Ernest HORSFIELD M.M.
Rank: Lance Corporal
Number: 49979
Unit: 10th Battalion CHESHIRE REGIMENT
Date of Death: 31 May 1918
Age: 39
Cemetery: Sisonne British Cemetery, Aisne, France

Little is known of Ernest's life. The 1901 Census records that he had been born in Stockport and was then aged 22. He was working as a brewer's labourer.

His medal entitlement records are available on-line at the National Archives (which wrongly spells his name Horsefield) and these show his original service number to be 4359. This is consistent with him originally enlisting, in mid-1915, into one of the Cheshire Regiment's Territorial Battalions (probably the 6th Battalion - the local Stockport one). To have this listed in the records means that he must have served overseas with the Territorials. The above number confirms that, around the middle of 1916, he was transferred to the 13th Battalion. This was probably after recuperating from illness or wounds.

Whilst the 13th Battalion was fighting near Ypres, in Belgium, during the summer of 1917, Ernest undertook an act of bravery for which he was awarded the Military Medal. This was the most common form of gallantry award and it rare for there to be any record of the act for which it was awarded. Ernest's name is included in the list of awards during this period in the Official History of the 25th Division (of which the 13th Cheshires was part). In February 1918, the 13th Battalion was disbanded and the men re-allocated to other units and this will have been when Ernest became part of the 10th Battalion.

After four years of war, the Germans still had the resources to launch massive assaults on the Allied positions in March and April 1918. On 27 May, they started their final major attack of the war, it became known officially as the Third Battle of the Aisne and the British were, once again, in retreat.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Cheshires' official War Diary carries scant information on these days but notes, for the day before Ernest was killed that they started a route march at 2am. The route was Rosnay - Gueux - Chaumuzy - Nanteuil - Fleury - Damery, reaching their destination in a clearing in the Foret d'Epernay at 10pm. Rations were very short. There is no mention of 31 May in the Diary.

The Cemetery where Ernest is buried was not created until after the war. There are 164 burials. Most were brought from very small front-line burial areas which were closed as the land was returned to civilian use. Other bodies subsequently found in the area have also been buried here.

   
           
   
     
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