Ernest Arthur Clements

Ernest Arthur Clements
Born at St Ives in 1894, Ernest was the second youngest of six children of William Clements, a bricklayer, and Annie. The family home was at 4 Green Street, St Ives throughout Ernest's life.

In 1911 Ernest was still living at home in St Ives, employed as an apprentice hairdresser to Mr Hill. Some time after he left St Ives, moving first to Frimley Green, Surrey, then to nearby Leatherhead.

Ernest enlisted at Kingston upon Thames in June 1915. Initially he joined the Royal Fusiliers, for several months working as a military barber in Scotland. In December 1915 he was transferred to the 9th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment, moving one rank up from Private to Lance Corporal. Ernest survived some of the fiercest fighting on the Western Front. He fought in the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles in history, with one million casualties on all sides.

On 15 March 1917 Lt. Col. H V De la Fontaine, Commander of Ernest's battalion, made out his war diary report for the day. There had been an exchange of artillery fire, the Germans replying with a few whizz-bangs. These were high velocity shells much feared by British soldiers. Travelling faster than the speed of sound, infantry were given hardly any warning of their arrival.

War diary report for 15 March 1917, 9th Battalion, East Surrey Regiment
The underground cellar Ernest was sheltering within received a direct hit, killing him outright and wounding three other soldiers. He was 22yrs of age. News of Ernest's death was initially reported in the Hunts Post on 30 March 1917, and then more fully on 6 April 1917. He is buried in Bully-Grenay Communal Cemetery, British Extension, Pas de Calais, and also remembered in the Leatherhead Memorial Gardens.

Ernest's younger brother, Harold, also fought in France. He suffered gas poisoning as reported in the Hunts Post on 22 October 1915 and  29 October 1915.

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Source materials
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