Frank Pickersgill


Frank Pickersgill

Frank Herbert Dedrick Pickersgill (May 28, 1915, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada - September 14, 1944, Weimar, Thuringia, Germany) is a Canadian hero of World War II.

Holding an English degree from the University of Manitoba and a Masters degree in Classics from the University of Toronto, Pickersgill had originally set out to cycle across Europe, and then returned to Europe in 1938 to work as freelance journalist for several Canadian newspapers. During his travels he met with Jean-Paul Sartre, whose work he had hoped to translate into English though the oncoming war distracted his labours.

He served the first two years of the war in a labour camp as an enemy alien; he escaped by sawing out a window in the now-cliché style of a hacksaw blade smuggled into the camp in loaves of bread. Once he was safely back in Britain, Capt Pickersgill rejected the offer of a desk job in Ottawa, and instead requested a commission with the newly created Canadian Intelligence Corps.

Because he was fluent in German, Latin, Greek and especially French, he was working in close connection to the British Special Operations Executive .

Along with fellow Canadian, John Kenneth Macalister, he was parachuted into the Loire Valley in occupied France on June 20, 1943, to work with the French Resistance. The two men were picked up by the SOE agent Yvonne Rudellat and the French officer Pierre Culioli, but their vehicle was stopped at a checkpoint set up in response to a tip that the four spies were headed this direction. After blowing their cover at the checkpoint, Culioli tried to speed away, but the Germans opened fire hitting Rudellat in the head and Culioli in the leg, causing the car to crash.

In March 1944, Pickersgill tried to escape the Parisian Fresnes Prison they were being held in, attacking a guard with a nearby bottle, and throwing himself out the second-storey window. He was shot multiple times in the escape attempt and recaptured; on August 27 he was shipped with members of the Robert Benoist group to Buchenwald concentration camp.

Pickersgill was executed by the Nazis on September 14, 1944, along with 35 other Canadian SOE agents, including Roméo Sabourin and John Kenneth Macalister. Though there are conflicting reports of their death, they are commonly thought to have been hung on meat hooks and strangled with piano wire, a painful death typically reserved for traitors and spies.Fact|date=August 2008 Their bodies were then incinerated.

Posthumously, the government of France awarded him the Legion of Honor, and as one of the SOE agents who died for the liberation of France, he is listed on the "Roll of Honour" on the Valençay SOE Memorial in the town of Valençay in the Indre département. Captain Pickersgill is also honored on the Groesbeek Memorial in the Groesbeek Canadian War Cemetery in the Netherlands, and the University of Toronto has designated a "Pickersgill-Macalister garden" on the west side of the "Soldiers' Tower" monument.

Frank was the younger brother of Jack Pickersgill, a member of the Canadian House of Commons and a Cabinet minister.

Further reading

* In 1948, "The Pickersgill Letters", written by Pickersgill during the period 1934-43, were published by George H. Ford.
* His letters were republished in 1978 by McClelland & Stewart as "The Making of a Secret Agent: Letters of 1934-1943 by Frank Pickersgill." The book expands on the original publication and includes a new introduction by George H. Ford.
* In 2004, two of his letters, sent to his family from war-heading Central Europe in 1939, were enlisted into Charlotte Gray's acclaimed book "Canada: A Portrait in Letters".


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Frank Pickersgill — (1915 1944) fut un agent secret canadien du Special Operations Executive pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Envoyé en France en tant que chef du réseau ARCHDEACON en compagnie de son opérateur radio, John Macalister, il fut arrêté rapidement,… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Frank Swettenham — Infobox Politician name = Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham honorific suffix = GCMG CH caption = Oil painting of Swettenham by John Singer Sargent birth date = birth date|1850|3|28|df=y birth place = Belper, Derbyshire, England spouse = Sydney… …   Wikipedia

  • Jack Pickersgill — John Whitney Jack Pickersgill, PC, CC (June 23, 1905 November 14, 1997) was a Canadian civil servant and politician. Early yearsPickersgill was born in Norfolk County, Ontario, and raised in Manitoba. He is the older brother of Frank Pickersgill …   Wikipedia

  • John Macalister — (1914 1944) fut, pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale un agent secret canadien du Special Operations Executive. Parachuté en France pour y travailler comme opérateur radio d’un nouveau réseau dans les Ardennes, le réseau ARCHDEACON, il fut arrêté… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pierre Jacobsen — en 1954 Pierre Jacobsen (né en 1917, mort en 1957) est un militaire et haut fonctionnaire international de nationalité française. Il fut une personnalité marquante des années 1940 et 1950. Sommaire 1 E …   Wikipédia en Français

  • SOE F Section timeline — Timeline of events in the history of Section F of the Special Operations Executive. See also SOE F Section networks. * The relevant modern administrative département numbers are added, after several of the place names, so as to facilitate the… …   Wikipedia

  • SOE en France — Article principal : Special Operations Executive. Cet article traite du Special Operations Executive en France, évoquant successivement les différentes sections chargées de l action dans le pays, surtout les deux principales « country… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Pierre Culioli — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Culioli. Pierre Culioli (1912 1994), agent français des impôts, fut, pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, chef d un réseau de résistants : en 1942, il créa et dirigea ce réseau nommé ADOLPHE, dans la région… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • List of World War II topics (F) — # F 34 tank gun # F Kikan # F. Burke Jones # F. F. E. Yeo Thomas # F. F. Worthington # F. H. Maynard # F. Lorée # F. Rogues # F. Ross Holland, Jr. # F. S. Bell # F. W. Winterbotham # Föhrenwald # Förbundet Arbetarfront # F1 grenade # Fab Morvan # …   Wikipedia

  • John Kenneth Macalister — (July 19, 1914, Guelph, Ontario, Canada September 14, 1944, Buchenwald) was a Canadian hero of World War II.John Macalister graduated the Guelph Collegiate Vocational Institute (GCVI) and from the University of Toronto, then as a Rhodes Scholar… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.