Pickering, John Southern

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John Southern Pickering
24 September 1885 – 16 November 1943
Allegiance Canada
Service/branch Canadian Army
Rank Private
Private John Southern Pickering (24 September 1885 - 16 November 1943) served in the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War.[1]

Early Life

John Southern Pickering was born on 24 September 1885 at rural Lostock in Bolton, Lancashire, England. His parents were Oliver (1852), a farmer and Alice (1857 nee Southern) who married in 1879, the family lived and worked at Lostock House Farm in the town.

His siblings were: Joseph (1879), Thomas (1881), Oliver (1883) George (1890) and Gordon Pickering (1893) who would enlist with the Kings Own Royal Lancaster Regiment in the First World War and win the Military Medal for gallantry during the Battle of Polygon Wood, Ypres 26th Sept 1917.

Growing up all the son’s worked on the farm except Oliver who was an Insurance Agent, all the boys are shown as "farmer’s son working at the farm" on the census returns. The census return for 1911 is the last documentary evidence of John still living at the farm. Sometime between then and 1916 he had taken up a trade as a telegraph lineman.


The next paper trail for him shows that he had travelled at some point to St Martin’s Plain, Shorncliffe in the south of England, where aged 30 he would enlist with the Canadian Military Forces as a Private (Regimental number 1562) on 30 September 1916 with the 11th Reserve Battalion. This battalion existed to provide troop reinforcements for the Canadian Army Corps in the field in France.[2]

He sailed from England and landed at Havre, France on 14 February 1917 entering the Western European Theatre of War for service in France and Flanders. A day later he was transferred to the 78th Canadian Infantry on 15 February and joined his unit four days later on the 19. His previous occupation as a telegraph lineman had not gone unnoticed and on 6 March 1917 he was attached to the 4th Canadian Divisional Signal Company being taken on strength with them from 23 August 1917 and would spend the remaining time of the war with them.

He was allowed 19 days annual leave to the UK from 23 January 1918 when he would no doubt return home for a family reunion, he re-joined his unit in France on 7 February.

During his time at the front he caught Influenza and was at the 57 Casualty Clearing Station on 29 November 1918, before admission to the Canadian General Hospital at Etaples from 3 December for 10 days. He was then transferred to the 10 Convalescent Hospital at Ecault near Boulogne, for further recovery of his health before eventually being discharged on the 21 December. This illness would ensure that he did not return to his unit in the field but sailed from France for the UK 29 December 1918 when he was taken on strength of the Canadian Infantry Base and remained at their Depot at Seaford, Sussex from New Year’s Day 1919.

He would be re-admitted to the Brigade Hospital there on 12 March 1919, eventually being discharged from military duties on 14 July 1919 when he would return home to Lancashire.

For his WWI military service on 4 July 1919 he was awarded the British War Medal and Victory Medal which were dispatched to him on 27 February 1922.

Personal Life

There is no evidence to show that this man ever went to Canada, though his older brother Thomas lived in Manitoba with his family and had a son named Oliver there.

John died on 16 November 1943 in Bolton and is buried with his parents.

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  1. Research and biography provided by Garry Farmer who is a distant relative of John Southern Pickering.
  2. His Military Service file is extant and held at the Library and Archives Canada under Reference: RG 150 Box 7813-28, Item: 575689 [B7813-S028]. The file contains 42 pages of references for Pickering and has been used to complete his military biography.