John Thomas Pick, the Nottingham veteran, who possessed quite a unique record of war service, died yesterday at the age of 75, at 72, Hounds-gate, Nottingham, where he had lived in lodgings for the last few years, after being in failing health for some time.
Born at the Black's Head, Broad-marsh, Nottingham, on December 21st, 1836, Pick had a brief nautical experience as a boy, and at the age of 16 he joined the Sherwood Forest Militia at the Shoulder of Mutton, Nottingham, declaring himself to the magistrates to be two years older. In 1854 the militia were mobilised at Newark in consequence of the crisis in the Crimea, and enlisting in the 8th Hussars, he fought with that regiment in the Crimea and received the medal with clasp for Sebastopol, in addition to the Turkish medal.
TOOK "FRENCH LEAVE."
On returning to England the war fever remained, and volunteering for service with the 2nd Queen's Bays, Pick proceeded to India and gained the Mutiny medal with clasp for Lucknow. Subsequently he transferred to the 21st Hussars, and owing to some dispute with an officer took "French leave." Fearing arrest for desertion he worked his way to South Africa, and formed one of the party accompanying Mitchell and Sullivan in the early days of prospecting for gold and diamonds. When trouble arose with the Basutos he volunteered for service, and was awarded the medal, afterwards fighting in the Zulu war in 1879, and receiving the medal with clasp for Ulundi.
At the age of 63, Pick responded to the call to arms on the outbreak of the Boer war, and was accepted in the Jamestown Volunteers, afterwards joining the ranks of the Midland Mounted Infantry. During his fighting career he earned no fewer than six decorations. In the early part of 1908 Pick injured his back whilst working in a quarry, and was compelled to enter a hospital. Upon his release, he claimed a free passage to England, which the Government granted him, and, after an absence of over half a century, he saw his native place again. Being in need of assistance, and justly entitled to some recognition from the State, he was brought before the Mayor, and then placed in communication with the Veterans' Association. The wanderer had lost all his medals, and though the Army Council was satisfied as to the man's bona fides, the difficulty of his having deserted from the 21st Hussars remained. This, however, was overcome by the granting of a protecting certificate, exempting him from arrest, and Pick was granted a pension of 1s. a day for life.
Through the kindness of Lieut.-Colonel Birkin, D.S.O., the lost medals were replaced as follows: - The Crimean medal, with the bar for Sebastopol, the Turkish medal, the Indian Mutiny medal, with bar for Lucknow, the Zulu medal, with bar for Ulundi, the Basuto medal, and the South African medal.
Pick naturally had many exciting adventures, and related some interesting reminiscences. One concerned an incident during an engagement in the Indian Mutiny at Daraban, when a one-armed Sikh officer, 6ft. 4in. in height, and a brilliant swordsman, was killed. When Colonel Walker inquired who had slain him, there were no fewer than five claimants to the honour. One supported his claim by producing the dead man's sword. The argument might have proved conclusive, had not an Irishman of the 53rd Foot exclaimed, "Faith, that's no proof. I killed him. I shot and bayoneted him, and having took the diamond out of the sword hilt and the silver wire off the sword hilt, I threw the sword away." What was more convincing, he produced the diamond and the wire. The colonel took them, and handed him 200 rupees as a reward.
Whilst serving as an engine-driver on the East India Railroad Pick used to declare that one day at Jamalpur, a "n....." referred to him as an "English pig." Pick promptly knocked him off the engine, picked another fireman up, and proceeded on his journey. On his return he was arrested for "attempted murder" - the native was at first thought to be dead, but made a complete recovery eventually. In the end he was "honourably acquitted" on the charge of assault, but was suspended by the railway foreman.
Nottingham Evening Post, Monday 10th June 1912
A DIMINISHING BAND.
ANOTHER NOTTINGHAM VETERAN BURIED.
With full military honours, another of the now depleted band of Nottingham and Notts. Crimean and Indian Mutiny veterans was buried in the veterans' corner at the General Cemetery to-day, the Rev. P. H. D. Ogle performing the service. The deceased was John Thomas Pick, aged 76, who passed away on Sunday, at 72, Hounds-gate, Nottingham.
Pick possessed a unique military record, extending from the Crimea to the late South African war, and it was a graceful tribute to the departed that Captain Tomasson, M.V.O., Chief Constable for the county, and an adjutant of Baker's Horse, of which Pick was a trooper, paid when he appeared by the graveside this afternoon.
The coffin was conveyed on a gun carriage by the Notts. R.H.A., in charge of Sergeant Woodhouse, and the non-commissioned officers of the Robin hood Rifles, under Quartermaster-Sergeant Dominic, acted as the bearers. The firing party and the trumpeters were furnished by the South Notts. Hussars, and were in charge of Sergeant-Major O. White.
The chief mourners were the nephew, Mr. Walter Pick, and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Tomlinson, and some thirty of the veterans, in charge of Sergeant-Major G. Watson. The Veterans' Association also sent a wreath.