Ernest was the second of five children. He was the eldest son and, as was common in those days, he was named after his father. When the 1901 Census was taken, Ernest and Margaret Bradley were living at 43 Greg Street, Reddish. The other children were Ethel (then 12), Lavinia (9), Hilda (2) and Amy (11 months).
When War was declared in August 1914, Ernest was a married man with children. The family history website, CheshireBMD, records the marriage of a man with this name to Edith Adshead in 1911, at St Paul's Church, Portwood. Of course, it cannot be said, with certainty, if this is the same Ernest Bradley.
He worked as a cotton doubler for the firm of McConnell and Co. Ltd in the Ancoats district of Manchester (and is commemorated on the Company's entry in the Manchester City Battalions Book of Honour). When Ernest joined the army he enlisted into the Cheshire Regiment, leaving his family by then living at 8 Ash Street, Cheadle Heath. His service number, 23137, is consistent with this being in the early spring of 1915. He served abroad with the Cheshires but, at some point, was transferred to the Labour Corps. The Corps was formed in 1917 from men then not fit enough for the rigours of trench warfare, so it can be assumed that Ernest had a short period when his health or general fitness failed. He must have recovered quickly as he had been transferred back to an infantry Regiment when he was killed.
The Third Battle of Ypres had been underway since 31 July 1917 and the British advance had become, literally, bogged down in the mud. After a period in reserve, Ernest and his comrades went back into the front line at a position known as The Butte, some four kilometres east of Ypres. The Battalion's War Diary makes no mention of casualties but notes that "During night of 17/18, "B" Company reported a German raid". Raids across No Man's Land were a common feature for both sides. Their intent was to kill the enemy and, also, to capture prisoners to gain intelligence. The raiders would usually leave their trenches under the protection of an artillery barrage and this appears to be what happened on this night. Ernest's officer later wrote saying he had been killed instantaneously by the explosion of a shell.