Rank: Gunner
Number: 736116
Unit: D Battery, 46th Brigade ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY
Date of Death: 3 November 1917
Age: 22
Cemetery: Tyne Cot Memorial, Zonnebeke, Belgium

John Pickston and Sarah Dean married in a civiol ceremony registered at Stockport during the June quarter of 1894. Their first child, Ernest, was born in the late summer of the following year. Whenthe Census was taken in 1901, the couple had two more children, James and Marjorie and the family was living at 10 Roscoe Street, Edgeley (and, later, at 200 New Chapel Road).

Ernest was reported to have trained as a dentist before the War but, when he enlisted on 29 May 1915, it was not as a dentistry officer in the Army Medical Corps but as a gunner (private) in the artillery. It perhaps seems more likely that he worked for a dentist, perhaps as technician, rather than being fully qualified. When he joined up, he was assigned to a Territorial Brigade of the Field Artillery – the 2nd/1st Cheshire Brigade and was given the service number of 2148. This dates his enlistment to prior to the end of 1916 as, at the beginning of 1917, Territorial soldiers were given new six-digit numbers. At some point whilst overseas, he was transferred to the 46th Brigade.

3 November 1917 was a quiet day in Belgium. The heavy fighting around Ypres which had started on 31 July had subsided as almost all of the British objectives had at last been secured. The Brigade was to the south of the town at Messines and its War Diary entry for the day records “Intermittent hostile shelling throughout day in vicinity of battery positions”. Ernest and another local man, Peter Spray, were killed in the bombardment. They have no known grave and it is very probable that there was nothing left of them to bury.

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