Sergeant Joseph C. PICKFORD


Regiment/Service:
Sherwood Foresters
(Notts and Derby Regiment)
Unit:
10th Battalion ('A' Company)
Service Number:
240329
(Fmly: Private 1933 1/6th Battalion)
Date of Death:
12 October 1918 - Killed in Action
Age:
26
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
II. A. 2.


Personal History:

Joseph was born in the June quarter 1892 at Longnor, Staffordshire, the eldest son of William (Quarryman) and Annie Pickford, of Sterndale Moor, Earl Sterndale, Buxton. He had three younger siblings, William, Annie and Herbert (1901 Census RG 13/2627).

In 1911 (Census RG14/16658) he was employed as a "Domestic Servant" at Moss Carr, Hollinsclough, Earl Sterndale, Buxton and the family had moved to Sternale Moor. (Census RG14/21239).
At the time of his enlistment in 1914 Joseph was employed by the London and North-western Railway Company (LNWR) at Hindlow, Buxton. In the March quarter 1917 he married Sarah Elizabeth Gould and they lived at Town End, Chelmorton, Buxton. They had one child.

Military History:
Joseph enlisted at Buxton with the "Terriers" (1/6 Sherwood Foresters) at the outbreak of War and his Medal Index Card shows he entered France on 26th February 1915. The Battalion had been formed in Chesterfield at the outbreak of War, part of Notts. & Derby Brigade in the North Midland Division. On mobilisation it moved to Harpenden and went on in November 1914 to Braintree.

King George V inspected the Division on 19 February 1915 before, soon after midnight on the 24th February, the Battalion marched to Braintree Station having been posted to France, leaving Southampton on the 25th February 1915, landing at Le Havre the following day. The North Midland was the first Territorial Force Division to arrive complete in a theatre of war.

The first months were spent in the Ypres salient. He served for three years until 10th December 1917 when he received a gunshot wound to his thigh.

He remained in England almost until the end of the War, before returning to France and transferring to the 10th Battalion. He was regarded as one of the finest shots in the Division, and whilst a recruit with the "Terriers" won a cup for shooting. The Battalion History records Joseph's death as taking place ".. when moving towards Inchy, France".

In reporting his death, 'The Buxton Advertiser" (16th November 1918) reprinted in some detail a letter from 2/Lieutenant John William Pilling to Joseph's wife, Sarah, which said, in part:

".... Whilst assisting me in placing the platoon in position in the front line he was shot by a sniper and died a few minutes later in the aid post. The whole platoon feels his loss very greatly, for his admirable qualities were appreciated by all. He was absolutely fearless and a tower of strength to his men. It is such men as Sergeant Pickford that have caused NCOs to be called the backbone of the British Army. He is buried with other fallen comrades at N---------, which we have just reached after driving back the Hun several miles in three days." The letter closed with his deepest sympathies and enclosed "one or two articles handed to me at the aid post".

Joseph is buried in Montay-Neuvilly Road Cemetery, but the letter above states he was originally buried at a place beginning with "N" (censored from original). This was probably Neuvilly British Cemetery (No.1), a little South-East of the village, made by the 17th Division which contained the graves of 22 soldiers who fell on the 12th October 1918. These were later re-buried, after the Armistice, at their present location.

Sources:
· The Buxton Advertiser, 16 November 1918
· "History of the 10th Battalion: Sherwood Foresters 1914-1918" Clifford Housley (ISBN-10: 0952964821) - Miliquest Publications (Oct 1998)
· I am grateful to Martin McNeela for additional information about the 10th Battalion.
· I am also grateful to "British War Graves" for the photo of Joseph's grave

Commemorated on:
Link to CWGC Record
Joseph Pickford's grave
Sgt. Joseph Pickford
poppy