Ernest John SHEPPARD
Rank: Private
Number: 244628
Unit: 11th Battalion CHESHIRE Regiment
Date of Death: 15 March 1918
Age: 30
Cemetery: Favreuil British Cemetery, Pas de Calais, France

Ernest had been born in Manchester and his parents, John and Annetta, now lived at 9 Heath Street, Stockport. He lived with his wife, Agnes, and their child at 27 Jackson Street, Cheadle.

He travelled to Chester to enlist. His service number suggests that this was after 1 January 1917. It also suggests that he originally joined one of the Regiment's Territorial Battalions subsequently being transferred to the 10th, perhaps after a period of illness

For some time, the Battalion had been in the reserve area, at rest and undertaking training exercises. During the afternoon of 12 March, it was moved forward to Berkeley Camp, Bihucourt (some 8 kilometres north west of the French town of Bapaume), in anticipation of an enemy attack the next day. The Battalion "stood to" at 5am, but the attack did not materialise (it would, on 21 March, with devastating effect). The Battalion remained at this camp until 21 March.

The day Ernest and six others were killed seems to have been quiet along the Western Front. There are no reports of any significant attacks on either side. Bihucourt was, however, within range of the German heavy artillery and it seems that Ernest and the others were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

(NB> Original research by John Hartley for the Cheadle & Gatley War Memorials website)

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