Ewhurst History Society

March 1917

National Service

National Service was discussed at The Parish Council Meeting. It was noted that there were not more than a dozen fit male parishioners at the present time and of these, more than half had already volunteered.

 

News from the Front

Pte. Albert Stemp

It was reported that 31 year old Private Albert Stemp of The Queens had died ‘of illness’ on the 23rd March 1917 at Number 12 Stationary hospital. The actual cause of his death is not known. He lived at Hazelbank with his wife Elizabeth and daughter Winifred and worked as a waggoner on farm.

Shoeing Smith Ernest Smithers

Horses were used extensively in the First World War, not only in Cavalry regiments, but also for pulling artillery and supplies, reconnaissance, messages etc. Ernest Arthur Smithers had enlisted in a cavalry regiment, the 21st (Empress of India) Lancers. Although an Indian regiment, a Service Battalion attached to XIV Corps had been formed in 1916 specifically to serve in France and Ernest was part of this unit.

On the night of 24th March 1917, The Battalion was billeted in Le Mesnil, a small village in the Somme area, when they came under heavy artillery fire and six men, including Earnest were wounded. According to the Service Squadron diary, the billet area received heavy artillery fire and six men, including Ernest, were wounded. The casualties were taken to a Clearing Station, but Ernest died of his wounds the following day. An entry in the Battalion diary for 25th March 1917 records "SS Smithers died of wounds received in bombardment of 24th".

Ernest left a wife, Winifred and three small boys, Arthur aged 5, William 3 and Robert 1. The family lived at Baynards Cottages, Cox Green.