Military Service Timeline
Today we remember Bourne man Corporal Harold Pick who died on this day 21st March 1918 whilst serving with the 1st battalion Lincolnshire Regiment.
Harold was born on the 14th June 1890 in Bourne Workhouse to Eliza Pick, a domestic servant of Laughton (nr Folkingham) Lincolnshire. The birth was Resisted by Eliza who made her mark X and gave her occupation as a worker at the Union Workhouse in Bourne on the 28th June 1890. There was no father listed on the birth register.
On the 1891 census Eliza and Harold were living with Eliza’s parents in Laughton, In a four room house next door to the manor house. Harold’s Grandfather, Stephen Pick (b 1829), was working as an agricultural labourer, also in the house was his Grandmother Eliza (b 1831), Mother Eliza (b 1864) and uncle John (b 1872). Mother Eliza was listed as a Domestic servant.
Stephen and Eliza had a large family with Eliza being one of 10 children born between 1852 and 1872.
We move on 10 years to 1901 and on census night Eliza is now a pauper and back in the Union Workhouse in Bourne. She is listed as a General Servant Domestic and also in the workhouse we find 11 year old Harold and also Eliza’s brother John aged 29 and listed as an ordinary agricultural labourer.
On further research we find that Eliza’s father Stephen had passed away in 1893 and mother Eliza passed away in 1898. It would be natural to assume that when Stephen stopped working or when he passed away the family would have lost the use of the tied cottage that would have normally come with an agricultural labourer’s job. Thus pushing the family towards the workhouse.
The 1911 census shows us that the fortunes of the family were not much better in that in the Union workhouse Eliza, now 49 years of age, single (Inmate) was now listed as a land worker. Brother John was still in the workhouse but now the more detailed 1911 census shows us that John, a single man, had a disability and had been listed as an imbicile since the age of 22. It would look like Eliza had most likely cared for her brother for a number of years and especially since the death of their parents and loss of the family home.
Harold pick now aged 21, cannot be found on the 1911 census at this time. It is unlikely that he had joined the services as his 1914 attestation declared that he had never served in the forces.
The whereabouts and life of Harold currently remains a mystery until the outbreak of war in August 1914 although his enlistment in Gainsboorough may be a clue.
Harold enlisted into the Army on the 28th August 1914, attesting at Gainsborough for the 6th battalion Lincolnshire Regiment and one day later was in Lincoln for his medical. He was aged 24 years and 16 days was height 5 foot 8 inches tall and weighed 140lbs he gave his occupation as a foundry worker. The medical officer declared him fit for the Army and on the 30th he was posted, to where is lost to the records.
Sadly the records are part of the burnt records and show fire or water damage sustained in the warehouse fire in the Blitz. We are lucky that there is a duplicate set of records for the first attestation and so we can piece together his time in the Army. On this record his mother is shown as Eliza Pick of West Street Bourne (other research shows that she was living in Bourne Workhouse).
The 6th Lincolnshire was formed in the first week of the war and stationed themselves at Belton Park near Grantham, ready to receive recruits. By the end of the month they had formed 4 companies of new recruits from the men that answered Kitchener’s call. It was noted that the physical standard of troops for the 6th Battalion was high due to the high numbers of agricultural workers that joined the Battalion.
Harold’s records show that he served for home service for 92 days. Between the 28th August and the 6th of September he was based in Lincoln then from the 6th he moved to Grantham where he would undergo training at Belton Park with the Battalion.
Harold was discharged from the Army on the 27th November 1914 under Paragraph 392 of the King’s Regulations, “Not being likely to become an efficient soldier”.
What happen to Harold next is unknown. We do know that when killed he was serving with the 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment under the service number of 18412. This later service, according to Soldier’s Died in the Great War, took place in Lincoln but we are not sure when.
The service number of 18412 does not give us any clues but after he was killed he was entitled to a war gratuity payment of £13-10-0 which would have been calculated depending upon his length of service. This payment would indicate that he re-joined the army in the month following the 22nd March 1915.
On joining men would serve undergo training and then be posted to their Battalion. The 1st Lincolnshire being a regular Army Battalion had been serving o the Western front since the beginning of the war. It is likely that Harold would have been trained with another Battalion and upon completion of training would have been posted to his new Battalion.
The 1st and 2nd Battalion were the front line regular battalions at the outbreak of war, the 3rd battalion was the training and home service Battalion and the 4th and 5th the territorial Battalions of the Lincolnshire Regiment.
Harold’s medal rolls make no mention of service with any other Battalions or service abroad before November 1915 as he was not eligible for the 1915 Star.
As we have no idea when Harold joined that Battalion or when he was promoted to Lance Corporal or Corporal. We can only assume that he served the Battalion for some time and served it well hence the promotion.
As we cannot predict when he entered the Western Front with the Battalion it would be guesswork to try and piece together his movements with the Battalion but we do know that he was serving with them when he was killed on the 21st March or rather a later Red Cross report states he was one of the fallen taken prisoner.
The only German record that is available is dated 9th October 1918, and states that the men listed, Including Harold Pick were the fallen of the administrative area of the local authorities: Villers-Olouich, Gousecourt, Lpéhy.
The British “Soldier’s Effects” register state that Harold was killed in action.
