Percy Pickering

royal marines badgePLY/108(S), Private, Plymouth Battalion, Royal Marine Light Infantry (previously 17738, 7th Bn. King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry), killed in action, 26th April, 1915, aged 21

Born on 12th September 1894 at Crowle, Percy was the brother of Richard Cundall and the second youngest son of the eight children of Wade and Kate Pickering (nee Cundall). His mother was from Crowle and his father from Swineshead near Boston, had set up in business as a chemist in Crowle since the early 1880’s. In 1901 the family were living at Field House, Fieldside where Wade had diversified from the chemist shop into being a photographer and boat owner.

Unfortunately Wade Pickering died shortly after the 1901 census was taken and sometime in the 1900’s his widow moved the family to Doncaster. In 1911 she was living at 80 Beckett Road, Wheatley although when her sons enlisted she had moved to Tempest Road, off Dewsbury Road, in Leeds.

In 1911 Percy was working as an above ground labourer at South Kirkby Colliery, where one of the miner’s was Walter Troope. Percy’s elder brother Herbert also worked at the mine and they lived in South Emsall. Presumably colliery work did not suit Percy as when he enlisted in the army he was working as a hotel porter in Doncaster.

Percy enlisted in the 7th (Territorial) Battalion King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry at Doncaster on 12th September 1914. He would hardly have had the opportunity to try on the uniform as on 16th September 1914 he was transferred to the Royal Marines, where he served with Plymouth Battalion, Royal Marine Light Infantry.

In April 1915, Plymouth Battalion were sent to support the landings at Gallipoli. Their instructions were to land to the north of the main landings, capture a field gun thought to be in the area and then wait to join up with the main force when it arrived from the south. The landing at ‘Y’ Beach, on 25th April 1915 went perfectly. The Turks had not expected a landing so far north, the position was undefended and the troops landed unopposed with no casualties. Finding no artillery to capture they followed orders and sat and waited for the troops from the southern beaches to arrive and link up.

These troops, facing heavy resistance on the beaches never arrived, but late in the afternoon the Turkish army did. Around 5.30pm the Turks began a series of attacks that increased in intensity and continued throughout the night of the 25th and into the morning of the 26th April. The last Turkish assault was repulsed at 6.45am and by now after suffering heavy casualties with no sign of help or reinforcements it was decided to abandon the position. By 11.00am all the survivors had left ‘Y’ Beach.

55 men of Plymouth Battalion died at ‘Y’ Beach, among them Percy Pickering. Like all but 7 of his colleagues he has no known grave and is commemorated on the Helles Memorial, Gallipoli Peninsula, Turkey.

The War Graves Commission incorrectly records Percy’s (and most of his colleagues) date of death as 3rd May 1915. This mistake is apparently due to that being the day the paperwork for the action was completed by his regiment.

Although Percy is not commemorated on Crowle War Memorial his death was noted in the Crowle Advertiser. It is not known if he is commemorated on a Doncaster Memorial.

percy pickering in epworth bells