Little is known about Ernest’s early life. Army records published after the War show he had been born in the Cheadle area but it is such a common name it has not been possible to establish how old he was. He had several siblings. Emma, Lizzie and Annie lived at what was almost certainly the family home at 108 Church Road, Gatley. Brother Jim lived at 48 Bennett Street, Stockport. A second brother, Will, also served in the War and was sent to India on Empire garrison duties.
Ernest is known to have lived at 58 Vienna Road, Edgeley with his wife, Nellie (nee Heapy), and their child. He earned his living as a gardener. The couple had married at Baker Street Mission on 17 May 1913. The Church cannot have been licensed for marriages as they also had to undertake a civil ceremony. They would only have one child, named after his father.
Ernest enlisted into the army on 8 December 1915. His service papers, held at the National Archives, show him to have 5’ 6” tall with a 35” chest. He went overseas on active service on 8 October 1916. Within a couple of weeks he had been admitted to hospital after reporting sick but was discharged two weeks later and joined his battery. On 8 September 1917, he was promoted to Bombardier – the artillery equivalent of a corporal.
The Siege Batteries fired the heaviest weapons in the arsenal of the British Army. They were used to batter enemy strongpoints and, of course, to try to knock out the heavy artillery of the Germans. Ernest died of wounds he had received in action on 19 October and was at a base hospital on the Channel coast when he died.. During the month, the Battery was near the French town of Arras and was firing at targets at Victoria Copse and Boiry. It is likely that the German artillery had found their positions and started to shell them.
In March 1918, the Army sent Ernest’s personal belongings back to Nellie. They included letters and photos as well as his pipe and tobacco pouch, hair and shaving brushes and a comb. There was also a religious book.