Ernest Stanley Francis Pickford

Private Ernest Stanley Francis Pickford, B91239
Toronto, Ontario
Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps

 

Private Pickford is sponsored by Col. H. Colin MacKay, CD, Deputy Surgeon General, RCMS and Jennifer A. Lavoie.
Private Pickford était parrainé par Col. H. Colin MacKay, CD, Deputy Surgeon General, RCMS and Jennifer A. Lavoie.

Ernest Stanley Pickford was born 15 September 1923, into an Anglican family.  He was 5”11, which at that time was considered very tall; the average height was five 5”6 or shorter. He weighed 146 pounds, was in good health, and enjoyed playing sports. Ernest had three years of high school. He was the only son to May Phyllis Pickford and Francis George Pickford. May and Francis also had a daughter, Joan. At sixteen his father passed away and he got a job working at a factory that produced ammunition for the war. Two years later Pickford enlisted in the army right before his 18th birthday. Ernest trained for two years at Camp Borden, located approximately 100 km north of Toronto. The report stated that he is not well qualified in any one of the trades, but should be a good Field Ambulance man. The army suggested he would be best suited as an orderly in a field ambulance unit.

Ernest Stanley Pickford enlisted for the Canadian Army on 28 May 1942. He was taken on strength (TOS) with the No. 2 District Depot Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (RCAMC) on that same day in Toronto.  Ernest was transferred to the 25th field ambulance for all purposes, except pay, and enrolled in a training course. Once his training was completed he was transferred to the #2 detachment until the end of the month then was transferred back to the 25th field ambulance on 1 May 1942. Ernest was granted special leave with $0.50 per day from 23 September to 26 September 1942.  He was put on the No. 6 field ambulance for all purposes including pay on 29 September in Valcartier, Quebec right after he finished his training course. He was granted time off from 30 November to 13 December 1942 with transport warrant and meal allowance. Ernest was granted pay increase of 20 cents per day on 1 January 1943. Ernest was granted leave from 30 March to 14 April but a month later on 21 May he was admitted to the Jefferey Hale Hospital in Aldershot. His pay was stopped on 13 June until he was discharged from the hospital on 26 June.

Ernest was struck off strength from the No. 5 district depot and taken on strength to the No. 5 Field Ambulance of Aldershot on 2 July. He was granted sick leave effective from July 6 to July 28. Upon his returning he was transferred to No. 5 district depot. 15 January 1944 Ernest was granted embarkation leave, which allowed him a week’s leave with allowance, and qualified for the award of the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal. Ernest was taken on strength to active overseas, leaving from Halifax and disembarked in Liverpool, England on 24 February 1944. After Ernest was taken on strength with the 14th Field Ambulance he would remain with this unit for the rest of his life.

After training with the 14th Field Ambulance he prepared for battle and boarded the transport ship on 3 June that would take him to the shores of Normandy, France. After three long days of waiting and then proceeding across the English Channel, the invasion force arrived off the coast of France and prepared to attack German defenses and begin the Normandy invasion.  Ernest was reported missing and declared dead later that day. He had been killed in action serving his nation.

Ernest boarded on one of the invasion ship in Portsmouth harbour on 3 June 1944. When he boarded he felt he was ready. His training was complete and a plan was in place. The military planned for medics to tend to the wounded men of the first wave while others in the medical team worked to help set up large hospitals that could hold a minimum of 22,000 people. On 6 June 1944 14th, 22nd and 23rd Canadian Field Ambulances were the only medical units part of the initial landing force. Ernest, as part of the 14th, would have been in the front lines. These field ambulances would be attached to the 7th, 8th, and 9th Brigades. This would mean roughly 18 medics for 2000 men. The next supporting wave was scheduled to land 3-4 hours later after the first wave had secured the crust of the beach and eliminated German resistance inland.

The morning of the attack they arrived a few hours later than planned. Some of the tanks in the first wave of armoured units sunk before making it to shore. “There were six tanks on the craft…my tank alone got to shore, the other ones weren’t so lucky,” remembers Philip John Cockburn, one of the 1st Hussars who arrived with Ernest. “The landing was total chaos, bullets flying everywhere with accuracy; the Germans were wounding and killing left and right. Many soldiers were warned but nothing could have showed them what it would be like. I was warned, but that didn’t help any.” Within the midst of all the soldiers fighting, the medics scrambled trying to decide who was worth giving medical attention to and who wasn’t, according to the severity of the wounds. The first hour was spent collecting casualties, giving minor first aid and nesting soldiers behind the Atlantic wall or anywhere they could find shelter. Once field hospitals were established and running smoothly, medics could start helping people who would need longer stays to heal. As the day went on, they established dressing stations that were essentially make-shift hospitals intended to help the wounded and to hold casualties since none would be evacuated the first day. They were established at Banville (2 km south, inland of Courseulles-sur-Mer) and Peirrepoint (5km south and inland). By the end of the day, over 4400 soldiers would require medical attention.

Ernest Stanley Pickford served and received the Canadian Volunteer Service Medal and 1939-45 Star France & Germany Star, and war medal CV&M & Clasp. He was killed in action and buried in the Beny-Sur-Mer Canadian Military Cemetery in France at Grave 7, Row B, Plot 1. Ernest named his mother May P. Pickford as his next-of-kin,; since he had no will, all of his belongings went to her.

 

Written by: Megan Ferguson, a student at the Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute in Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada.

Rédigé par: Megan Ferguson, un élève de Smiths Falls District Collegiate Institute, Smiths Falls, Ontario, Canada.

REMEMBER TODAY, REMEMBER ALWAYS.

THIS TRIBUTE PROFILE CONTAINS AVAILABLE BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION ON ONE OF THE CANADIANS WHO DIED ON JUNO BEACH ON 6 JUNE 1944. THE PROFILE ALSO RECOGNIZES THE INDIVIDUAL OR ORGANIZATION WHO GENEROUSLY SPONSORED THIS SOLDIER, AND INCLUDES A MESSAGE OF THANKS AND REMEMBRANCE FOR THEIR SACRIFICE. THIS INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE IN THE SOLDIER’S NATIVE TONGUE AND HAS BEEN COMPILED BY THE LEST WE FORGET PROGRAM AND, IN SOME CASES, THROUGH THE GENEROSITY OF INDIVIDUALS CONNECTED WITH THE SOLDIERS. DUE TO THE INCONSISTENCY OF HISTORICAL RECORDS AND THE SPARSE AVAILABILITY OF FIRST-HAND WITNESSES, WE KNOW MORE ABOUT SOME THAN OTHERS. IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTRIBUTE ANY MATERIAL OR HELP IN OUR EFFORTS TO PRESENT THE BIOGRAPHIES IN BOTH FRENCH AND ENGLISH, PLEASE CONTACT: JBCA@JUNOBEACH.ORG.

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