PRIVATE ERNEST HUMPHREY

Service: 1st Battalion The Queens [Royal West Surrey]
Service No: L8088

Date & place of birth: 1 February 1887 in Roundhurst
Date & place of death: 8 October 1914 in Le Mans, France

Ernest had originally joined the Army in 1904 and had served in India before returning home and getting married and some time after 1910 moving to Rogate.

Family background

Ernest was the fourth son of seven children of George Humphrey, who was born in Haslemere in 1853 and his wife Alice who was baptised in Lodsworth in 1859. By 1901 the family had moved to Windfall, which is now known as Guardian Cottage, Lurgashall. He left Lurgashall school in December 1899.

After serving in the Army for three years he lived at Shotters Farm, Lodsworth and became a coachman. He married Jane Loader on 9 May 1908 and their first child Kathleen Jane was born in 1909. The family then moved to Didling, where Ernest was a cowman and another child was born on 9 May 1910. Sometime between 1910 and the outbreak of war the family moved to Rogate.

Military Service

On 10 June 1904 Ernest added an extra year to his age of 17 and enlisted in The Queen’s [Royal West Surrey] Regiment. In October 1904 he was transferred from the Training Battalion to the 2nd Battalion which was based at Shorncliffe. In February 1906 he transferred to the 1st Battalion [Service No. 3463] and sailed for India where the 1st Battalion was stationed at Sialkot, a town north of Lahore. Soon after arriving Ernest fell ill and spent 40 days in hospital. It appears that he was good at shooting as he obtained a ‘First Class’ in Musketry.

He returned from India in March 1907 and rejoined the 2nd Battalion at Colchester. In June 1907 he completed his three years of service and left the Regiment and was transferred to the First-class Army Reserve.

Death & Commemoration

On the outbreak of war in August 1914 Ernest was recalled to serve in the 1st Battalion of his old Regiment at Bordon with the Service No. L8088. After a week of training, the Battalion went by train to Southampton and sailed to Le Havre on the 12 August. On 20 August the Battalion arrived at Croix des Rouveroy to the south-east of Mons. The Battle of Mons opened on 23 August but the Battalion was not involved; it did however join the retreat from Mons and endured some long and exhausting marches until 5 September when the retreat was reversed and the Germans were chased to the River Aisne. During the first Battle of the Ainse the Battalion suffered many casulaties, but on the 19 September they marched to Vendresse where on 26 September Ernest received a severe head wound.

From Vendresse, Ernest was moved to the Advanced Base hospital at Le Mans where he arrived on 3 October and died of his wounds on 8 October.

Ernest Humphrey is buried Le Mans West Cemetery and is also commemorated on the Rogate War Memorial.

Midhurst U3A WW1 War Memorial Project