On the grave to their youngest son Harold who died in 1912 age 11, George and Rose Matthews added the name of their third son - Ernest. This is Huntley - a gate way to May Hill, to the Forest of Dean, on to Herefordshire. The church is in a pretty spot, nestled at the foot of the high ground, camoflaged by tree canopies. This is the second half of research completed here at Huntley - for the first part see this link
Ernest Edward Matthews
On the grave to their youngest son Harold who died in 1912 age 11, George and Rose Matthews added the name of their third son - Ernest.
Also of Ernest, their third son
Who gave his life for his country
Jan 2nd 1918
Interred at Villers Plouich France
Aged 21 years
Greater love hath no man than this
That he lay down his life for his friends
Thy will be done
Able Seaman Ernest Edward Matthews was 21 years of age when he was killed on January 2nd 1918 serving with Drake Battalion. An infantry battalion that was part of the Royal Naval Division fighting in the Great War. Ernest joined the Royal Naval Division in April 1917; he arrived in France in October 1917. He was buried at Sunken Road Cemetery at Villers Plouich in France. It is a dainty and curtained cemetery with only 48 graves.
In early February 1918, his family placed a notice in the local Gloucester Journal:
Killed by a shell bursting in the reserve trenches on the 2nd January last, Ernest Edward, youngest son of Mr and Mrs G. Matthews, Huntley, Glos, aged 21 years. Greater love hath no man than he lay down his life for his friends.
Just a young sailor, simple his store
England he called, for England he died
The fewer his years the greater his glory
In our remembrance grief mingles with pride
Gently he sleeps in the grave where they laid him
In his last bivouac, peace amid strife
To fall in again when the Captain who made him,
Shall sound the reveille, recalling to life.
From his sorrowing Father and Mother, Brothers and Sisters
Gloucester Journal 9th February 1918 page 8
His father was a stockman on a farm, where Ernest grew up in the country. He became the youngest son when his younger brother Harold died in 1912.
They received official confirmation from the Admiralty about the death of their son Ernest. But they also received a letter from his Commanding Officer:
A shell bursting in our reserve trenches during the night of the 2nd January last unfortunately struck two of our men, one of whom was your son. It is certain he must have been killed instantly. He was buried by our padre next day but I regret to say it is impossible to send a photograph of his grave, anyhow at present.
His comrade who was also killed in that incident is also buried at Sunken Road Cemetery, Villers Plouich. His name – Able Seaman Alfred Worall.
R/804 Alfred Worall was also serving in B Company, Drake Battalion in the Royal Naval Division. He was son of Mr and Mrs W. Worall of Waterloo Street in Hull. He left a grieving family and fiancé back in Hull, Yorkshire. Ten years on from his death, his fiancé Fanny and his family were still placing in Memorium notices in the local Hull Daily Mail. Missed and remembered.
These are two men whose identities are perpetually linked by history; through a war that brought them together from different parts of the country to fight in another for a cause that they believed in.
There are in addition two official war graves – that of Robert Thomas Jackson who died from sickness.
The other man who died an official war casualty is Francis George Stubbs. He died at Chiseldon Military Camp – he was only 18 years old.
These are the men who never returned from the Great War whose memorials lie at Huntley in Gloucestershire:
Able Seaman Ernest E. Matthews
DoB 14 Oct 1897 DoD 2nd January 1918 age 21
R/1125 Drake Battalion, Royal Naval Division, Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve
Buried: Sunken Road Cemetery, Villers Plouich, France
For more information on Huntley - read my other blog here.