Littleborough’s History

A Littleborough Soldier who fell in February 1918

Private Clifford Pickersgill

Clifford was born in Littleborough in 1895 and six years later was living with his parents Robert and Eliza and his brothers Harold and Frank and sister Doris at 32 Drydock, Stubley. His father was a Cotton Weaver. In 1911 the family were recorded as living at 32 New Rd (which was probably the same house) but he now had 3 more younger brothers. His father was in the same trade and Harold was employed as a Flannelette Raiser. Prior to enlisting in Rochdale he lived at Dry Dock and was employed as a raiser at West View Mills, Durn and was a member of Stubley Primitive Methodist Chapel Previously to serving in France Private Pickersgill had served in the Dardanelles and Egypt. On the 21st February 1918 it was reported that 23 year old Private 241291 Clifford Pickersgill 1/6th Bn Lancashire Fusiliers was in hospital with serious wounds sustained in action on 12th February 1918 around Marcelcave, Somme, France. The Rochdale Observer for 27th February 1918 included item concerning him being dangerously ill and the edition of 2nd March confirmed that he had died of his wounds. Clifford was buried in Grave Number VII B 4 Lapugnoy Military Cemetery, France. The St Andrew’s magazine for March 1918 includes “We are exceedingly sorry to hear that Clifford Pickersgill has been dangerously wounded in France. He has had to have a leg amputated. May god restore him to health again! ........”. The Rochdale Observer for 16th March included within its Roll of Honour sentiments from Emily and his parents, brothers and sisters of 32 New Road. On Sunday evening 24 March 1918 a memorial service in his memory was held at the Stubley Primitive Methodist Chapel. His name is on St Andrew's War Memorial and Memorial Card and Littleborough Cenotaph. The St Andrew’s magazine for April 1918 includes “With much sorrow we record that Clifford Pickersgill who was announced in the last magazine to have been dangerously wounded, died in hospital I France on February 23rd. He was an old day school scholar at Dearnley School and was well known and much liked. He was one of the party of boys from the village who were so long together in Egypt. Our deep sympathy is with those who mourn his loss. Grant him oh lord eternal rest .......”. The paragraph continued “The Reverend Denis Fletcher to whom the vicar wrote as soon as he heard that Clifford had been wounded called at the first possible moment to see him but he had then passed away. Mr Fletcher wrote “The Chaplain, Mr Thornton had been visiting him and I know that all possible help both spiritual and medical was given to the lad ...... The sister ...told me that....  he improved a little (after his operation) but double pneumonia had set in..... She spoke so nicely of him and said he was a splendid lad” he continued “He would be buried in the Military Cemetery attached to the Casualty Clearing Station, please give his parents my sincere sympathy, I knew and liked Clifford. The half dozen names from Dearnley ...... are sadly reduced now”. The magazine also included letters of sympathy from other soldiers in the field including one from Walter Schofield who wrote “I was very sorry to hear about Clifford Pickersgill....  He was an old pal of mine. My sympathy rests with his parents. A lad from Littleborough called Willie Cryer told me he had seen Clifford’s Grave. He said it is a nice place to be buried, only 10 miles from where we are now”. The Rochdale Observer for Saturday 3rd August 1918 noted that Guild Anniversary services would be held on Sunday at St Andrew’s Church including in the afternoon a Memorial service for those Guild members who had fallen in the 4th year of the war. At the time of his death Private Pickersgill had two brothers serving with the forces, Harold and possibly Frank