1884 - 1915
ERNEST JOHN CLARK was born in 1884 and baptised at the Parish Church in Great Waltham on the 5th October 1884. He was one of 11 children born to Simon and Eliza Clark (nee Poulter) who lived in Barrack Road, Great Waltham. Ernest had seven brothers and three sisters and was the third youngest child. His parents were married in the Parish Church on the 29th October 1865, Simon was an Agricultural Labourer in farming and by 1911, Ernest and three of his brothers were also Agricultural Farm Labourers.
BAPTISM ERNEST JOHN CLARK GREAT WALTHAM PARISH CHURCH
Ernest enlisted as a Private, Regimental No. 7720, ‘B’ Company of the 2nd Battalion, Essex Regiment at Warley. The 2nd Battalion was formed in Chatham in the summer of 1914 and left Southampton for Le Havre, France on the 22nd August. The Regiment marched through France to Bethencourt, then on to Esne, entrenching on a hill near Longsart. The Regiment were involved with holding the extended 12th Brigade line at Esne during the Battle of Le Cateau, with the 1st King’s Own, 2nd Lancashire Fusiliers and the 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers.
The Regiment fought in the Battle of Messines from October to November and in December, the Regiment were in the trenches at Ploegsteert, (known as Plugstreet) in Belgium. On the 10th-11th December, for a few days the rain ceased and a slight frost improved condition in the trenches. Christmas Day and Boxing Day were very quiet with no casualties.
However, in January 1915, the trenches were very wet, underwater in some places, repairs and new trenches were constructed on the second line through to February, whilst under heavy shelling, rifle grenades and sniper fire by the enemy.
Death and Memorial
On the 11th February 1915 there was some sniping at times though it was fairly quiet. It was likely Ernest was hit by a sniper and was the only soldier killed that day. He was 31 years of age.
Ernest was buried at Calvaire (Essex) Military Cemetery,
Grave - Plot I. Row G.
This cemetery was established beside a building known as Essex House and is an example of a regimental cemetery, many of which were made in 1914 and 1915. It was begun in November 1914 by the 2nd Essex and 2nd Monmouthshire Regiments (Rows A to M of Plot I), continued by the 9th Royal Fusiliers and the 11th Middlesex Regiment (Plot I, Row 0), the 7th Suffolk and 9th Essex Regiments (Plot II), the 6th Buffs (Plot III), and the 1/7th and 1/8th Worcestershire Regiment (Plot IV, Rows A to C). Apart from two later burials, the cemetery was completed by the 11th Queen's Royal West Surrey and 10th Royal West Kent Regiments in June and July 1916. It was in German hands from 10 April to 29 September 1918. There are now 218 First World War burials in the cemetery. The cemetery was designed by G H Goldsmith.
Ernest is also remembered on the Great Waltham War Memorial.
UK Army Soldiers Effects
His Father, Simon received £5.16s.9d Gratuity payment on the 7th May 1915, with a further payment of £3 on the 5th July.
Ernest was awarded the Victory, British and 1915 Star Medals.
His parents are buried in Great Waltham Churchyard.