Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC has had his latest “hero of the month” article published in Britain at War, the country’s best-selling military history monthly magazine.
The January issue of magazine has four pages on the life and bravery of Sergeant William Pickering, who was awarded the Military Medal (MM) for sustained bravery at the end of the Second World War.
William Arthur Pickering was born in Oldham, Lancashire, in September 1923 and was educated at Manchester Central High School. By the summer of 1940 he was still underage for military service but, by means of altering his birth certificate, he managed to enlist in the Welch Regiment just two days after his 17th birthday.
In his memoir The Bandits of Cisterna, Pickering detailed his remarkable adventures while serving as a member of the Special Operations Executive (SOE). Pickering spent a quite extraordinary three months behind enemy lines fighting with the Partisans after being parachuted into northern Italy in February 1945.
It was outstanding and sustained bravery that not only saw him decorated with the MM but that also, indirectly, resulted in him having a near 70-year marriage to an Italian woman, Rossana Reboli, whom he met shortly after the war ended.
Lord Ashcroft interviewed Pickering for my book Special Ops Heroes when the former soldier was 91 and living near Manchester. He died on Easter Sunday 2016, aged 92.
Lord Ashcroft’s articles for Britain at War over the past five years have been largely based on excerpts from his six books on gallantry: Victoria Cross Heroes, Special Forces Heroes, George Cross Heroes, Heroes of the Skies, Special Ops Heroes and Victoria Cross Heroes Volume II.
Lord Ashcroft is a military historian who has lectured extensively on courage and his various medal collections.
- Lord Ashcroft’s latest article appears in the January issue of Britain at War which is on sale now.