9915 Private Arthur Hill, 1st Battalion, The West Yorkshire Regiment
64023 Gunner William Hill, Royal Garrison Artillery
203780 Private George Hill, 3/5th Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
32368 Private Frank Pickersgill, 10th Battalion, York & Lancaster Regiment
Kate Pickersgill and Benjamin Hill married in 1890 in Barwick. They lived at Pogson’s Cottages, off the York Road, close to Seacroft Mill. Benjamin Hill had a number of jobs, including labouring on farms and being a coal hewer in one of the local pits.
Kate Hill was employed in Scholes as a Washer Woman, and it is recorded that when she was ill, she would send her mother to do her work so as not to lose her job.
Their sons who served in the Army were:
Of the 37 officers, and 959 men who had disembarked at St. Nazaire, during the battalion’s first encounter with the enemy it had sustained eight officers killed, with two wounded and seven missing. In the ranks the losses were enormous; 71 had been killed, 110 wounded and 436 were missing. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, 93 men of the battalion died over the course of 19th & 20th September 1914. The battalion War Diary records one further incidence of the battalion suffering casualties, when on 25th September, nine men were killed by shell-fire, but during the course of the week following that first action, and as casualty figures began to be confirmed, a further 114 men are recorded of dying of their wounds. Only nine of the men have a known grave, and the remainder are now commemorated on the memorial to the missing at la Ferte-sous-Jouarre, close to the bridge over the River Aisne in the town.
Arthur Hill was captured by the Germans. Their records state that he was taken on 20th September 1914, and was not wounded. He was however, processed through the Döberitz camp, eight miles away from Berlin, and then sent to a POW hospital camp at Alexandrinenstrasse in Berlin, where he stayed until 10th May 1915 due to a jaw injury.
It is not known when Arthur Hill was repatriated from Germany, or when he was discharged from the Army, but he appears as a resident (not absent) on the Electoral Roll for 1919, along with his brothers.
By 1939, Arthur, and his wife, Margaret, were living in Porth Cottages, he was employed as a builder’s labourer.
Arthur Hill died in 1942, aged 50 years.
The poor condition of his service records mean that it has been impossible to learn how long he was in hospital for, but he never returned to operational service. Instead, he was kept at units in the UK unit his eventual discharge from the Army on 31st August 1918. He received, as well as his British War Medal and Victory Medal, a Silver War Badge and pension of 27 shillings and sixpence as a one off payment, then 11 shillings every four weeks, to be reviewed after 48 weeks.
The Silver War Badge was a circular silver badge designed to be worn on the lapel of civilian jackets as a visible marker that a man had given military service to the country. It is said that its introduction was partly influenced by the practice of men of military age, without any visible disability, and wearing civilian clothes being presented with white feathers as a mark of cowardice. A man could walk out wearing his Silver War Badge, and everyone who saw it would know that he had served, but was now discharged.
William Hill married Nellie Poole at St James’s Church in Seacroft in March 1925. Both were living in Whinmoor at the time.
Upon his arrival at the IBD, Frank Pickersgill was transferred out of the West Yorkshire Regiment and into the York and Lancaster Regiment. Thousands of soldiers underwent such transfers, and it was not unusual to see men from Kent transferred to Scottish Regiments or Scots into West Country battalions.
Frank Pickersgill was killed in action on the night of 10th October 1917. His battalion was part of 63rd Infantry Brigade, which had been ordered to relieve 112th Infantry Brigade in the line. It was a routine order which would have been carried out many times before, sometimes with little or no interference from the enemy, and sometimes with shelling and small arms fire from them. Though it was a routine thing to do, a relief of one set of troops by another was a dangerous and stressful time for all those involved. Any movement of troops and equipment in such close proximity to the enemy was bound to have been heard by them, and was often observed by them when conditions and terrain allowed.
The Brigade was in the Vierstraat – Wytschaete area, south of Ypres in Belgium, in an area that had been fought over almost continually since the war reached this part of Belgium. It was here that Frank Pickersgill was killed during the relief, when his battalion came under fire from enemy artillery. The battalion was relieving 11th Royal Warwickshire Regiment, which had been in reserve, but such was the ferocity of the enemy bombardment, that even a battalion in reserve, a little way behind the front line was also targeted.
Units in this area at the time were changing places in the line and going rearwards to camps to clean up and re-equip before their next rotation. Such was the nature of the war, that there was no possibility of the dead of 10th October 1917 to be retrieved by their own and given a decent burial. Frank Pickersgill’s body was not recovered at the time, and once the war was over, if it was discovered, it was impossible to identify, and his name now appears among those of his comrades who are also listed as missing, on the memorial which forms the upper boundary at Tyne Cot Cemetery at Zonnebeke on the slope leading up to Passchendaele village.