We can look at the 1st Battalion movements for the first three months of 1918 to find out where Harold was serving up to the launch of the German spring offensive on the 21st and officially the day he was killed in action.
For the 1st battalion, January 1918 was spend in and out of the lines in regular tours around Heudicourt still in the same sector as December. February was a similar story with training being carried out at Moislains when not in the Line at Leiramont, both just south west of Epehy. During the beginning of March it was the same story although this changed very quickly after the 15th March with the enemy spring offensive in full swing the battalion were forced into withdrawal after withdrawal, their final retirement, and most noted defence, was that of Chapel Hill. At the end of March they were pulled back into Bourdan sur somme, west of Amiens and billeted for the night.
1St Lincolnshire Battalion Diary – March 1918 – Owing to the diary records from March 15 to 21st having been captured by the enemy a general review of events between those dates is given.
On 28th February / March 1st the Battalion took over the right sector (Vaucelette Farm) in the line. During the tour of 12 days in the line there was only slight hostile shelling. Patrols went out to the vacinity of the bear factory. Hostile parties were reported near there, that no work by the enemy was visible on. Aeroplane photographs or from our trenches.
On 11th/15th the Battalion was relieved by the 12th/13th Northumberland Fusiliers and went into Brigade support with H.Q and 3 companies at Hendecourt & 1 company in the railway embankment W23b. During the tour in the line a large amount of work was done in making new trenches near Vaucelette farm & Putting up wire. While at Hendecourt the Battalion stood to each morning in the yellow line that ran almost 1000yds behind Vaucelette Farm.
On March 17th/18th the Battalion relieved the 2nd Lincolnshire Regiment in the left sector. The front line ran from Birchwood Copse to Chapel Street (both Incl). The Battalion was also responsible for the defence of Chapel Hill, for which a company from the support Battalion and 2 tanks were allotted for counter attack purposes.
From the 17th march onwards hostile shelling was practically nil. From information received from higher authority and attack was considered imminent the most probable date being the 20th or 21st.
At 4am on the 21st a heavy bombardment was opened on our front. It was realised at once that it was a prelude to a ground attack. Gas was used during the earlier hours of the bombardment. A heavy white mist made visibility extremely difficult.
About 8am the gas began to clear & the bombardment lifted from the vicinity of Battalion H.Q. to other objectives.
Soon after 10am a D company runner brought the news that Birchwood Copse was taken. The occupants of Battalion H.Q. manned the defences in the vicinity. The Germans were advancing on our right flank and it became necessary to retire to Chapel Hill owing to the enfilade fire of machine guns.
D Company held skittle Alley and Tennis Trench throughout the day protecting their right flank which was threatened from Vaucelette Farm. C Company held Chapel Street which was now severely attacked. A Company in Cavalry Trench and Cavalry Support were outflanked by the enemy. Those that escaped made their way to Chapel Hill, which was held throughout the day. A party of B Company and a company of 2nd Lincoln Regiment found a defence flank for Chapel Hill to gain Well Copse. Battalion H.Q. took up the position in Lowland Trench. The Battalion was reinforced by South African troops during the day and attempt by the enemy to bomb up the trenches out Chapel Hill were frustrated. About 3am the Battalion were relieved by a Battalion of the South Africans, who gave up Chapel Street & Tennis Trench casualties.
The battalion would continue retirements over the next two days with heavy casualties being inflicted on the Battalion during the retirements. The Battalion would eventually concentrate around the transport lines at Bray on the 24th and be forced to make up composite Battalion from troops of the Brigade, each Battalion forming up one Company. The company from the 1st Battalion Lincolns consisted of 200 men, roughly 1/5th of the total Battalions normal fighting strength.
A Battalion usually consists of just over 1000 men and on the 29th the Battalion reported 227 men only with a further 112 transport and non-effective.
The official date of death for Harold of the 21st March 1918 is very telling as this is the first day of the German Spring offensive. It is most likely that Harold was wounded in the German push and fell behind the moving German front, being taken prisoner as a dying or dead man in the action described above in the 1st Battalion Report.
It is said that the early morning of the 21st is when German artillery shelled a 50 mile front with nearly 6500 guns and over 3300 mortars sending more than one million shells into the allied lines, we can see that Harold had been in the Lincoln’s sector for the Red Cross report to be correct.
• Commonwealth War Graves Commission:
• In memory of Corporal Harold Pick, 18412, 1st Bn., Lincolnshire Regiment who died on 21 March 1918 Age 25
• Son of the late Mrs. Eliza Pick, of Well Head House, Bourne, Lincs.
• Remembered with honour, Pozieres Memoral
There is a sad footnote to Corporal Harold Pick’s medal card: O/C Recs requests authority to dispose of medals 8.3.22.
Harold’s only real family, his mother Eliza, sadly was to pass away in 1920 her death being registered in the June Quarter 1920 in Bourne.
The Commonwealth War Graves index for the Pozieres memorial has the final official words for Harold:
PICK, Cpl. Harold 18412. 1st Battalion Lincolnshire Regiment. 21st March 1918. Age 25. Son of the late Mrs. Eliza Pick of Well Head House, Bourne Lincs.
The sad truth is that Eliza never married and Well Head House, is in reality a nice way of describing the address of the Bourne Union Workhouse.