Ernest MURRAY
Rank: Private
Number: 49106
Unit: 17th Battalion King’s (Liverpool) Regiment
Date of Death: 4 August 1917
Age: 28
Cemetery: Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium

Ernest's parents, Frederick and Gertrude, did not originate from the Stockport area but were living in the town when their first child, Florence, was born in about 1884. Ernest was also born locally about four years later. By the time of the 1901 Census, the family had moved to 6 Harrogate Street, Wigan. This was, no doubt, in connection with Frederick's employment as a foreman with a railway company. They also had two more children - 10 year old Agnes had been born in Bolton and 4 year old Samuel in Wigan.

At some point, the family returned to Stockport and, after the war, Gertrude was living at 96 Shaw Road (Frederick is presumed to have died by then).

Ernest enlisted into the army in the town, originally joining the local Territorial Battalion of the Cheshire Regiment. His service number, 5046, is not an early one and may date his enlistment to around early 1916.He never served abroad with the Cheshires and was probably transferred to the King's when he finished training.

Ernest and his comrades took part in the attack, on 31 July 1917, that marked the first day of the Third Battle of Ypres (commonly known as Passchendaele). The leading battalions "went over the top" at 3.50am. 17th King's were "in support" and the plan was for them to press forward and leapfrog the leading units once the first objectives had been captured. The details of the day are somewhat sketchy in the Battalion's War Diary but it would appear that, at 8.40am, they reached a position known as Sterling Castle to find that the leading units had not succeeded in their attack. Accordingly, they dug-in to consolidate the gains that had been made.

For the next two days, they held this ground under heavy and continuous enemy artillery shelling until they were relieved at 10.30pm on 3 August. The Battalion moved back to Zillebeke Lake where hot food was provided. The following day, they were further relieved back to Chateau Segard and, in the evening, moved by bus to Ottawa Camp at Ouderdon.

Although Ernest's date of death is officially recorded as 4 August, it would seem more likely that he was actually killed previously, whilst the men were still in the front line. Regimental records published after the War (and now available on the CD ROM "Soldiers Died in the Great War") record that there were 38 fatalities on 31 July and a further 8 on 1 August. There are no deaths recorded for either the 2nd or 3rd, but 25 recorded for the day they were well away from the front line. It is reasonable to presume that these deaths are actually those that occurred during the final two days.

   
           
   
     
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