Ernest Henry Barrett

  • The families and guests at Ernest Barrett and Ethel Croucher's wedding. Ernest's brother William (standing behind the bride) was Best Man. (Courtesy Mrs Mavis Ramsden)

5800 Rifleman Ernest Henry Barrett, 16th Bn. (County of London) London Regiment (Queen's Westminster Rifles), married Ethel Lily Croucher of 69 Holinsdale Road, Reigate, Surrey on 15 July 1916 at Reigate Parish Church, giving his address as Hazeley Down Camp, Twyford near Winchester. He was either on leave from France or on embarkation leave prior to going there. 1/16 Battalion (first line - there was also a 2/16, second line Battalion) was one of many in this unique Regiment of merged Territorial Force battalions. (The term ‘Territorial Army' appeared only after the War). Barrett's battalion had been involved in the fighting along the line of the River Somme since it began on 1st July 1916, when it lost 18 dead, 233 wounded and 250 missing from a strength of 1000. Most of the missing were listed later as killed. Ernest died on 18 September. 1/16th Battalion War Diary records that on 17 September orders came to attack a German trench on the north side of the sunken road from Bouleaux Wood to Combles at 5.50 a.m. on the 18th. The Battalion suffered heavy casualties, three officers and 34 other ranks dead, 48 wounded and 14 missing, of whom Ernest was apparently one. Later that day the attack was called off. His body was never found, but his name is recorded on the Thiepval Memorial (ref. Pier and Face 13 C), along with 73,411 others who have no known grave. He had been married for nine weeks. Lily was married again, in November 1918 to another soldier. She died in 1928 at the County Mental Hospital, Northampton.

Ernest Barrett was born in 1893 and baptised with his four brothers at St Mary's on 3 July that year. He was the second son of John William Barrett, stone mason, born in 1861 in Aldershot, Hampshire, and Selina Mary nee Cripps, born in the same year in Wheatley. In 1891 the family were living at Crabtree Cottage, Shotover Hill, Littleworth; and in 1901 on Wind Mill Hill, Wheatley where Ernest was living actually at The Mill, the house of his widowed grandmother, Mrs Ellen Cripps, corn miller, and next door to his father's house where his brother William lived. William was also killed. Ernest had attended Wheatley Elementary school. The 1911 census shows he had been living at Cuddesdon Theological College, where he was working as a servant. See also reference to him in the Wheatley in a World at War chapter.

London Regiment (Territorial Force)
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