Ernest William Claridge

Ernest William Claridge
Born in 1887 at Chatteris, Ernest was the only son of Samuel Claridge, a carman, and Kate. His younger sister, Ada, was born when Ernest was 5yrs old. In 1891 the family were living in a cottage adjoining the White Lion public house, Oliver Road, St Ives. Ernest worked as a baker of bread by 1901.

In 1907 Ernest married Grace King. They had two young daughters by 1911, living in Ramsey Road, St Ives. Ernest worked as a printer's packer, and then guillotine cutter, at Enderby's printing works. Their family grew to three girls and two boys, the last born in 1916.

As reported in the Hunts Post 11 Jul 1913, Ernest's tug of war team competed in Enderby's sports day of that year. He was still employed at Enderby's in 1916, gaining exemption from call up until October of that year as reported in the Hunts Post 14 Jul 1916. Ernest was a member of the local St Ives Volunteers, the equivalent of the WWII Home Guard. His shooting accuracy needed some improvement, as reported on 22 September 1916. By 20 October 1916 he seemed to be improving. He last unsuccessful appeal for exemption was 13 October 1916.

Enderby's Printing Works 1905
Enderby's Printing Works, 1905
Enlisted soon after the last exemption expired in October 1916, Ernest was certainly a soldier by 1917. He was mentioned in a court case reported in the Hunts Post 3 Aug 1917 when Grace's purse was stolen from her house.

Ernest was initially in the 29th (Works) Battalion, Middlesex Regiment. Although trained and capable of fighting as infantry, work battalions were normally engaged in labouring work. Generally staffed by soldiers medically rated below A1 condition, many were wounded soldiers not fit enough to return to the Front. The Battalion was transferred to the Labour Corps in April 1917.

Ernest may have served throughout the war in England as an administrator, working on food supply. He died of pneumonia at Horton Military Hospital, Epsom, on Wednesday 6 November 1918, aged 31yrs. He left behind a widow and five children. His death and funeral were reported in the Hunts Post 15 Nov 1918.

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Source materials
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