Saturday, November 10, 2012

A victim of trying times: Harold B. Pickthall

Lance Corporal Harold B. Pickthall (1913 - 1944)
Died from Malaria in Chungkai prison camp
Photograph: Courtesy of 'The Whitehaven News' (8 Nov. 1945)

For additional information click on 'Comments' below. 


Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

Some biographical details

Lance Corporal Harold Byers Pickthall (1913 - 1944), Service No 2352211, served with the Royal Corps of Signals (18th Division) during WW2. He died of malaria in the hospital of Chungkai prison camp on 11 January 1944 after being taken prisoner by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore in February 1942. His final resting place is in Chungkai War Cemetery (Grave Reference 3.F.7).

Lance Corporal Harold Pickthall was the son of Richard Owen Pickthall and Hannah ('Annie') M. Pickthall (née Byers) and the husband of Esther Pickthall (née de Molée). Harold and Esther were married in 1941, shortly before he went overseas.

During the time of Lance Corporal Pickthall's captivity his family received only two postcards from him. Further, Lance Corporal Pickthall's family only received the news of his death after the war had ended - in November 1945. This was more than 18 months after his death. Harold Pickthall, and his family, were victims of the most trying of times. Those who were imprisoned by the Japanese during the war - and their families back home - had much to endure.

In a letter to his family after the war, Harold Pickthall's captain stated that he always "... remained cheerful during the most trying times". If there was any comfort for the family it was at least that Harold's spirit remained strong throughout his captivity.

As a boy, Harold Pickthall lived at Station House, Sellafield near Seascale, Cumberland (now Cumbria) where his father was the Station Master for the L.M.S. Railway Co. He was educated at Montreal School, Cleator Moor and Whitehaven County Secondary School. Upon leaving school, Harold Pickthall was employed in the accounts section of the L.M.S. district goods and passenger manager's office at Barrow-in-Furness. Harold was following in his father's footsteps into the railways before the war intervened.

Lance Corporal Harold Pickthall is commemorated on a number of memorials in his home county of Cumberland. As an 'Old Boy' of Whitehaven County Secondary School (Grammar School) memorial, he is commemorated on the school's WW2 memorial which is now in the Parish Church of St James, Whitehaven.

Harold Pickthall is also commemorated on the Crosthwaite (St Kentigern's) parish (Keswick) and the Keswick town memorial. Harold Pickthall's parents were then living at Station House, Keswick. By this time, his father had taken up the post of Station Master at Keswick Station.

Saturday, 10 November, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

CWGC citation

Below is the Commonwealth War Graves Commission citation for Lance Corporal Harold Byers Pickthall:

Harold Byers PICKTHALL

Rank: Lance Corporal
Service No: 2352211
Date of Death: 11/01/1944
Age: 30
Regiment/Service: Royal Corps of Signals, 18th Div. Sigs.
Grave Reference: 3. F. 7.
Cemetery: CHUNGKAI WAR CEMETERY, Thailand.

Additional Information:
Husband of Esther Pickthall, of Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire.

Chungkai War Cemetery

Chungkai War Cemetery, Thailand has 1,427 men buried in it. Many of these were transferred there after the war from other camp burial grounds and various isolated sites along the Burma-Siam Railway route.

It has been estimated that over 100,000 local civilians and prisoners of war may have died in the construction of the Burma - Siam railway. The Japanese did not recognise the Geneva convention in their treatment of prisoners. The view of many people is that building the railway amounted to virtual slavery.

This article is dedicated to Lance Corporal Harold Byers Pickthall and his family. Harold Byers Pickthall was one who gave his today and his tomorrow in the Far East during WW2.

This is the Kohima epitaph, which is also used by the Burma Star Association:

"When you go home,
Tell Them of us and say,
For your tomorrow,
We gave our today".

[John Maxwell Edmonds (1875 - 1958)]

Saturday, 10 November, 2012  
Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Further reading

For further information about the Whitehaven Grammar School WW2 memorial and to see a photograph click on the following link:
Whitehaven Grammar School Memorials

For further information about the Crosthwaite (St Kentigern's) Keswick WW2 memorial and to see a photograph click on the following link:
Remembering the Fallen of Crosthwaite, Keswick

For further information about the war memorial for the town of Keswick, Cumbria click on the following link:
The WW2 casualties of Keswick, Cumbria


Cumbria County Archives & Local History Centre
(Whitehaven Records Office)

The Whitehaven News

Mr Stuart Nicholson
(Parish Archivist, Church of England Parish of Whitehaven)

Crosthwaite (St Kentigern's) Parish, Keswick.

Saturday, 10 November, 2012  
Blogger Janet Pickthall said...

Reading about Lance Corporal Harold Pickthall makes me feel proud to be a Pickthall. I would be really pleased if I found that I was related to these people.

Thursday, 04 September, 2014  

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