Ernest was born on 28th November 1898 in Yapton, Sussex to parents James and Alice and the third of eight children and first son. On the 1901 census he was aged two, living at Barton Arms Hill, near the Bakers Arms Tavern; his father worked as an auctioneer's porter and vanman to support his growing family. The household also had a boarder who worked as a baker/breadmaker.
Ten years later on the 1911 census the family had moved to Tarrant Street, Arundel - Ernest was aged twelve and attended school along with a younger sister and two brothers. James continued to work as a vanman and porter. When the Great War was declared in August 1914 James no doubt had to discuss practicalities with his wife regarding their children, but he attested to the Army on a short service serving in the Royal Sussex Regiment from 17th September 1914. He was accustomed to service having previously served with the Duke of Wellington West Riding Regiment until his time expired. Tragedy hit the family the following year on 14th May 1915 when his wife, Ernest’s mother Alice died, aged forty seven. Just one month later, being of age to be able to then join the Navy and possibly to help with family finances, Ernest began his sea training in June 1915., leaving behind his work as a garden boy.
He was recorded on his service record as being 5’4” tall with light brown hair, grey eyes, a fresh complexion and a scar on his inner left thigh from an abscess.
HMS IMPREGNABLE - 21/06/1915 - 12/03/1916, training as Boy 2nd Class, rising to Boy 1st Class on 11/12/1915
HMS PRINCE GEORGE - 13/03/1916 - 14/09/1916
HMS PEMBROKE I - 15/09/1916 - 26/09/1916
HMS VANGUARD - 27/09/1916 - 09/07/1917, rising to Ordinary Seaman on 28/11/1916, his eighteenth birthday.
Following his death his Victory and British war medals were issued to his father. Ernest is remembered on the Plymouth Naval Memorial, locally on the war memorial at Arundel and on a stone plaque at the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Arundel.
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England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1837-1915 Free BMD
1901 & 1911 England Census
Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services, 1848-1939 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Royal Navy Registers of Seamen's Services; Class: ADM 188; Piece: 730
British Army WWI Pension Records 1914-1920 WO364; Piece: 636
British Army and Navy Birth, Marriage and Death Records, 1730-1960 National Archives of the UK; Kew, Surrey, England; Admiralty: Naval Casualties, Indexes, War Grave Rolls and Statistics Book, First World War.; Class: ADM 242; Piece: 007 (1914 - 1919)
Royal Navy and Royal Marine War Graves Roll, 1914-1919 TNA Series: ADM 242/7; Scan Number: 0681
Naval Medal and Award Rolls, 1793-1972 Class: ADM 171; Piece: 98
Navy Lists, 1888-1970
Crew photo courtesy of Allan Carver
Street image courtesy of Google Maps