Serial No. 3598A
17th Battalion & 53rd Battalion
Stephen Pickering - Information
Stephen was born to English migrant Stephen and Susan Jane Pickering in Woonona in 1890. The Pickerings then settled down in Denham Court. Here, the family was hit with tragedy. Stephen lost his mother, when she passed away two days before Christmas in 1893. His father then re-married Maud Gant in Bathurst in 1895. Stephen grew up in the area with his new extended family. However, tragedy again struck the family. From 1897 until 1903, Stephen Sr. and Maud lost five children. Needing a new start, the Pickerings relocated to Burdett St in Hornsby. Here, Stephen attended school in Woollahra and then found employment as a locomotive engine driver. When he was 25 years old, he decided to enlist in the AIF at Moore Park on the 29th of August 1915. Stephen commenced his training, and was made a Private with the 17th Battalion. He was then sent overseas, leaving Sydney Harbour on the 20th of December 1915 onboard the HMAT Aeneas.
Stephen set down in Egypt, for further training. In April 1916, he was transferred to the 53rd Battalion, joining them in Ismalia. In mid June, he followed his new unit as they were stationed to the Western Front in France. Stephen shortly experienced the horrors of trench warfare, as the 53rd Battalion participated in assaults during the terrible Battle of Fromelles. On the 19th of July, they ran across No Man's Land into heavy fire, many becoming cut off and stuck in No Man's Land. Despite devastating losses, the 53rd manned the defences there until September. Stephen was then wounded slightly on the 12th of August, but remained at duty. He was a brave and inspirational soldier, thus placed on a pathway to advancement. As the worst winter of the war set in, he was promoted Lance Corporal on the 28th of November. Between the 4th and 10th of January 1917, Stephen attended a musketry course. On the 10th, he was promoted to Corporal. The following month, he attended a Division Infantry School. However, two days later, he was taken to the 1st Casualty Clearing Station, and from there the 25th Ambulance Train transported him to the 22nd General Hospital with facial paralysis. He was then diagnosed with the mumps and was admitted to the 18th General Hospital in March. Later that month, Stephen left the 5th Australian Division Base Depot to rejoin the 53rd Battalion, defending the newly gained line around Bullecourt. Sadly, he was then killed in action on the 13th of May 1917. He was buried near Bullecourt, but the whereabouts of his remains was lost. Today, his name is located on the Villers-Bretonneux Memorial, Villers-Bretonneux in France. Unbelievably, this was another wretched loss that would befall the Pickering family.