GEORGE BICKERTON 

Rank: Private
Service Number: 40351.
Regiment: 2nd Bn. South Lancashire Regiment Killed In Action Friday 12th April 1918 Age 25County Memorial Congleton
Commemorated\Buried PLOEGSTEERT MEMORIAL
Grave\Panel Ref: Panel 6 and 7.
Belgium

Son of Mr. Edwin Bickerton and Mrs. Mary Ellen Bickerton, of 25, Union Street, Congleton, Cheshire, and Hill View, Lower Heath, Congleton, Cheshire. In 1911, he lived at Bunce Lane, Marton, near Congleton, Cheshire, with a Mr. Frederick Kennerley where he was employed as a Waggoner on the Farm. He married Maud Bickerton (nee Bradley) at Christ Church, Eaton, Congleton in 1915. He had two half-sisters, Eliza and Annie Bradley, along with two brothers, Tom and Jonathon Bickerton.

On the 9th of April 1918, the German army launched the second phase of its Spring Offensive in what would be known as the Battle of Lys (after the river). The War Diary of the South Lancashire Regiment records that heavy artillery fire was heard about 04:00 hours and this was, indeed, the prelude of the infantry attack, which followed three hours later. The Battalion was some miles away from the attack area and spent a normal day. On the morning of the 10th, however, they were ordered forward to a position known as Regina Farm near Ploegsteert. They arrived about 11:30 hours having collected some small groups of stragglers from other units. The situation remained quiet, but the enemy could be seen massing near the village. At 18:00 hours, two Companies of the Battalion took part in a counter attack to recapture Ploegsteert but without success. Later in the evening, the Battalion received orders to withdraw to Le Bizet. The troops were reorganised during the night, which included a further small withdrawal at 02:00 hours. The War Diary records "about 06:00 hours the enemy attacked all along the Battalion front very heavily, but was repulsed with severe loss by rifle and Lewis gun fire, there being no artillery available". There were further strong attacks at 09:00 hours and 11:00 hours. After the latter attack, the Battalion on the right had been forced to withdraw and the South Lancashire's had no option but to follow. They took up position about 300 yards north east of Romarin, remaining there until 20:00 hours when a further withdrawal was ordered. At about 05:00 hours on the 12th of April, the enemy shelled their position but did not follow it up with an infantry attack. Two hours later, it was reported that the Germans had attacked on the right and were in the British trench system. The men prepared for hand to hand fighting but no attack materialised. However, at 02:00 hours the enemy did attack on the Battalion's front and they were forced to give ground. They were now 500 yards south east of Neuve Eglise where they dug in on the right. In the chaos of retreat, there was no time to deal with the dead and the bodies were, no doubt, buried later by the advancing Germans. It is perhaps, no surprise that they were not overly concerned with ensuring the individual identification of each man. It was during the proceedings of the 12th of April 1918, that Private George Bickerton, was killed in action.


Cheshire County Memorial Project would like to thank John and Christopher Pullen for this informationon George. 

 

 

© Cheshire County Memorial Project
2018