Ernest WILD
Rank: Lance Corporal
Number: 20242
Unit: 8th Battalion Border Regiment
Date of Death: 21 March 1918
Cemetery: Arras Memorial, Pas de Calais, France

Ernest was born in Stockport and lived all his life in the town until he enlisted into the army. His service number is comparatively early and it is probable that he joined up in 1915 and, as such, will have taken part in the major attacks at the Battle of the Somme and the Third Battle of Ypres.

In the spring of 1918, Allied forces were anticipating a major German offensive and had prepared all their defensive plans. Of course, the timing and the location could not be known. But, at 5am on 21 March, the strength of the German artillery bombardment signalled a clear start. The Battalion was hurried forward from its reserve positions and took up a defensive line near Vaulx Wood, by late morning.

By then German infantry units had already overwhelmed the British front line along a wide area and the troops were in retreat. At about 3pm, the Ernest and his comrades took part in a counter-attack which succeeded in pushing back the German advance . Later, though, the Germans had been able to penetrate the line on the left flank and appeared from the direction of the village of Noreuil. "D" Company was ordered to form a defensive flank in front of them at a sugar factory at Vraucourt. The position remained relatively quiet for the remainder of the day, but they were pushed back the following day. By then, of course, Ernest was already dead. In the retreat it will not have been possible for his comrades to bury him but, no doubt, he will have been decently buried by the advancing Germans. Perhaps not surprisingly, they took little care over the individual identification of the dead and the location of Ernest's grave is no longer known.

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