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Pickering war grave restored for centenary salute


The little-known military grave of Pickering’s only serving First World War victim buried in his home town has been given a special clean-up by members of Ryedale Lions Club. 


Now, on the eve of Armistice Day, Saturday, November 10 at 10.45am, a short memorial service at the graveside will mark the centenary of the passing of Gunner Edgar Cousins and the 78 other Pickering men who lost their lives in the Great War.  The Last Post will be played by one of Edgar’s relatives.


“Inevitably, with the passing of time, the grave had become overgrown but it seemed very appropriate at the centenary of his death to show our respect and gratitude and restore some of its former glory,” said the leader of the Lions’ Operation Clean-Up team and retired Major General, David Jolliffe.


Gunner Cousins served in the regular Army and reserves for 13 years, firstly in the 5th Yorks and then in the Royal Artillery. He was wounded in France in 1916 and invalided back to the UK where he continued in service but died from heart failure two years later at the age of 35.  


He was buried with full military honours in the only Commonwealth War Grave in St Peter and St Paul’s churchyard and, unusually for a war grave, his wife Betty, who died in 1965, is buried with him.   


The memorial service is the idea of local historian Gordon Clitheroe, who helped research and write a book, published by the Beck Isle Museum, portraying the lives of all 79 Pickering servicemen killed in action from 1914-18.


“I was amazed by the fact that right here in Pickering we have a local soldier of the Great War, given a full military funeral and war grave that we have forgotten all about.  It took me some time to even find the grave myself and it seems right and proper that we remember him again with this service,” said Mr Clitheroe.


Local residents are being encouraged to join members of the British Legion at the service in the graveyard behind the church. Other services will be taking place on Sunday, November 11 to mark the end of WW1.

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