Ernest Grant was born in Reading on 4th December 1898 to Charles and Sophia Grant.
By the age of two Ernest was living at The Mount, Reading with his parents and older brother
His father was a domestic coachman.
Later the family moved out of Reading and Ernest attended Twyford Infants School before moving to Diamond Villas, Hurst in October 1906.
He then became a pupil at Hurst Boys School and continued his education until the age of fourteen when he left to work at an office in the village.
In the First World War Ernest enlisted into the army in Reading and served with the Devonshire and London Regiments before joining the 8th Battalion of the Royal Berkshire Regiment.
Nothing is known of his wartime service prior to his death, though his medal record indicates that he went to France after 1st January 1916.
Ernest died from inflammation of the lung while a prisoner of war in the German Military Hospital at Le Cateau on 29th September 1918.
In January 1919 he was retrospectively awarded Class 1 Proficiency Pay, backdated to 3rd April 1918.
This may have been done to provide an extra death benefit for his family but may also indicate the time of his capture.
On this date his Battalion was on the front line at Gentelles on the Somme and in the early hours of Thursday 4th April 1918 they were subject to a six hour bombardment.
Expecting an attack as soon as the shelling stopped, the Battalion was ordered to the Bois de Hangard in readiness for a counter-attack.
The Battalion War Diary tells the story of the day:
Thursday 4th April 1918|
The village was heavily shelled from about 3.30AM to 9.30AM.
An enemy attack being imminent the Battalion was ordered to march to BOIS DE HANGARD and take up a position in readiness to counter-attack.
Consequent upon this message Battalion marched out of the village into support N of BOIS DE HANGARD.
A heavy barrage of H.E., and shrapnel was put down on the fringe of the wood.
About this time the barrage, which had been very intensive, decreased and lifted to towards the village of CACHY.
The enemy were seen approaching towards our position.
No information regarding the situation, had been received from the troops holding the Front Line.
The attack was not directed immediately on our front - the enemy working round on the left flank.
The position as to what had occurred in front of the Battalion was somewhat obscure.
Heavy Lewis Gun and rifle fire was opened upon the enemy.
By this fire very severe casualties were inflicted upon them, as the enemy, at that stage, were attacking in force and advancing in waves.
At this juncture of the Battle the Commanding Officer LT COLONEL R.E. DEWING DSO, was wounded, necessitating his leaving Batt Head Qrs.
Whilst doing so, assisted by 19013 PTE F. BAILEY MM, he was shot through the head, being killed instantaneously.
The very able and gallant manner in which Col Dewing was conduction the operation in progress, and the tactful and fine way that he commanded and personally led the Battalion during the period 21st-27th March commended itself to and was a great stimulus for all ranks.
His loss, as also that of CAPTAIN AND ADJUTANT H. LE G. SARCHET MC who was seriously wounded about the same time that the Commanding Officer became a casualty, was very keenly felt by all.
Before leaving Batt Head Qrs the C.O., gave instructions to CAPTAIN R. HOLLAND regarding his company which was in reserve, but this officer was himself shortly afterwards killed.
The Command of the Battalion therefore devolved upon LIEUT A.M. BRAY.
On account of the intensity of the M.G., and rifle fire to which our line was subjected, superiority in numbers and as enfilade fire was being brought to bear upon the position held by Batt Hd Qrs it became necessary to withdraw.
This operation was successfully conducted and a position was then taken up about 600 yds in the rear of the former ones, which provided excellent covering fire and as the enemy was still suffering very heavily from our fire, he was forced to retire.
In consequence of the cover afforded the casualties sustained by the Batt were comparatively small.
Troops of 55th Brigade were on the left and those of 7th ROYAL WEST KENTS on the right.
The losses in Officers and NCO's were greater in proportion to the number of men, thus leaving only a few commanders, at a critical time when they were required rather more than usual.
The Battalion's casualties for 4th April were 5 killed, 42 wounded and 14 missing.
If Ernest Grant was taken prisoner on this day,
he spent nearly seven months in captivity before his death on 29th September 1918.
Ernest's passing was reported in the Reading Standard and Reading Mercury.
He was only 19 years of age and now rests in
Le Cateau Military Cemetery.