Date of birth: 1899
Date of death: 29.9.1918
Regiment: East Yorkshire
Family information: Son of Alfred and Christiana Pickersgill
Service number: 51312
Horace enlisted at Pontefract and joined the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, later transferring to 10th Battalion of the East Yorkshire Regiment as Private 51312. In March 1918 he must have been home on leave as he was witness at his sister’s wedding at St Paul’s Alverthorpe, but returned to France afterwards.
The 10th Battalion had moved with the rest of the 31st Division into the Fifth Battle of Ypres (28th September – 2nd October 1918). They had commenced their attack under cover of a creeping barrage along the NE edge of Ploegsteert Wood but were met with very heavy machine gun fire from the wood and it was noted that the majority of the enemy machine gun posts were “absolutely untouched by our artillery fire”. The following day they had gone through the wood and had reached a line running through Border Avenue where they met “considerable fire” from machine guns and snipers. It was on this day (29th) that Horace was killed in action and was buried in Underhill Farm Cemetery. According to the war diary the battalion had gone from 25 officers and 520 other ranks on 28th September to 15 officers and 384 other ranks on 2nd October. Horace’s next of kin was his father Alfred and he was awarded the British War Medal and the Victory Medal.
On 9th November the Wakefield Express printed the following:
“PRIVATE HORACE PICKERSGILL East Yorkshire Regiment, Waite’s Buildings, Kirkhamgate was killed in action on September 29th. He was only nineteen years of age and before enlisting on April 24th last, worked at the old Roundwood Collieries.”
In the same edition of the Wakefield Express there were memorials from Horace’s family – his aunt and uncle Jane and Robert Saxton and also one from his ‘loving Father and Mother, Brothers and Sisters and Brothers in law (Somewhere in France)’ so there were obviously at least two more members of the family on active service in France.
Horace was born in Kirkhamgate in about 1899, son of Alfred and Christiana. In 1901 they were living in Ramsden’s Buildings and the census enumerator must have been somewhat hard of hearing, as he recorded him as Doris instead of Horace! The other siblings recorded were George (b 1887), Elsie (b 1893), Ivy (b 1895) and Arnold (b 1900).
By 1911 they were living in Waites Buildings and Horace was 12 and had four siblings. His father Alfred was a coal miner, as was his brother George. His two sisters were a rag sorter and weaver respectively and Horace and younger brother Arnold were at school.