Rank: Private
Number: SP/4100
Unit: C Company, 24th Battalion ROYAL FUSILIERS
Date of Death: 30 or 31 July 1916
Age: 19
Cemetery: Thiepval Memorial

In 1883, Nelson Williamson and Sarah Jagger married at St Paul's Church, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester. They would have two sons - Francis born in about 1890 and Ernest born about 1897. By the time of the 1901 Census, the family was living at 7 Fox Street, Edgeley and had been living in the area at least since the time that Ernest had been born. Nelson was working as a Platform Inspector for one of the Railway Companies and, in due course, would be promoted to be stationmaster at Heaton Norris station.

It is thought that Sarah may have died by the time of the Great War but the three men continued to live locally at 1 Bankfield Road, Heaton Moor, until Nelson died in 1916, aged 61. Ernest worked as a clerk for Wainwright, Son & Co - a firm in Ashton under Lyne. He enlisted on 2 October 1915, travelling to London to join up. It is not known why he went so far but it was most probably to hide his enlistment from the family as he joined up and served under the name of Williams, not Williamson.

After training, he went overseas in January 1916, joining the 24th Battalion (known as the 2nd Sportmen's Battalion, as many of its original members were well known cricketers, boxers, etc). He became a specialist grenade thrower and, although it not recorded, it seems possible that Ernest was a skilled cricketer.

The Battle of the Somme had opened on 1 July 1916 but the Sportsmen only arrived as reinforcements some three weeks later. They gradually took up more advanced positions and, on the 29th, took over a section of the front line near Waterlot Farm.

Although the War Graves Commission records Ernest's date of death as being 31 July, it is more likely that it was the previous day. Early on the 30th, men of "C" Company carried out a small scale attack on a German trench some 600 yards east of the Farm. A thick mist lay over the ground as they went forward and it was very difficult to keep to their attack route. They soon found the German barbed wire had not been cut by the artillery fire and casualties quickly mounted as theyn tried to find through. 117 men had attacked. Only 17 returned unscathed - the rest were dead, wounded or missing. Ernest's body was never found and identified.

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