OVER the last four years, there have been an awful lot of books and memorials dedicated to the men (and some women) who gave their lives for their country in the First World War. And quite rightly, too.

It is a relief for a change, however, to find a book about the men (and some women) who went off to serve their country in the war and actually returned to tell the tale.

Such a book is 'Beck Isle Museum remember's Pickering's returning heroes'.

The result of four years of research by a small team of volunteers from the Pickering museum, it does exactly what it says on the cover: tells the story of 500 men and women who returned home as heroes to the town after the war's end.

Many had been injured; others died just a few years after the war's end. But others still went on to live long and productive lives.

Their stories deserve to be told as much as do the stories of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Here, we introduce just a few of the returning heroes featured in the book...

Edwin Best

Edwin was the youngest of the seven children of Kirby Misperton cattle dealer William Best and his wife Mary. Born in 1898, he went to Wrelton village school and then the grammar school in Pickering before getting work as a horseman at Allerston Mill.

He passed his medical in York on February 28, 1917, and joined the army as a private in the Northumberland Fusiliers, before transferring to the 10th Battalion the King's Own Yorkshire Light Infantry.

On October 30, he was shot in the left knee during action at the Ypres Salient. He was invalided back to England, and his left leg was amputated above the knee. He was then fitted with an artificial leg.

He returned to Wrelton, where he began to repair and sell bicycles, then ran the village garage. He married Mary Russell, daughter of the village blacksmith, in Lastingham on July 24, 1920. In the 1950s, his business moved to Pickering: he ran a bicycle and electrical firm in Hungate with his son William.

A keen cricketer, he needed a 'runner' between the wickets because of his false leg.

He and Mary celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in 1970. He died a year later, aged 73.

Robert Dobson

Born in Pickering in 1896, Robert enlisted with the West Riding regiment at the age of 20, before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) in July 1917 as an air mechanic and fitter. When the RFC merged with the Royal Naval Air Service to form the Royal Air Force on April 1, 1918, he became part of the newly-formed RAF.

Not much is know about his wartime service. He was demobbed in March 1919, returned to Pickering to work in the family cycle and motor repair business, and married Dorothy Barnes at St Mary's Church in York a year later. The couple had a son, Robert, in 1929. Dorothy died less than a week after her son's birth, but Robert senior remarried eight years later and went to live with his son and new wife, Annette, in Malton Road, Pickering. In later years he had a fruit and vegetable business and also ran the town's petrol filling station. He was an ARP warden during the Second World War.

He was clearly good with his hands: a tricycle he made is still on display in the Beck Isle Museum.

Robert died in 1971, aged 75.

John Harper

A hay cutter and wagoner from Wilton, John went to work for North Eastern Railways and was promoted to signalman just before he was called up. Her served with the 5 Yorkshire Regiment in France, before being transferred to the Machine Gun Corps as a private and, later, the Royal Engineers.

During his service he was twice afflicted with the 'flu, and also received a thigh injury.

Demobbed in 1919, he retuned to Pickering and married Ethel Burnett in 1919. The couple had five children. John worked in the watercress beds in Pickering, and died in 1965 aged 70.

Herbert Holliday

Born in 1886, Herbert lived with his grandparents at Raindale House and from the age of 14 helped his grandfather on the farm.

He married Hannah Wilford in 1906, and they had three sons: Cecil, Alec and Elton.

Following his marriage, Herbert went to live and work in Hereford as a chauffeur, before returning to Yorkshire as chauffeur at Aislaby Hall.

He enlisted with the Army Service Corps when war broke out and was posted to France, where he served during the Battle of Verdun, which raged for most of 1916 and in which 700,000 people were killed, wounded or went missing. An article in the Yorkshire Gazette of July 1916 records how he received a medal for valour: "While in charge of an armoured car, he (Herbert) carried messages when German artillery fire had destroyed communication," the newspaper reported. "For his heroic conduct on this occasion he received the French Medal Militaire."

After the war, Herbert owned a garage in Pickering Market Place. A special constable during the Second World War, he died in August 1954, aged 68.

Olive Newstead

Not all of those featured in Pickering's Returning Heroes are men. The book also includes a chapter on women who served as nurses at military hospitals during the war. They include Olive Newstead, whose family were from Hallgarth in Pickering. The daughter of Thomas Newstead, an inspector of weights and measures, Olive had a brother, Sapper John Newstead, who was killed in action in Greece in 1915.

By 1911, when she was 25, Olive was working as a nurse at Leeds General Infirmary. By 1916 she was a staff nurse, and was decorated by King George V at Buckingham Palace: one of more than 500 nurses from across the British Empire to receive the Royal Red Cross Award. Olive died in 1932 in her late 40s.

Buy the book

'Beck Isle Museum remember's Pickering's returning heroes' is available from the Beck Isle Museum, priced £18. The museum can also arrange to have the book delivered by post: call the museum on 01751 473653 or email info@beckislemuseum.org.uk to find out more.