7961213 Tpr Colin PICKERING, 2nd Lothians and Border Horse: 08/02/1944

Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by Mavis Williams, Aug 29, 2021.

  1. Mavis Williams

    Mavis Williams Well-Known Member

    Hi, I wonder if you could solve a mystery for me please. I am researching a young soldier who was accidentally killed and is buried in Algeria, but his Regiment was fighting in Italy, as far as I can tell, when he died. I thought perhaps he had been taken to Algeria for Hospital treatment as there were, I believe, hospitals there at the time.

    Service Number: 7961213
    Regiment & Unit/Ship - Royal Armoured Corps, 2nd Lothians and Border Horse
    Date of Death - Died 08 February 1944
    Age 20 years old
    Buried or commemorated at BONE WAR CEMETERY, ANNABA
    VIII. F. 5.
    Country of Service - United Kingdom
    Additional Info - Son of Frank and Jessie Pickering, of Caergwrle, Flintshire.

    I am attaching his Casualty lists. One I believe from when he was wounded in 1943, but the other stated that he was accidentally killed in 1944.
    Any help would be appreciated, Regards, Mavis Williams

    Attached Files:

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  2. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron


    Checking the CWGC database he was not the only person to die from the regiment that month in Algeria and many days later on 22/2/1944. See: Casualty Details | CWGC

    There are nine others buried at Bone that month, from a variety of units, some combatant, others rear area. See: Search Results | CWGC

    Both men share the designation on the Concentration Form: 3/30GCU/FSR; an abbreviation I cannot identify. I assume the initial burial was at a hospital that due to concentration later meant movement to Bone.

    Could the 'accidentally killed' be a road accident? A mishap at a hospital and so on.

    Did Trooper Pickering suffer from a non-physical injury in Italy? Could he be unsuitable for service and was making his way back to the UK slowly, e.g. moving such personnel I expect was a low priority.

    In separate research, with a focus on another town near Constantine (in Eastern Algeria), I found an American and British presence in Algeria in May 1945. By that time there was only one British General Hospital, at Algiers far to the west. It is clear as the war changed rear area units moved to France and Italy, keeping up with the main military forces.
  3. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    The casualty list states that he was accidently killed in Italy, which is where you say the regiment was.
  4. Mavis Williams

    Mavis Williams Well-Known Member

    Thank you davidbfpo I was thinking more or less the same. I looked at
    WW2 Military Hospitals | WW2 US Medical Research Centre

    WW2 Military Hospitals - Mediterranean Theater of Operations and Minor Theaters and there were a few in Algeria that he may have been sent to. although I may not have interpreted the dates correctly. If that is so, I apologize.

    General Hospitals:

    6th GEN HOSP – MTO 20 Feb 43 – 27 Feb 43 French Morocco – 18 May 44 Algeria – 3 Jun 44 (inactivated 15 Sep 45)

    12th GEN HOSP – MTO 26 Dec 42 – 14 Jan 43 Algeria – 22 Jun 44 Italy (took over and absorbed the 151st STA HOSP in Italy, Jun 44) (inactivated 15 Sep 45)

    21st GEN HOSP – MTO 6 Dec 42 – 29 Dec 42 Algeria – 29 Dec 43 Italy – 21 Oct 44 Italy – 21 Oct 44 France (took over and absorbed the 58th STA HOSP in Italy, Jun 44) (to ETO 20 Nov 44)

    43d GEN HOSP – MTO 2 Sep 43 – 31 Oct 43 Algeria – 19 Sep 44 France (under ETO jurisdiction 20 Nov 44) (operated temporary German PW Hospital at Les Milles, Southern France)

    70th GEN HOSP – MTO 2 Sep 43 – 31 Oct 43 Algeria – 22 Jan 45 Italy (closed 1 Oct 45 and inactivated 25 Oct 45)

    Station Hospitals:

    7th STA HOSP – MTO 22 Nov 42 – 1 Dec 42 Algeria – 29 Sep 44 Italy (inactivated 15 Sep 45, reactivated 1 May 47 in Trieste Free Territory)

    23d STA HOSP – USAFICA 23 Aug 42 – 1 Sep 42 Belgian Congo – MTO 9 May 43 French Morocco – 4 Oct 43 Algeria – 10 Nov 44 France (to MTO 24 Apr 43, to ETO 20 Nov 44)

    40th STA HOSP – MTO 26 Dec 42 – 18 Jan 43 Algeria – 11 Mar 44 Corsica – 28 Apr 45 Italy (to ZI 24 Sep 45)

    51st STA HOSP – MTO 24 Dec 42 – 31 Jan 43 French Morocco – 28 Oct 43 Algeria – 13 May 44 Italy – 4 Nov 44 5 (to ETO 20 Nov 44)

