Lance Corporal Ernest STREET


Regiment/Service:
Royal Berkshire Regiment
(Princess Charlotte of Wales')
(Formerly: Royal Army Service Corps)
Unit:
5th Battalion
Service Number:
39002
(Formerly: S/4/042329 R.A.S.C.)
Date of Death:
8 September 1918 - Died of wounds
Age:
27
Cemetery / Memorial:
Grave Number:
IV. E. 12.


Personal History:

Ernest was born in March 1891 at 46 Old Road, Burbage, Buxton, the son of Joseph (Railway Foreman) and Kezia Annie (née Hibbert) Street, He had four older brothers, Joseph Arthur, Richard William, Harry and Sidney (1891 Census RG 12/2779). By 1901 (Census RG 13/3269) the family had moved to 9 Midland Terrace, Buxton, and another brother had been born, Ralph, but father Joseph had died in the December quarter 1895.

In 1911 (Census RG 14/11048) Ernest was lodging with the Budds family at 4 Walton Road, Lowestoft, and working as a "Confectioner Maker". His widowed mother and some of her children were then living at 13 Victoria Park, Fairfield, Buxton. The SDGW database states that Ernest was living in Brixton, Surrey when he enlisted.



Military History:

Ernest enlisted into the 5th Battalion at Aldershot and his Medal Index Card shows that he entered France on 17th December 1915. Sadly his Service Records have not survived.  He had originally joined the Royal Army Service Corps and it is not known if he entered the War with them or had already transferred to the Berkshire Regiment.
The 5th (Service) Battalion had been formed at Reading on 25th August 1914 as part of Kitchener's 1st New Army, as a result of Army Order No. 324, and attached to 35th Brigade in 12th (Eastern) Division. Initially it was posted to Shorncliffe and on to Folkestone in January 1915, before moving to Malplaquet Barracks at Aldershot on 1st March 1915. On 31st May 1915 the Division landed in France, though clearly Ernest did not join them until some 6 months later, probably as part of the reinforcement following the Battle of Loos, where the Division lost nearly 3,500 Officers and men.

Ernest's Battalion was engaged in The Battle of Albert, part of the greater Battle of the Somme. The Division moved up to Baizieux on 30th June 1916 and reached Hencourt and Millencourt by 10 a.m. on 1st July, in reserve to the British infantry attack that had begun earlier that morning. It moved to relieve 8th Division, which had suffered a severe repulse at Ovillers-la-Boisselle, during the night of 1st - 2nd July.

At 3.15 a.m. on 2nd July the Division was ordered to continue the attack on Ovillers. The 12th Division attacked, at night, by advancing across no man's land while the artillery bombarded the enemy, then rushing the last few yards when it lifted. The first wave of the attack met with mixed success, however, the 5th Berkshire and 7th Suffolk crossed, finding the enemy wire was well cut, and took at least two lines of German trenches before becoming bogged in intense bombing fights in the trenches.

The 5th Battalion was also involved in the Battles of Pozieres and Le Transloy (also part of the overall Somme battleground) and in 1917 in several phases of the Battle of Arras -

                                          


On 6th February 1918 Ernest's Battalion was transferred to 36th Brigade in same Division. As The Battle of Bapaume commenced on the morning of 24th March the Division arrived in the area of Senlis, Warloy and Bouzincourt. That afternoon, 36 and 37 Brigades moved forward to the line Montauban-Bazentin le Grand, on the old 1916 Somme battlefield. This action was followed by the Battle of Arras and of Amiens, before The Battle of Albert, a phase of the Second Battles of the Somme 1918 began. Under the command of III Corps and on the left flank of this Corps front along the River Ancre, the Division generally played only a holding role on 8th August 1918 when Fourth Army made its great attack.

The Battalion War Diary for this period reads:

"7 August - Bonnaye: 36th Bde (less this Bn.) detailed to replace 54th Bde of 18th Div. In forth coming operations. This Bn. Placed in Divisional Reserve and came under orders of G.O.C. 53rd Infantry Bde. 9.p.m. Battalion marched to assembly positions in vicinity of CHESSBOARD WOOD J. 22. a.

8 August - Chessboard Wood: Account of operations Aug 8th - 12th is attached

13 - 14 August - Old British Trenches:  9p.m. Battalion relieved 7th Royal Sussex Regt in right subsector of right Brigade Sector. At 4.30a.m. 7th Royal Sussex Regt and 9th Royal Fusiliers had made an unsuccessful attack on high ground in E. 29. D and K. 5. B. and this Battalion sent up 2 Coys under Capt A.G. REVILL at 10.30a.m. to be in close support in area K. 3. d."

Another possibility is that In early Sept 1918 the 12th Division were at the Canal du Nord, south of Manancourt attacking Nurlu, then on the 8th suffered a heavy casualty day at Guyencourt. As he is buried at Abbeville on the 8th, he may have been wounded in the earlier action (4 - 5th). On the 5th September 1918 they attacked the village of Moislains and were shelled with HE Shrapnel. They had 12 Other Ranks wounded. However, it is unlikely that this scenario would give the events reported in 'The Buxton Advertiser' (see below) to unfold - although the example cited below does show it is just possible.

As Ernest died of wounds it is impossible to say during which of these Battles he received them. However, 78 men of his Battalion were killed in action or died of wounds in August, 11 of them in the period 8th - 12th. For much of the First World War, Abbeville was the location of No.3 BRCS, No.5 and No.2 Stationary Hospitals, stationed there variously from October 1914 to January 1920. It is most probable that this is where Ernest died, and he is buried in the Cemetery there.

Strangely, however, in reporting his death "The Buxton Advertiser" said the following:

"Mrs Street of 13 Victoria Park Road has been bereaved of her son, Pte. Ernest Street, who has fallen gallantly in serving his country in the War. This soldier was interred at the scene of the action. It was gratifying to the bereft mother to be allowed to attend the funeral which was of a very impressive character."

It must have been a very rare occurrence for a mother to be able to travel to France for the funeral of her son during the latter months of the War. (One reported incidence, Pt. Walker Parker, of the West Yorkshire Regiment, had been admitted to the 3rd Canadian General Hospital, Boulogne, suffering from a slight wound in the right buttock on 5th May 1918. His wife received a telegram the following day and arrived in Boulogne 2 days later. Pt. Parker died on the 9th May.)

Sources:
· 'The Buxton Advertiser'  9 November 1918
·  I am grateful to Margaret Dufay for the photo of Ernest's grave
· "The Wardrobe" - The Battalion war diaries of the Royal Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiments

Link to CWGC Record
Abbeville Cemetery c. 1920
poppy
Ernest Street's grave
Ernest's grave inscription
Abbeville Cemetery c. 1920
.... about these actions