Monday, November 10, 2008

Lance Corporal Frederick Pickup, 1891 - 1916


My mother's family hailed from Rishton, a small town of about seven-thousand souls, some four miles north-east of Blackburn. At the time of the 1901 census, my great-grandparents were living in the town with their son, Fred and their daughters, Clara and Kate - my grandmother.

Clara - my great aunt, and the only one of the three still alive when I was born - went on to marry a man named Frederick Pickup; and they set up home together in Harwood Road Rishton, no doubt entertaining hopes of a long and happy life together.

However, with the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Fred enlisted in the East Lancs Regiment and was despatched to France along with hundreds of other men from Rishton and the surrounding towns, to fight for his King and his country.

As I posted here this time last year, L/Cpl Pickup was killed, aged just 25, on 1st July 1916 - the first day of the Battle of the Somme - leaving Auntie Clara, as we always called her, a widow at 23 years of age.

It is due to men like Fred and countless thousands of others (including another 196 from Rishton alone) who gave their lives, not only during the Great War but in other wars and conflicts, that we can still (just about) call ourselves a free country.

And it is in memory of my great uncle Fred and his countless comrades who died in our name, that I will be wearing my poppy and maintaining a two minute silence tomorrow at 11.00am with a mixture of humility and pride.

I hope you see fit to do the same.

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