John Pickles

At the same time as Milton had his photograph taken John Pickles had his photograph taken to send home to his wife Annie and son Norman at 11, Federation Street Annie was the sister of Fred Reddiough, another of the local men on the ship.

John too was a weaver and shared his friend’s interest in medical matters. They had volunteered for the Naval Reserve to broaden their experience by going on the annual two weeks training with the fleet. In July they had been on man – o – war in Bantry Bay, Ireland, which was valuable training and also a refreshing change from the noisy oppressive confines of a cotton weaving shed.

It was practise in the First World War to keep men from the same town or village together. This was a continuation of the old recruitment principle, which went back to feudal times when Squire organised the men of each village into military units. The Navy’s press gangs also tended to collect men from the same locality who generally served in the ship together. The practice was considered to boost morale and produce a better fighting force because men would be serving alongside men they knew.

All fifteen of the Barnoldswick men were kept together. They shared the same cabin, which had been one of the Saloons below the Main deck and was fitted with two tier wooden bunks. This did enable former friendships to be continued. Some were related – two were brothers – and in many ways it seemed like an extension of their Ambulance Brigade work.

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Copyright © Ken Wilson 1981