Albert William PITCHER

[Pitcher headstone Botley Adrian Colbrook]

Albert and Emily Pitcher's gravestone in Botley Cemetery, West Oxford; image courtesy of Adrian Colbrook.

Albert Pitcher was born in Melbury Osmond, Dorset, in 1867, the second son of a farmer, Sedwin Pitcher, and his wife Emily. Albert married Emily Andrews (who had been born in Meare, Somerset, in 1876) in Cardiff in April 1900, when he was 32 and she was 24. By 1901 the couple were living in Oxford at 15 Marlborough Road in Grandpont. Albert was a carpet planner and later an upholsterer. By 1913 they had seven sons: Henry (born March 1901), Albert (April 1902), Thomas (April 1904), Francis (April 1906), Reginald (November 1907), Harold (May 1910), and Ronald (July 1913).

Albert was 48 when he enlisted on 13 August 1915, as a Driver with the Army Service Corps, service no. SS/14631. He was immediately transferred to the 18th Company of the Labour Corps, service no. 310712. He served at Gallipoli, Mudros and Egypt for seven months and then spent over two years in France. His army records show that he suffered from a shortness of breath, which worsened over time, and from a dilated heart. He was sent to hospital in Bradford on 7 October 1918 and was then transferred to Oxford.

Albert died on 24 September 1919, aged 52, in Oxford, and is buried at Botley Cemetery. Botley is one of several cemeteries which were established in Oxford in the mid 19th century (following the Burial Acts). During the First World War it was used as a burial place for soldiers who died in Oxford, mainly at hospitals that made up the Third Southern General Military Hospital. This occupied the Examination Schools on the High Street (mainly for the walking wounded), the Town Hall (particularly for malaria patients), the Cowley Road Workhouse, part of the Littlemore Pauper Lunatic Asylum (for victims of shell shock) and several colleges. There are 742 war burials at Botley, 156 of them Commonwealth War Graves from the First World War.

Albert's widow Emily died on 20 October 1925, aged 49, when her sons ranged in age from 24 to 12. She is buried with her husband at Botley Cemetery.

With thanks to Barry Burnham for additional research.

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