Ernest BATH
Rank: Private
Number: 8279
Date of Death: 25 September 1915
Age: 34
Cemetery: Cambrin Churchyard Extension,

Ernest was one of three brothers known to have fought in the War. Only Walter, who served with the Army Medical Corps came home. James would be killed at the beginning of 1917. It is not known if the youngest son, John, also fought. When the 1901 Census was taken, the family was living at 16 Hesketh Street. James Bath, senior, had died by then but his widow, Cath,,was still at the family home. By the time of the War, the family had moved to 18 Ann Street, North Reddish.  Ernest's first job was washing railway carriages but, in about 1910, he joined the army as a regular soldier. He only served for a few years and had returned to civilian life in Stockport. He was still an army reservist and, when war was declared on 4 August 1914, he was recalled to duty.

Within days, he found himself overseas and involved in  the fighting at the Battle of Mons. He was wounded there, by shrapnel, and evacuated back to England. He returned to duty in November 1914.

The Battle of Loos would be known as the "Big Push" and was the first large scale British offensive of the War. The attack would see the first use of poison gas by the British and the enemy would be "softened up" by several days of artillery bombardment. At 5.50am, on 25 September, the gas was released but due to a change in wind direction it stayed in front of the British trenches, hardly moving towards the enemy. It was, however, too late to stop the attack. The men went "over the top" at 6.30.

In the Fusiliers' sector, they were to attack along both banks of the Le Bassee Canal. The men had had a poor night. They had been in the cramped assembly trenches since the early hours. There was to have been an issue of rum an hour before "zero" but "A" Company lost theirs. The commander of "B" Company, Captain Freeman, countermanded the issue and, to the dismay of his men, ordered it poured on the ground. They were to support the 1st Middlesex and 2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders who would lead the attack toward the village of Auchy, about 1000 yards away.

The leading troops moved forward on schedule and, as planned, the Fusiliers moved forward towards the British front line. Not many even made it that far. The combination of British gas and German shelling and machine gun fire wreaked havoc amongst the ranks. As they reorganised and pushed forward, Captain Freeman collapsed and died - a heart attack. At 8am, they were in a position to "go over" to support the other units. As they moved forward, the German rifle and machine gun fire intensified. The men of "B" and "C" Companies were mown down within 30 or 40 yards. There was no prospect of success and the officers ordered the men to take whatever cover they could.

Meanwhile "A" and "D" Companies had suffered the same difficulties in getting towards the front line. They were in position near Cambrin Church, where Ernest and Alex Mountenay are now buried. They were supposed to follow the two leading companies but, seeing that it was useless, the orders were countermanded. They had suffered almost as badly and took further casualties from shellfire throughout the day.

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