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Pickering, Elizabeth Elsie (nee Coppack) (Civilian)

Elizabeth Elsie Coppack was born in the June quarter of 1920 (Holywell, Flintshire Vo. 11b, Page 360), the daughter of Thomas & Elsie Coppack, (nee Jones) who had married at St. John’s Church, Connah’s Quay in 1919 (Flintshire (Mold) A115/01/E4).

Elizabeth Elsie was to have another sibling, her sister Marjorie, born in the March quarter of 1926 (Holywell, Flintshire Vol. 11b, Page 302).

The Coppack family were Shipbuilders, Ship owners, Master Mariners and sailors for many years, an old Connah’s Quay Family, and Tom had written the definitive book on ships in the Deeside area, especially Connah’s Quay, “A Lifetime with Ships,” “ The Autobiography of a Coasting Shipowner.”

Elsie was to meet her future husband John Harold Pickering* when she went to work at John Summers & Sons Offices in the Steelworks, and they married in St. John’s Church, Chester in the June quarter of 1942. (Cheshire West CE13/17/155).   Elsie later moved to the National Provincial Bank in Mold.

*Please click on the link to read John Harold Pickering’s story.

The 1939 National Register (Taken on the 29th September 1939) shows only Tom & Elsie Coppack, there are two redacted records and I can only presume that they are Elizabeth Elsie & Marjorie, who really should not have theri records closed as they were no children, but if needed you can apply for them to be opened but would need to produce documents to do so.    Tom Coppack tastes that he was born on the 14th August 1895 and he is a Shipbroker and Part Sanitary Inspector, Elsie’s date of birth was given as the 14th May 1897, and like so many married women on this National Register, she was doing “Unpaid Domestic Duties.”

So as in the story of how Joyce Lucy & David George Williams, John Harold & Elizabeth Elsie found themselves picked to go to South Africa by management to set up Munitions Factories to supply munitions through Italy, via North Africa.   Tom Coppack describes in his book, “A Lifetime with Ships,” how it came to pass that Tom’s daughter Elizabeth Elsie Pickering (nee Coppack)and her husband John Harold Pickering with Joyce Lucy and her husband David George Williams came to be on the S.S. Ceramic,see the excerpt below.

Each Steel making company in Britain was told to supply 2 executives and Summer’s choice was their chemist John Harold Pickering and foreman David George Williams, taking their wives with them.   I  don’t know how that came about, whether it was volunteering, which Tom does not describe, it seems  there was no choice and it may have been for a long period, God alone would know how long the war would last, so the chances of seeing their loved ones again , at least for a long time was very slim.

So the day came for them to depart on the leaving on the 23rd November to board ship in Liverpool, Tom telling us that he saw them off from Shotton Station and as the train went around the bend he broke down and cried as he knew that it would be the last time he would see his daughter.

My friend, who had been born in Shotton, and knew about Elizabeth Elsie and her husband dying on a ship, could remember them going to the train station in Shotton, on the fateful day they left for Liverpool, she told me she could even remember what Elizabeth Elsie wore.

Tom Coppack remembered the last war when they had lost his ships, the Farfield, Maurita, Lady Mostyn and the men , Captain Bob Hutton, and Captain Dan Elliott.     (Robert Hutton, Frederick Edwards, John Hughes and others are remembered on the Connah’s Quay & Shotton War Memorial for the First World War, please click on the links to read their stories of what happened to them, their crews and their ships.)

Please click on Joyce Lucy Williams’s story for more about the Ceramic and the aftermath years later.

I can only think that because the 2 couples were civilians, (but they were leaving their home country to do work for the war effort), no one thought to put them on the WW2 War Memorial for Connah’s Quay & Shotton, however, they are remembered on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission database and indeed are remembered at St. George’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey – Location: England, London – “Of the many civilians of the Commonwealth whose deaths were due to enemy action in the 1939-1945 War, the names of more than 67,000 are commemorated in the Civilian War Dead Roll of Honour, located near St. George’s Chapel in Westminster Abbey London.”


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