Picking, Harold

Harold was the second son of John and Caroline (nee Waldock) Picking born on 10 July 1888 at Ashwell, Hertfordshire.  Harold’s parents both died before he was ten and he went to live with relatives in the village.  He was a pupil of the Merchant Taylors School in Ashwell.

Harold enlisted with the army on 24 March 1909.  He served in India under General Townshend until early 1915 when he was wounded in the hand and leg.  During his convalescence the garrison moved to the Asian Theatre of War, Mesopotamia, Basra.  After recovering from his injuries Harold re-joined General Townshend’s British-Indian garrison in the Siege of Kut Al Amara which started on 7 December 1915.  After 162 days of near starvation and severe hardship the garrison surrendered to the Turks and all soldiers were taken prisoner, including Harold.  He survived the War.

He is commemorated on the St Mary’s Church Ashwell Roll of Honour.

Harold married Fanny Mayes in April 1921 at Ashwell.  They had three children: Herbert born 1923, Eleanor O born 1925 and Harold G born 1928.

The 1939 census shows them living at Ashwell with Harold a house painter.

Harold died at Ashwell, Hertfordshire in June 1964 and is burred in the Ashwell cemetery.

Harold’s brothers Ernes and John Alfred, both served in the War and survived.

1.A British army under General Sir Charles Townshend advanced 300 miles from Basra to within a few miles of Baghdad. After suffering heavy losses, Townshend, an egomaniac obsessed with his own reputation, retreated to Kut in December 1915 where he was besieged for 147 days until he surrendered on 29 April 1916. Every blunder that could be committed was committed with terrible and unnecessary suffering inflicted on British and Indian troops. In terms of military failure, the siege of Kut was the First World War’s equivalent of the fall of Singapore in 1942.

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