Robert lived all his life in the Compstall area until he enlisted into the army. The 1901 Census shows him, aged 14, as the youngest of James Pickford's children still living at the family home on Edith Terrace. Robert's mother was not at home when the Census was taken and it has not been possible to establish her name. His older siblings were Ralph (then 23), Sarah (20), Ernest (18) and Frank (15). Robert was working as a spinner, probably in the mill in the village. In 1905, he married Jessie Austin at Holy Trinity Church, Gee Cross.
Robert travelled to Hyde to enlist, originally into the Cheshire Regiment. His service number, 44296, is consistent with this being near the beginning of 1916. At some point, possibly after recovering from wounds or illness, he was transferred to the Shropshires.
Robert is recorded as having died of wounds he received. He is buried in a village which was in German hands until the final days of the War and was, almost certainly a prisoner of war when he died. It cannot be known when he was captured but the German had launched large scale successful attacks at the end of March and the beginning of April which had taken many prisoners
After the War, Jessie had remarried, to a Mr Ridgway, and was still living in Compstall at 31 John Street.