 1914 John Mason is working as a quarry labourer. He disembarks, with the 2nd battalion, in France in December 1914.
He is killed in action at Neuve Chapelle on the 12th of March 1915 and is buried in the Cabaret-rouge British cemetery Souchez. He was awarded the Victory and British War medals along with the 1914 Star.
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Erasmus Darwin was born on the 7th December 1881 in Cambridge and lived at ‘The Orchard’. He was the only son of Horace Darwin FRS (Fellow of the Royal Society) who was Chairman of the Cambridge Scientific Society. He was also the grandson of the famous naturalist Charles Darwin. Erasmus was educated at Horris Hill School near Newbury and at Marlborough. He then went on to Trinity College, Cambridge University to study Mathematics. On leaving Cambridge he worked at Mather and Platts in Manchester, a hydraulics and pump engineering company. He then moved on to work for Bolckow, Vaughn & Co Ltd Iron and Steel in Middlesbrough, whereby, at the outbreak of the war he was Secretary of the Company. He lived at the time at Saltburn on the north east Yorkshire coast. As soon as war broke out he joined up and was gazetted on the 12th September 1914 as a 2nd Lieutenant the 4th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. Apparently just before he left England he was summoned to the War Office and offered a Staff appointment at home in connection to munitions work. Though the work was important he opted to stay with his unit making the case that there were plenty of older men equally qualified for the work. The 4th Battalion arrived in France on the 18th April 1915 and were straight away into the 2nd Ypres offensive which started on the 22nd April. The Battalion was involved in the Battle of St Julien in the heart…
Philip Mayne was the last surviving British officer from World War One to die. He died at the age of 107 years and 139 days at a care hostel in Richmond, North Yorkshire in 2007. Philip’s war service was was brief and he never saw any action. However he was the last verteran to die who held the rank of officer. This happened thanks to a cadetship into the Royal Engineers which meant he was fast-tracked to second lieutenant — the lowest officer rank — in September 1918 at the age of just 18. The war ended six weeks later and he was demobilised on Christmas Eve 1918 without having set foot in France. Following the war he studied at Cambridge and became an engineer. With a birth date of 22 November 1899, Mr Mayne was alive in the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. At his death he had three children, eight grandchildren and twenty-one great-grandchildren.
Diane Hawthorne sent in a request for us to look into her grandfather’s First World War service – this is what we managed to discover. Gosnay William Riley attested on 10th December 1915 into the 11th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment at Brighouse and was assigned the regimental number 27654. The 11th was a Home Service Battalion dealing with Drafts and Reinforcements. In September 1916 the 11th amalgamated with the 16th Durham Light Infantry as a Training Battalion thereby losing its distinct identity. At some time prior to this Gosnay transferred to the 10th Battalion Yorkshire Regiment. He had been promoted to the rank of Corporal. Sometime thereafter he transferred to the 9th York and Lancaster Regiment. His Regimental number was 34441. On the 3rd March 1919 he became a reservist in the British Army with many thousands of others.