Date of birth: 1891
Date of death: 1943
Regiment: King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry
Family information: Husband of Barbara nee Kellett
Service number: 22023
On 10.3.1915 Ernest was enlisted into the King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI) and given the Service number 22023. At the time his medical records show that he was 5’7” tall, weighing 138lb and with a chest measurement of 37”. He also had a tattoo on his left arm.
The following details are all taken from a substantial number of documents in Ernest’s army records -
12/6/1915 - disciplined for overstaying leave by 20 hours - admonished and fined 1 days pay
30/9/15 - disciplined for hesitating to obey an order- 168 hours detention and fined 2 days pay
27/12/15 - disciplined for overstaying pass - confined to barracks for 3 days
14/1/1916 - transferred to the 3rd Battalion Leicestershire at Patrington (No194625)
21/1/16 – embarked for the Mesopotamia (now Iraq) Expeditionary Force (MEF) from Devonport
21/2/16 - disembarked at Basra
1/3/16 - joined 2nd Battalion in the field
30/6/16 - appointed Lance Corporal
5/7/16 - appointment invalidated
13/9/16 - appointed acting paid Lance Corporal
10/3/17 - granted professional pay class II
22/4/17 –wounded in action
23/4/17 - admitted to hospital
29/4/17 - discharged to convalescent depot Amara
31/7/17 - rejoined battalion in the field
22/9/17 - recommended transfer to Royal Engineers following test that showed Ernest was a skilled driver (locomotivel
13/11/17 - posted to railway department on probation (Basra)
15/2/18 - compulsory transfer in the interests of the service to Royal Engineers and posted to the rail way troops with effect from 22/9/17. New service number of315596
4/8/18 - granted paid rank of Corporal from 1/7/18
12/2/19 – embarked on City of Sparta for UK
In spite of a somewhat unsteady start to his military career Ernest obviously displayed characteristics worthy of promotion on a couple of occasions and was engaged in action and exposed to fire as he was wounded in action. Perhaps this was due to circumstances in that the 3rd Battalion was a reserve and never actually left the country. It was only through transfer to the 2nd that Ernest entered a ‘theatre of war’ and therefore had to display a different side.
It was in the winter of 1915-1916 the 2nd Battalion, as part of the 7th Indian Division, was transferred to Mesopotamia. It distinguished itself in the battles of Shaikh Saad, Kut-al-Amara, the various battles of Sannaiyat, and went on to the capture of Baghdad, when the Battalion had the honour of being the first troops to enter the city.
The records noted above make it obvious why he was transferred to the Royal Engineers but it is not obvious where he gained the skills as he was still a ‘Miner’ when he enlisted. It also came not long after he rejoined his battalion after recovery from being wounded. It may not be coincidence that in the winter of 1917-1918 the Battalion moved to Palestine, and took part in the victorious advance that defeated and captured the Turkish Army in the late summer of 1918.
Ernest’s great grandfather John Hartgraves was born in Hillam about 1795 and had a number of children with wife Elizabeth. These included Samuel born in 1825
Samuel married Hannah Houldridge from Beal in 1846 and they had at least 7 children one of whom was Samuel (2nd) born in 1867.
Samuel (2nd) married a Brotherton girl called Charlotte Heaps in 1889.
Brotherton being a short walk from Hillam it is not surprising to find that members of the Hargraves family married into some of the families from Brotherton including Clegg, Hodgson, Hunter, Jolliffe, Pennington and Wadsworth.
Samuel (2nd) and Charlotte had a total of nine children but four died in childhood according to information in the 1911 census.
In 1891 the couple were living in Furniss Yard with baby James Thomas (born 1890). Samuel was employed as a ‘Miner’. Later in the year on 31st October Ernest was born. He was baptised in St.Edward’s Church on 6th December 1891 .
By 1901 they had moved to the High Street and the family had grown to include Ernest, Hannah Harriet (1894) presumed to be one of the mortalities, Margaret (1898) and Elizabeth (1900 - 1903). Samuel was still employed as a ‘Hewer - underground’.
In 1911 Samuel had moved above ground to become employed as a ‘Farm Labourer’ and was living in Nancy Taylor Yard. Additions to the family included George Clifford (1906) and Sidney (1910). James Thomas and Ernest were also in employment as ‘Lime Quarry Labourers’.
The following year on August 31st 1912 Ernest married Barbara Kellett of Brotherton in the parish church.
On the 12th March 1914 Ernest and Barbara had a daughter called Sarah.
After the War correspondence between Ernest and the army records office in Chatham indicate that there was some confusion over his medal awards. A handwritten letter sent by Ernest shows that he felt he was entitled to the 1914/15 Star because he enlisted in March 1915.
The response was unequivocal and correct. The 14/15 Star was only awarded to those who served in a ‘Theatre of War’ during those dates and Ernest was not posted to Mesopotamia until 1916.
It would seem that Ernest and Barbara had 5 more children after the war with Beatrice (1920), Hilda (1922), Muriel (1924), Ernest (1925) and George (1928).
By the time of this correspondence in1922 Ernest was living in Nancy Taylor Yard. However, at some stage he moved to live at 17 Marsh Croft as this is the address in the record of his burial following his death on May 17th 1943
Note: Ernest’s cousin William Hargraves or Hargreaves - Stoker 1st Class -was killed on March 17th in the Dover Straits when his ship, HMS Paragon, was torpedoed. Although the names are spelt slightly differently both shared the same grandparents. His account is also on the We Will Remember Them website.