    53d STA HOSP – MTO 11 May 43 – 27 Jun 43 Tunisia – 1 Feb 44 Italy – 1 Aug 45 Algeria (inactivated 5 Jun 44, personnel and equipment absorbed by 23d GEN HOSP, reactivated in AMET 16 Aug 45, inactivated 10 Dec 45)

    57th STA HOSP – MTO 19 Mar 43 – 5 May 43 Algeria – 15 Jul 44 Tunisia (to AMET 1 Mar 45, redesignated 247th Medical Detachment 25 Nov 45, inactivated 28 Feb 46)

    64th STA HOSP – MTO 8 Dec 42 – 28 Dec 42 Algeria (inactivated 12 Jun 44)

    69th STA HOSP – MTO 19 Apr 43 – 28 Mar 43 French Morocco – 30 Sep 43 Algeria – 8 Dec 44 France (to ETO 20 Nov 44)

    73d STA HOSP – MTO 20 Mar 43 – 23 Apr 43 Algeria – 24 Feb 44 Italy (to ZI 27 Jul 45)

    79th STA HOSP – MTO 12 May 43 – 17 Jun 43 Algeria (inactivated 24 Aug 44)

    I also noticed the place where he was buried on the Concentrations report, but I can never interpret the reference numbers. However I am not a military historian by any means and rely on help from this forum and it's members like yourself, for which I will be forever grateful.
    I tend to think that it may have been an accident, although I recently researched another young Soldier and with the help of a member of the forum, who looked the war diary up at Kew, he had been in caves in Italy and after torrential rain it caved in, he was the only one killed, but other's injured, so bless him, it could be any number of reasons that he lost his life.
    Thank you so much for reading my post and replying.
    Regards, Mavis
  5. Mavis Williams

    Mavis Williams Well-Known Member

    Thank you Tony56, I never noticed that! So perhaps he was injured and sent to Algeria, looks more and more like something like that. I also want to say a special thank you to Gary Tankard, who was the forum member who took it on himself to look the cause of death in the war dairies in Kew. Thank you. Mavis
  6. Tony56

    Tony56 Member Patron

    According to the casualty lists, all 4 army service men on the concentration report form - Taylor/Dickson/Pickering/Hope - were 'accidently killed' or 'died as a result of accident'.
  7. Mavis Williams

    Mavis Williams Well-Known Member

    Yes, You are right and all in North Africa when they died, so perhaps we were all right in that he may have been injured in Italy but sent to one of the hospitals in Algeria. Thank you for that Tony56, I would never have thought to go back like that, I'm learning every day! Regards, Mavis
  8. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Are you sure the unit were in Italy at that point? from "Driver Advance" the main party of the Regiment disembarked at Naples 14/3/44 but prior to that they had been kicking their heels in North Africa after the end of the Campaign there
  9. Mavis Williams

    Mavis Williams Well-Known Member

    Thanks for replying AB64, the Casualty List 1376 states Italy and I saw a thread on this forum:-
    Royal Armoured Corps: The Italian Campaign, 03/09/43 - 02/05/45

    Royal Armoured Corps: The Italian Campaign, 03/09/43 - 02/05/45 -
    Discussion in 'RAC & RTR' started by Stuart Avery, Apr 7, 2019.

    So I was guided by that, but I don't know really. Any help appreciated.
  10. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    Just had a look at "Cassino to the River Po" by G W Martin and he also gives March 44 as their time for leaving North Africa for Italy - when in NA they seem to have been based at Robertville with a rest camp at Collo

    They seem to have sent a Squadron to Pantelleria for the Invasion but that was June 43, not sure if they hung around the Island but as the Island fell quickly I'd imagine they were returned to the Regiment and not kept there
  11. vitellino

    vitellino Senior Member

    I have checked out all the references to Trooper Pickering on findmpast and it is clear that the error is on Casualty Form 1376.
    6 British Armoured Division ( and hence 2 Lothians & Border Horse) were still in North Africa at the time of his death.

    I realise that sending for his service records might not be an option for you, Mavis, but have you thought of asking CWGC via their website what they have on him?

    Lastly, the idea seems to be circulating on the forum at the moment that injured men were being sent back from Italy to North Africa for treatment. If anyone has any CONCRETE evidence of this happening please start a new thread.*


    Mod edit : *see Wounded sent for treatment from Italy to North Africa
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 5, 2021
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  12. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    I’m transcribing all the Italy casualties into a database and I’ve come across a few that have been wounded in Italy who have subsequently died (and buried) in North Africa. Also a couple who have died ‘At Sea’ suggesting they were being transported back.

    The above are early in the Italian campaign (September-November).
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2021
  13. Gary Tankard

    Gary Tankard Well-Known Member

    Also it is worth remembering that units of 6th Armoured had been sent to Italy before the bulk of the division - 16/5 Lancers were sent to 23rd Armoured Brigade in January and 1st Guards Brigade to 46th Division in February.

