Nothing is known of Ernest's life except that he had been born in Stockport and, before the War, was in business as a dairyman at 188 Higher Hillgate. When he enlisted into the army, he was originally assigned to the Royal Field Artillery (service number 137930), but never served abroad with them. No doubt, on completion of his training, he was transferred to the Fusiliers.
Throughout the War, both sides carried out small scale raids on the enemy trenches opposite. They were intended to ensure that the enemy could never fully relax even in the quiet periods. Prisoners were also dragged away for interrogation. The Germans had carried out one such raid on 16 May and a local man, Arnold Ward, had been amongst the casualties.
The Regimental History records the retaliation which cost the life of Ernest Smith. "The 15th Battalion took its revenge for 16 May on 21 May. At 3am, a fighting patrol of 35 NCOs and men, under 2nd Lieutenant G L Barclay & 2nd Lieutenant A E Brice, moved out under cover of an artillery barrage - the wire having been previously been cut in part by Stokes mortars and, after Barclay had skilfully led them through some unexpectedly remaining wire, rushed a German post in a sunken road. Three prisoners and one light machine gun were captured. Barclay then brought his patrol back with the loss of six casualties - none of them fatal. He received the Military Cross for his coolness, dash and leadership."
Regimental records published after the War note that four men were killed on that day. Assuming the Regimental History is correct and that all of the patrol made it back, then it must be assumed that Ernest and the other three were killed by German retaliatory artillery fire.