Rank: Gunner
Number: 68672
Unit: 52nd Battery, 15th Brigade ROYAL FIELD ARTILLERY
Date of Death: 6 October 1917
Age: 23
Cemetery: La Clytte Military Cemetery, de Klijte, Belgium

Ernest’s family home was at Norbury Yard, at High Lane which lay off the main road to Hazel Grove. He had been born in the Norbury part of Hazel Grove, the youngest of the six children of Samuel Bennett, a coal hewer, and Mary Bennett. The family worshipped at St Thomas Church and Ernest had attended its Sunday School. He was a keen footballer.

He had joined the army as a regular soldier in about 1911 and was in action during the Army’s first engagement of the War at the Battle of Mons. He was one of the signallers in the Brigade and , as well as sending messages, he helped to maintain the telephone lines which were then the main means of communication between the gun positions and the higher levels of command. This was dangerous work as the lines would often be broken by enemy shellfire and Ernest and his fellow signallers would have to go out and repair them even though a bombardment was still underway. In April 1915, he had to undertake this duty near the notorious Hill 60 , on the outskirts of the Belgian town of Ypres during a particularly heavy German shelling. For this he was the Distinguished Conduct Medal, second only to the Victoria Cross.

The Third Battle of Ypres (often known as Passchendaele) opened on 31 July 1917 but Ernest was not at duty for the a number of the following days – it was his turn for leave and he was at home. The fighting continued well into the autumn and, on 6 October, Ernest and his mates were at the gun positions near the village of Zillebeke. It had been pouring with rain all day (as it had for much of the previous three months). It was a rare relatively quiet day in this sector of the Western Front with no attacks or counterattacks underway. Ernest and another signaller were working out in the open on some communication lines when a German shell landed nearby, killing him instantly.

Further information about Ernest, including a photograph, can be found in the book “Remembered” by P Clarke, A Cook and J Bintliff.

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