    As for Trooper Pickering, next time I’m at Kew I’ll get the Lothians WD to check their whereabouts in February.
  14. davidbfpo

    davidbfpo Patron Patron

    On this thread in March 2020: 2nd Lothians and Border Horse Hereward stated:
    He also stated he was the Admin for the 2nd Lothians and Border Horse Yeomanry Facebook Group:
    Lothians and Border Horse Yeomanry In October 2016 he stated:
    There other threads on the regiment, on a review none are relevant for Tpr. Pickering.

    Hereward was last here in June 2021, he lives in Australia; a PM to him might get a response.
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  15. AB64

    AB64 Senior Member

    I'm on the L&B Facebook group so will add a question and report back
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  16. Mavis Williams

    Mavis Williams Well-Known Member

    WOW, thank you everyone for your interest and expertise, it will be very interesting to find out what the WD's say, if Gary manages to get to Kew. I will send an email to CWGC to see if they have anything more on Colin PICKERING, but they usually say that what is on the citation is all they have or something to that effect, but will give it a go. I would love to send for his Service Records, but I cannot afford to do that, as I have researched so many and I am self funding my project, which I have devoted myself to do. Thanks again to everyone for your input, I'm learning all the while.
    PS I have just sent off to CWGC.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2021
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  17. Mavis Williams

    Mavis Williams Well-Known Member

    The more I think about it, the Casualty List says he was "Accidentally Killed," in Italy, not wounded, they wouldn't transport his body to Algeria, would they. So it might be a clerical error as Vitellino suggests?
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  18. Hereward

    Hereward Junior Member

    Hi Mavis, 7891213 Tpr Pickering, Colin was indeed wounded Wednesday, 10th February 1943, in the heavy fighting in the battle of Fondouk. He was one of 12 casualties that day. My dad was in the same battle (B Sqn). I am not sure which of the squadron's Colin was in but it would be good to know.
    The Pickering who died of wounds 1944-02-08 was the 2nd last tanker of the regiment to be buried in Nth Africa. I am not sure why he was sent to Nth Africa but it was likely that hospitals in southern Italy were still targets in the war zone and it was safer to send the wounded and injured to well established medical treatment locations in Nth Africa. Medivac to Britain from Nth Africa was also slightly safer via a hospital ship. My dad was evacuated on a hospital ship (HMHS Amarapoora) on the 14th May 1943, which got through safely. However, if he was 'killed', I doubt they would ship the body across the sea as you also doubt. His medical record might reveal this mystery. In any case, I am not sure he is the same person (Colin) as I think his first initial was E. I will be able to check this in a few hours time.
    Unfortunately, no service number is listed in the honour list in the back of the book, 'Driver Advance!'. I have retyped the book, corrected the few errors and I plan to update it with service numbers when I can verify them. Unfortunately, there is no further record in the actual War Diaries or in Driver Advance! that I can find. However, there may be some mention in casualty lists and other documentation filed with the diaries, which I also have a copy of.
    Do you know who the eldest surviving descendant is of his? They would be able to get a copy of his service records and also hopefully his medical file. Both will reveal different and valuable research content. The response time to an application is several months due to Covid-19, so the sooner one would get an application in the better in that regard.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2021
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  19. Hereward

    Hereward Junior Member

    Further to the above, Pickering wasn't killed in Italy. The regiment was located in Robertsville in Algeria. At 1300hrs on the 7th February 1944, they moved to a staging area at nearby El Arrouch for an exercise. The ground the exercise took place on became increasingly unsuitable for tank manoeuvres. As they moved over the next few days from El Arrouch to Gastu, then south of Lac Fetzara towards Auribeau, where they finally harboured, on their way to their intended destination of Penthievre. Several accidents occurred and it was impossible to proceed to Penthievre.
    However, on the first day of the exercise, 8th February, they moved to the Jemmapes area where Tpr Pickering's tank overturned and he was killed. When a tank rolls over, it's disastrous for the crew. The steel hull and internal equipment is very unforgiving on the body, especially the head if he was only wearing his black tankers beret. His body would have been moved to the cemetery from there. I hope this helps.
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  20. Hereward

    Hereward Junior Member

    Okay, I have checked Driver Advanced! and found that it lists Tpr E. Pickering. However, on further research of the Bone War Cemetery, it appears the E initial entry in the book is an error and it indeed it is Tpr Colin Pickering that was killed when his tank overturned near Jemmapes. Now to find exactly where Jemmapes is. This is the information held at Bone War Cemetery. It even notes the location in the cemetery being VIII. F. 5:

    Service Number: 7961213
    Regiment & Unit/Ship
    Royal Armoured Corps

    2nd Lothians and Border Horse

    Date of Death
    Died 08 February 1944

    Age 20 years old

    Buried or commemorated at

    VIII. F. 5.

    Country of Service
    United Kingdom
    Additional Info
    Son of Frank and Jessie Pickering, of Caergwrle, Flintshire.
    Personal Inscription
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2021
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